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An injured limb becomes a learning experience
on 4 January 2011
Dr Sacks, an extraordinary neurologist with a persistently enquiring mind, has used his experience of a seriously injured leg to offer his readers a fascinating and informative story. It is a deeply personal account told with unstinting openness.
Dr Sacks quickly engages his readers, sharing with them the experience of being one moment happily and enthusiastically climbing upwards and the next a helpless cripple alone on the mountain, and subsequently his long, painful and arduous struggle to survive. He is rescued and hospitalised but this is only the beginning of his story.
This experience, for Dr. Sacks, is a learning opportunity. To understand patienthood one must first be a patient. He describes the depersonalising experience of the admission procedure, the shrinking, paralysing effect of remaining for 18 days, bed bound with his leg in a cast, in a windowless room and the lack of a listening ear as he agonizes over his strangely alien and unresponsive limb. Feelings of self respect and self integrity are lost in this 1970s hospital.
Dr. Sacks also recounts his profound neurological experience. His painstaking observations and reflections lead him to express the need to progress to a model of neurology which acknowledges that our nerves and brains are ours and their perceptions and memories represent our own personal space and are intensely subjective.