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Against Medical Advice: One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery

Against Medical Advice: One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery

4.1 155
by Patterson

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Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head and his life was never the same again. From that day forward his life became a hell of uncontrollable tics, urges, and involuntary utterances. Eventually he is diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and Cory embarks on an


Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head and his life was never the same again. From that day forward his life became a hell of uncontrollable tics, urges, and involuntary utterances. Eventually he is diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive disorder, and Cory embarks on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist, enduring countless combinations of medications in wildly varying doses. Soon it becomes unclear what tics are symptoms of his disease and what are side effects of the drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Despite his lack of control, Cory is aware of every embarrassing movement, and sensitive to every person's reaction to his often aggravating presence. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life is a living hell.

AGAINST MEDICAL ADVICE is the true story of Cory and his family's decades-long battle for survival in the face of extraordinary difficulties and a maddening medical establishment. It is a heart-rending story of struggle and triumph with a climax as dramatic as any James Patterson thriller.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
...Kevin Collins is comfortable with the contemporary vernacular of a 15-year old boy. His sinewy voice shifts from bemusement to bitterness, conjuring the mindset of an adolescent beset by overwhelming challenges.—Audiofile
One terrible March morning in 1989, Cory Friedman woke up and began to shake himself into a terror that would last for 15 years. Before long, his physical tics and convulsing would take over his life, almost tearing him apart, reducing a gifted five-year-old into a helpless victim. Physicians diagnosed Tourette syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, and other neurological disabilities, but as time passed, it became impossible to distinguish his sicknesses from the effects of the 60 potent medicines that his doctors had prescribed. Cory and, by extension, his family suffered in this volatile inferno before he found solace and release in an unexpected place. Bestselling author James Patterson and Cory's father, Hal Friedman, tell a medical story of calming force.

Product Details

Hachette Audio
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 5 CDs
Product dimensions:
5.72(w) x 5.18(h) x 0.82(d)

Read an Excerpt

Against Medical Advice

One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery

By James Patterson Hal Friedman Cory Friedman
Little, Brown
Copyright © 2008

James Patterson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-316-02475-4

Chapter One I'M SEVENTEEN YEARS OLD and lying like a pathetic, helpless lump in the backseat of our family car, being transported to a place that treats crazy people.

This is an exceptional event, even for me. I know that my brain causes unusual problems that no one has been able to treat, but being insane isn't one of them.

How and why I've gotten to this point is complicated, but the main reason I'm here is more immediate. I've finally found the one thing that brings me peace - alcohol.

Now this self-medication has become a life- threatening danger that I cannot fix by myself. The doctors at the place I'm going to promise they can help me. I've heard that one before.

After about an hour, we arrive at a large brick building with a sign that reads DRESSLER PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL. In a split second the reality of what's happening becomes very real and very scary.

"Why does it say that?" I call from the backseat, my heart suddenly pounding.

"Don't worry about the sign," my mother says to calm my rising panic. "They treat all different kinds of problems here, Cory."

Dad looks as worried as I am but says softly, "Let's not deal with this now, okay?"

Not deal with going to a hospital for psychos? Sure, no problem. What can my father be thinking?

Inside the main entrance, I enter a very crowded, somewhat noisy waiting room. Being on view always makes me uneasy, so as soon as I start to walk, my feet need to perform a triple hop, three quick steps only inches apart, which throws me off balance.

I have to do this in order to satisfy a tension that is building up in my legs and can't be released any other way. Sometimes this trips me up so much that I go flying to the ground.

I do the triple hop a few more times before reaching out for the safety of one of the empty waiting- room chairs.

Welcome to my fun house, folks.

Chapter Two MANY OF THE PEOPLE in the waiting area are still staring at me as my right hand shoots up in the air with the middle finger extended. Oh boy, here we go, I think. Giving people the bird is another one of my involuntary movements, or tics, that pop up exactly when they shouldn't. Try telling people that one's not deliberate.

Another middle-finger salute. Hi, everybody!

