(Drama) ( 1990)
© 2000 by Raymond Weschler
Dr. Malcolm Sayer.................Robin Williams
A very shy and gentle research neurologist (a person who studies the brain
and nervous system) who comes to work at the Bainbridge Hospital, where there are
many patients who have been in a sleep-like (comatose) state for 30 or more years.
Eleanor Costello..................Julie Kavner
A sweet nurse at the hospital who supports Dr. Sayer
in his work with the hospitals patients.
Leonard Lowe......................Robert De Niro
A patient who has been basically "asleep" at the hospital for three decades
(from 1939 to 1969), who is dramatically woken by the use of an experimental
drug that Dr. Sayer decides to try.
Dr. Kaufman........................John Heard
The head of the Neurology Department at the hospital who
is very cynical about trying to wake the comatose patients.
Mrs. Lowe..........................Ruth Nelson
Leonards mom, who agrees to let Dr. Sayer try to wake her son.
Another patient at the hospital, who has been asleep since 1926!
Paula..............................Penelope Ann Miller
The daughter of one of the hospitals patients, who meets Leonard while
visiting her father and begins a brief friendship with him.
This is the true story of a well known neurologist who decided to use an experimental
drug in the late 1960s to see if he could "wake" a group of patients that had fallen
into a sleep-like state in the 1920s and 30s, due to a horrible disease that had
spread mysteriously throughout the United States. In ways that are still not understood,
this disease, caused by a virus, attacked the brains and nervous systems of the people
who became its victims.
In 1969, Dr. Malcolm Sayer (who, in real life, is the neurologist and author,
Dr. Oliver Sacks), took a job as a clinical neurologist treating various patients at
the Bainbridge Hospital in New York City, even though he had had no experience dealing
with actual people. Sayer is a kind and very caring person who wanted to do more than just
keep this mysterious group of patients alive, and thus with the encouragement of nurse
Costello, he decides to experiment with a new drug called Dopamine, that had been approved
for Parkinsons disease (another illness that effects the nervous system), but had never
been tried in patients that suffered from this so-called sleeping sickness.
Amazingly, the first patient that Malcolm gives the drug to, a gentle middle-aged man
named Leonard who had fallen asleep in 1939, slowly awakes from his 30 year sleep.
Soon, Malcolm convinces the hospital that all the sleeping patients should be awoken with
the Dopamine, and at first, it looks as if a genuine medical miracle has taken place.
But of course, the patients must face the reality that they have all slept through most
of their adult lives, and that they are no longer the young people they were when they had
last fallen asleep. Even worse, it eventually becomes clear that Dopamine is not as
miraculous as it was first thought, and slowly but surely, Malcolm, the hospital staff,
and of course Leonard and the other patients, must face the possibility that their long
and mysterious sleep could still return...
Some Words and Expressions that You May not Know
Dr. Malcolm Sayer arrives at the Bainbridge Hospital,
to begin a new career as a clinical neurologist.
Look at this car; Its gotta be a Ford.
Note that "It has got to" ----> "Its gotta" in rapid speech.
Come on, lets go!
The most common and versatile phrasal verb in English, often taking on
the meaning of words that surround it. Here, meaning hurry up!
When will he be well?
In this case, "well" means not sick.
One of the five major boroughs, or sections, of New York City,
and the borough where Bainbridge Hospital is located.
I can connect you to the cafeteria, but then theyll have to page him.
Note that "to page" used to mean to contact a person over a loudspeaker system,
but now it can mean to contact a person directly, thanks to small paging devices
people carry with them.
Im here to apply for a research position in your neurology lab.
In this case, a "position" is a job. A "neurology lab" is a laboratory
where scientists study the nervous system (nerves and the brain).
This is a chronic hospital...the position is for staff neurologist.
A "chronic hospital" is a hospital for patients who have medical or
psychological conditions that are basically permanent or very long lasting
(A chronic disease can last forever). A "staff neurologist" is a doctor who
works treating patients with neurological problems.
