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Don't Leave Me This Way: Or When I Get Back on My Feet You'll Be Sorry Paperback – May 29, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 196 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

At 37, Garrison, then the mother of a three-year-old boy, suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage that left her with a physically devastated body and more spiritual resolve than she'd ever had in her life. Armed with a sense of humor that has a real edge to it, she overcame obstacles that would have killed lesser spirits. From the outset, she also knew much more about what it takes to recover than her attending medical professionals, whom she dubs with such tags as Dr. Jerk, Dr. Bleak, and Nurse Doom--monikers that seem deserved for such behaviors as labeling her "in denial" because she refused to accept tacitly the prognostication of total paralysis for the rest of her life. Not medical care's prettiest face, to be sure. Unsatisfied by Dr. Jerk's diagnosis, which would have required a lifetime of chemotherapy, Garrison sought a second opinion. What she got, after the most superficial review of her case, was rubber stamping. But eventually she walked again. Inspirational is too weak a word to describe Garrison's memoir. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061120634
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061120633
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #137,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Julia Fox Garrison is a successful working mother of a three-year-old son, Rory, and the wife of a devoted husband named Jim. She is loved and admired by her many friends and coworkers, and enjoys a close relationship with her mother, father, and eight brothers. Her life couldn't be more satisfying. However, an unexpected curve ball is thrown her way when, on July 17, 1997, she is felled by a sudden stroke.

Julia is rushed into emergency surgery to stop the bleeding in her brain, but although she survives the operation, she is left with complete paralysis on her left side. Fortunately, she is able to think and communicate, even though her ability to move and function has been severely curtailed. The doctors are unsure what caused the stroke and they recommend a variety of treatments, including chemotherapy for a condition called vasculitis.

"Don't Leave Me This Way" is Garrison's poignant, uncompromisingly honest, and darkly humorous account of what happened to her and how she handled it. Her short, breezy chapters have droll titles such as "Homage to Your Hemorrhage," and, for some reason, she avoids using the word "I" until the final section of the book. However, her unconventional writing style works; the reader is given a front row seat as Julia surmounts one obstacle after another, with many bumps and bruises along the way.

From the beginning, she refuses to take her doctors' statements at face value, especially when she is convinced that they are only guessing. In fact, she decides that in spite of the bleak prognosis, she is going to get back on her feet. She rejects the opinion of her doctors and nurses that she is "in denial" and is too "impulsive.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a stunningly important book which should be required reading for all medical and nursing students, and all others who are concerned with the acute care and rehabilitation of stroke patients, whether they are part of the professional therapeutic team, family or friends. This book is destined to become a classic in the field. It will also be invaluable to patients and families who are facing daunting challenges. With humor and the wisdom of experience it is a guide to overcoming the often overly pessimistic predictions of many care givers. Ms. Garrison's book is well-written, indeed often funny. Beware... if you pick it up, you may be glued to your seat for hours.
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Format: Hardcover
Julia Fox Garrison's is an engaging, enjoyable, and quick read ... certainly all good reasons to pick it up and read it.

Yet, this book is much more than a good story. I view it as a gentle, clear, and inspiring reminder of how important it is to take time to enjoy and be thankful for the many blessings in one's life.

While certainly this book discusses challenges of stemming from medical issues, I feel that Julia's message of how challenges can help us see the world in a new and better light, can be applied universally. I particularly enjoyed reading about how these challenges helped Julia become more sensitive others and helped her grow spiritually.

Don't Leave Me This Way adds a lot of positive energy in helping us deal with problems both individually and collectively.
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Format: Hardcover
One of those rare books that you can't putdown, but don't want to get to the last page either. As an educater of graduate speech pathology students in a University, a must read. Julia Garrison brings home what it means to be a person that has will, faith, devotion, and the love of self and family, to be the best that she can be for that moment in time. Her determination is awe inspiring and her husband's love is one that is not seen often. Thank you for sharing part of this journey, so that we as readers can be better people too.
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Format: Hardcover
A truly extraordinary adventure. As a retired physician, I was surprised how much I still had to learn about the illness experience. I wish I had this book to recommend to patients when was in active practice. Julia Garrison is an example of what one can do when the spirit directs one. Potential is something that doctors and physical therapists only see through a glass darkly. With great wisdom and humor this singular woman is a great teacher. "Don't Leave Me This Way" deserves the widest possible readership.
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Format: Hardcover
Only after reading this book could I ever possibly know what my mother is going through after her stroke in 2005. Julia made me laugh and cry. This book, and the honesty it holds, cut right to (and through) the heart. I don't even know what else to say - except perhaps - thank you JFG!!!
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Format: Hardcover
Reading Don't Leave Me This Way, I found myself filled with emotion and thinking about the many ways and the many people who could benefit from reading Julia Fox Garrison's amazing story. It's inspiring, instructive, humorous and moving all at the same time. But it's also an eye-opening and pragmatic description of what women in particular are faced with following a stroke--things that most of us would never consider. The author has captured the nuances and the emotional complexity of her ongoing encounters as a patient with the steady parade of healthcare professionals all so well and in a way to which many readers can relate. I am amazed at how she was able to remember everything in such specific detail. The story is very engrossing filled with humor and sensitivity. This book stands as a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of humor over adversity, and serves as an instructive tale to those in healthcare policy and practice who work with all patients, whatever their age, sex, condition, or needs.

The other day I heard about a co-worker who just had a stroke, also only in her 30's. I plan to tell her Julia's hopeful story to give her the inspiration she will need for her own recovery. When she is ready, I'll give her a copy of the book. I believe she'll find it a wonderful resource for the road ahead.
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