For a moment I think about the new medicines I'm taking, which are, as usual, not doing their job. Wellbutrin for depression, Tenex to keep me calm, Topamax as an "experiment" to see if a seizure medicine will help. So far I've been on fifty or sixty different medicines, none of which have worked - and a few of them can become deadly when washed down with Jack Daniel's.

Psychiatric hospital. A place for insane people, I'm thinking.

I know I'm not insane, even though the things I do make me look that way. But I do have a fear that I can think myself insane, and being in this place could push me over the edge. Going insane is probably my worst fear. If it happens, I won't know what, or where, reality is. To me, that's the ultimate isolation - to be separated from my own mind.

Eventually a receptionist calls my name and then starts asking me strange, bewildering questions. One of my eyes begins to twitch rapidly, and my tongue jumps out of my mouth like a snake's.

Occasionally I make a loud grunting sound like I've been punched hard in the stomach. Often my tics come one at a time, but today they're arriving in clusters of three or four, probably due to the stress.

I once told my parents that they couldn't live through a single day with what I go through every day of my life, and that was when I was a lot better than I am now.

It takes another hour or so for my parents to be interviewed by a doctor. When they come out, I can see that my mother has been crying. My father looks exhausted and edgy.

When it's my turn with the doctor, I can't stop myself from shooting him the bird, too. The guy is good about it. He totally ignores it. He's young and gentle and pretty much puts me at ease.

"I drink more than I should at night," I tell him, skipping the part about almost burning down my parents' house when I passed out on the couch with a lit cigarette. "I guess I like to get a little tipsy."

This is the understatement of the year. Tipsy is my code word for totally wasted.

The doctor gives me a complete physical, and when it's over he says I'm as healthy as anyone he's seen, which strikes me as very funny.

"So I guess I can go now?" I joke, punctuated by an involuntary tongue thrust.

"Yeah, right."

Later, back in the waiting area, a male attendant approaches us and asks for any medicines we might have brought.

"What do you mean?" my father asks.

"He needs these," my mother cautions, taking out a large plastic bag crammed with pill bottles.

"The doctors will take care of that," the attendant answers.

Mom reluctantly turns over the stash.

A while later, a female nurse approaches and leads the three of us deep into the rear of the building.

Everything is a lot different here. It's darker and there aren't any people around. It's a spooky place.

I fight off a really bad feeling that I'm going somewhere I won't be able to handle.

Eventually we stop in front of a massive door with a sign that says JUVENILE PSYCHIATRIC WARD D.

Mental kids, I think.

"That's not me," I snap, pointing to the sign. "Mom, you know I'm not crazy."

The nurse says, "We get all kinds of people here," as though arriving at an insane asylum is an ordinary event in anybody's life.

"You're here for your drinking," Mom adds, "which they treat."

"It doesn't say that on the signs."

The nurse takes a large metal key out of her jacket pocket, and I freeze at the sight of it. I've never been in a hospital where the doors have to be locked. I come to a sudden realization: You don't lock doors to keep people out. You lock doors to keep them in.


Excerpted from Against Medical Advice by James Patterson Hal Friedman Cory Friedman Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

James Patterson has had more New York Times bestsellers than any other writer, ever, according to Guinness World Records. Since his first novel won the Edgar Award in 1977 James Patterson's books have sold more than 240 million copies. He is the author of the Alex Cross novels, the most popular detective series of the past twenty-five years, including Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Mr. Patterson also writes the bestselling Women's Murder Club novels, set in San Francisco, and the top-selling New York detective series of all time, featuring Detective Michael Bennett. He writes full-time and lives in Florida with his family.

