Our Interview with Allison Pataki and David Levy

Allison Pataki and Dave Levy walking in a tree lined park holding hands.
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Allison Pataki and her husband, David Levy, are passionate about raising awareness of the difficulties of life after a stroke or traumatic brain injury. Five months pregnant, on a flight to their “babymoon,” Allison Pataki turned to her husband when he asked if his eye looked strange and watched him suddenly lose consciousness. After an emergency landing in Fargo, North Dakota, she learned David had suffered a rare, life-threatening stroke and might not survive the night. Over the next year, Allison continued writing letters to her husband, as he struggled with memory retention throughout his remarkable recovery. Those letters became the basis for Allison’s memoir, Beauty in the Broken Places. Her book reveals personal experiences of health, grief, loss and family crises.

In the interview, Allison and David discuss how a stroke can affect the whole family, not just the stroke survivor. They also explain how their life is different now post David's stroke. “The life we knew, Dave, before the stroke — that’s gone . . . ” she wrote in a note to her husband one year after his stroke. “It’s all been replaced by something new and different . . . but, as different as the world and the family and the people in it may appear, things can still be good.”


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David Levy

David Levy grew up in the Chicagoland area in the town of Lake Forest, IL. He graduated as valedictorian of Lake Forest High School in 2003 and went to college at Yale University in New Haven, CT. He absolutely loved his time at Yale and played defensive midfield for the varsity lacrosse team there all four years. He won three awards with the team (twice the Winthrop A. Smith award for superior conditioning and the Richard Corrigan award for most improved player as a sophomore). He was secretary of his fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Yale in 2007.  From there, he went directly to medical school at Columbia University in New York, NY. He played on the club lacrosse team as well as the rugby team there. He took a year off between his third and fourth years of medical school to conduct research in orthopedic surgery. He graduated from Columbia in 2012 and then started his orthopedic surgery residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. He suffered a rare bi-thalamic midbrain stroke at the end of his third year of residency. Fortunately, he was young enough to endure neuroplasticity, wherein his brain made a complete recovery.

Allison Pataki

Allison Pataki is the New York Times bestselling author of the nonfiction memoir, Beauty in the Broken Places, as well as two children's books, Nelly Takes New York and Poppy Takes Paris, and five adult fiction novels. Allison’s novels have been translated into more than twenty languages. A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York Times, ABC News, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Fox & Friends, MSNBC’s Morning Joe and others. Allison graduated Cum Laude from Yale University with a major in English. Allison, a certified yoga instructor, lives in New York with her husband and family. 


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