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

4.8 39
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 she'd 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


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 she'd 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 she'd 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.

Don't Leave Me This Way is the funny, inspiring, profoundly moving true story of a woman's fight for her life and dignity—and her determined quest to awaken an entrenched, unfeeling medical community to the fact that there's always a human being inside every patient.

Editorial Reviews

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.”
“Fierce optimism and even fiercer wit…(A) unique tone and utterly un-maudlin appeal.”
Philadelphia Inquirer
“Worth reading, every page of it.”
“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.”
“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.”
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Picture this: You're in your mid-30s, you have a terrific husband, an adorable young son, and a great job. You're at your office on an ordinary day, when suddenly you get a bad headache. The pain worsens and becomes unbearable. Time for an Excedrin? Nope, you're having a stroke.

Welcome to the world of Julia Fox Garrison, the real-life participant in this nightmare-come-true. Writing in a powerful second-person voice, she describes her harrowing first days in the hospital, and ultimately, learning that her left side is now paralyzed. With indomitable spirit and incredible determination, Garrison begins, with the help of her friends and family, the overwhelming job of regaining mobility while staving off the pompous and misinformed doctors who not only misdiagnose her but are committed to her acceptance of their judgments -- including their verdict that she'll spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

Terrifying, sad, and inspirational, Garrison's memoir is also, improbably, hysterically funny. With an uncanny sense of irony, she infuses her painful road to recovery with comic relief at every turn. But the most surprising aspect of her tale is the cause of her stroke, a shocker that will leave readers fuming -- and tossing their over-the-counter cold remedies into the trash. (Fall 2006 Selection)
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.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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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.


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.

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.”

Meet the Author

Julia Fox Garrison lives north of Boston with her husband, young son, and dog. Before her stroke, she had a successful career as a software support manager. Now she is regularly invited as a motivational speaker to doctors' groups around the country.

