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Short Story--by way of introduction

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  • Short Story--by way of introduction


    I've been reading alot of the messages here, and have increased my understanding ten-fold of this affliction. I just hope it's okay if I post even though I'm from the other side of the fence :p If you're interested, you can read my short memoir below, to see how I "got" Tourettes. For me, the affiction nearly went away in my twenties, but re-surfaced in my thirties I've got an appointment with a neurologist in a week--so we'll see how that goes. Anyway, here is a list of my tics, followed by a short memoir.

    My list of tics:

    Poking/push on/hurt existing wounds
    Biting things, to see how they’d feel
    Touching things, to see how they’d feel
    Tasting things, to see how they’d feel (paint, oil)
    Neck straining
    Staring at sun
    Thoughts about racist slurs/cursing
    Pelvic thrusts (after seeing attractive women IRL, or on TV)
    Chomping down on infected/root canal teeth, to see what more pain will feel like
    Biting cheek/tongue when it is numb with novacaine (it’s knowing the risk that I could bite through it accidentally that makes is so appealing)
    Biting lips
    Stabbing motion with knives/screwdriver. (will actually start physical movement, but never complete, usually towards belly or temple)
    Curling toes
    Kicking feet
    Knocking knees of stranger next to me on bus, airplane, subway
    Taking short intense breaths (gulps)
    Intrusive thoughts, usually concerning other people’s reactions to unacceptable social behavior
    Limb extensions (like at the top of stretch during a yawn)
    Knee popping
    Knee flexing
    Full on convulsive like spasms (usually when lying down, or curled up on couch, rare)
    Poking/hitting temples with my knuckles, wanting to do it with a pen or other sharp object
    Shaking head, if I have a headache
    Pinching my wife when snuggling
    Sticking hand in machine
    Jumping into churning farm equipment
    Jumping out of high speed car/plane/boat, motorcycle, bicycle
    Urges to ruin anything brand new. (scratch it, dent it, drop it)
    On long internet downloads (hours), the urge to hit the “cancel” button during the last second
    Thoughts of punching babies
    Can’t stand certain textures (Styrofoam/blackboard, certain glossy photo paper)—but will feel irresistible urge to scratch them, touch them, even though I hate the feel of it.
    Urge to run out in front of car/train
    Whenever I’m on an ledge, I actually start the movement to jump/twitch towards the ledge.
    Try to push/crack/grind extremely expensive crowns off (if they weren’t expensive, I don’t think I’d have the urge)
    Squeezing extremely hot coffee cups, sometimes popping lids off and spilling coffee on myself
    Lighting a cigarette, then pulling the lighter (lit) close to my face/eyes.
    Sticking hand in fire
    Touching hot burners/stove
    Drive into oncoming semi, phone pole, off of bridge, off of cliff edge
    Hitting myself with cordless phone (in the ear)
    Repeating other’s last word, or first syllable of the last word
    Urge to run fingernails along wood, opposite the grain (splinters)
    Poking eyeball with needle.
    Blowing on people
    Baby elephant noise (got the name in the Tic forum!)

    Here's my Tourette's memoir:


