A few years ago before I started this blog, I read a touching memoir by Julia Fox Garrison. Ms. Garrison was a young mother who suffered a debilitating stroke at the young age of thirty seven. It was a powerful account of a person who overcame a devastating health event and confronted the challenge with great character and drive. While doing research for my last post, Left Neglected by Lisa Genova, I was excited to learn there was a connection between the two authors. Julia Fox Garrison was an early fan of Ms. Genova’s work and helped garner interest in Genova’s new genre of fictional books with a neuroscience theme. This discovery made me reach out to Ms. Garrison and I was fortunate to get an update on her current endeavors and health. I hope everyone who is currently reading Lisa Genova’s work will also take the time to read this post and make sure to get Don’t Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry) by Julia Fox Garrison.
“Julia Fox Garrison is the author of Don’t Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry). The book chronicles her struggle to regain control over her life and her body, following a massive hemorrhage resulting in a paralyzing stroke. Julia was never one to proclaim that she would write a book one day, but in the aftermath of her stroke, dealing with the medical community and insurance companies while rehabilitating, she realized she had a story to tell. Her experience was a blueprint for how not to let the system dictate the direction, pace, and objectives of one’s recovery. But the message in her book is universal and transcends far beyond a stroke survivor’s handbook.
Julia originally self-published her memoir in May 2005. It reached the Boston Globe bestseller list within two months by word-of-mouth alone. The success created a stir among national publishers and it went to a publisher’s auction in August 2005. HarperCollins Publisher won the bid and after some editorial changes released it in June 2006 as, Don’t Leave Me This Way or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry."
Update from Julia:
Since the publication of Don't Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you'll be sorry), I have become a national speaker, evangelizing for humanity in medicine. The primary focus of health care is the patient’s recovery. Speaking from the patient perspective, I advocate for improvements that go beyond the medical textbooks and the diagnosis--treat the whole patient: the mind and spirit as well as the body.
I am often asked about the changes in voice that occur in the book, the thinking being that as a memoir, it should be entirely in the first person. The first few chapters are written in third person. It is human nature to fall into a daily routine and I thought it would be interesting if the reader was a voyeur into mine. After the brain surgery, I shift to second person. I want the reader to be on the gurney with me, experiencing the confusion and frustration as I did. In the end I switch to first person. I had learned so much on my journey, but did not feel it was my place to preach nor expect the reader to feel as I did. It is my hope that readers gain insights into their own journey as they experience mine.
I continue to struggle with the effects of stroke. Aging with stroke has proven more difficult than I anticipated. But I continue to get up each day, still standing and breathing, and for that I am grateful.
My next writing project is a memoir of growing up with eight brothers, no sisters, and an eccentric dad. There's not only drama, but loads of humor in my family dynamic.