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Helen Keller was 19 months old when she contracted an unknown illness and lost her sight and hearing. Soon after, she became mute. The Story of My Life,1 Cardiff Neurology Book Club’s latest read, is her remarkable autobiography and tells a tale of great courage and defiance.
The book charts Keller’s early years from birth until the age of 22, and begins in darkness as a bout of suspected scarlet fever leaves her with ‘acute congestion of the stomach and brain’. As a group of clinicians puzzled by this phenotype selectively destroying optic and cochlear function, our alternatives included the infective—rubella, measles and meningitis (meningococcus and Haemophilus influenzae are previously suggested culprits2)—and the rare, Susac’s syndrome. Whatever the cause, Keller went on to achieve noteworthy academic accomplishments, graduating cum laude in 1904 from Radcliffe College (Harvard’s …
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