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Life's A Twitch! Celebrating 15 years.
1998 - 2018
Life's A Twitch! Celebrating 15 years.

 

Cory

"I have Tourette's, and used TS as a topic in one of my college papers, describing the disorder, and how I had integrated it into my life; hopefully, it may be something that can be shared with others. Thanks".


MY INNER MONSTER

Looking up from my school work, I noticed two of my classmates staring at me and laughing. I tensed up, wondering why they were laughing at me, when suddenly, one of them began to move his jaws back and forth, and the other blinked his eyes incessantly and leaned his head hard to one side, then the other. Following an intense mental burst of hatred and evil thoughts, I pondered why they thought I was so funny. After all, this taunting had been going on for years. Wasn't it about time for them to grow up? I timidly put my head back down and started back in on my work. "What is wrong with me?", I wondered to myself. "Why do I have these sudden and seemingly uncontrollable urges to move my jaws, blink my eyes, and pop my neck?"

Later in the week, I told my mom about what had been happening to me at school. Showing little or no sympathy, she told me that it was "a habit, and I needed to break it." My dad had a similar attitude. He would tell me, "Quit makin' those damn faces, they make ya' look stupid." It seemed that nobody understood that these compulsions were no habit. As bad as I wanted it to go away, and as hard as I tried to keep it from being noticed, my problem never failed to cause me humiliation.

When I was fourteen, I went to my local doctor for the flu bug. While there, I ask him for his opinion on my twitching and blinking. He recommended that I go to Dr. Tellow, a professional neurologist. Dr. Tellow asked me a few questions, watched me for a few minutes, and told me that I had Tourette's Syndrome.

According to the Johns Hopkins Family Health Book, Tourette's Syndrome is a motor behavioral disorder caused by a probably genetic disturbance affecting the central nervous system. It is one of the many tic disorders characterized by twitchy muscular movements and involuntary utterances. I also learned from Tourettes.com that Tourette Syndrome was discovered by a French doctor by the name of Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1885, and an estimated 100,000 Americans have full-blown TS, with 1 in 200 showing partial expressions of the disorder during their lifetimes.

When I ask about possible treatment, Dr. Tellow informed me that "There is a medicine called Haloperidol, or HALDOL, which has been known to moderately control the tics." But this medicine only made me feel glum and sad. It seemed to me that I was better off twitching and being energetic, than twitching a little bit less, and feeling fatigued all day. Due to it's ineffectiveness, I only took the medicine for a few months.

When I would tell someone that I had been diagnosed with Tourettes, he or she would automatically respond with "You liar. No you don't. You have never even yelled out in class or anything." That was because, according to Raenna Peiss of The Tourette Syndrome Center, the vocal tics that cause sudden outbursts, medically known as coprolalia, are sensationalized by the media, but actually occur in only 30% of the more severe Tourette patients. Peiss also claimed that Tourettes is linked to several problems, including Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I know she is right, for I have occasional impulses of OCD, and I take Adderal for ADD.

By the time I was a Freshman in High School, my monster was once again out to ruin me. Tourette's gets noticeably worse when a person is stressed or nervous, so imagine the stress level of a freshman who played football, was involved in Student Council, worked, and tried to fit in a social life whenever possible. Everyone, from my classmates, up to the seniors and even the coaches made fun of my Tourettes. My unequal treatment made me feel like I was different and that I would never fit it. Being singled out sucked, and I hated it. It was then that I decided to become emotionally cold and not care what anyone thought about me, as long as I was happy. If someone said something about my Tourette's, I used my sarcasm to tear them apart. Pretty soon, people were reluctant to mention it, afraid I would rip into them with my sarcasm. I had found a way to avoid the humiliation. All I had to do was be mean and sarcastic, and people would leave me alone.

At some point in my junior year, I finally became comfortable enough with my Tourette's that I did not care if I was the center of discussion in class, or what anyone said about it. I had learned to live with it, and by doing so, I forced other's to live with it as well. I even learned to enjoy having Tourettes, often making jokes about it in public or with my friends. Even when I would twitch pretty badly, most of my friends said that they had grown so accustomed to it that they hardly noticed.

During the football season of my senior year of high school, my Tourettes actually proved to be beneficial. I was a nose-guard, so I was lined up directly over the ball, on the defensive side. At the end of the fourth quarter, I would slap the ball out of the center's hand and dive on it. The few times it worked, the ref's could not tell what I had done, and my team got the ball back. The majority of the time, however, I would get an 'off-sides' penalty. Finally, an aggravated referee approached my team and said to me, the captain, "Son, if you knock that ball out of the center's hand one more time, you're off this field, got it?" Without missing a beat, I lied back, "Sir, its not my fault, I have Tourettes." Although the official was not impressed, my teammates and I thought it was hilarious.

While reading in the Johns Hopkins Family Health Book, I discovered that many people with Tourette's suffer emotional damage and may require counseling. I can see how a person could be traumatized by something such as Tourettes, but to think a person in my shoes may have required counseling seems atrocious, because in high school, I was a dominate athlete and one of the most popular kids in school. Looking back, I thank God that I am a strong willed person and did not let people's fear of the unknown conquer me, but rather, I did what I had to do, and carried on with my life.

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Last updated on January 3, 2018

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