The dramatic true account of one family's struggle with a tormenting medical mystery.
One morning when he was almost five years old, Cory Friedman woke up with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head. From that day forward his life became an agony of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances. Cory embarked on a fifteen-year odyssey of medication upon medication, treatment upon treatment–a constantly changing regimen that left him and his family feeling like guinea pigs in an out-of-control experiment. It soon became unclear which tics were symptoms of his condition and which were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty was that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life was a living hell.
Subjected to debilitating treatments and continuous ridicule, Cory became devastatingly aware of how he appeared to others. With the love of his family and the support of a few steadfast teachers and medical professionals, he fought for his very life, and you will cheer his amazing successes.
Against Medical Advice is the true story of Cory's battle for survival in the face of extraordinary difficulties and a sometimes maddening medical establishment. Written by James Patterson and Cory's father, Hal, and with the relentless pace of a Patterson thriller, this is a heartrending story of one family's courage, determination, and ultimate triumph.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2008 by James Patterson
Kevin T. Collins has performed in theater productions and you can hear his voice in numerous anime roles. On television, he was recently featured on Law & Order and has a recurring role on Guiding Light. Kevin has appeared in the films Inner Rage, The Sickness, and Aunt Rose. Kevin read Lone Survivor for Hachette Audio.
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