It was an immense project. I was to extract
a dekagram of myelin from four tons of earthworms.
"Immense" means huge or extremely big. "To extract" means to remove from,
or separate. A "ton" is 2,000 pounds, and an "earthworm" is a common worm,
which is a very small tube-like animal (A dekagram is a tiny unit of measurement,
and myelin is a very scientific word for material that surrounds a nerve. You wont
use it unless you become a neurologist!).
It will never work. Were totally understaffed here.
If a place is "understaffed," there are not enough
workers to do all the jobs that need to be done.
Youre clearly looking for someone with more of a clinical background.
A doctor who has a "clinical background" is one who has worked with patients
in a medical clinic, as opposed to laboratories doing research (A clinic is
an office or building where patients see doctors).
There must be 100 more applicants that are suitable for this position.
An "applicant" is a person who applies or tries to get something, in this
case a job. If a person is "suitable" for a position, they are appropriate or
at least qualified for it (Note that Dr. Sayer had only research experience,
and had almost never worked with real people!)
You took a pulse, you took a temperature, you did a diagnosis.
A "pulse" is the beating of blood moving away from the heart, usually
felt by a doctor at the wrist. A "diagnosis" is a statement or analysis,
often after a doctor has looked at a persons medical condition.
You see, Doc, we got MS, Teurettes Syndrome, Parkinsons disease.
"Doc" is a slangy but common way of referring to a doctor. "MS" is the disease
multiple sclerosis, which attacks the muscles. "Teurettes Syndrome" is a condition
in which patients cant control their nervous ticks (shaking) or emotional outbursts,
and thus they will often scream obscene words without being able to stop.
"Parkinsons disease" is a chronic nervous disease in which usually older people
begin to constantly shake and lose control of their bodies.
We call this place the garden, because all we do is feed and water them.
A sad line. Some of the neurological patients are not even aware that they are alive,
and thus the hospital staff only need to feed them and make sure they get enough water.
I reside at the Brooklyn Psychiatric Hospital.
"To reside" at a place is to live there. "Brooklyn" is one of the five boroughs of
New York City, and a "psychiatric hospital" is a hospital for patients with serious
emotional or psychological problems.
Prior to that, I was a person.
"Prior to" means before.
After observing Lucy, Dr. Sayer becomes convinced that
the sleeping sickness patients are alive inside.
She was brought in late last night; Heres her file.
A "file" is a collection of records, papers and various
documents that describe a persons past.
Dementia of unknown origin, unresponsive.
"Dementia" is a psychological term that refers to a person who is without any
emotional interest (it also can mean crazy). The "origin" of something is where
it comes from, or its original source.
They say she has always been as she is now,
with no response or comprehension.
"Comprehension" is another word for understanding. The person being
described does not respond to any human or outside stimulus.
If she batted it away, I might call it a reflex.
"To bat away" something is to hit or strike it so that it moves away.
A "reflex" is a critical word in medicine that refers to the automatic
movement of a body part in response to an outside stimulus (such as when
a doctor gently hits your knee, and your leg rises in response).
Sorry. If you were right, I might agree with you.
A very clever line!
She borrows the will of the ball.
A persons "will" is their intent, determination or desire. Normally, we
would say that only living things have wills, but not objects like balls.
Youre trying to make a good impression.
"To make a good impression" is to act in such a way that the people
you are with think that you are a good or admirable person.
Will you see to it that Dr. Sayers patients that
are waiting outside are rescheduled for tomorrow.
"To see to it" that something happens is to make sure that it happens.
"To reschedule" a meeting is usually to move it back to later in time.
I prefer your explanation, and Ill look after things until it settles down.
In this case, if a situation "settles down,"
it becomes calmer or more peaceful and stable.
Yes, Ill hold.
The verb that is used when a person asks you to
wait for another person, while you are on the phone.
