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Not quite a full recovery from my leg injury


A Leg to Stand On
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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When I was in hospital with this... injured leg, the tendon had been reattached, but all sorts of... of nerve tendon connections had been severed or damaged, and the leg was immobilised in a long cast, and invisible because of the cast, I lost the sense of having that leg... for two weeks. And then it came back and came to life and became, was animated and became part of me again. Music played a crucial role in this.

So, after the mountain, the prologue, this book then was about, if you want, the losing and the reclaiming of a limb, or the death and the resurrection of a limb. And I’d called one book Awakenings, I thought I would call the next book Quickenings, and my leg book under the title of Quickenings was in the Duckworth catalogue for 1975, nine years before it actually appeared.

Oliver Sacks (1933-2015) was born in England. Having obtained his medical degree at Oxford University, he moved to the USA. There he worked as a consultant neurologist at Beth Abraham Hospital where in 1966, he encountered a group of survivors of the global sleepy sickness of 1916-1927. Sacks treated these patients with the then-experimental drug L-Dopa producing astounding results which he described in his book Awakenings. Further cases of neurological disorders were described by Sacks with exceptional sympathy in another major book entitled The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat which became an instant best seller on its publication in 1985. His other books drew on his rich experiences as a neurologist gleaned over almost five decades of professional practice. Sacks's work was recognized by prestigious institutions which awarded him numerous honours and prizes. These included the Lewis Thomas Prize given by Rockefeller University, which recognizes the scientist as poet. He was an honorary fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and held honorary degrees from many universities, including Oxford, the Karolinska Institute, Georgetown, Bard, Gallaudet, Tufts, and the Catholic University of Peru.

Listeners: Kate Edgar

Kate Edgar, previously Managing Editor at the Summit Books division of Simon and Schuster, began working with Oliver Sacks in 1983. She has served as editor and researcher on all of his books, and has been closely involved with various films and adaptations based on his work. As friend, assistant, and collaborator, she has accompanied Dr Sacks on many adventures around the world, clinical and otherwise.

Tags: A Leg to Stand On, Awakenings, Quickenings

Duration: 1 minute, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012