As i sit in the oppressive heat that is summer in Turkey, I learn of the death of Dr Oliver Sacks from disseminated melanoma aged 82. A brilliant communicator who also happened to be an unconventional neurologist.He was a very handsome man, a bikie and champion weightlifter. He described himself as celibate but in his last book, “On the Move” he is open about his homosexuality and the joy of meeting a partner in his mid 70’s. Although I never had the privilege of meeting him, readers will surely undertand it when I say that as a neurologist and openly gay man, I have lost a fellow traveller along the yellow brick road.
Less than 12 months ago, the world also lost Robin Williams, the actor and comedian who portrayed Oliver Sacks in the film “Awakenings”. This was based on the book of the same name by Oliver Sacks in which he described the miraculous response to Levodopa of patients who had survived the great influenza pandemic of 1918 (The Spanish Flu) and subsequently developed severe features of Parkinsons Disease.
There are several remarkable coincidences between these two gifted men. Sacks experimented with LSD and other recreational drugs in the 1950s, describing the consequences in one of his first books “Hallucinations”. Robin Williams took his own life and at autopsy had features of Lewy Body dementia, a progressive neurological degenerative disease presenting in a Parkinsons like manner and with unsettlimg hallucinations.