Yippee, were in orbit!
"Yippee" is a childs way of expressing excitement. If a
space ship is "in orbit" around a planet, it is circling it.
That Nestle chocolate flavor is out of this world.
If something is "out of this world," it is extremely good,
or in this case, delicious (Nestle is a huge chocolate company).
Time to recharge with Nestles Quick.
In this context, to "recharge" a person is to feed them in order
to give them energy (Nestles Quick is a type of chocolate milk).
Must be all that jell-o they gave you.
"Jell-o" is a type of light dessert that is made of fruit.
This is atypical schizophrenia.
If something is "atypical," it is not typical, but rare or abnormal.
"Schizophrenia" is a well known psychological condition in which
people have trouble understanding reality and the world around them
(It is also popularly seen as the condition in which certain mental
patients have two or more personalities or self-identities).
Atypical hysteria, atypical nerve impairment.
"Hysteria" is a highly excited emotional state, often marked by fear
or great upset. "Nerve impairment" is damage to the nervous system so
that it is not working as it should.
No change of therapy recommended.
In this case, "therapy" refers to drugs that are taken,
although it can also refer to psychological counseling.
You would think at a certain point all these atypical
somethings would amount to a typical something.
If two or more things "amount to" something else, they are equal to
that something else when combined together. This is Dr. Sayers way
of saying lots of strange symptoms together might be, when combined,
a normal symptom of another disease.
Very medical and Latin term for a disease of the brain (encephalitis)
that makes people very unresponsive or lazy (lethargic).
I found the connection! They all survived
encephalitis years before they came here.
In this case, a "connection" is something
that two or more people all have in common.
Encephalitis Outbreak Reaches Epidemic Proportions: Record Death Toll.
This is a headline in a newspaper: An "Outbreak" of a disease is a sudden spread
of that disease to many people. An "epidemic" is the spread of a disease throughout
the population, and "proportions" is another word for magnitude or size.
The "death toll" is the number of people who have died from it.
The Mystery Malady; Alarming Spread of "Somnolent Fever."
A "malady" is another word for a disease or sickness. If something is "alarming"
it is very scary or disturbing. "Somnolent" is a scientific word for something
that causes people to fall asleep.
How are they? :: Just as you described them back then; Insubstantial as ghosts.
"Insubstantial" is weak, or refers to something that is not solid.
Youre in an acute stage of the illness.
"Acute" means severe, serious or dangerous.
In this case, "stage" means part of phase.
Years went by before these strange neurological symptoms would appear, but they did.
"Neurological" refers to anything that has to do with the nervous system.
A "symptom" is a sign of a disease, such as a fever or cough.
They could no longer speak in most cases. Some families went mad.
Note that in this case, "mad" means crazy, not angry.
What are they thinking? :: The virus didnt spare their higher faculties.
A "virus" is a tiny biological organism that causes disease. "To spare"
something is to save it, and in this case, "higher faculties" is a poetic
way of referring to a persons intelligence or ability to reason.
The alternative is unthinkable.
If something is "unthinkable," it is too painful to think about.
Dr. Sayer explores different ways to awaken his patients.
Im all for fixing this place up, but what are we doing?
"To fix up" a place is to improve it or make it nicer.
I have a hunch.
An excellent word for an intuitive feeling or belief.
The visual field just stops. Theres a void. No pattern, no rhythm.
A "visual field" is a technical way of referring to the area that can
be seen without moving. A "void" is an area of complete nothingness or
emptiness. A "pattern" is a regularly repeated series of colors or shapes
or sounds, such as a square pattern on a floor. "Rhythm" is a pattern of
specific sounds in music.
Slowly he got worse. Hed be sitting at his desk in
a trance for two hours, then hed be OK again.
A "trance" is a semi-conscious state in which a person doesnt
move or respond to the outside world. Its as if they were asleep,
though their eyes are often open.