    My teachers look at me funny when I make weird noises, but my friends, they usually just laugh. It’s funny to them, and they are pretty cool about it—they don’t make fun of me really, but only get a kick out of it—like when we are in the middle of a test or something, and then out of nowhere I let out a bark, I mean a loud bark, where everyone turns around to me and smiles, and then someone starts laughing, and then everyone else gets going. To tell you the truth, it doesn’t bother me at all, and I laugh right along with them most of the time.
    I go to this school where our teachers are mostly nuns—we have to go to church every week, and sometimes I’ll bark in church too. This one nun, Sister Agatha, told me that Jesus didn’t appreciate me barking like that in church and disrupting everything. She’s mean though— it’s funny—there’s always that question about nuns—“is she mean?”—that everyone’s always talkin’ about—whenever you find out who your teachers will be for the next year, it’s always how mean Sister so and so is, and how this one cuts your hair when you’re not looking if it grows too long, and how another one will ask you to hold your palms out so she can smack ‘em with a ruler. My brother told me all kinds of horrible stuff about every nun I was gonna’ have—but with Sister Agatha, he wasn’t kidding. Yesterday, after telling me all about how Jesus didn’t appreciate me disrupting His Mass, she smacked me in the back of the head, and told me maybe that will stop me from shaking it.
    I figured though, that Jesus didn’t mind so much—since I prayed to Him all the time to help me to stop shaking my head, and barking, though it never seemed to help. The way I see it, if He didn’t want to help, then He probably didn’t care too much if I did it in church.
    Sister Agatha and the rest of the teachers told my mom that I was forever disrupting the classes and Masses, and that they were thinking of taking further action if I didn’t stop, whatever that’s supposed to mean. What they were going to do I don’t know—but my mom thought something was wrong with me anyway, especially after this one time when I called my basketball coach an ******* right to his face for taking me outta’ the game.
    The thing is, I couldn’t help it—it just sorta’ came out of me. I used to go over to my friend Justin’s house all the time—but his dad was the basketball coach, and ever since I called his dad an *******, I haven’t been over there. Justin looks at me funny in school sometimes, like, ‘Why’d you have to call my dad an *******? That’s my dad, man’—and I feel real bad and all, but like I said, I couldn’t help it. Anyway, I still think he shouldn’t have taken me outta’ the game.
    My mom’s taking me to the hospital today to see if something’s wrong with me. I do other weird stuff too—like stomping my feet, and grunting, and making my face all screwed up. Sometimes I get real tired of it, and really want to stop, but it’s like I can’t.
    At first it was all a big joke—because there was this one guy at the swimming pool—Crazy Charlie—who would bark right before he dove off the high dive and into the tank. He was an old man, and he would do that same damn dive every time, like he was trying out for the Olympics or something—but every time his bony hands would hit the water palms up, and his one leg never seemed to be in line with the other one. Then he’d go up the ladder doing these weird twitches, stand at the end of the board, let out a bark, and then dive again. It wasn’t like a little bark either—it was a loud bark, and everyone always heard it and would look up at his old ass getting ready to dive, and laugh. We imitated him a lot, walking around all the different parts of the pool, barking and twitching, and yelling out “Crazy Charlie!” ‘cause a lot of times, Crazy Charlie himself would do that while he was walking from the showers to the diving tank.
    Rivi is the name of the pool we all go to, and I spend most of my summers there, except when I’m at camp. It’s like five pools all in one, ‘cause there are special parts of the pool for different types of things. There’s a bullpen, which is my favorite, where only boys are allowed. If a girl gets caught in there, she gets thrown out, and can’t come back for a day. Then there’s the six foot where all the codgers and old ladies do laps—the jackbox where most of the girls hang out ‘cause there’s a bar there where they can do somersaults and stuff—and finally a baby and toddler pool which, rumor has it, is two parts water, and one part urine.

