Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry

Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry

4.7 45
by Julia Fox Garrison
     
 

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Julia Fox Garrison refused to listen to the professionals she called Dr. Jerk and Dr. Panic, who—after she suffered a massive, debilitating stroke at age thirty-seven—told her shed probably die, or to Nurse Doom, who ignored her emergency call button. Instead she heeded the advice of kind, gifted Dr. Neuro, who promised her he would "treat your mind as

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Overview

Julia Fox Garrison refused to listen to the professionals she called Dr. Jerk and Dr. Panic, who—after she suffered a massive, debilitating stroke at age thirty-seven—told her shed probably die, or to Nurse Doom, who ignored her emergency call button. Instead she heeded the advice of kind, gifted Dr. Neuro, who promised her he would "treat your mind as well as your body." Julia figured if she could somehow manage to get herself into a wheelchair, at least shed always find parking. But after many, many months of hospitalization and rehab—with the help of family, friends, and her own indomitable spirit—Julia not only got into a wheelchair, but she got back out. "Dont Leave Me This Way" is the funny, inspiring, profoundly moving true story of a womans fight for her life and dignity—and her determined quest to awaken an entrenched, unfeeling medical community to the fact that theres always a human being inside every patient.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Garrison, a 37-year-old Boston-area woman with a great husband and a fine three-year old boy, was busy at work when she suddenly felt "a throbbing pain in the right side of her head... a volcano erupting inside her skull." The next thing she knew, her family was gathered around her hospital bed, and she couldn't feel the whole left side of her body. She'd had a massive brain hemorrhage and had only survived thanks to some very risky surgery. Doctors were divided about why she'd had this stroke; indeed, Garrison spent the next weeks and months fending off a dire diagnosis, vasculitis, from the pseudonymous "Dr. Jerk." Most of the professionals she dealt with were negative, wanting her to accept that she'd never walk again or have a full, satisfying life. But Garrison, with the help of her supportive husband, brothers, parents, friends and a few gifted therapists and doctors, managed an extraordinary recovery. By book's end, she is walking (albeit with difficulties), actively parenting again, trying to sue the makers of the cold syrup that triggered her stroke and giving motivational talks to doctors' groups. Her humorous, tear-jerking, struggle-to-recover-against-all-odds story is a lesson in finding silver linings. (June 13) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Garrison was a thirtysomething software professional living in suburban Boston and surrounded by a large and loving family when she suffered what was eventually diagnosed as a brain hemorrhage and stroke that left one side of her body paralyzed. This book, based on her privately printed memoir, P.S. Julia: Missing a Piece of Your Mind Can Be Puzzling, tells the story of her more than yearlong struggle toward recovery in the 1990s. Garrison has few kind words for the medical profession or the Boston-area hospitals at which she was treated and does not downplay the many indignities of her intensive rehabilitation effort, including her guilt over not being able to take proper care of her young son. This well-written, episodic memoir is neither a caregiver's guide nor a self-help manual, and despite the author's best efforts to be flippant and put a happy face on her medical calamities, it is more harrowing and disturbing than amusing or quirky. Appropriate for public libraries, especially those lacking in up-to-date personal medical narratives by younger people, such as Tania Katan's remarkably upbeat account of her struggle with breast cancer, My One-Night Stand with Cancer. Martha E. Stone, Massachusetts General Hosp. Lib., Boston Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wisecracking memoirs of a young woman who suffered a stroke and is still working to recover from it. Garrison was only 37 when the stroke occurred in the right hemisphere of her brain, leaving her with impaired vision and balance and paralysis on the left side of her body. The author writes disconcertingly in the third person in the two first chapters, switches to the second person for the following chapters, then changes to the first person for the final two chapters. Possibly her intention is to reflect changes in her perception of herself as she experiences a devastating life-altering injury and slowly comes to terms with what has happened to her. Garrison, however, is not subtle; she yells, curses, cries (in private), jokes, belittles, rages and demands. Doctors she does not like she dubs Dr. Jerk and Dr. Panic, and she uses quick sarcasm on unnamed nurses, aides, therapists and others who don't measure up. Her humor may sometimes be forced and a bit heavy-handed, but it is most often directed at herself. She firmly believes that attitude is the secret to success, and her determination to survive and to get better sees her through some exceedingly rough times. Her early excursions outside the hospital are nearly disastrous yet truly funny, as are her adventures at home with a three-year-old. While chemotherapy is forced upon her, she explores other avenues on her own: acupuncture, Botox, a faith healer at a friend's church and even a teenager in a coma who is believed by some to be in direct contact with Jesus. In the end, there is no magic cure, and her recovery can only ever be partial. If there is a message here, it's for anyone who's had a bruising encounter with the health-caresystem. The inspiring story of a feisty woman who stands up, literally and figuratively, and fights for her rights as a human being.
MD - Mehmet Oz
"A stroke (literally) of luck helped define the essence of her life. Her inspirational story can help us find ours."
Gary Sobelson
“This book changed the way I practice medicine.”
Carol Kauffman
“Julia Fox Garrison’s story isn’t just about her own recovery, it’s about the best in all of us.”
Brenda Michaels and Rob Spears
“She has raised the bar on honesty and irreverence… to the level of sacred.”
Elle
“Fierce optimism and even fiercer wit…(A) unique tone and utterly un-maudlin appeal.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Worth reading, every page of it.”
Booklist
“Inspirational is too weak a word to describe Garrison’s memoir.”
Boston Magazine
“Inspiring...A moving story that pulls readers through her most humbling and most triumphant moments.”
Chicago Sun-Times
“Readers can bring this book to the beach and laugh out loud...There are also moments showing Garrison’s incredible sensitivity.”
Detroit Free Press
“ Garrison can write. She is sharp, terse, tough and wry, especially wry.”
Chicago Tribune
“Wickedly humorous, brutally honest.”
BookPage
“Garrison is exceptional because of her response to her experiences, not because of them.”
Mehmet Oz MD
“A stroke (literally) of luck helped define the essence of her life. Her inspirational story can help us find ours.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061120619
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/13/2006
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.13(d)

