|"You can't see me, but I know you can feel me, because I'm right here."|
What I didn't know when I first read his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat two decades ago is that his words would give me the patience and empathy I would need today, as my Mother continues to delve into the depths of Alzheimer's Disease. My reality become skewed as the natural time line from daughter to mother and grandmother began to wobble The tables turned and I had to care for my Mom as she went backwards mentally and began seeing the world through a completely different lens and time zone than me. It has been an arduous road fought hard with love, but sometimes despair in the lack of understanding. Over the past 12 years I have gone back to Oliver Sacks' words for comfort, insight and strength. He knew disease didn't define the person and that understanding was as important as a cure. Although this quote is not his, he experienced the value of its insight and believed it was important to share, just like the stories he shared about the people he studied.
The animating theme of Sacks’s work is the importance of individuality in medicine. He quoted Sir William Osler with approval – “Ask not what disease the person has, but rather what person the disease has” – and wrote in Awakenings: “There is nothing alive which is not individual: our health is ours; our diseases are ours; our reactions are ours – no less than our minds or our faces.”
Oliver Sacks Obituary