He never spoke again. It was like he disappeared. Later that
year, I took him to Bainbridge. It was November 14, 1939.
Its interesting to note that once these patients fell asleep, they
were described to others as if they had disappeared or even died.
Dont tell me! Its one of your statues!
"Dont tell me" is a common thing to say excitedly, when you want to
tell another person that you have discovered the answer to a problem
or mystery. Here, its said in a sarcastic or joking manner.
Its the strobe light. :: Youre wrong. This is me saying his name to him.
A "strobe light" is a high-powered light that flashes on and off very quickly.
This is one of the most beautiful arias ever written.
An "aria" is a song sung by one person in an opera.
"Call me Ishmael
These are the famous and first words in the book Moby Dick.
I want you to try and respond when I speak your name.
"To respond" to something is to react to
it by saying or doing something afterward.
They only move to music that moves them.
Note that "to move" can be physical (moving a table from here to there),
or emotional ("this music moves me"), in which case a person is emotionally
touched or effected by what they have heard or seen.
Theres something else that reaches him doctor. Human contact.
In this case, "to reach" a person means to emotionally touch or effect them.
Ill stop and you take over. Understand?
"To take over" doing something is to take charge of it,
often after somebody else has been running it.
His gaze, from starring through the bars has
grown so weary, that it can take in nothing more.
A "gaze" is the act of looking at something very attentively,
often without blinking, for several seconds or longer. "To stare"
at something is also to look at it, without turning away.
"Weary," means very tired, often from suffering emotionally.
As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, his powerful strides are like
a ritual dance around a center where a great wheel stands paralyzed.
"To pace" is to move back and forth. If a room is cramped, it is small,
with too many things stuffed inside. "Strides" are big movements forward,
and a "ritual dance" is a traditional one that often is part of a religious
ceremony. If a person is "paralyzed," they cannot move.
Dopa. Its a synthetic dopamine.
A well-known type of artificial drug that stimulates the brain
(Dopa is the short or slang name for this type of drug).
With the development of the L-dopa, we can promise
the Parkinsonian patient a more normal life.
A "Parkinsonian patient" is one who has Parkinsons disease,
which causes the person to shake and lose control of their body
(L-dopa is a particular type of dopamine drug).
Im curious if youve come across any patients with encephalitis.
"To come across" something is to see or meet, often by accident.
"Encephalitis" is a disease that inflames or damages the brain.
By administering L-dopa....
"To administer" a drug is to officially give it to a patient.
Do you think a simple Parkinsons tremor taken to
its extreme would appear as no tremor at all?
A "tremor" is the act of shaking. If an argument or example is "taken to its
extreme," it is presented as the most extreme form in order to make an example
or a point ("Political instability, taken to its extreme, could cause the
government to fall
Suppose theres a patient with all the Parkinsons compulsions,
the hand tremors, the head bobbing, the ticking....
"Suppose" is a common way of starting a sentence if you want a listener to
imagine a possibility that hasnt happened yet. "Compulsions" are behaviors
that people do, even if they dont really want to. "To bob" is to move up and
down, and a "tick" is a physical shaking that a patient cant control, such as
an arm that always moves to scratch their head, even when they dont itch.
Might they all cave in on themselves, and in effect, turn a person into stone?
If something "caves in," it falls down or collapses.
Im just a chemist, doctor, youre the physician.
Ill leave it to you to do the damage.
A "chemist" is a scientist who works with chemicals,
and a "physician" is another word for a doctor.
You know, Freud believed in miracles, prescribing cocaine like it was candy...
Freud was an Austrian doctor who founded modern psychology.
...and we all believed in the miracle of cortisone
until our patients went psychotic on it.
"Cortisone" is a well-known drug. If a person is "psychotic," they are
emotionally disturbed, and often unable to understand reality.
With all due respect, I think its rather too soon to say that.
A common way of starting a sentence if you want to be respectful,
but you also plan to disagree with what was just said.