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Against Medical Advice: One Family's Struggle with an Agonizing Medical Mystery 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 155 reviews.
TSMom More than 1 year ago
Cory Friedman is a young man who has suffered from Tourette Syndrome since he was 5 years old. Hal Friedman (Cory's father) and James Patterson have collaborated on this book to bring us the most real, compelling and inspiring retelling of Cory's life and how he struggled every day (every minute) with a debilitating diagnosis. As a mother of 3 children, all of whom have Tourette Syndrome, I can authoritatively say that there was no fictionalization to this story. The events, misery and anguish that Cory and his parents went through are very real, and I'm certain that the feelings that came across were not amplified in any way, in fact sometimes, I thought maybe they were downplayed a little. I admire Cory for his stamina, resiliency and his determination. My children have already gained strength from Cory's experience as I have told them about his life and struggles.

I recommend this book to everyone, especially if someone in your life has been touched by Tourette Syndrome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I joined the James Patterson Community and was the 1000th member to join. I actually got the book sent to me in the mail yesterday and I read it very quickly, could not put it down as is always the case with his books. This is his first non-fiction book and it did not let me down. You feel a connection with the main character as soon as you start reading. James Patterson has a future in the non-fiction field. I suggest you run out in October and pick up your copy!
ReviewYourBook.com More than 1 year ago
James Patterson, Hal Friedman
ISBN: 9780316024754
Little, Brown & Co., 2008
Reviewed by Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com, 11/08
5 Star
I read this book in one sitting¿
James Patterson and Hal Friedman share the story of Cory Friedman¿s life with Tourette¿s Syndrome. Cory was misdiagnosis and given the wrong medication repeatedly. He spent his life twitching and jerking, making involuntary motions and uttering involuntary words. He developed uncontrollable fears and obsessive habits. ¿I never know if it¿s the medicine itself, the combination of medicines, the doses, or the usual ups and downs that happen with Tourettes.¿
I do not think anyone can begin to understand the hell the Friedman¿s, especially Cory, have lived through. My heart aches for them and rejoices for them. Cory, you are a remarkable young man with a remarkable family.
Against Medical Advice grabbed my attention and would not let go. I read this book in one sitting. The story is told from Cory¿s point of view. I think family photographs would have added to this book; however, I can also understand that the family might have considered that intrusive. I highly recommend this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was something that once I started reading I couldn't put it down. Great read and very informative as well. It also helped me understand what some of the students today are facing in elementary schools. I am going to have my daughter read this, as a former classmate of hers was recently diagnosed with Tourettes. I think it will be a great insight for her about how another person feels.
rsmith11 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in one sitting (a first for me). Well written, with great insight into the disease and what it is like to live with it. Definitely worth your time!
rufus50 More than 1 year ago
This is a disturbing yet truly inspiring story of how determination and devoted parents can help to overcome a devastating disease and incompetant medical treatment for their son. A must read for parents and educators of special needs children.
KLOLeary More than 1 year ago
This story will pull at your heartstrings. Told from Cory's point of view, it allows you to see his pain and agony from the inside. I'm sure the story would have been just as good had it been told from Hal's point of view, writing it this way, gives us readers that little bit more. Before reading this story, I hadn't a clue what it must be like to live with an illness like this, and it will definitely open my eyes to the struggles many people with Tourette's and other similar disorders deal with on a daily basis.
cheshire More than 1 year ago
This is a very touching story of trying to make it in a world where different is not always accepted. I experienced some of the same response from people. Patterson and Friedman did an excellent job writing what life can feel like when a person is not like the others.
Shar-Bear More than 1 year ago
This book is narrated by the main character Cory, the reader then sees the world through the eyes of a person with Tourettes syndrome. At the tender age of five Cory begins to experience uncontrollable ticks, compulsions and odd urges. This book brings out the emotional and physical pain of doing actions that hurt others; Cory loses his childhood innocence to battle disease that is beginning to become invincible.
Cory gains OCD and Tourettes enhance the symptoms of OCD, his family attempt to help their child by getting help from doctors. However no matter whom they would go to nothing helps, in all actuality the prescriptions tend to enhance or create new problems.
