Monday, April 25, 2005

Polyevolutio Compello-Libri Syndrome: A Debilitating Disease That Is Often Overlooked

I've been posting for a few months now, telling delightful little anecdotes about my life and whimsically attempting to entertain those who stumble across my little blog. But today I am temporarily dropping the humor to reveal something deeply personal about myself: I suffer from a rare and gradually debilitating neurological disorder called PCLS (Polyevolutio Compello-Libri Syndrome). I suppose I'm taking this step in order to bring attention to the fact that this disease receives very little attention or federal funding.

Many people don't realize that this disease can severely impact the lives of those afflicted, who make up approximately .01% of the population. However with enough publicity, perhaps the National Institutes of Health will bestow a grant to PCLS researchers and physicians at the University of Phoenix to study the subject. And perhaps someday people like me will receive the help they so desperately need.

There are several theories on what causes the disorder. One theory is that PCLS is caused by a hypothalamic abnormality telling the brain to produce chemicals that induce the sufferer to purchase far too many books than are humanly necessary.

Another theory is that there is something wrong with the visual processing center in the
occipital lobe, causing the brain to be unable to recognize the fact that there are, in fact, more than enough books already in the house. The end result of both theories is the same -- excessive book-buying and extreme clutter of the living space. Eventually, a mild form of dementia ensues, causing patients to wander aimlessly for hours through musty old bookstores and coffeeshops.

Symptoms And Diagnosis
The symptoms of PCLS usually begin well before puberty but, because these signs can occur in any combination, sufferers (also known as "bibliophiles") do not always see them as an indicator of a larger issue and don't consult a physician until the disorder has had a chance to develop over several years. Unfortunately, this delay can only make things worse, as the more advanced the disease, the more difficult it is to treat and the more likely it is that a bibliophile will suffer from cashflow problems and a lack of available living space.

Upon visiting physicians, the primary complaint of those with PCLS is the difficulty encountered in obtaining a specific copy of an especially interesting volume. Other indicators of the condition include irritability, callused or ink-stained fingers, squinting, a familiarity with Proust or Miller, the urge to use big words like "exacerbate" and an overwhelming urge to accumulate vast amounts of literature that don't fit comfortably in the space at hand.

My particular symptoms have displayed themselves in a number of ways: the removal of a television due to lack of space; the stacking of books where books wouldn't normally go; the excessive number of trips to various bookshops; the long and rather earnest literary conversations with bearded strangers lurking furtively in corners; the inability to walk past an attractively priced leather-bound volume on anything that sounds even remotely interesting.

The disease can be difficult to diagnose, and once recognized, it is nearly impossible to treat. Experimental therapies have tried a combination of drugs and reality shows, to no avail.

So please, write a letter to Congress today. Demand more funding for the research of PCLS, so that someday sufferers will be able to live normal lives by restricting themselves to buying only one or two books a month. We can find a cure!


Blogger Kay said...

Interesting ... I have a mild, cycling form of Polyevolutio Compello-Libri Syndrome. At its worst, I would get up and leave the house in the morning SPECIFICALLY to go book shopping, often not returning until late at night. I spent hours on the internet, prior to a business trip, finding shops near my destination to indulge my disease.

Thanks for identifying this problem so well.

12:53 PM  
Blogger L said...

you're welcome :)

I suffer horribly from this disorder...

9:02 PM  
Blogger Weary Hag said...

Ohhh my heart goes out to you. I have a similar disorder but it has to do with compulsive writing rather than reading. Half-written brilliance (and more often, not so brilliant bits) lies all over my house and in piles in my home office. My hard drive is jammed with "this will be my best piece ever" files that start out with a bang and end in a dull fizzle, mid-sentence.
I hope you get the funding needed and so much deserved to help treat your debilitating disorder. My prayers are with you. Excellent and clever post!

5:50 AM  
Blogger L said...

weary hag: thank you :)

9:15 PM  
Anonymous Frally said...

Does this PCLS also include buying copious amounts of stationery? Because, if it does, I've definitely got it. You can never have too many pens or notepads.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous rhodent said...

!...your disease started to manifest itself sometime before you turned 18 months... I have the photographic evidence to prove this. Unfortunately for you, your female parental unit encouraged behaviors in you that exacerbated the progression of your disease. There also seems to be the strong possibility of a genetic link in your case, so investigation of genetic therapies might prove partially effective. Complete reversal of the symptoms in your case, however, is not likely. It is strongly recommended that you seek counseling to deal with the day to day
manifestations of your disease. Group counseling seems to be the most successful form of counseling.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous Larry Jones said...

L - Why didn't you say something sooner? I had no idea you were suffering from this terible affliction. Oh, Lord, why does it have to be the best and brightest?
I have a pickup truck to cart away some of your "symptoms." You just say the word, sweetheart.

9:16 PM  
Anonymous jpr said...

I knew someone with this dehabilitating disease. It got so bad that they had to go cold turkey and surgically blind themselves. Unfortunately even this extreme treatment failed. It turns out that braille books take up even more room.
This is 100% true, I swear on my sisters grave.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous glomgold said...

Dear sweet jesus! You poor innocent! I realize your condition is incurable and would like to help, much like Larry Jones. If you need to make more space, I'll take your TV. It's the least I can do (please ship it express).

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Vile File said...

Damn your female parental unit, enabling this disorder. Why didn't she just give you unlimited access to television and video games, like parents are supposed to? Oh, the shameful neglect...

9:17 PM  
Anonymous april said...

wow, and all this time i went undiagnosed. thanks, l, for bringing this to light! :D glad to know we have yet another thing in common ... and i don't feel handicapped by my affliction, but my wallet does.

9:18 PM  
Blogger L said...

Frally: that is certainly a form of the same disease, although perhaps slightly less debilitating

Rhodent & Ms Vile: I know, I know! Can you believe my mother abused me so Horribly? One weeps...

Larry and glomgold: I will keep you in mind if ever I decide to rid myself of anything!

jpr: your sister's grave? Last I heard she was charmingly beautiful, with thousands of men flocking about to worship the very ground upon which she walks...

April: I thought you would appreciate this one :)

9:18 PM  
Anonymous mr. anigans said...

i think i have a mutant that affects the aural canal. i'm an audiophile, videophile, bibliophile...i better not get carried away with this 'philing'

9:18 PM  
Anonymous mark said...

I used to suffer from the same illness but fortunately I found a 12 step program where we admit we have a problem, confess our problem to the one we have hurt the most (our wallet) and then submit to a higher power (Barnes and Noble) where we rely totally upon the higher power to get us through one day at a time (in other words, we read the books there). I'm sure there is a group in your area...

9:19 PM  
Anonymous carol said...

I think the saddest part of this disease is that more of the population has it than are diagnosed. So, they wander around aimlessly at Barnes and Noble or other bookstores (especially the ones with coffee shops) until someone wraps them in a blanket and takes them home. Marriages have ended because there was no longer room at the home for the spouse. Children and pets get sold for yet another dime to buy a book. It's sad.

I know. I was one. I'm better now.

9:19 PM  

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