Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Dr Oliver Sacks, 1933 - 2015

It was with great sadness on Sunday morning that I learned of the passing of the great Dr Oliver Sacks.

Like thousands before me, it was Dr Sacks that first aroused my interest in neurological conditions with his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat - because who can ignore a title like that?! That was only 6 or 7 years ago (I was still doing A-Levels!) and I have since been working my way through the rest of his books. I was struck by the way he writes about his patients; it is obvious he cared deeply for each and every one, and invested a lot of time and energy into getting to the bottom of these strange, and sometimes wonderful, symptoms. I have also never seen so many footnotes in all my life! He had so much to tell us, but he seemed satisfied that he has left us having done his part.

I can't really express my gratitude in words for the inspiration he has provided, and will probably always be regretful that I never got around to writing him a letter when I had the chance. There is not much that I find more fascinating than the brain, and it was great to have such a prominent author providing such insights and bridging the gap between science and the interested lay audience.

As another great, late author once wrote "No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away", and for Dr Sacks those ripples may never fade.

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"I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest." - Oliver Sacks, 2015