My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya

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My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya

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Category: Home and Family
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Moving memoir of a doctor's experience as patient rather than physician when he develops a brain infection. Clearly told, it's an interesting and an emotional read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 66 Date: September 2016
Publisher: AuthorHouse
ISBN: 1524636649

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Dr Patrick Mbaya was enjoying life as a consultant psychiatrist, husband and father. His career was going well and he enjoyed making ill people better. His marriage was solid and fulfilling and his two children were exploring their potential, often through the uplifting power of music. Life was good. But then...

... at first Mbaya put his symptoms down to a recurrent ear infection. He made an appointment to get his right ear syringed and thought little more of it. But family and colleagues noticed that his speech was deteriorating and he himself could see that his moods were becoming unstable. It was time to see his GP as a matter of urgency. An ambulance ride from the surgery later, Mbaya found himself admitted to hospital with a severe brain infection.

My Brain Is Out Of Control is Mbaya's memoir about this illness. It covers diagnosis, treatment and recovery, and it is a rollercoaster of a ride. We tend to think of critical illness as something that is treated and then, hopefully, is over and done with for us to go on with our lives as before. But it's often not as simple as this, as Mbaya's story shows. His road to recovery is a long one and often a matter of two steps forward and one step back. He battles with the symptoms of the illness - loss of speech and right-sided weakness as you'd expect, but there also setbacks caused by side effects of his treatment - low white blood cell count and hepatitis.

It's a fascinating and moving account, told by someone with experience as both doctor and patient. Mbaya has more understanding of his treatment than an average patient would and this was, over the course of his illness, both a blessing and a curse. He saw immediately that fear of HIV as the source of his brain infection coloured the attitudes of staff in the hospital. But he was also able to plan his hospital day around his treatments in a way other patients would not.

Mbaya is articulate in describing his unstable moods and emotions throughout and how difficult it was for him to distinguish between symptom and medication side effect. He describes very clearly how his return to work was a slow affair and how vital the support of his family was. And his love for his family shines through every page. I was also grateful for the medical explanations scattered throughout this memoir. They were clear and highly accessible.

My Brain Is Out Of Control is a fascinating and affecting memoir. But it's also a memoir of great clarity, charting both a medical and an emotional journey. I found it a valuable read. I hope also that the writing of it was a cathartic journey for Mbaya himself. Here's to his recovery!

If My Brain Is Out Of Control appeals to you, you might also enjoy One Hundred Names For Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing by Diane Ackerman, an unsentimental look how the knowledge which a wife had of the way in which her husband's brain worked helped to lagely restore his power of speech.

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Buy My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya at


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