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Tic Attacks

By Dominic Dominguez

I am now lucky to be mostly free of my tics, at least compared to a younger me. They are infrequent and mostly mild. I tic daily but they are rarely observed by those who do not inhabit this body. Still, on occasion, usually after prolonged or immense stress, up pops the most monstrous and incredible of my tics: the tic attack.

Tic attacks are severe bouts of uncontrollable movements that may occur in individuals with Tourette syndrome or chronic tic disorders. The attacks are typically made up of the individual’s typical tics together with abnormal whole body movements.

-Tourette’s Action

I could count the number of times this has happened to me on both my hands, making it a celebrated and unexpected occasion when the tics take complete control. My body twists, contorts, rocks, and freezes in awkward and ridiculous positions, similar in appearance to a seizure once I eventually fall to the floor and start flopping like a fish out of water. However, as I told a school nurse once at a presentation, Tourette’s and seizures are not the same thing. For example, if someone rolled me on my side and stuffed a wallet in my mouth while I ticked I would be quite agitated. I am afraid that if I have a tic attack in public, something that only occurred once- luckily at a conference for teens with TS- EMT’s will be called and I will be hoisted onto a stretcher and strapped down as I fight with my own brain over control of my tongue like some sick thumb wrestling match in my mouth just trying to get the word “Tourette’s” out.

Still in the comfort of my own home and rug, which I often find my face cozily nestled in as I lose the ability to roll over, I only have to worry about my mother and her reactions. Luckily for me, she is accustomed to my ticciness, and when rocking in fetal position, frozen in ugly yoga poses, or my arms posed like that of a T-rex and my neck craned so I can stare at that one moon shaped stain on my ceiling, I find ways to laugh. I don’t know how else to deal with it. I wrestle with an invisible opponent or give myself an inspiring and strained pep talk as I fight to perform the simple task of getting my stupid finger out of my mouth, and I can’t help but laugh at the absurdity. I just have to wait for my body to tire itself out, after I give up on trying to stay on the couch, using every ounce of strength to hoist myself on it so I can tic somewhere comfy, to only drop on the floor with a “here we go again” and a painful THUD.

My tics seem to have a mind of their own, always getting my hopes up as they let me lay still for a moment, and as I try to stand, they scream “GOTCHA!” and laugh and down I go again to do one arm push ups and bang my toes into the floor. My mom will move furniture out of the way, and OPE, there I go rolling feverishly so I can be in reach of the lovely ottoman my tics were not done ramming my elbow into. All I can do is wait and try to provide entertaining commentary to my mom who gets a front seat to the “Amazing Tic Boy.” I just have to give in and wait 20 minutes to an hour for my body and muscles to be too exhausted to move. Then and only then can I lay in peace, panting, tired and sore in a Tourette’s postictal state of relaxation before resuming whatever activity was rudely interrupted and continuing like nothing happened.

Dominic Dominguez is a Youth Development Intern at NJCTS. He is also a Youth Advocate, scholarship winner, and has attended the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy.

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