Q: Did you know you were sick before your hospital stay?
A: I knew something was wrong; I was constantly tired and I'd developed numbness on my left side. I'd also become paranoid that my boyfriend was cheating on me. I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. One psychiatrist told me I was bipolar. Then one day I walked through Times Square and the lights were painfully bright. I was experiencing photophobia, which preceded a massive seizure.
Q: When Dr. Najjar came in, he asked you to draw a clock face on a piece of paper. How did that help him diagnose your condition?
A: When I drew the clock, I squeezed all the numbers into the right half of the circle. My brain wasn't "seeing" the left half, which was a sign that the right hemisphere of my brain was inflamed. My doctors already suspected that I had an autoimmune disease, but the test enabled Dr. Najjar to finally connect all the symptoms—paranoia, psychosis, increased heart rate, and numbness on my left side—into a single diagnosis.
Next: What the test revealed about her brain