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Med Head
Med Head

Biography/Autobiography
Paperback
ISBN: 0316076171
$8.99/U.S.
320 pages
8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers

Paperback for Teen Readers

The dramatic true account of one family's struggle with a tormenting medical mystery.

Cory Friedman woke up one morning when he was five years old with the uncontrollable urge to twitch his neck. From that day forward his life became a hell of irrepressible tics and involuntary utterances, and Cory embarked on an excruciating journey from specialist to specialist to discover the cause of his disease. Soon it became unclear what tics were symptoms of his disease and what were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs. The only certainty is that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman's life was a living hell.

Med Head

Biography/Autobiography
Paperback
ISBN: 0316076171
$8.99/U.S.
320 pages
8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers

At the Edge of Madness

Chapter 3

DAD GETS IT, too. He and I exchange fearful glances, and he lightly touches my arm.

The door opens as if it weighs a thousand pounds. When I refuse to move, my father holds on to my arm tightly and guides me into the ward. The main corridor is small, maybe fifty feet long, before it turns off at a right angle. There are no nurses, doctors, or equipment around, not like any hospital I've been in.

Three boys are standing together at the end of the hall. They stare at me and whisper to one another. Then they disappear.

A man hunched over a computer in a small office turns out to be the ward supervisor. He's dressed in very casual clothes and doesn't look like a doctor.

He keeps working for a while, and when he finally turns to us, I notice that his eyes are unfocused. He seems to be either stoned or a little retarded. If I didn't know who he was, I'd guess he was a patient.

After going over my papers, he leads the three of us farther into the ward. There are small offices on either side of the main corridor. One of them is for dispensing medicine and has metal bars over the opening.

We take a sharp right turn. All of the patients' rooms are off this corridor. There's also a common area with a TV playing, but no one is watching it.

"How many kids are here?" I ask.

"Right now, eleven. Never more than fifteen. That's a hospital rule."

As we pass by the rooms, I count about eight kids and have no idea where the rest are hiding. All are teenagers, none as old as I am.

The three boys I saw before appear again at the end of this corridor. As I get closer, they split up and walk past me, deadly serious. This is not a bunch I want to be around when the lights go out. And that includes the supervisor.

I'm getting more uncomfortable by the second. My skin is oozing a cold sweat. Hop. Hop. Hop.

I can't do this. I'm ticcing like crazy now.

In a moment we come to a large sign on the wall with rules printed in thick black letters.

NO TWO IN A ROOM 
DOORS MUST REMAIN OPEN AT ALL TIMES 
ALL ARTICLES IN THE PATIENT'S POSSESSION 
UPON ADMISSION WILL BE CONFISCATED 
PERMISSION REQUIRED TO LEAVE PREMISES 
AT ALL TIMES 
NO STANDING ON WINDOWSILLS 
NO STANDING ON UPPER BUNKS

10

I wonder about this last one, then look up at the ceiling and understand. The entire area is covered with a metal grating. The openings in the grid are too small to put your hand through. This whole ward is a giant cage.

My heart is pounding as if it wants to jump right out of my chest and die on the hospital floor. How bad must this place be if people have tried getting out through the ceiling?

"I'm not staying here!" I shout to my parents. "Don't you understand? I can't do this."

I back away, then turn and start for the main door, the only way out.

I want to run but hold myself in check so it doesn't look like I'm trying to escape; I don't want anyone to come chasing after me.

"I'm not like these people," I call back to my father.

My sudden decision throws my parents into confusion. I think coming to a place that looks like this is as much of a shock for them as it is for me.

"I'm not crazy! This place will make me crazy."

My father's expression changes slightly, and I can see in it a small ray of hope. He seems sympathetic yet angry at the same time, and I can't read which emotion is winning.

"You can't give up without trying," he says finally. "Give it time to work out."

"I'm leaving. Didn't you hear me?"

"What choice do you have? Think about it. This isn't your choice anymore."

This message sends me into a rage. I'm spinning out of control. I'll crash my way out if I have to.

I quickly rush to the door and stop when I see that there's another golden rule on it, etched on a bronze plate. This one stops me cold.

NO ONE PERMITTED OUTSIDE AFTER 6 P.M.

My watch says seven twenty. We've already been in this so- called hospital for more than three hours.

I try the door anyway. It doesn't move, not even a jiggle.

My anxiety spikes way past panic. If they lock me up, my life will be over. I'll die of fear. People can die of fear. I've read about it.

"Take a few deep breaths and try to calm down," my mother says when she catches up to me. "I know you're scared, Cory. We'll work something out. We always do."

"I promise I'll stop drinking on my own," I plead, my voice cracking. I'm completely helpless, dependent on her—as usual. "I swear it. Please, Mom, I know I can do it on my own. Don't make me stay!"

Copyright © 2010 by James Patterson

Med Head

Biography/Autobiography
Paperback
ISBN: 0316076171
$8.99/U.S.
320 pages
8.2 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Little, Brown Books
for Young Readers

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