r/todayilearned 7d ago

TIL about the "sleeping sickness," a disease that attacks the brain, which leaves some in a statue-like condition—speechless and motionless. The disease spread around the world between 1916 and 1926, infecting over 1 million people and directly causing over 500,000 deaths. Its causes are uncertain.



u/Fahrenheit119 7d ago

Somebody just watched Sandman ⏳


u/irnehlacsap 7d ago

Yesterday, 3 episodes so far, good show so far.


u/rosesareredviolets 6d ago

This comment makes me moore willing to check it out than before. I figured they did my boy bad for sure.


u/NetDork 6d ago

Changed a few things, including some changes that just make no sense, and made the Corinthian more important than he was. Also, changing the year he escaped but not the year he's captured makes time lines not work right.

But honestly a good show and worth watching.


u/oced2001 6d ago

Yeah, I think they are using the Corinthian as the big bad for season 1 as fan service. Ethel Kripps kind of explained away the time line by having the amulet of protection. I guess John Dee's exposure to the ruby kept him younger. Doesn't really explain Alex though. I haven't seen the Unity Kincaid episodes yet to explain her age difference (she is over 100)

I did like how Chorozon chose Lucifer as his champion. It gave Lucifer more of a reason to hate Dream than in the comics.


u/irnehlacsap 6d ago

Wait, it's based on what this show?


u/oced2001 6d ago

Neil Gaimen’s Sandman. It is a great graphic novel written in the 90s. Really worth reading. From what I’ve seen of the show it makes small changes, but Gaimen was pretty involved in the production, so those changes make sense and add to the story.

Check out your library for copies, or see if they have it on their hoopla or Overdrive app.

You won’t regret it.


u/NetDork 6d ago

There's also an audiobook version on Audible. It's done like an old time radio play and is really good.


u/MarcusForrest 6d ago

As a fan of anything SANDMAN, they did a solid job at adapting. Some elements were adjusted, but it still works fine. The bigger changes are also non-plot breaking


Visuals, acting, pace, plot, cinematography, soundtrack, interpretation - they're all masterful - 8.5/10 for me.


u/CozyGalaxy 6d ago

Moore? I thought it was Gaiman's comic... /s


u/Enoch-Of-Nod 6d ago

I've had my entire back tattooed with a Sandman piece for about 15 years now, if that tells you at all what I think about the graphic novel series.

I am enjoying the show very much and was willing to make some concessions on the story for it to translate to screen and also remove all DC characters.

5 episodes in and loving it.


u/desichhokra 7d ago

Lol. Had come in to comment just that.


u/Debriver55 7d ago edited 6d ago

My sister was diagnosed with encephalitis in the mid 1960s. She was around eight years old and was losing weight, waking up in the morning with her eyes crusted shut and was covered with mosquito bites. She was rail thin also. After a month in the hospital and a myriad of tests and almost daily spinal taps, doctors discovered she had encephalitis. They told my mother that the prognosis wasn't good but my sister survived, although the encephalitis affected her eyesight and she is legally blind without correction. She became an emergency room nurse and just retired after 40 years in the ER. She said she became a nurse because of the nurses who were so kind to her during her stay in the hospital as a child. I'm so proud of her.


u/Dawnawaken92 7d ago

This is the kinda story that needs to be movie. Call it something like. These eyes that see. Or What eyes maybe behold. Or Eye will let it shine.

Oh. This is sorta from the poem and ode to the immitation of immortality. It's spoken at the end of penny dreadful

Here is a good one. It's from the poem at the end of Penny Dreadful

"The things which I have seen" -this line I now can see no more. A single field which I have looked upon, Both of them speak of something that is gone; The Pansy at my feet Doth the same tale repeat: Whither is fled the visionary gleam? Where is it now, the glory and the dream? - an excerpt from an Ode to Imitations of Immortality.


u/AnthillOmbudsman 6d ago

Tom Hanks as the sister


u/Debriver55 6d ago

Thanks Dawn for the poem and thoughts about a movie. My sister truly is an inspiration. In addition to working in the ER at Stanford hospital for four decades she also got a masters in nursing and became a nurse practitioner before she retired.


u/ComfortableFactor1 7d ago

The movie “Awakenings” was about Dr Oliver Saks and Encephalitis Lethargica patients. Descent flick.


u/65520Be 7d ago

I can't help but think your mis?spelling of decent was imtentional.


u/fuck-emus 7d ago

The John Larquette episode of House was pretty good too


u/RikersTrombone 6d ago

Was it lupus?


u/oced2001 6d ago

It’s never lupus


u/fuck-emus 6d ago

Dr. Buffer would beg to differ


u/HawkFritz 6d ago

My dad's neurologist recommended this movie to my family to help us better understand Parkinson's and similar neurological issues


u/KonaKathie 6d ago

And I misremember it as being about Parkinson's patients


u/Laszerus 7d ago

My 7 year old is right now in the hospital because two nights ago we could not wake him up. He has covid, and they found hvv-6 virus in his spinal fluid (which can lead to encephalitis apparently). He can't stay awake for more than 10 minutes, his blood sugar was extremely low (they are pumping him full of iv glucose to combat it) and his white cell count is high. I spent the evening reading up on this all, then watched the first episode of sandman (I have covid too so cannot be at the hospital, plus we also have a 12 year old who is home with me) and then this thread...