I read them all dutifully, soberly. All 30 cases had Parkinsons. Mild Parkinsons.
To do something "dutifully" is to do it with respect and care, and to do something
"soberly" is to do it carefully (sober is the opposite of drunk or inebriated).
If a case of a disease is "mild," its not strong or serious.
Your patients havent moved in decades.
A decade is a period of 10 years.
You know better than to make a leap like that.
A "leap" is a long jump, and in this case, refers to a leap in logic
(For example, You should not think X is true just because Y is false).
The familys consent. Signed.
"Consent" refers to legal approval, in this case, to allow
Dr. Sayer to experiment with the L-dopa drug.
His symptoms are like Parkinsons, but then again, theyre not.
The outward signs of a disease. In this case, such as
their shaking or inability to control their body.
What do you think it will do? :: Im not sure, because
it was designed for a totally different disorder.
A "disorder" is another word for a disease or medical condition.
At 200 milligrams, he showed no response.
Maybe the acid in the orange juice neutralized it.
A "milligram" is a unit of measurement that is commonly used with medicines.
"Acid" is a chemical substance that can burn or destroy what it touches.
"To neutralize" something is to take away its power, or possibly even kill it.
I dont think I could deal with losing 30 years of my life. Could you?
In this case, "to deal with" something is to be able to accept it emotionally.
Leonard is awoken by the miracle drug,
and soon all the patients are returned to life.
Its a Polaroid. It takes a picture in less than a minute.
A photography company that is famous for a type of photo that
develops automatically just a couple minutes after taking the picture.
Try this. Splendid, thats wonderful.
A somewhat British word for excellent or great.
Leonard, thats not wading, thats swimming.
"To wade" in water is to step through it slowly, or with difficulty.
Leonard, the tide is coming in.
The "tide" is the water level on the beach, that rises and
falls over the course of a day under the influence of the moon.
Thats the periodic table of elements. I can
date my introduction to science by that.
A basic text of science that lists the chemical makeup of all the
elements of the universe (hydrogen, oxygen, etc
). "To date an event
is to identify when it began in history.
Its the universe at its essence.
The "essence" of something are those things that make up its most fundamental
or important part or aspect (The essence of democracy is the right to vote for
who will control the government).
Im not very good with people. I wish I could say that
I had a more rudimentary understanding of them.
Another word for basic or fundamental.
What did she say? :: That you are a kind man,
that you care very much for people.
"Kind" is a good alternative word for nice, sweet or gentle.
The pharmacist says that to put all the others on the
same dosage as Mr. Lowe would be $12,000
A "pharmacist" is a person who distributes prescription drugs.
A "dosage" is the amount of a drug that is taken.
I cant go before the board with that, doctor.
The "board" refers to the Board of Directors of the hospital, which
is a group of several people who set general hospital policies.
The few patrons that this hospital has already has given what they can.
In this case, a "patron" is a person, most likely rich,
who gives money every year to support the hospital.
Well have to convince them to give more than theyre accustomed to giving.
If a person is "accustomed to" doing something,
they have done it often or are used to doing it.
There was extreme rigidity of the axio-musculature.
"Rigidity" is stiffness, or the inability to bend or move (Axio-musculature
is a very medical term for the movement of musclesin the body).
This is a gross impairment of the posterior reflex, an
anatomical dysfunction that is a brain-stem type of rigidity.
"Gross impairment" is severe or extreme damage. The "posterior reflex" is
a medical term dealing with the bodys reflexes, or its reaction to outside
stimulus. "Anatomical" refers to the anatomy, or body, and a "dysfunction"
is a condition in which something fails to work well.
Whats most striking is the profound facial masking...which
we now know should not be confused with apathy or catatonia.