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Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldnt put this book down.loved her positive,upbeat ,honest account of what she had to deal with.in person she is just as vibrant as her book ! Good luck Julia !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great inspiring book. I am so glad this was recommended for me to read. When I started it, I couldn't put it down. When I finished it, I read it all over again. Valuable life lessons have been taken. Reading this book has made a difference in me. I have been inspired and motivated to live a better life. I am hoping that Julia Fox Garrison writes another book soon. I am looking forward to hearing more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is kind of book that you cannot put down until you finish, and when you finish you want to go right back to the beginning and read it again.  There are many lessons to be learned throughout her personal story, but if you put it down and think about the bigger picture you may realize that the author's message transcends her individual experience; the kind of wisdom that this book contains is universal, and applies to anyone and everyone.  Even if you disagree with some of the author's personal beliefs, or her outlook on the medical profession, or the even the world in general, her message is 100% objective: positivity, love, laughter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down. She turned a horrible incident into to a teachable and relatable experience. I now appreciate my perfectly-functioning toes and my healthy body that I so often take for granted. Thank you for reiterating the fragility of life and the importance of finding humor in everything. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hats off to Julia for writing such an excellent book. She has managed to write about the healthcare system with truth. Even when the "docs" told her she would remain in a wheelchair....her spunk and strong will pushed her through the tough times. I can hardly wait to return home at night to read more chapters in this easy flowing book. I give this book a ten star rating. Every healthcare professional should read this book. It will make you stop and think the way patient should be treated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Don't Leave Me This Way or when I get back on my feet you'll be sorry. As a fellow brain injury survivor, I so appreciated the humor amidst the seriousness of strokes/brain aneurysms. During my first reading of this book, I laughed out loud so-o-o many times. I've read some chapters twice and laughed some more--Great Medicine on Demand. I love that the chapters are just the right length for sitting for a short while, especially since I now tend to have difficulty (headaches) reading entire books in one sitting. I appreciate the author's candor, as well as the words of wisdom and advice to patients and medical professionals. Julia, thanks for the dose of HUGS! Val
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
UB49 More than 1 year ago
Get to know someone who touches lives by autographing everything she does with excellence! Julia's story is one of hope and inspiration to everyone she touches. Nearly 400 educators were energized in our school district by her message this week as she  spoke to us about the life lessons she has learned in her journey. It felt as though each of us was the only one in the room as she read  from her work and bestowed upon us her "wit and wisdom."  Personally meeting Julia was a  serendipitous event. Reading her book renews your spirit!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A recommeded must read. The story incorporates suspense, heartache, frustration and stand-up comedian humor that will make you belly laugh. No matter where you are in life you can not come away from this book without learning many life lessons. You will be disappointed when the book ends..continue on and and be in the audience when Julia speaks..she is magnificent! You will come away from that feeling so uplifted! Through all that has been taken from her she has been given a rare gift in what she gives to others.
LMurray More than 1 year ago
Beating the odds! Initially, I did not want to read this book. I thought a story about brain injury would be too upsetting. Was I ever wrong! Julia’s story is one of triumph over unimaginable adversity. Her spirit, determination and humor are unstoppable. As an author, Julia has a unique and powerful voice as she recounts her own deeply personal story of loss, laughs and love. Without sugarcoating any aspect of her trauma or recovery, Julia shares her most intimate moments with the reader. As a result, her candor, humor and honor create a bond with the reader and you feel like good friends. This is the most uplifting book I’ve read in a long time. A great read that would make a great movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julia's story is both heartwarming and hilarious! The way she dealt with her recovery is an inspiration to us all and provides a valuable example of how important family and humor are when dealing with difficult situations in life. Her writing is humorous, lively and authentic... You will find yourself enthralled by her story!
jillybeanluttrell More than 1 year ago
I think this book is amazing. It truly reminds us the importance of staying positive. I would make recommend it to anyone that is going into the medical field or that is a patient. It reminds us that each person is unique and should be treated accordingly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a MUST READ for anyone in thecmedical field! A s a neuro nurse it particularly touched my heart but it is a wonderful book for anyone who has suffered a stroke or has had a family member who has. I have recommended it to many of my patients and their families and even to a few doctors. Julia Fox has an amazing outlook on life and her wit and sense of humor make this a wonderful read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book chosen by our book club was a quick read. Julias story is full of so many of the lessons in life: from a great attitude, to the "unknown" of the medical world, the love of family, the power of positive spirit, perseverance, proper perspective, listening to the inner voice, courage, the list goes on. Highly recommend for anyone dealing with a major struggle in life. DARL
Tracy-in-Mass More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book with no idea what it was about. I loved the cover however I was wondering why the person on the cover was so happy & what happened to her. I really enjoyed reading this book & have been telling all my friends & family about it. Illness or not, a lot of people would be happier if they lived their lives with a more positive attitude. I so admire Julia's strength, courage, sense of humor, positive attitude, & determination. If you take the time to read this book about an amazing woman, you will be inspired & motivated to live a better life!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
theresaferri More than 1 year ago
Loved this book,truly inspirational,even for someone without a disability this book helps you put life in prospective.It makes you thankful for all aspects of your life.Julia Fox makes you laugh and cry. I wanted to go get a job in a rehab hospital just so I could be nice to the patiants.Do yourself a favor and get this book.
Lisa320 More than 1 year ago
Don't Leave Me This Way is an amazing story of strength and determination, a story that allows the reader opportunity to reflect and be grateful for the simplicities in life. Surprisingly I could not believe how much of this story I actually related to, having cared for someone terminally ill. This is a quick easy read that will bring you to both laughter and tears. I LOVED every page of it and highly recommend this book. Everyone should own a copy and when you're having a bad day open it to any page...it really helps put life into perspective. Cheers to Julia and her wonderful attitude!
LaurenOT More than 1 year ago
Although going through a horrible event, Julia keeps the spirit of "laughter is the best medicine". As a health care provider, it opened my eyes to how we sometimes see a diagnosis rather than a person. I've had the pleasure to meet Julia and she is a true inspiration.
kfrawley More than 1 year ago
A woman suffers a massive, debilitating brain hemorrage...doesn't sound very uplifting, but it has to be one of the most entertaining, powerful, uplifting, absolutely hysterical books I have read in a long time. Julia has such wit, and determination the reader finds himself/herself routing for Julia and thinking "I wish I could be as strong as her" Julia also relies on her intuition and the fact that she knows her body better than anyone else, including the doctors, and she's right!! I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to be inspired and empowered. One warning though, once you start reading this book, you won't be able to put it down, so take care of business before you start reading!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Linda47LP More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! I Highly recommend this book. It doesn't matter if you have had a medical issue in your life, or not. Julia tells her story, with humor, passion and encourages all of us to think about how much we really take for-granted in our day to day living. I laughed, cried and took away some very important lessons. Thank you Julia!
MichelleC More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book - Don't Leave Me This Way - after seeing the author - Julia Fox Garrison speak at a local school. I couldn't resist - I needed to know more about her and her story. There is a story here that needs to be told and even more importantly - needs to be read. After reading this book you will be look at things in a different way - the 'why me' factor is not the focus here - the focus is - 'my attitude will be the one that makes a difference in my life as well as in other people's lives.' It is a lesson for all ages and that is why this book should be read by all - teens to adults - in any profession. While it can give hope to those who are suffering and experiencing challenges currently - it also touches those who may not be going through a challenge at the time - yet it will help them refocus their everyday attitude and when they may experience some difficulties in the future - they will be more equipped to handle them. Go ahead - read this one - trust me you will want to share the message by the time you finish reading it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago