By asking her to draw a watch, a doctor was able to diagnose this girl with a rare autoimmune disease -
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By asking her to draw a watch, a doctor…
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By asking her to draw a watch, a doctor was able to diagnose this girl with a rare autoimmune disease


At the age of twenty-four, Susannah Cahalan was at the beginning of a promising career as a journalist for the New York Post and had recently started a happy loving relationship.

From one day one to the next, however, her life turned into a nightmare of psychophysical disorders, which for a long time no one could give an answer, except to say that it must be a mental illness.

Her salvation came shortly before it was too late thanks to the intervention of a particularly stubborn physician. 

Before a mysterious illness came to turn her life upside down, young Susannah was a promising reporter who was making her way in the world of journalism.

Her life changed with the manifestation of unjustified fatigue, laziness, and general confusion. In a short time, other disturbances appeared such as numbness in her hands and feet, paranoia attacks, hallucinations, and seizures.

At a certain point, hospitalization became unavoidable.

The young woman had by this time started behaving inexplicably, and none of the diagnoses made by the doctors she saw (while paying exorbitant sums) was the right one. Looking at some of the videos shot while she was in the hospital, she really seems to be a mentally unstable person and unfortunately, that was what the different neurologists who visited her thought, too. There were doctors who prescribed heavy psychiatric drugs and those who instead, told her that the problem was that she had participated in too many late night parties ...


Finally, the day came, when Susannah was visited by the doctor who would solve the mystery.

When the family decided to make another attempt, that was when Dr. Souhel Najjar, the director of the neurology department, in two different New York hospitals, arrived on the scene.

As the result of a standard psychiatric test, Dr. Najjar understood in a few minutes what was happening to Susannah.

The doctor simply asked the young woman to draw a clock and when she handed him back the paper and pen, he saw that all the numbers had been placed on the right side of the drawing. That made him realize that the same side, the right side, of her brain was inflamed. A biopsy confirmed his theory by concluding that what the young woman was suffering from was an autoimmune disease called Anti-NMDA-Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis that, basically, attacks the brain and is lethal if not diagnosed in time.

Thanks to Dr. Najjar's intervention, Susannah has managed to heal even if ...

The young woman does not remember almost anything about that period and all she knows of the consequences of that illness is what she has learned from photos and videos.


As a journalist, Susannah has written a book to give her testimony about this disease, which is not properly diagnosed in about 90% of the cases.

Susannah especially wanted to point out that she was able to get the proper medical care because she had the financial means to do so (the total cost of medical expenses came to one million dollars), but there are those who do not have the same good fortune.

Tags: AbsurdStories


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