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Tic Attack This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Have you ever had one of those days when you wake up and there’s just something different about you?

That’s what happened to me. I woke up one day with Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s wasn’t anything new to me. I’d had it mildly for about a year in third grade but grew out of it. But when I say I woke up with it, I mean I woke up with my head jerking so ­severely I nearly pulled a muscle in my neck.

My mom was confused as to why I suddenly had Tourette’s again. I didn’t think anything of it and just went about my day. It wasn’t until my biology teacher asked if I was okay that I realized how obvious it was. The entire day my head was jerking to the left. I probably looked like I was trying to cheat off of the person next to me.

I went to the nurse to get an aspirin for the pain in my neck. That’s when she called my mom and told her to make an appointment with a doctor. I didn’t go to a neurologist at first. A week after the first occurrence, the TS got worse. Not only did my head jerk, but I constantly punched and kicked.

I went to the emergency room at Children’s Hospital. Several doctors examined me and sent me to a specialist for teens with sudden-onset Tourette’s syndrome. It’s been a year and a half since that day, and I’ve been on four or five medications, each with a different side effect. Only my close friends know about my condition.

My sister and I have played on the same soccer team for years and we play at an indoor sports complex. One day I was playing forward, guarding a very aggressive girl. The ball shot down my side of the field, and my opponent and I spun to retrieve it. Whether by accident or on purpose – I don’t know – the girl shoved me. My ankle turned, and I hit the ground hard.

I’m the type of person who usually bounces right back up, but this time was different. The sudden pain shooting up my leg set off my Tourette’s. My body tensed and I started shaking uncontrollably.

My sister ran up and held her arms out wide. “I’m blocking you,” she explained. “Don’t worry, no one can see you.”

I wasn’t stupid. I knew there was no way she was fully blocking me from the onlookers’ stares. But for a moment I let myself believe her.

“Just let it out. It’s all right,” she kept repeating.

It took five minutes for me to calm down enough to walk off the field. At the time, I didn’t know about the drama going on in the stands.

“Someone call an ambulance!” a spectator yelled.

“That girl is having an epileptic seizure,” said a mother from the other team.

“No,” my mother interjected. “She’s fine. Don’t call anyone.”

The other woman scoffed, “I know an epileptic seizure when I see one.”

Calmly, my mother replied, “Then you should know that she isn’t having one.”

“How would you know?” someone demanded.

“Because she’s my daughter.”

That shut them up. My mother never gave away my secret to those strangers, and luckily no one called an ambulance.

When I got off the field, I was embarrassed to see that my teammates were looking at me like I had grown three heads. I sat at the end of the bench with an ice pack on my ankle as my sister stood up for me, explaining what had happened.

After that experience, I figured I couldn’t be embarrassed about any tics I had. But I didn’t realize how many different kinds of tics there were. I would have three tics one week – head jerking, punching, and kicking – and the next week they would change to heavy sighing, screaming, and clapping. It took several months for the TS to progress from motor tics (all the physical involuntary movements) to vocal tics (saying random words or phrases at any given time). I was able to hold in the vocal tics during school. The first time my friends found out was during track practice. I said: “Ming yow coon bug ga.”

They stopped running and stared at me.

“What – ?”

I smiled. “Yeah, about that …” I explained that with my most recent tic, I strung random words together, sometimes in a made-up language. Hence the whole “randomly speaking Japanese” incident. We named this “tic talk.”

I still “tic talk” all the time, but only privately. I am able to concentrate on not doing it in public, though if I do my mother will make a joke of it. For example, at the grocery store I might say some nonsense in a Spanish accent and she would say, “Yes, you’re right; we do need eggs,” or something to that effect.

On the plus side, most people grow out of Tourette’s by the time they reach adulthood. So maybe soon I’ll finally have a tic-free day.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




Join the Discussion

This article has 11 comments. Post your own now!

emilybwrites said...
Aug. 12, 2011 at 9:31 pm
this was really great! fantastic job! please check out my poem "forgotten domain" or "cumulus prison" and comment? it would mean a lot!
 
kelsee727 said...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 7:57 pm
I am glad that you have not given up on life because of your condition. Most people would. Continue to stay strong and I hope that in the future the syndrome goes away as quickly as it came.
 
matthewsgirl14 said...
Apr. 2, 2011 at 2:58 pm
my friend has ts and if she say some thing random i do it with her and then our other friends join in it was some thing me and her started wen i spent the night at her house it was her idea and its rlly good to have faith in your self and not be embarised by ts i rlly liked your artical and i will show this to my friend and some thing my friend say to girls tht make fun of her she says stop just bc i have ts doesnt mean im not normal i can do what ever you can do ts doesnt make me diffrent.
 
Dragonscribe said...
Jan. 26, 2011 at 5:20 pm

Well! I can understand why this is such an irritating - more than that, really - condition, but I could also see how it could be humorous. No, I'm not saying I think you being pain and spastic is funny, I'm just saying that at least it is something you can laugh about yourself. Maybe...someday...

Excellent writing! God Bless!

 
GoneButNeverOver said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm
i love your confidence so much! beautiful peice
 
Israel70717 said...
Dec. 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm
It must be hard for you to go through this but one thing I like is that your sister stood up for you and then you relized you cant get imberesed with your attacks. Thats a good thing to not be emberesed of because its not your falt and plus people shouldnt say nothing rude to you i know i wouldnt. This is really inspiring take care and dnt let no one get you down.
 
Jfw514 said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 1:36 pm
This was an inspiring passage. I also think it is great that you found such confidence in yourself. It is so sweet how your family takes up for you, and makes it seem like nothing happened. I give you credit for writing this, since you kept it a secret. I'm glad you feel you can talk about it now.  
 
beastwilson said...
Sept. 29, 2009 at 9:30 am
its great that you found confidence in yourself hopefully you'll grow out of tourettes and have a tic-free day that was amazing
 
AprilBlue replied...
May 29, 2010 at 12:26 pm
Love this :)
 
i<3you said...
May 23, 2009 at 10:01 pm
This was greatly writen, and I am glad you found such confidence in yourself.
 
lilcherry said...
Oct. 16, 2008 at 1:03 am
poor thing i know how u fell i have some problums like this everyday with kids in my class
 
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