the place properly occupied or served by another
When I was unable to answer questions, my mother, clutching her folder full of documents, answered in my
liable to sudden unpredictable change
I was acting even more
mercurial than in recent days. Things seemed to be going downhill fast.
liable to change
Immediately she noticed that I was “
labile,” meaning prone to mood swings, and “tangential,” meaning that I skipped from topic to topic without clear transitions.
of superficial relevance if any
Immediately she noticed that I was “labile,” meaning prone to mood swings, and “
tangential,” meaning that I skipped from topic to topic without clear transitions.
an injury to living tissue
For years, psychiatrists believed this syndrome was an outgrowth of schizophrenia or other types of mental illnesses, but more recently, doctors have also ascribed it to neurobiological causes, including brain
harsh or corrosive in tone
“The hospital,” I answered,
do without or cease to hold or adhere to
It was important for her to provide a visual picture to match the psychological one, because my rumpled, suggestive appearance could be a sign of mania: those on a high often
forgo grooming and exhibit less impulse control, engaging in destructive acts...
mix together different elements
conflate DID with other types of mental illnesses, like schizophrenia.
characterized by a lightly saucy or impudent quality
All the wrinkles on her face smooth out, her eyes grow
pert and oblong, her cheeks gain baby fat, and her hair turns a deep chestnut brown.
technical terminology characteristic of a particular subject
Because of his fondness for beat generation writers and his cerebral way of communicating abstract medical
jargon, a colleague described him as a “walking beatnik dictionary.”
an absence of emotion or enthusiasm
To earn such a diagnosis, a patient has to experience two or more of the following: positive symptoms, like delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized speech, and negative symptoms, such as mutism or general
a purposeful surveillance to guard or observe
Since I wouldn’t let him in the room, still convinced he’d murdered Giselle, he decided to hold his
vigil out in the hall and read a book.
not secure; beset with difficulties
Although many of these findings were kept from my family and me, it was clear that my place on the epilepsy floor was becoming more and more
precarious, just as the nurse had warned my father, both because my seizures seemed to have stopped and because I was such a difficult patient.
of a condition in which a body attacks its own cells
The fourth day, doctors number six, seven, eight, and nine joined the team: an infectious disease specialist who reminded my dad of his uncle Jimmy, who had earned the Purple Heart after storming the beaches of Normandy in World War II; an older, gray-haired rheumatologist; a soft-spoken
autoimmune specialist; and an internist, Jeffrey Friedman, a spritely man in his early fifties who, despite the severity of the situation, exuded a natural optimism.
make apparent by one's mood or behavior
The fourth day, doctors number six, seven, eight, and nine joined the team: an infectious disease specialist who reminded my dad of his uncle Jimmy, who had earned the Purple Heart after storming the beaches of Normandy in World War II; an older, gray-haired rheumatologist; a soft-spoken autoimmune specialist; and an internist, Jeffrey Friedman, a spritely man in his early fifties who, despite the severity of the situation,
exuded a natural optimism.
a communication intended to urge or persuade to take action
Still, he couldn’t help but hear the woman out, especially since my own paranoid ravings seemed confirmed by her
the act of appealing for help
“I’m dying in here. This place is killing me. Please let me leave.” These
invocations deeply pained my father.
your usual mood
He took it in stride, maintaining an extraordinarily cheery
disposition, and joked with me about the Yankees and the New York Post, his favorite newspaper.
having extremely unfortunate or dire consequences
fateful accident, H.M. experienced clusters of seizures that increased in intensity until, by his twenty-seventh birthday in 1953, his doctor had decided to remove the bit of brain tissue that seemed to be the focus of his seizures: the hippocampus.
relating to an explicit statement or announcement
(The movie Memento is modeled after H.M.) His case also established the existence of two different types of memory:
declarative (places, names, objects, facts, and events) and procedural (those learned as a habit, like tying shoes or riding a bike).
being of striking pertinence
His wife, Deborah, wrote a book about his case,
aptly titled Forever Today.
prolific writer himself, Wearing kept lengthy diaries.
There in the room with my mom and Stephen, she seemed immediately at home, quiet,
unassuming, and supportive.
deeply or seriously thoughtful
My mother, dressed in a Max Mara suit for work, sits nearby, looking
pensively out the window.
situated within the organ or body part on which it acts
A bulging area nearby, the pons, plays an important role in the control of facial expressions, so it made sense that my symptoms might be coming from this area. Still, it’s hard to lay blame. Many areas of the brain are also involved with these kinds of
involving an entity that produces an effect
It’s often difficult to locate one area and make a
causal connection to basic functions or behavior.
a deliberate discourteous act
“I don’t know what to say. It’s no longer my case,” he replied. He turned and walked briskly away. She suddenly felt very alone. There had been many low points throughout my illness, but this
rebuff was the lowest.
within or by means of a vein
The other possibility was that it was some sort of autoimmune response, which he could treat with an experimental immunotherapy that he had tried successfully on another patient with brain inflammation; the treatment included steroids,
intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), and plasma exchange.
a protein that produces an immune response
Each of those ordinary-looking bags contained the healthy
antibodies of over a thousand blood donors and cost upwards of $20,000 per infusion.
a bandage that stops the flow of blood by applying pressure
tourniquets, one thousand nurses, one thousand veins, one thousand blood-sugar regulating cookies, all just to help one patient.
make ready for action or use
If the innate system can’t eradicate the pathogen, the next defense stage is the “adaptive response,” which tailors itself to the specific intruder, using an arsenal of white blood cells and antibodies. This takes much longer to
mobilize than the innate response, ten days versus the innate system’s minutes or hours.
time that elapses between a stimulus and the response to it
He wrote the following in his progress note:
Some sleep problems overnight and increased speech
latency, the latter a concern because it may be an initial catatonic sign.
characterized by unresponsiveness or lack of movement
He wrote the following in his progress note:
Some sleep problems overnight and increased speech latency, the latter a concern because it may be an initial
a device used to aid recall
mnemonic that doctors use to diagnose catatonia is WIRED ’N MIRED:
• Waxy flexibility/catalepsy (muscular rigidity and fixedness of posture)
surgery on nerves to and from the frontal lobe of the brain
Catatonia is more akin to the results of a botched
lobotomy than a persistent vegetative state because the person is technically still active.