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Tuesday 18 November 2008

A journey round my skull

The Dancer, October 2004 by Susie Mallett

I always maintain that I learn more about strokes and other disorders or illnesses from the mouths of my clients or from the books that sufferers or their loved ones write than from any text book on the subjects.

Slowly I have gathered a collection of stories in my head and of books on my shelves, some written by famous people, some of whom are already writers of numerous books. Some authors are less well known and others not known at all.

One of the best I have read to date is “The Diary of a Stroke” by Martin Stephen, but there are many others worth a read, including “My Year Out “by Robert McCrum, “Lucky Man “by Michael J Fox and “A Leg To Stand On” by Oliver Sachs.

The Dairy of a Stroke is written in amazing detail, describing all that my clients tell me about and much, much more. It is full with information about those first few hours when no one dares to tell patients what is happening or what has happened to them, of the next days when the world seems to slow down and fears set in, the feeling of being alone, trapped in a world without means of communication. This is just a short mention of just one of these books. I will get round to writing about others one day, I am sure.

As I said in a previous blog, when I am in Budapest a must, even more a must than searching for tin toys, is a visit to Litea. Not only do I enjoy the atmosphere there and the tea and the people, but I always manage to find really good books and last Saturday was no exception.

Between consuming delicious coffee and walnut cake I used the 30 minutes that I had in Litea to check the shelf of books by Hungarian authors translated into English. As always it was a treasure trove but I had limited myself to one purchase because I had no time in the next two days to find a post office and ship more books back home! Of the half-dozen books that I had scattered around me between my coffee cup and cake it was not difficult to make the choice. Among them there was a book called “A Journey round my Skull” by Frigyes Karinthy, which has a forward by Oliver Sacks who is probably my favourite read in the field of neurology, and this one caught my eye. In his forward Oliver Sacks says that he read this book as a 14-year-old, and that it had a great influence on the style of the case studies that he wrote later in his life. If this was the case then I knew that I had found the right book and off I went with my purchase in my pocket to my next port of call, which was a visit to the wonderful open air train museum to the north of the city!

A "Journey round my Skull" was written by the Hungarian journalist and popular comic writer, Frigyes Karinthy, 1887-1938, and was published in 1939. Karinthy wrote many novels, short stories, poems and theatre pieces, he also translated "Winnie the Pooh" and "Gulliver’s Travels". Now here he was using his literary skills and wit to write about himself, about his illness and his recovery, producing what Sacks describes as the first ever autobiographical description of a journey inside the brain.

I haven’t quite finished the book and I am learning something new with every page I turn, not only about neurology but also about life in Hungary in the 1930s. It is certainly worth hunting it out on Amazon.

A few of the other books on my shelf

"A Leg To Stand On", Oliver Sacks, ISBN 0-330-29093-2
"Rescuing Jeffrey," Richard Galli, ISBN 1-56512-270-4
"My Year Off ", Robert McCrum, ISBN 0-330-35240-7
"The Man Who Lost His Language", Sheila Hale, ISBN 0140-28495-8
"My Stroke of Luck", Kirk Douglas ISBN 9-780-060-01404-9
"Zum Schweigen Verurteilt", Gerhard Reinhold, ISBN 3-927-442-801
"Lucky Man", Michael J Fox, ISBN 0-7868-9056-8
"Daniel Isn’t Talking", Marti Leimbach, ISBN 978-0-00-721701-4
"Nobody Nowhere", Donna Williams, ISBN1-85302-612-3
"Thinking In Pictures", Temple Grandin, ISBN 0-679-77289-8
"Footprints in the Snow", Julie Hill, ISBN 0-330-39186-0
"Living Proof", Michael Gearin-Tosh, 0-7432-0680-0
"Crazy", Benjamin Lebert, ISBN 3-462-02818-9


Open air train museum
Magyar Vasúttörténeti Park – 1142 Budappest, Tatai út 95, Budapest.

Tin Toys

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