All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Tic Attack MAG
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.