  • #2
    Re: Short Story--by way of introduction


    Anyway, it was Crazy Charlie that got me goin’ makin’ all these weird noises—‘cause before that I never did anything. I started makin’ fun of him like everyone else, and then one time he looked at me, like I was the one who started all of it, and barked right at me. Well, the only thing I could do was bark right back, and when I did, my friends all laughed real hard, and patted me on the back like it was a real good one or somethin’.
    The thing that I remember, though, is when Crazy Charlie was lookin’ at me—it was like he musta’ been thinking of how either he hoped we all got the barks so that we would stop laughing, or that maybe he was hopin’ that we would never get ‘em, because it seemed to bother him a lot. Ever since that day I’ve been doin’ the barks and twitches a lot, and I think maybe he gave ‘em to me when he looked right at me and I barked back at him. My mom says that’s ridiculous, but she wasn’t there to see the look Crazy Charlie gave me. It wasn’t like an adult look—it was the look some kid gives you after you’ve made fun of him, like he really hates you, and would like to kill you right there on the spot.
    In the bullpen there’s this big guy that likes to launch me into the air like a missile. That’s what they call me and my friends, missiles, ‘cause they take one of our feet in their cupped hands, and launch us through the air to see how high they can throw us. Abe is the best launcher—he’s the biggest human being I’ve ever seen, and when he launches me, I can see over the fence of the club all the way to the steeple of Meridian Street Methodist Church. My friends don’t believe me, but it’s true—I mean, it’s not like I can prove it or anything—but I can see the steeple, and the Baskin Robbins sign right over the canal behind Rivi. I’m probably the lightest one out of all my friends, and that’s why I go the highest. The funny thing is though, whenever I’m a missile, I never get the urge to twitch or bark—I guess it’s just because I’m too busy worrying about the flips and somersaults that I’m gonna’ do—one time when Abe launched me I did three somersaults before I straightened out for a perfect dive into the water. I’m thinking I’ll tell this to that doctor I’m gonna’ see today, since that is practically the only time that I don’t do it.
    On the way to Riley Hospital my mom keeps tellin’ me that it’s not a psychiatrist that I’m gonna’ see—but that it’s a neurologist, whatever that’s supposed to be. She knows that I don’t like crazy people—and that they are the only people that really scare me—more than the weird things I hear in my room at night, when I’m praying to Jesus to protect me from them. I remember I used to be real scared of them when I was little, until I got my first communion at church. After that I figured I was off limits to the monsters since I ate holy wafers on a weekly basis. But Crazy Charlie doesn’t count as a crazy person to me—because it’s not like he’s a psycho or anything—he just does funny twitches and weird noises—not like the guys downtown who talk to themselves and look like they’re about to kill somebody or somethin’. Those guys are creeps, and I try to keep clear of them whenever me and my mom go downtown to the post office.

    When we get to the hospital I have to sit in this waiting room that is made for little kids— there is a box of toys and a pile of children’s books. I’m gettin’ sorta’ nervous though, because my mom says I might have this disease, and I don’t want to have it—I figure that if I can stop twitching while I’m with the doctor, that he won’t think I have it. I mean, I don’t really care if I have it—but my mom, she gets all worried about it, like that one time she even cried when my teachers at school said they might take further action—and there’s one thing in the world that I can’t stand, and that’s my mom crying. It’s like I have to cry just because my mom’s crying—I don’t even have to know what it’s about—I start in right along with her, and ask her why she has to bawl when she knows it makes me sad.
    So anyway, I’m not a cry baby or anything—it’s just that one thing that does it to me every time. So I’m thinking I’ll hold in the urges to bark and twitch for at least a few minutes while the doctor's seein’ me. That way he won’t think I have it, and my mom won’t have anything to get all worked up about.
    But in the waiting room I’m really going at it since the doctor’s nowhere in sight—I pick up this book I remember having when I was a kid, The Cat In The Hat, and start reading it to get my mind off the whole situation. Only the urges are really coming at me now, since I’ve got this great plan to hold ‘em all in when the doctor shows up. I’m flipping my head back and forth, and can barely even read—I’m stomping my feet, trying to get my toes through the soles of my shoes. If I could, I’d curl my toes right through the carpet and into the floor underneath. I’m grunting every other second, louder each time, and can’t seem to get it right.
    That’s the thing about it—it’s like once you start in on it, you’ve got to get it right. Just like Crazy Charlie and his Olympic dives—if it’s off by just a little bit, you’ve got to do it again. Especially with the barks—at first everyone can barely hear it, but then I think that they didn’t hear it, and so I have to do it again—but then I think that surely they didn’t hear that one either, and so on until the whole class is staring at me, and I’m yanked outta’ the class by Sister Agatha and sent to the principal’s office.
    I don’t really wanna’ look up at my mom now, ‘cause I’m really having a fit, but when I do, she is just staring at me like she usually does, smiling, like what I’m doing is the most normal thing in the world.
    Luckily there’s no one else in the room—I mean, if there was a little kid in the room I’d really be feelin’ stupid—‘cause sometimes little kids look at me and then go over to their mom like they’re afraid of me or somethin’.
    The urges are coming from all over, and I can’t remember when I’ve been so bad with it— but then the doctor comes in and introduces himself to me, and not to my mom, which I think is sorta’ weird since she is right there next to me. Adults are always doin’ weird stuff like that when I’m around. They’re always taking me aside and asking “How are you, Chris? Is everything okay?” like I’m some kind of retard or something. Not that I have anything against retards, but it’s like I’m not retarded—I just twitch and stuff, which isn’t the same thing at all. Just like Crazy Charlie really isn’t crazy.
    The doctor asks me to follow him down the hall to his office where we can talk, and I’m waiting for my mom to come with us, but she stays behind. The doctor tells me he just wants to talk to me for a minute. We’re walking down the hall and I’m really about to explode, ‘cause it’s like there’s all this energy going through me like I’ve just been electrocuted—not that I’ve ever been electrocuted before, but I’m thinking this is what it would feel like if I was. I’m sweating by the time we make it to his office, which is like ten miles down the hall, and he asks me again if everything’s all right.
    “I’m fine,” I say.
    “And are you holding back on anything? Is this how you usually act?” he asks.
    “Are you feeling the urge to make noises, or shake your head?”
    “Anything like that?”
    Only inside I’m fighting the itches like a madman, and think maybe I’m not going to make it.
    “It’s just sorta’ hot in here, that’s all,” I say ‘cause I’m thinking he can see me sweating.
    He says then that that’s all he wanted to know, and takes me back to my mom. They are talking right there in front of me, and right when I think he’s gonna’ let us go, he asks me to go down to the drinking fountain to get a sip of water.
    “I’m not thirsty,” I tell him.
    “Go on anyway, I have to talk to your mother for a minute,” he says.
    And I’m thinking, yeah, like this isn’t a test. This guy is trying to make me do something, but it’s like the urges are starting to calm down a bit, and so I walk real cool like down to the drinking fountain, and feel the eyes of that doctor on my back watching me like a hawk. When I return without making a single jerk, I’m smiling like I’m in on his secret test, and he tells me I can go home now.
    Right when we walk out the front door to the hospital, I let out a nice big bark, and snap my head right over to my mom to see if she heard it, but she doesn’t look at me and keeps on goin’ like nothing happened.
    On the way home I ask her if I have the barks, and what the doctor had said about me. She tells me that I do have them and that we’re goin’ to the pharmacy to get some medicine that’ll make it all better. I turn to face her and tell her that I hadn't budged during the whole test, that I knew about the test, and that I hadn't done anything at all. Then she starts to cry, tears running down to the corners of her mouth, and she starts rubbing the back of my neck.
    “The waiting room, Chris,” she says, "he was watching you in the waiting room."
    And I’m thinking that was a dirty trick.

