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Up the Down Escalator

Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis

Published by Health Communications Inc
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



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About The Book

A memoir of triumph in the face of a terrifying diagnosis, Up the Down Escalator recounts Dr. Lisa Doggett’s startling shift from doctor to patient, as she learns to live with multiple sclerosis while running a clinic for uninsured patients in central Austin. Recounting before and after the discovery of her MS, she chronicles vexing symptoms while trying to be an attentive mother, wife, and a caring family doctor.

2024 Gold Winner, Benjamin Franklin Awards, Health & Fitness Category

2023 Finalist, IAN Book of the Year Awards, Non-Fiction: Health/Medicine/Fitness/Dieting Category

Facing the prospect of a career-ending disability as she adjusts to life with multiple sclerosis, Dr. Lisa Doggett is forced to deal with a new level of uncertainty and vulnerability, and the everyday fear that something new will go wrong. Taking off her white coat—becoming a patient herself—she confronts unimaginable fears, copes with her limitations, and sidesteps her skepticism of alternative medicine to seek help from unlikely sources. Drawing on riveting patient stories, Doggett reveals the dark realities of the dysfunctional U.S. healthcare system, made all the more stark when she becomes the one seeking care.

MS pushes Doggett—a perfectionist at heart—to soften her inner drill sergeant and embrace self-compassion. As a patient, she learns to advocate for herself to ensure on-time medication deliveries and satisfactory treatment plans; to navigate chronic dizziness, relapses, and parenting frustrations; and to push her physical limits as a runner to go farther than ever before. As the director of a health clinic for the uninsured, Doggett’s MS inspires an even deeper empathy as she confronts challenging cases, prompting her to work harder on behalf of those in her care, many of whom struggle with illnesses more serious than her own.

This hopeful and uplifting book will encourage those living with chronic disease, and those supporting them, to power forward with courage and grace. It will spark conversations to redefine perfect parenting and trigger uncomfortable discussions and outrage about the vicious inequalities of health care in the U.S. Most of all, it will inspire readers to embrace the gifts of an imperfect life and look for silver linings, despite life’s detours that sabotage plans and take them off their expected paths.

About The Author

Lisa Doggett, MD, is a family physician, MS Warrior, and co-founder of Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility. She previously directed a safety net clinic in Austin, Texas where she saw an eclectic mix of patients struggling with their own health challenges in a deeply dysfunctional system. A self-described health nut, Lisa was shocked to become a patient herself when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a bizarre neurologic disease known to be a leading cause of disability in young adults. Since her MS diagnosis in 2009, she has battled frustrating symptoms and insurance companies. She has experienced relapses and has explored alternative treatments. But she has also run two marathons, traveled to five continents, raised two daughters, and embraced her job as a lead physician creating innovative programs for people with chronic disease around the country.

Lisa graduated from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas School of Public Health. She has published in the New York Times, Motherwell, and the Austin American-Statesman. She is a columnist for Public Health Watch and blogs for the National MS Society’s Momentum magazine. Lisa has been featured in Parents magazine, Women’s World, and on CBS Sunday Morning. As a national thought leader and 2021-22 Vaccine Science Fellow with the American Academy of Family Physicians, she provides webinars, speaks at conferences, and contributes to articles on a variety of health topics, including stories in U.S. News and World Report, Reader’s Digest, and Healthline. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Don, a hospital-based pediatrician, and their two daughters, Ella and Clara.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Health Communications Inc (August 15, 2023)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780757324864

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Raves and Reviews

"Exceptionally well written, organized and presented."—Midwest Book Review

"An affecting account of living fully with a difficult disease."— Kirkus Reviews

"It is refreshing to read the perspective of Dr. Doggett and how she is handling MS clinically and personally. Her life-long dedication to medicine and compassionate fight to serve patients with MS is exemplified in this book. There is a great credibility when Dr. Doggett tells a patient “I understand.” This has encouraged me as a person with MS, just to know a practicing physician truly gets it!"

Micah Love, MS warrior, activist, and author

"Lisa Doggett’s thoughtful new memoir, Up the Down Escalator, offers rare and vital insights into a health care system that continues to leave too many behind. As a family physician contending with MS, Doggett offers a raw, heartfelt account of her struggles to sustain a small community clinic, confront her own health challenges, and raises awareness for those who have been ravaged by the system's inequities. This book demands attention from those who seek a more just and compassionate world and want to understand how to make it so."

Stacey Abrams, political leader, voting rights activist, and New York Times bestselling author

“Lisa Doggett writes candidly and with immense good humor and grace about her fears—for her health, her patients, her children, her husband—and her frustrations with same. She can be neurotic, unhappy, angry, but more than anything she is compassionate, strong, and always learning. To grab at our gut, a memoir must be fearless and unflinchingly honest. Funny helps, too. Doggett delivers, and how.”

Julie Powell, New York Times bestselling author of Julie and Julia

"A physician serving impoverished, uninsured patients, while coping with her own serious health problem, could be a story filled with darkness—but not this memoir. Instead, Dr. Lisa Doggett offers the consistent luminescence of compassion and hopefulness along with a much-needed vision for a more humane healthcare system. It is truly inspirational!"

Ron Pollack, chair emeritus, formerly founding executive director, Families USA

"Texas native, Dr. Lisa Doggett’s new memoir, Up the Down Escalator: A Doctor Navigates Disease and Disorder, brings rarely shared personal reflections of a compassionate primary care physician who provides health care to the poor and forgotten but must face her own unknown future when she receives a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). In vivid details, Dr. Doggett shares her experiences as clinician, mother and wife through meaningful and intimate conversations, and personal monologues of internal thought processes and private emotional struggles. As a result, I came to reflect on my own privilege, clinical care experiences, periods of personal struggles, and the growing truth of my own vulnerability. Yet, Up the Down Escalator is inspiring and uplifting, for those curious about physicians with their own health challenges, or for those with the challenge of MS. But most all, Dr. Doggett’s memoir speaks to all of us of that fragility of our human experience buoyed by the profound discovery of the power of our human spirit through love and our inner determination. A beautiful read!"

David W. Willis, MD, FAAP, Senior Fellow, Center for the Study of Social Policy, Director for the Nurture Connection Initiative

"To be heard, seen, and believed is what any person wants from a doctor. To have that doctor understand and share the exam table side of the doctor-patient relationship is rare and eye-opening. Lisa walks us through that progression in her career and personal life. A must read for doctors and patients alike."

Lisa Sailor, MS and disability activist

"In Up The Down Escalator, Dr. Lisa Doggett capably knits together her personal journey from loss to hope following her diagnosis of MS with the heart-wrenching stories of those she cared for with compassion and humility. She shows us the power of love and purpose against the odds of a disease that does not discriminate and a healthcare system that does."

Léorah Freeman, MD, PhD, Neurologist and MS specialist, Dell Medical School, The University of Texas at Austin

“Lisa Doggett weaves together the complexity of being a physician, a parent, and a patient. In a book that will hold the reader’s attention from the first page to the last, Doggett copes with the ordeal of getting a diagnosis and finding effective treatment, and the challenges of building a life and career with multiple sclerosis. One does not have to have MS to be inspired by this book and how Doggett shares her challenges with clarity, transparency and humility.”

Joy H. Selak, PhD, author of You Don’t LOOK Sick! Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness and CeeGee’s Gift

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