Read an Excerpt

Don't Leave Me This Way

Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry
By Julia Garrison

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Julia Garrison
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0061120618

Chapter One

One of the Rats
in the Race

July 17, 1997

she was southbound on route 128, driving to work and doing her daily ritual, thanking God for her son, Rory, and her husband, Jim, and all of her family and her friends and her job and the fact that she and Jim were talking about having another baby and the fact that she had lost weight thanks to that stuff she was taking and the fact that she had a good marriage, and she finished thanking God and quickly glanced in the rearview mirror and changed lanes confidently and safely and started thinking about precisely how she was going to handle the switchover of the phone system at work while making everything look SEAMLESS to the customers calling in, customers who didn't know (and didn't much care) that her company was moving from one building to another, or that BIG, BIG CHANGES were in the works. And she thought, Bring it on.

Southbound on 128. And she thought, Seamless.

And as she was driving it didn't occur to her to thank God for the ability to stand, or to walk, or to drive, or to take a shower herself, or to dress herself, or to have a functioning circulatory system, or to make herway to the toilet unescorted, or to change her own tampon rather than watch helplessly as a total stranger did so, or to wipe her own ass for that matter. And had she thought of these things she would certainly have been thankful to God for them, but as of the morning of July 17, 1997, it had never occurred to her to even notice them, much less express gratitude for them.

Southbound on 128 and driving and thinking that last week her boss had sat her down and told her "Big, big changes are in the works," and "I'll be honest with you, the company is going through a major transition," and "We need you to keep everybody in your department upbeat, that's what you're so good at," and "Don't get me wrong, this is a question of survival," and "You're the best team player we've got," and "The transition has to be seamless." Big, big changes in the works. "Don't let them throw you."

Southbound on 128 and remembering the huge cutout of Babe Ruth she'd put together for the party with the president when he introduced his new management team and the theme was "The Winning Team." She'd managed to track down a life-size stand-up photo of the Babe and she'd put a baseball cap with the company logo on it and it got a standing ovation. She'd decorated her department with a baseball theme, even hiring a hot dog and popcorn vendor. There were different positions for her coworkers to play -- the batting cage, the pitching mound. Boosting morale within the company. Big, big changes were in the works and everything was going to be seamless, goddammit, seamless.

Southbound on 128, a little sleepy, time to wake up now, thankful that she knew the road as well as she did. Thankful she knew exactly what was in front of her. Bring it on.

A long time ago you had a vision.
"You're going to be in a wheelchair for a while. But it's going to make you a better person."
You saw yourself in a wheelchair in the dream. When you woke up you felt confused.

Her normal routine was that she would take a lunchtime walk with Berkeley, the other customer support manager; together, they would walk close to four miles in under an hour, and discuss department strategies while they got in a little exercise. On July 17, they both had to go to separate manager events, so they decided not to walk at lunchtime. She was feeling congested and tired and was slightly relieved that they were not going to be walking.

She sent out a short e-mail to her department, asking if anyone had some kind of cold medicine. She wanted to use it to help relieve her symptoms so she could continue with her plans for the day.

A coworker responded: "I picked up some over-the-counter stuff at the pharmacy; you're welcome to it."

She swung by the cubicle, picked up the medicine, headed to the bathroom, swigged some water, and got on with her day.

at noon she went to the building cafeteria and made a salad from the salad bar.

She had the salad in her office while she composed an e-mail regarding her department's imminent move to another facility, which was scheduled for the end of the week. She was planning on staying at the local hotel over the weekend to oversee the relocation. A coworker came by her office to ask if she wanted a ride to the manager's event in Tyngsboro. She said she was still writing the e-mail with the details of everyone's responsibilities for the move. "Go on ahead and I'll meet you there," she said.

At a little past two, she felt a throbbing pain in the right side of her head. It was as if a switch had been flipped. The pain was immediate -- a volcano erupting inside her skull.

She saw randy, the department vice president, and told him she had a throbbing headache. He suggested going to the bathroom and trying to throw up. He seemed to think that the pressure would release if she threw up her breakfast. The idea didn't exactly bathe her in relief.

The pain was now excruciating.

She knew it was serious. She knew she had to go to the hospital. She was unsure what hospital she should go to. There was the hospital where she had delivered her son, but it was not a hospital her primary care provider was affiliated with. Her new primary care doctor was about thirty-five miles away. The sister hospital was about ten miles away. She had to make a choice. But her head wasn't working in its usual optimal choice-making mode. She needed some help.

Continues...


Excerpted from Don't Leave Me This Way by Julia Garrison Copyright © 2006 by Julia Garrison. 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.

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What People are saying about this

Brenda Michaels and Rob Spears
“She has raised the bar on honesty and irreverence… to the level of sacred.”
Gary Sobelson
“This book changed the way I practice medicine.”
Carol Kauffman
“Julia Fox Garrison’s story isn’t just about her own recovery, it’s about the best in all of us.”

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