Sunday, August 30, 2015

The World Loses Oliver Sacks

Today, we lost a great writer, a great Neurologist and a great man who not only touched many people through his books, but through the films made from his books.

The world lost Oliver Sacks.

Oliver Sacks wrote great books about his patients and their medical conditions - which were mainly ones of the brain, ones we didn't really understand and medical conditions science didn't have answers for. However, he made us feel as though we were closer to knowing more about those conditions just by reading his works.

He was famous for the movie 'Awakenings' where Robin Williams played Oliver and he was working with patients who had Encephalitis Lethargica - a decades-long sleeping sickness. He was able to awaken them with a chemical called L-DOPA. However, they woke into a world they did not recognise due to how long they'd been sleeping; the affects in the movie didn't last as long as the protagonist wished.

Oliver Sacks also wrote other books. One is titled 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat'. However, his most recent study has been closer to home - himself. In 'The Mind's Eye' a series of stories, Sacks studies patients with vision problems, he also describes his own experience with ocular cancer treatment with a giddy excitement.

Over the years, his work has been read by many, ridiculed by the scientific community and held in awe by his fans. However, Oliver Sacks has been working hard on making it easier for us - his audience - to look at medical ideas which are technical sound easier through his voice and his works. He was once called the 'poet laureate of contemporary medicine' by the New York Times, however, he sees himself and his life in a completely different way:

'Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts,” he wrote.
“I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers,' he wrote. 'Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.' 

Oliver Sacks will be missed by everyone who has loved his works, his family and friends alike. May he be at rest now.

(NB: Some of this was taken from the Washington Post website).

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