    I end up taking this expensive medicine for a week, but all it does is make me sleep almost all day in school, and my mom says that’s not going to work, and I’m sorta happy, because sleeping all day is not the sort of thing that I like doin’ on a regular basis.

    Tonight we’re supposed to have a conference at school, and when me and my mom get there, all the teachers are there at this big table, and I’m at the end of it like it’s my birthday or something. Sister Agatha says that she didn't know that the barks was a real disease, and how she really did believe I was trying to get my classmates to laugh. That sorta’ made me feel good, like she was the one in the hot seat—I love watching adults get in trouble almost as much as getting into trouble myself. But then all of them start apologizing to me, which is funny, because it’s like a few weeks ago I was getting detentions for all the trouble I was causing, and was approaching the all-time record for detentions in the entire history of the school. I thought that was pretty cool, but my mom said that it wasn’t something to be proud of, and that it wasn’t like something I could put on my resume, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.
    I’m still sort of embarrassed about having a disease and all that, and tell them that I don't know what they’re talking about—that I didn't know anything about any "syndrome," all the while shaking my head even harder, hoping each time that they hadn't noticed the last jerk, though they’re looking straight at me. Everyone starts staring real hard, like when I’m in trouble and they’re trying to figure out how to get me to stop misbehaving. Only it’s really bad this time, and I can’t stop the noises and twitching, and my mom starts looking worried and tells me to settle down. I keep hitting my knee under the table and everyone looks down at the table popping up and down, and then I’m shaking my head back and forth like crazy, and barking, and Sister Agatha stops talking to my mom about what times I’m supposed to take the medicine at school. Everyone is looking back and forth between my mom and me, like they don’t know what to do, and then Principal Cohen says that maybe my mom should take me home, but no one can hear him ‘cause I’m barking so loud, and finally I kick the table so hard that everyone’s coffee mugs dump over onto the table and people start getting up out of their seats. I finish it off like a real pro and start shaking all over like I’ve never shaked before, and end up falling right outta’ my chair.
    They’re all looking at me like I’ve just been hit by a car or somethin’, like this one time at school when this little girl got run over by a car at recess, and people came out of their houses and just stood there staring, wondering if the world was going to come to an end or something.
    I mean, I kinda’ feel sorry for them—‘cause I know it’s not like they’re enjoying watch me have a fit. Even Sister Agatha looks like maybe she’s not having a good time, and has lost that evil look that she usually gives me when I turn around in church to see if she’s spyin’ on me.
    Me, I’m just wishing my mom would stop crying, and that I could be back in the bullpen with Abe so he could launch me nice and high—and then, right when I get that great view of the neighborhood, I can let out one last, perfect bark, and that maybe that’ll be the end of it.


