It's Good To Be On Fire While Playing Basketball, But It's Not Good If Your Brain Is On Fire
Sassy New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan tackles the most difficult story of her young career (even more difficult then when she went undercover as a stripper to procure illegal butt implants) in her memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness . . . as best she can, she reconstructs her battle with anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis, a wild and malevolent disease that runs her through psychosis, delusions, seizures, convulsions, hallucinations -- bedbugs in particular -- obsessions, lethargy, comatose behavior, loss of verbal ability and social graces, and requires much research to diagnose and a fairly long recovery filled with drugs that bloat her body and slow her mind . . . but she is one of the lucky ones who does recover -- some remain afflicted and some die-- and so she wants to tell her story so that others can benefit, because this swelling of the brain is often misdiagnosed as mental illness, though it stems from a physical swelling of the right side of the brain . . . the book is one of those "there by the Grace of God go I" stories, as the disease has no known cause, and for me (and several of my readers) it has an added dose of reality, as Cahalan recovers at her mother's house in Summit, New Jersey, and visits her boyfriend's sister in nearby Chatham, New Jersey, so while the disease seems to be something out of The Exorcist, the fact that Cahalan has to undergo the scrutiny of "Summit moms" while trying to recover her wits lends the story a suburban surrealism.