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My sneeze that cost $10k


Putting on weight on the set of Awakenings
Oliver Sacks Scientist
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So the film was made. I think it was about two months of filming. It was filming which led to a very acute weight gain on my part because they would have bagels with egg salad laid out for... just a huge number of people were... were involved, like 200 people carrying things... vast... and I thought that to avoid overeating, I would never, in fact, start a bagel, although if I found a partly eaten bagel or the remnants of a bagel, I might be permitted to eat that. What I didn't realise was that everyone else had the opposite philosophy, that they could start a bagel so long as they didn't finish it, and that my own permission became a compulsion to finish all the half-eaten bagels, and in three months of filming I put on 40 pounds entirely from half eating... half-eaten egg bagels.

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: Awakenings

Duration: 1 minute, 12 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2011

Date story went live: 02 October 2012