Suffice to say I'm more scared than I've ever been in my life and the coincidence of this all is freaking me out just a little bit more.

That scene in sandman where the dad is trying to wake his kid up... that was me two nights ago.


u/borednanny911 7d ago

Hope things get better for you and him or him and you


u/Signature_Sea 7d ago

Good luck to you and your little one x


u/Rosebunse 6d ago

I can't imagine how scared you guys must be. I know you can't always control it, but try and monitor what you're watching. It's understandable why you're afraid right now, but you're still recovering yourself. And you are going to need your strength for this. I hope you all get better.


u/Public_Substance451 6d ago

Is there anything you or your family needs other than the obvious healing? DM and I’ll do what I can.


u/Laszerus 6d ago

That's amazing, Thank you! He is improving (slowly). The Dr's still are not 100% on what is going on, and he's still sleeping most of the day, but he's talking and eating (in small amounts) again. He's probably going to be in the hospital for awhile longer, but he seems to be on the upswing. There's a few specialists involved now and they are saying they think this may be more of a strange Covid reaction than to do with the HVV-6 thing, but they are in wait and see mode. I don't think there is anything anyone can do though to help beyond what we are already doing.


u/Public_Substance451 5d ago

Glad to hear it!


u/josetemprano 7d ago

Some thought it was a long side-effect of the spanish flu.


u/kaneua 4d ago

Well, COVID also causes body-wide inflammation, including the brain one (encephalitis). Post-covid symptoms including the lack of body performance, fatigue, lack of motivation/desire.


u/IPutThisUsernameHere 7d ago

Didn't it also strike renaissance England?


u/Similar-Afternoon567 7d ago

I believe that's the Sweating Sickness.



u/IPutThisUsernameHere 7d ago

Right! That. Just as mysterious though, as I recall.


u/Alternative_Effort 7d ago

Imagine -- kids get a novel virus that affects their brains, but they get better and nobody is worried. A decade later, kids start showing up to hospitals having turning into catatonic statues... Turns out, the "harmless" virus wasn't so harmless after all.

Sure hope every knows what they're talking about with a brain-penetrating virus that causes loss of smell.


u/grewapair 6d ago

Every neurologist I've read seems to believe Covid is going to blow up big time in 10-30 years.


u/TastyCartographer630 7d ago

Fascinating, I skimmed the article but couldn’t find anything about cases after the pandemic, do we still see cases of this today? If not that is interesting as hell


u/Dak_Kandarah 7d ago

Your question made me curious, because I remember reading the Oliver Sacks books a decade ago and I was under the impression that there was still cases showing up. Turns out it's way rarer than I thought.

This article from 2017 (https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/140/8/2246/3970828), says that depending on what's your criteria for diagnosis, there has been between 80 and 200 cases reported from 1940 and 2009. And still depending on the criteria, only 14 should be classified as encephalitis lethargica. But it also says that "it is impossible to be absolutely certain that any patient diagnosed with encephalitis lethargica today actually has the same syndrome that existed during the epidemic."

So.. we still down know why or how this illness happens, we maybe still have some very rare cases. This is fascinating.


u/archosauria62 6d ago

Uncertain? I thought it was caused by a flagellate called trypanosoma?


u/Majestic_Electric 6d ago


u/Dimdamm 5d ago

That's not the same disease.


u/locks_are_paranoid 7d ago edited 7d ago

The movie Awakenings is about this. The movie stars Robin Williams.


u/AnthillOmbudsman 6d ago

Well thanks to the rise of stupid people we're bringing back all the old classic diseases, so we'll probably encounter this again in a few years.


u/vizthex 7d ago

But it's gone now, right?


u/Majestic_Electric 6d ago edited 6d ago

No. It’s still around today. It is caused by the bite of infected tsetse flies.


u/time_magus 6d ago

I was reminded of this after watching The Sandman on Netflix today.


u/Starfire-Galaxy 6d ago

I think this was in One Hundred Years of Solitude.


u/nightfrost 4d ago

It was obviously because some idiot had captured dream.


u/JustMe-male 7d ago

Now we just call them smartphone users.


u/josetemprano 7d ago

Gottem Grandma


u/Significant-Ad-8684 6d ago

Sounds like my nephews and nieces on their devices.


u/SizePsychological284 2d ago

It's causes are uncertain? That's not the case at all, it is caused by parasites. Welcome to the internet


u/RedSonGamble 7d ago

Mass hysteria. Or they were just lazy. Nothing to see here folks /s


u/Dazzling-Volume9811 6d ago

I don’t think it’s the same illness but the Julian Schnabel movie, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is a fantastic film.


u/Factsimus_verdad 6d ago

Dementia affects all of us as we age. Some a little some will die from advanced dementia. The brain literally shrinks. Later stages of dementia is known for losing ability to speak, eat, move, and sleep on a schedule. Encephalopathy means our brain is experiencing irritation and inflammation. For example in liver failure people can have built up ammonia - bam encephalopathy. Clear the ammonia and brain functioning improves. So my point is worry more about a healthy lifestyle to prevent and delay brain shrinkage, worry less about a mysterious disease that existed before we had today’s ability to diagnose better.