September 2016 Book Club

One of the reasons I really enjoy my book club is that we are a diverse group of women and we rotate who gets to pick the next months book.  It is really interesting to see what types of books everyone chooses.  This month we read: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan.  It is a true story and look at her own incarceration in the hospital after experiencing a debilitating mental illness and then her recovery.  At twenty four, Ms. Cahalan was a reporter for the New York Post, in a promising relationship and living on her own when she started to have paranoia, mood swings, tingling and loss of feeling in her left side, slurred language and erratic body movements. She was aware that something was wrong and went to her physician for a diagnosis, testing and a MRI.  Everything came back normal. Her condition rapidly worsened until she had a extreme seizure, which she does not remember, and her boyfriend called 911.  She was admitted to the NYU Langone Medical Center epilepsy unit. Luckily, she had the vigilance of her divorced parents to navigate the healthcare system and advocate for her care, health insurance and a loving boyfriend. Ms. Cahalan’s pieces together her story from her limited memory, her parents journals, the videos taken in her hospital room and interviewing her family, friends and healthcare professionals.  It is a fascinating and frightening real life story that does end in her recovery and sharing her story publicly. My two take aways were to have, and be, an advocate to navigate your medical needs, or those of loved ones, and to share your story so that others can benefit from the research, diagnosis and treatment.  It is well worth a read and if you do, let me know what you think.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madnesss | Susannah Cahalan

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  1. I haven’t heard of this book. Sounds excellent and I will put it on my list. My book club is reading Don’t Let’s Go Down to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. As we have time we are adding her other 2 books to our discussion. I am midway into The Dollhouse set at The old Barbizon Hotel For Women on E. 63rd Street. I lived there in the early 70s for a year and attended the Katharine Gibbs course for College Grads.

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