"Striking" is a powerful adjective meaning dramatic, attracting attention or
very noticeable. "Profound" means very deep or important. "Facial masking" is
never used, though here it must refer to the tendency to cover up the characteristics
or emotions that are usually seen in a persons face. "Apathy" is complete lack of
interest, and "catatonia" is a medical term that refers to a person who seems to be
in a coma, or who does not respond to the outside world.
Some things could reach him...but these awakenings
were rare and transient, lasting only a moment or two.
In this case, "to reach" means to actually communicate with, or perhaps touch
emotionally. "Transient" is a useful adjective meaning short-lived, or passing quickly.
The rest of the time he remained in a metaphorical,
if not physiological, equivalent of sleep, or even death.
A "metaphor" is a figure of speech which should not be taken literally (i.e....
"hes drowning in money"). "Physiological" refers to the physical body. If two
things are "equivalent," they are equal.
Its a fucking miracle!
Note that "fucking" is a vulgar but common adjective
used to express emotion such as anger or great surprise.
I need some dye for my hair.
A product that is often used to change the color of hair.
What year it? :: Its 26, silly.
Note that years from at least 1920 to 1999 were shortened to the last
two numbers, but its not clear that people will say 02 for 2002!
"Silly" means foolish or not serious, though in this context, to call a
person "silly" can be a term of affection.
And it touched off one of the wildest, loudest...celebrations in history.
"To touch off" something is to directly cause it.
"Released from bondage and ridicule after seven destitute seasons..."
This is a passage from a book describing a baseball team. "Bondage" is a
dramatic word for slavery, and "ridicule" is the act of making fun of others.
"Destitute" means extremely poor, and in this case, a "season" refers to a
sports season (The baseball season is during summer).
Thats a tire. :: I know its a tire. Im not an idiot.
A very common word for a stupid person, a fool or a jerk.
Theyre treating me alike an asshole. :: Well take care of that.
A vulgar insult word to describe a mean or abusive person.
Dont get me wrong, doc. Its a nice place,
but after the first hour, it loses something.
"Dont get me wrong" is a colloquial way of saying "Dont misunderstand what
I am saying." If a place "loses something" after the first hour or two,
it becomes less interesting.
The Museum of Natural History? :: No, its just a lot of dead stuffed things.
A dead animal that is "stuffed" is filled with material to make
it look better when it is hung on a wall (To stuff is to fill).
Is it legal again? :: Yes, for some time.
This conversation is referring to alcohol, which
was illegal in the United States from 1919 to 1933!
A RobRoy on the rocks. :: Can you make that a virgin RobRoy?
If a drink is "on the rocks," it is served with ice (A RobRoy is a type
of alcoholic drink, but I had never heard of it). If a drink is "virgin,"
it is served without alcohol (although normally it does have it).
I work the night shift at this diner.
At a job, the "night shift" is the hours that are
worked at night (perhaps 4PM to midnight).
For a moment, I see him like he was, you know, before the stroke.
A "stroke" is a cut-off of the blood supply to the brain, which often
seriously injures the brain, and makes it difficult for people to speak.
I receive medication. Without it, Im sort of like your father.
Another word for medicine.
He was granted a divorce from you in 1953.
"To grant" is a very official or legal verb meaning to give.
My parents are dead, my wife is in an institution, my son has disappeared
out West somewhere. I feel old, and I feel swindled! Thats how I feel!
An "institution" generally means a large and long-standing organization such
as a business or school or church, but in this context, it refers specifically
to a hospital for the mentally disturbed. If a person has been "swindled,"
they have been cheated by others, often in the course of a business deal.
He never talked about girls before. Certainly never had anything to do with them.
If a person has "nothing to do" with another group
of people, they never have any contact with them.
What I feel is the joy of life
the wonderment of life!
A rarely used but poetic word for wonder, mystery or even beauty.
I dont know if this is depression...or mania.
"Mania" is a type of extreme emotional excitement, that is
not particularly rational and often lasts only a short time.
Leonard struggles to lead a normal life, but soon it
becomes apparent to all that the miracle drug has its limits.