After a near death event the Friedman family takes their son off of the prescriptions and medication suggested by the Doctors and professionals. However Cory still remains in torture in his own body. Along with his constant pain and suffering, Cory still tries to attend school and retain a somewhat normal childhood. The school also tries to embrace Cory and help him, but with his extreme OCD and Tourettes Cory has a very difficult time with making friends and behaving like everyone else.
When attending school became near impossible and Cory's drinking habits would steadily increase, Cory's parents send him to a wilderness camp in the snow tipped mountains. it was a camp that was designed to stop teens from their addictions, they way that would happen would be that because it is a wilderness camp everyone must work together to survive. Through this harsh and primitive way of living, Cory learns how to work through his Tourettes and OCD. Cory, although in agonizing and freezing pain, is able to find a somewhat relaxing part within himself-past the Tourettes and OCD.
Later on in the story Cory goes back to his old High school, but is faced with the probability of repeating his junior year. Through the fighting efforts of his mother and his own will, Cory manages to move on.
Cory's battle for control over his own life is inspiring and at times depressing his longing for the freedom he found on the mountain wilderness camp. The theme of nature and family are major the major themes of this novel.
The theme of nature against society is a large and constantly seen within the pages. While stranded in snow-covered mountains Cory learns how to live in peace with himself and how to work through most of his ticking and compulsions. Although the care and loving helping hand of his family was always appreciated, Cory was able to handle his internal problems when he knew- that in the mountains- he would have to take care of himself.
The theme of family is also an important theme to recognize. Cory constantly mentions how he hates hurting them, when his ticking gets so out of control that he becomes violent. Cory describes how he is able to gain his determination by watching his parents fight to find a cure. Family is important because they love and care for one another, and that is precisely how the Friedman family are to their son.
Anonymous 5 days ago
A boy i like but i dont know if he likes me!! Please respond soon because im going to see him on wednesdayy and friday!!!!!
Anonymous 8 days ago
Did you ask your friends/family for help? ~Hermione11
Anonymous 12 days ago
I need help please. Respond at next reult. ~N
Anonymous 24 days ago
Tbh my depression isnt getting better....i feel worse
Anonymous 3 months ago
Hello wondering if I could help. It can be hard when there are so many time zones to live in so I can lend a hand if its okay with you. I had a lot of experience last year with my l.g.b.t.q. friend, a few friends with crushes, bullying, gossip ect. I am now homeschooled so I can check my nook pretty frequently. I really would love to help! --Katrina (Kat)
Anonymous 3 months ago
Hi im mark im a guy and i need advice about this girl that i have a crush on. We met doing a stair moniter job and she was funny and shy. At first i thought of her as just a friend but now i think of her as more. Obviously she just thinks of me as a friend but i dont how to tell her what i feel. Please help.
Anonymous 4 months ago
How do you tell a boy you like him if he keeps pretending that he doesn't know even though he does and does not want to believe you?
Anonymous 4 months ago
Follow the steps on the need advice rview on dork diaries result one. Ask here with your name (fake or not doesnt matter just need something to call you) and your problem. I specialize in girl stuff like crushes and growing up. Check dork diaries result one for more info.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Hi Amy! Youre a good person.
Anonymous 6 months ago
I really need help,my mom is Sick and im sad becaise im rideing the bus home a dont even get to see her much i really need some help also my brother is putting so much pressure on me by helping him with homework and other things when he usally get my moms help. And also i have homework so thats a dubblewhammy and mine take 2-3 hours to do by the time i get home my mom isnt even cooking supper and she tells me to do it. I really want to help her but ive been doing it for 3 weeks now and i mean i just want to help her but im really sad because i dont get to see her much because im in school and rideing the bus home. Hope you can anwser soon- Your friend- Lilly
Anonymous 6 months ago
Youre my problem
Anonymous 7 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does a wet vagi.na mean that the girl is turned on or is she just sweaty? Make out session last night almost got broken like that.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just tell me the problem and I'll try to help
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Heartlight1 More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome! Tourette's Syndrome and OCD run in my family. Easily one of the best books I've ever read. I was so absorbed in the book, I finished it in a day! Highly recommend, especially for anyone who has a child with any mental health disorder, as it is told from Cory's point of view.