    • #3
      Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

      Welcome Chris!

      It sounds like you have had a tough go of it. I absolutely love your story! How wonderful that you are able to write about something that must have been so difficult and painful in such a way that people can really identify with you in a positive way. What I mean is I felt like you were some sort of hero in an adventure while I was reading. I in no way felt sorry for you but rather inspired and definitely wanting to hear more.

      Have you considered getting this published? Or perhaps expanding it further into a book. I love your writing style..very entertaining!

      Thanks for sharing Chris and I am glad you find the forum a good source of information. I am curious as to what you meant in saying you are "from the other side of the fence" in your very first paragragh.

      I am very much looking forward to your participation in the forum.


      • #4
        Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

        Hi Patti,

        I'm glad you enjoyed the memoir! By the way, my name is Brandt--not Chris (when I wrote that, I wanted to change the name). What I meant by "the other side of the fence"--I thought that meant the USA, as opposed to Canada. I noticed this website is for Canadians--but it's such a good forum, I wanted to participate, even though I'm in the United States.

        About the memoir--I never really could think of a place that would publish it--but recently, I have thought about expanding it--though I don't know if there's enough to fill a book :o


        • #5
          Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

          Oops--I just realized "Across the Fence" simply refers to a couple of neighbors in their backyards, talking. haha I always misunderstand metaphors, or add my own special meaning to them


          • #6
            Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

            I am so glad you decided to participate Brandt! We have many forum members who are from places other than Canada. We even have some from as far away as Australia!


            • #7
              Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

              Wow! That is quite the story. And very relatable as I've watched my son struggle with many of the things you've described. Funny thing you would mention your calmness when becoming a "missile". My son is a springboard diver. He'd always been "that kid" who could really do about any sport, but due to his size he didn't really excel at one. His middle school Phys Ed teacher saw him doing flips off the board after a swimming unit one day. The teacher invited him to join the swim/dive team as a diver. That was 7th grade. In 8th grade he moved up to the high school to compete on the varsity squad. As part of this move up to the high school, his middle school teachers were contacted to get their opinion as to whether he would be a good candidate to move up. Not one of his middle school teachers recommended him. The coach took him anyway.

              He is now a back-to-back State High School One Meter Diving Champ!! He's on his way to dive at a Division I college. He has Olympic aspirations and goals.

              People comment about some of his tics while he's on the board preparing to dive. He has a pretty set routine that he follows to calm himself down. The concentration required has been the best therapy for him. I remember at the last Summer Olympics that a couple of the divers for the US team has similar "syndromes" in their background. Comments were made that getting on the diving board was great therapy for them as well.

              God bless you for writing your story!! It's an encouragement to everyone out there who's lives are touched by TS. I know it blessed me.

              I found this website from a Google search for "olympic dive tourette's". God works in mysterious ways, huh??


              • #8
                Re: Short Story--by way of introduction

                Welcome to the Forum Mr D!

                Looking forward to your participation and insights...
                TouretteLinks Forum