(of movement) slow and laborious
I do this so
leadenly that it looks like stop-motion animation.
violent uncontrollable contractions of muscles
She hooked me up to a two-liter oxygen machine that can help with cardiac issues and
characteristic of informal spoken language or conversation
Encephalitis, one neurologist would eventually explain,
colloquially meant “bad brain,” or the inflammation of the brain due to a host of causes.
a person's manner of walking
He had a measured
gait and a slight slope to his back that made his head fall a few inches in front of his body, most likely due to the hours he spent hunched over a microscope.
an insufficient quantity or number
I looked forward, showing no emotion, saying nothing, not blinking. He wrote down “
paucity of eye blinking.”
inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements
I angled toward my left side—Najjar noticed I was showing signs of
ataxia, a lack of coordinated movement.
a condition characterized by impaired ability to write
I outlined the circle once, twice, and then three times, an act called perseverative
dysgraphia, a disorder in which a patient draws and redraws lines or letters.
the removal and examination of tissue from a living body
The only way to answer these questions was to do a brain
biopsy, and he wasn’t sure my parents would agree to one.
reflect deeply on a subject
mulled this over, he pulled at his mustache absentmindedly and paced around the room.
of or pertaining to a religious orientation of doubt
My mom, a no-nonsense
agnostic Jewish girl from the Bronx, now swears she felt the presence of God.
separation resulting from hostility
Setting aside years of betrayal, emotional
estrangement, and petty fights, they briefly exchanged a hug and a few quiet tears.
a usually small man-made opening
Grasping a high-speed drill in his hands like a skillful carpenter, he pressed it down on the skull, making a “burr hole,” or a 1-centimeter-diameter
aperture through the bone of the skull.
the act of transplanting something onto something else
He then very carefully stitched a dura
graft onto the outer layer of the brain, suturing it together, and then reattached the bone plate.
rudely abrupt or blunt in speech or manner
brusque nurse says, shoving a water-soaked sponge into my mouth.
a thin flexible tube inserted into the body
The plasma exchange was done through a
catheter inserted directly into my neck.
inability to use language because of a brain lesion
She nodded: this was a typical response for people suffering from
aphasia, a language impairment related to brain injury.
characterized by extreme care and great effort
When she asked me to write my name, I
painstakingly drew out an “S,” tracing the letter multiple times before moving on to the “U,” where I did the same.
call forth, as an emotion, feeling, or response
To see a desk, for example, first we see lines that come together at angles, then color, then contrast, then depth; all of that information goes into the memory bank, which labels it with a word and, depending on the object, an emotion (to a journalist, a desk might
elicit guilty feelings about missed deadlines, for example).
the rapid and continuous delivery of communication
“I’m sorry,” he interrupted the
not injurious to physical or mental health
For 70 percent of patients, the disorder begins
innocuously, with normal flulike symptoms: headaches, fever, nausea, and vomiting, though it’s unclear if patients initially contract a virus related to the disease or if these symptoms are a result of the disease itself.
move or sway in a rising and falling or wavelike pattern
Patients also often develop autonomic symptoms, she continued: blood pressure and heart rate that
vacillate between too high and too low—again, just like my case.
not dangerous to health; not recurrent or progressive
The only good news is that they are usually—but not always—
being born or beginning
The young man leading the group of
nascent MDs introduced my case as if I weren’t in the room.
a deliberate display of emotion for effect
She was not prone to
histrionics and hardly ever cried.
seeming unaffected by pleasure or pain; impassive
She had been so
stoic throughout the visit, never once letting on how agonizing the stay had been for her, but she couldn’t contain herself anymore.