The Friedman family started out like any other family – a father, mother, sister, and brother, Cory. Life was normal until the day when Cory, just short of 5 years old, simply could not stop twitching his head. Before long he was making other repetitive movements. The doctor diagnosed him with Tourette’s Syndrome, and sent him home with a prescription to suppress the urge to twitch. The medication didn’t work, so another was tried, and another, and so on.
The book is written by the famous novelist, James Patterson and his friend Hal, Cory’s father. Cory’s mother, Sophia, kept meticulous records of her son’s medical care, which added to the accuracy of the family recollections. The story is told as if Cory is speaking, which allows the reader to experience what he was thinking and feeling as well as what he was doing.
“Against Medical Advise” covers the twelve years of hell that Cory and his family spent trying to find something that would control his symptoms. In addition to the Tourette’s, Cory developed Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder. The more the doctors tried to control it, the worse things got. He couldn’t function in school, and he barely managed at home. What finally worked is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. It is an encouragement to all of us to never give up, and to be willing try something different and bold.
Excerpt from chapter 20:
What’s so terribly wrong with me that so many smart people can’t help me figure a way out of it? It’s been more than six years since my body started jerking, shaking, quivering, twitching, and exploding on its own. I’m more out of control than ever, and I wonder why anyone thinks another drug is going to help after we’ve tried so many. I’m already eleven years old. My so-called childhood is almost gone.
Lately I’ve heard Dr. Pressler describe some of the things I do as compulsions. That’s why she’s prescribed Celexa, the first anti-depressant I’ve ever taken. Everyone thinks it could be a breakthrough for me, since antidepressants work on compulsions, but in my case, the medicine seems to make everything worse. Celexa hypes up the need to jerk my body to one side so violently that I hurt a nerve or something, and it takes days for me to stop jerking and hurting myself.