Memoir: Imagine waking up one day and all of sudden you aren’t yourself, you’re acting strange, hearing voices and can’t help but feel paranoid about everything. This only keeps getting worse until you deteriorate to the point of complete madness. Nobody can tell you what is wrong with you or what’s caused your illness.
Scary huh? 🧬
That’s exactly what happened to Susannah Cahalan, a young journalist living in New York. It all started when she woke up one morning with what she thinks is a bed bug bite and despite the reassurances from exterminators, she is convinced she has an infestation. This was just the start, her mental health goes downhill and fast. Quickly, her job, friendships and relationship are affected and it’s clear to all (even herself) that Susannah is not okay. 🧬
As her family desperately seeks medical help, doctors can’t seem to diagnose the problem. From excessive drinking and stress to Mono to Lymes disease, nobody can get it right. Finally, Dr. Souhel Najjar takes on Susannah’s case and starting with a simple paper and pencil test eventually sets her on a path to recovery and essentially saves her life. Susannah doesn’t leave it there- equally as interesting is her slow road to recovery into her old life. 🧬
I really loved this book. Though Susannah couldn’t actually remember most of her ordeal, with her journalistic talents, she is able to go back, review notes, watch videos and interview her friends, family and doctors to tell a very good story. She did a great job explaining the science behind her illness, making it easy for non-science people like me (see high school report cards as proof) to understand. 🧬
Susannah was so fortunate to have a strong family to support her and advocate on her behalf which helped her finally find Dr. Najjar but I couldn’t help but wonder about all the people out there who don’t have those supports and how that may impact the healthcare they receive. It’s also horrifying to think how easily she could have never been diagnosed and what would have happened to her had Dr. Najjar not stepped into her life.
This was a pretty gripping one but thankfully one with a happy ending as well. 🧬