Look, Im not a criminal. Ive committed no crime.
Im not a danger to myself or any others.
"To commit" means to do, and is specifically
used when discussing a crime or a suicide.
Mr. Lowe, are you at all aware of the unconscious hostility your exhibiting
toward us right now. :: How could I be aware of it if its unconscious?
If a person has "unconscious" thoughts or behavior, they are not aware of them.
"Hostility" is anger or disrespect. "To exhibit" something is to show it to others.
Leonards response above is very clever.
I would do all the things that you people take for granted.
To "take something for granted" is to use or enjoy it, without appreciating how
valuable it is, or how it could be taken away. People usually take basic freedoms
They said that there was insufficient data at this time and that
continued observation was necessary for a complete diagnosis.
"Insufficient data" is an official way of saying not enough facts or information.
Here, a "diagnosis" is a complete medical evaluation, to determine whether
Leonard should be able to leave the hospital.
Leonard, I dont think that were out of the woods yet.
To be "out of the woods" is a good little colloquial expression which
means to finally be out of danger or out of a difficult situation.
Its an experimental drug and we need time to evaluate things.
An "experimental drug" is one that has not yet been proven to be effective.
"To evaluate" something is to determine its worth or value.
He was quiet and polite and respectful.
"Polite" is another word for nice, or well-behaved and respectful.
He was never disobedient. :: Because he was catatonic, Mrs. Lowe.
If a person is "disobedient," they are disrespectful and refuse to obey orders.
If a person is "catatonic," they are in a comatose state, which is basically
like being in a deep sleep.
Its not us thats defective, its them!! Were not in crisis, they are!!
"Defective" means badly made or not working as it should. It usually
refers to machines, though here Leonard is talking about people.
Theyll never be healers until they realize this and they
start to see the problem. Were not the problem. Its them!
"To heal" a person is to make them physically or emotionally better.
The noun "healer" is not nearly as common as the verb.
Those ticks, his paranoia. You think these are signs of normal behavior?
"Ticks" are nervous uncontrollable body movements, such as constantly winking
or scratching. "Paranoia" is the belief that somebody or something is trying
to seriously harm you.
The fact is, doctor, that I have 20 psychotics up there refusing
to eat, and they have no idea why theyre refusing to eat.
A "psychotic" is a person who is mentally or emotionally disturbed or sick.
Dr. Sayer, Mr. Lowe is not the messiah of ward 5.
A "messiah" is a great religious leader who it is thought can
save people. A "ward" is a specific division or floor of a hospital.
He wasnt resurrected, he was administered a drug
a drug that
has fallen short of its somewhat miraculous reputation.
If a person is "resurrected," they are brought to life from the dead
(Christians believe Jesus was resurrected). If a person "falls short"
of their goal, they fail to accomplish it. "Somewhat" is a widely used
adverb meaning in some degree or measure, or possibly slightly. If a drug
has a "miraculous reputation," it is believed that it can lead to medical miracles.
I sympathize with him, I tried to accommodate him, but I will not let
him endanger the health of the rest of the patients of this hospital.
"To sympathize" with a person is to feel sorry for them. "To
accommodate" a person is to try and do what they want you to do.
Someones trying to hurt you? Who? :: One
never knows, someone I least expect, I expect.
A clever use of language, in this case, of the verb to expect.
Leonard, every patient on this ward thinks theres a plot against him.
A "plot" is a plan or conspiracy by a group of people to harm or even
kill another person (It is also the main story of a book or film).
All these things youre experiencing are the side effect
of that, and theyre making you behave that way.
"Side effects" are the unintended results of something. Some drugs can
work well, but have negative side effects that are as bad as the disease.
Your medicine can be taken away. You can wake up in the
morning and it wont be there. :: Get away from me!
One very direct way of telling a person to leave.
He has acquired some ticks, but he is not as consumed with
his appearance as the effect it may have on the other patients.
