Stoke Survivor’s Motto: ‘Positive Outlook = Positive Outcome’
“My life plan was completely altered on July 17, 1997. While at work as a customer support manager for a software company, I started having an excruciating headache. It was like a volcano erupted in my head. Actually it was an eruption–of large and small veins in my brain. A massive hemorrhage ensued that resulted in a paralyzing stroke,” explained Julia Fox Garrison, the bestselling author and motivational speaker.
The stroke was debilitating.
Julia says, “Aside from the obvious physical impairments of left-sided hemiparesis with attendant numbness, tone and spasticity; I also have a condition called “Left Neglect.” My brain doesn’t recognize that I have a left side. It is a basic unawareness that the left side exists. It’s a condition that has gotten me into some unusual circumstances that sometimes leave people somewhere between bemused and bewildered, but all I can do is laugh because I have no control over it.”
The physical challenges are really just the starting point, she says. “In addition to the debilitating physical limitations, there was an enormous emotional toll as I tried to reclaim my roles as working mother, wife, daughter, sister. I went through an identity crisis while recuperating. I had been climbing the corporate ladder, but post-stroke, I couldn’t even sit up straight. Going back to work was a nonstarter. I no longer could be a mother to my three-year-old son. I no longer could be a wife and partner to my husband. I needed 24/7 assistance and had to relearn the basic functions.”
Julia’s journey wasn’t easy. The people you’d most expect to be there to help and support her weren’t always the allies you’d want. She says, “While struggling to regain control of my body and my life, I faced a lot of negativity from the medical community regarding my prognosis. For over nine months no one could say with any certainty that I would live. Some suggested that if I did survive, I would by wheel-chair bound with no hope of ever walking again. I realized early on that it was totally up to me to prove all those naysayers wrong.”
But it was that very challenge that put her on her current path. “I never aspired to write a book, but through my experience as a long-term patient embroiled in the healthcare system, I found my voice to be an educator from inside the bed rails. It is important to illuminate the issues patients face beyond their illness: to integrate humanity into the medical treatment; to connect with patients by not only treating the medical condition, but the mind as well; to instill the spirit to achieve the best possible outcome.”
Her life’s biggest challenge has created a stepping stone to impact. She says, “I am also motivated to demonstrate and empower anyone facing a life challenge that they can overcome adversity by trusting intuition, fostering a positive attitude, and practicing happiness and kindness.”
“There are many ways to measure success. For me success is defined by the positive impact I have on others. Readers who tell me my book changed their lives. Attendees who come up to me after I speak to say how moved they were by my message. Medical personnel, doctors, therapists who say I have given them new insight and perspective on how to treat their patients,” she notes.
“I preach the gospel of positivity. Never say ‘I can’t’ without following it up with ‘yet.’ My motto sums up my success: Positive Outlook = Positive Outcome,” she concludes.
On Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at noon Eastern, Julia will join me for a live discussion about her remarkable work. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes.
Courtesy of Julia Fox Garrison
More about Julia’s book Don’t Leave Me This Way.
Julia originally self-published her memoir in May 2005 as’ P.S. Julia: missing a piece of your mind can be puzzling’. 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. HarperCollinsPublisher won the bid and after some editorial changes released the book in June 2006 as Don’t Leave Me This Way or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry.
Julia Fox Garrison, courtesy of Ms. Garrison
Julia Fox Garrison had a promising executive career in the computer industry when she suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and paralyzing stroke. While recovering, Julia realized that she had a lot to say. There were lessons to share … about humor, inner strength, and self-determination. In 2006, Harper-Collins published Don’t Leave Me This Way: or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry, which chronicles her struggle to regain control over her life and her body. Her experience was a blueprint for how not to let the system dictate the direction, pace, and objectives of one’s recovery experience. The message it conveys is clear: you hold the key to overcoming the obstacles put before you.
Since the publication of Don’t Leave Me This Way (or when I get back on my feet you’ll be sorry), Julia has received far-reaching media exposure, including: Good Morning America, People Magazine, NECN, Fox News, ABC News, BBC World News, NPR, Oprah & Friends with Dr. Mahmet Oz, and various other media channels. Barnes & Noble selected Julia for their Discover Great New Writers series, following the book’s publication. Reader’s Digest included her book in its Condensed Volume for ‘Today’s Best Nonfiction (2007). Her book won the Applied Association of Therapeutic Humor (AATH) award for furthering their mission—humor in medicine.
Julia is now not only a best-selling author, but a national motivational speaker promoting empowerment and humanity in all walks of life.
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