Can You Fix a Brain Like Mine?

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Can You Fix a Brain Like Mine?

Jan first became worried when his sister, Lotje Sodderland, didn’t reply to his text messages. Lotje’s co-worker, Ant, found it strange that she didn’t show up for work. They banged on her door and called out her name, but she did not reply. They called the police to get the door open, and Jan cautiously entered the room.

Lotje’s stuff was everywhere. The reek of vomit and faeces hung heavy in the air. Lotje was missing.

A few hours later, Jan arrived at the hospital. The staff of a close-by hotel discovered Lotje passed out in the bathroom. She was currently undergoing emergency surgery to save her life after suffering an intracerebral brain haemorrhage (an emergency condition in which a ruptured blood vessel causes bleeding inside the brain).

Despite her slim chances, Lotje survived the operation, but the stroke had taken much from her. Once a prolific reader, she could no longer make sense of written words. She could only speak with great difficulty, struggling to find the words to complete her sentences. She could no longer multi-task, for even the simplest of tasks required her full attention. The right side of her vision gets distorted by warped shapes and random colours. Worst of all, she is fully aware of her decline. “I feel like a baby, but, you know, I’m all grown up, and it’s the two things at the same time,” she explained to her mother.

Lotje was determined to reacquire her faculties. A 3-month long stint in a psychiatric institute was an unpleasant experience that produced only a few improvements. An experimental treatment showed some progress but was rendered moot after suffering a grand mal seizure right before the treatment’s completion. After her latest setback, Lotje decided it best to make the most of who she was now, instead of resting her hopes upon one day becoming her former self.

Right after the stroke, Lotje became obsessed with recording her experiences. In part, because it fascinated her, but mostly because she could no longer remember what she was going through. She then partnered with a documentary producer called Sophie Robinson, and with the help of crowdfunding, composed a documentary titled My Beautiful Broken Brain. Upon its initial screening, Netflix picked it up. Her story also inspired Lotje’s hero, David Lynch, to become the documentary’s executive producer.

The success of the show sparked massive interest in Lotje’s story. Her stubborn ability to get out of bed every morning and make the most of her life has inspired millions of people. Many going through similar things to Lotje found solace and kinship in her story. Now, Lotje’s making the most of her success. She appears in interviews and talks all over the world to share her message of positivity and persistence. Can You Fix a Brain Like Mine? is another of her creative endeavours.

In it, Lotje talks to experts on the cutting edge of neuroscience research. Not only to shine a light on their work but to also ask an important question: how far can science go before affecting the core of who we are? Lotje will also be talking to patients hoping that these new treatments will take them one step closer to being their former selves.

Sunday, 11 April at 10 PM on Da Vinci (ch 308)