"To acquire" a medical condition is to become effected by it. To be "consumed
with" something is to be obsessed with it, or to be always thinking about it.
Well be working with this dosage, hes aware
of this, and hes prepared for any effects.
"Dosage" is the relative amount of medicine that is given to a patient.
That was lovely, Lucy. :: I learned that song a long, long time ago.
A British word for pretty, beautiful or delightful.
How are you? :: Never better.
Leonards colloquial way of saying he is doing very well.
Dont give up on me!
A way of asking a person to continue to support and have faith in you,
even if the situation looks bad. Here, Leonard is asked Dr. Sayer to
still try and help him despite the increasing severity of his ticks.
Its like a light switch goes off. Something has to happen to bring me back.
In this case, to "bring back" a person means to
wake them up so that they will become conscious again.
It gets to be like Im not a person anymore. Just a collection of ticks.
This is Leonards way of describing what it is like
to be him when the drugs starts to not work so well.
What I do mind is knowing that they shouldnt be there.
Note that "to mind" is usually in the negative (meaning "it doesnt
bother me"), but that when used with "do," it can be used positively.
Learn, learn, learn form me!!!
This is Leonards desperate plea to Dr. Sayer, so that he
(Dr. Sayer) will discover how to make the drugs effective again.
I let everybody down!
"To let down" a person is to disappoint them. Common and useful.
Im grotesque. Look at me. Tell me Im not!
A powerful adjective to describe something
that is horrible or disgusting to look at.
Dr. Sayer reflects on what has been learned,
and the critical importance of human contact.
Life is given and taken away from all of us? :: Why doesnt that comfort me?
"To comfort" a person is to make them feel better or more secure.
The summer was extraordinary. A season of rebirth
for 15 patients, and for us, the caretakers.
If something is "extraordinary," it is exceptional or well beyond what
is normal or usual. A "rebirth" is usually a spiritual or physical
reawakening. "Caretakers" are those people who take care of the weak.
Now, we had to adjust to the realities of miracles.
This is Dr. Sayers way of saying that sometimes miracles
are not as amazing or hopeful as they appear to be at first.
We can hide behind the veil of science, and say it was the drug that
.or that the patients were to cope losing decades of their lives.
A "veil" is a thin piece of cloth that is used to cover a womans face,
or in this case, to hide behind in general. To "cope with" something is
to accept or deal with it as well as possible (Here, Dr. Sayer drops "with").
The reality is that we dont know what went
wrong any more than we know what went right.
A very common way of starting a sentence
when you want to clarify a confusing situation.
What we do know is that as the chemical window
closed, another awakening took place...
This is Dr. Sayers way of referring to the patients as the drug began
to lose its effectiveness and their brains began to shut down again.
[and]...that the human spirit is more powerful than
any drug, and that is what needs to be nourished.
"The human spirit" is a poetic general expression that refers to the
love and determination within people. "To nourish" something is to feed it,
so that it will grow strong.
These are the things that matter.
"This is what is important in life..."
The cars over here. :: What do you say we just walk?
"What do you say" is a common colloquial way of starting
a sentence when you want to suggest a possible plan.
Some Possible ESL Questions for Class Discussion
1. If you had been "asleep" for 30 years,
would you have wanted to be woken up?
2. If you had been in that catatonic state, would you have wanted to be
conscious of people visiting you, or completely unconscious of everything?
3. Was Dr. Sayer right to experiment with the L-dopa drug
before it had been officially approved for sleeping sickness?
4. How would you describe Dr. Sayer to a friend?
5. If you had fallen asleep in 1926, or 1939, and woke up in 1969,
what would have amazed you most about how things had changed?
6. Why do you think Leonard became so angry at the hospital staff?
Was he justified to rebel the way he did?
7. What was Dr. Kaufmans attitude toward the patients? Was it justified?
8. What did Dr. Sayer ultimately learn from Leonard and the other patients?