Monday, February 02, 2009

Torn Apart by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

Torn Apart: The Heartbreaking Story of a Childhood LostTitle: Torn Apart - The Heartbreaking Story of a Childhood Lost
Author: James Patterson & Hal Friedman
Genre: Non-Fiction
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 289
Book Source: library

Synopsis: Cory Friedman was an ordinary fun-loving little boy, until one day, he started to feel very different. It started with an irresistible urge to shake his head, and before long, his body became a volatile, explosive and unpredictable force. Overtaken by physical urges, tics and compulsions, the bright young boy started to feel and look like a puppet on a string. 

Cory had developed a rare combination of Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder and other neurological conditions. His desperate family embarked on a fifteen year search for help which took them beyond breaking point. Cory was seen by thirteen doctors who in total prescribed sixty potent medicines. He was mistakenly sent to a psychiatric ward and, on the brink of utter despair, he and his family decided on a form of intervention that had never been tried in cases like Cory's: he was sent to a wilderness survival camp in a bitter, unforgiving snowy Utah winter. This felt like their final chance. Throughout it all, Cory battled against the extraordinary events that were unfolding, and would take him on one of the most terrifying personal journeys ever recorded.

My Thoughts: 
Torn Apart is written by Hal Friedman in collaboration with his friend James Patterson, telling the story of Hal's son Cory. 

This is the emotional true story told through Cory's eyes of his battle with one of the most complex cases of Tourette's syndrome, anxiety disorder & OCD that doctors have seen. Cory was an ordinary boy until shortly before his fifth birthday, when motor tics, vocal tics, compulsions and obsessions turned his body into a "puppet on a string." 

Sophia and Hal take a gut-wrenching journey with their son to find answers and treatment for their son's debilitating condition. Anyone who has experienced a medical condition that has medical practitioners baffled knows how heartbreaking and soul destroying this journey can be, but his parents heartache pales in comparison to Cory's living hell. 

"My body is always betraying me, always, always, always." "No one can imagine how horrible this is. Every single day, something bad happens to me." 

These are not the words of a child ranting in a tantrum; Cory's mental and physical suffering is shocking, he is hospitalised with torn muscles in his back from the sheer force of his physical tics, he requires dental work for broken teeth from unrelenting jaw spasms. After 13 Doctors, 60 potent medications & varying combinations of medications failed to bring Cory any relief is it any wonder that in early high school Cory turned to alcohol to gain some much needed peace. 

The horrendous side effects he suffers give credence to the old adage 'the cure is worse than the disease' and Cory gives us an insight into this in Torn Apart - "I never know if it’s the medicine itself, the combination of medicines, the doses, or the usual ups and downs that happen with Tourettes." 

This family's courage in sharing their story in the hope of inspiring others like Cory, raising awareness of neurological conditions and engaging support for Tourette's rather than ridicule, is nothing short of extraordinary. 

As a parent of a son with severe ADHD and anxiety disorder, diagnosed with Tourette's in Year 7 as a result of medication overload I shed tears over Cory's poignant story and more tears of heartfelt gratitude that my son's 'bird noises' and throat clearing was short-lived in comparison. 

This is more than a story of a boy with Tourette's, it's a story of triumph over adversity, of a family's unconditional love, a story of strength, determination and the most unbelievable courage. This story touched me profoundly, it moved me to tears, tears of sadness and joy.

Please note - The novels 'Torn Apart' & 'Against Medical Advice' are one and the same.


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