Here is the dedication and the first part of the introduction from my book “Happily Ticked Off” for you to read if you’re interested. I hope to share more with you on this book’s progress, my writing progress and my kid’s crazy life in 2015.
As always, I’d love to her from you, too!
This is for you, Mamas
When my son was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome seven years ago, I encountered loads of disheartening information on the internet about tics, ADHD, OCD and disturbed children with behavior problems.
I found blogs full of victimhood stories and medications gone wrong.
I found a few helpful but ultimately dry informational books written from medical and nutritional view points on how to suppress tics through natural or pharmaceutical means.
What I didn’t encounter, however, was a book on humor, support and most importantly, hope.
So I wrote one.
This book is not just for mamas dealing with Tourette Syndrome. It’s a love letter for all you moms dealing with an unexpected diagnosis. It’s the book I wish someone had written for me when I was hopeless, angry, and feeling so very alone.
It’s my sincere hope that this book will serve as one giant hug for your fears. May it whisper into your heart, “You did not cause this disorder. You are strong enough to handle it. Your child is perfect despite some medical challenges. You are not alone. I am here. YOU CAN DO THIS.”
For all you mamas out there who are hanging by a thread, I’m asking you to tie a knot and hang on. Happily Ticked Off was written for you.
Introduction, Part 1
Happily TIC–ked Off
Tics or a TS Diagnosis
If you’ve picked up this book there’s a decent chance your child has recently begun to tic or has just been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. You’re pretty ticked off.
My son was diagnosed at 4 years with TS. He’s now 11. He’s well- adjusted, funny and loaded with friends. With the right plan and perspective your child can have a similar outcome.
You want to believe me, but you’re still panicked. Second only to dismay over this new diagnosis is the regret that you didn’t invest stock in the Kleenex Corporation. You can’t stop crying.
Neither could I. I’d sob to myself, my friends, my family – even bewildered gas station cashiers who simply wanted to sell me a Diet Coke – not hear a dissertation on the boring clinical definition of Tourettes.
Boring Clinical Definition of Tourettes
Named for Georges Gilles de la Tourette in 1885, Tourettes consists of both vocal and physical tics that wax and wane in nature and last up to one year. I’ll get into more detail later, but for now, let’s move on to something you can really relate to… like whining!
“What happened to my perfect little boy?” was my broken record twenty four hours/day. No one had an answer, but I have one for you: Nothing has happened to your child. Your child is still perfect. Just hang tight. I survived this initial scary period and you will, too. I promise.
It’s Not Fair
You know that life isn’t perfect and that this condition could be a hell of a lot worse, but you’re still upset. You can’t see the big picture when you’re living the unsettling, fearful present.
In the subconscious recesses of my mind, I knew that Tourettes was a present, but that didn’t keep me from spending the next seven years looking for the gift receipt. “Thank you, but no thank you,” was my reply. “I appreciate the thought, but I’d like to return this for something else. Perhaps a good case of musical genius, a pitchers arm, or the ability to burp the Ave Maria.”
Maybe you have no official label yet, but something is wrong and you’re freaking out. What you used to see as your child’s occasional quirky habits has morphed into unrelenting blinks, eye rolls, jerky head nods and spastic facial grimaces.
It’s hard to watch your child go through this, but stay strong. Tics are like visiting in-laws who invade over Thanksgiving – they’re annoying, can drive you to drink, and just when you get used to them they take off as quickly as they arrived.
The Nature of Tics
Like the departure of your extended family, you feel immense relief that the tics are gone. But Christmas is just around the corner. You have a deep sense of foreboding that those tics – and those in-laws – will be back. What if this time they bring friends?
It’s true that after a quiet period tics often return. Sometimes kids exhibit the same tic as before and add a different one. Sometimes one tic goes completely away only to be replaced by a new one altogether. Like your Aunt Sally, tics are eccentric and always changing. At least they don’t wear housecoats and smell like old musk.
The Evil of the Internet
You are a normally well-balanced person, but you begin to worry something more serious is at the root. After searching like a mad woman on the internet, you’re bombarded with hundreds of frightening outcomes for your child.
Seriously, this isn’t helpful. Turn off the computer. (OK, fine. Don’t listen to me. Keep researching deep into the night like a crazed lunatic. I did the same. But let me reiterate THIS ISN’T HELPFUL!)
You begin to slide down that rabbit hole. In that dark pit, you become dizzy and disoriented. You lose perspective. You go to dismal places like brain cancer.
It’s not brain cancer. Your overworked mama brain, however, is spinning like a jacked up tilt-o-whirl on truck stop java. Stop the ride! Minus some extra dopamine, your child’s brain is perfectly healthy.
In most cases – as will be the journey relayed in this book – TS and tics remain mild to moderate until adulthood. Then like your wonky Uncle Donny and Cousin Frankie, they disappear altogether. (Pssst…it’s such a relief no one goes looking for them!)
Focusing on positive outcomes can really keep your negative thinking in check. If you can’t instantly change the tics, change your thinking.
Severe Cases & Seeking Medical Attention
In extreme scenarios (which you’l l plenty of if you don’t listen to me and scour the internet into all hours of the night) you’ll find cases of children screeching, spitting, jerking and having to be hospitalized. This rare. The thought, however, is understandably upsetting and. As with mild tics, it’s always advisable to seek medical attention.
Start with your primary care physician who can then refer you to a neurologist if needed. Don’t be surprised if, after seeing your pediatrician, they seem very unconcerned. Your “emergency tic OH MY GOD IT COULD BE SEIZURES” situation is very commonplace to doctors. It can take months to see a neurologist. I say this not to frustrate you but to assure you that your child isn’t the first one to ever experience this.
Identifying the Triggers (As well as the ever important legal term known as “Butt Coverage”)
I am not a doctor. I am not a certified nutritionist. I am not a psychologist. I am, however, a mother who has been dealing with Tourettes for over seven years. This book will share what has eased my son’s symptoms, what has exasperated them, what has eased my symptoms of panic, and what has exasperated them.
Even if your child is dealing with an acute onslaught of tics, the present doesn’t need to indicate the future. Many mothers, with time and patience, have pinpointed triggers for their children’s symptoms. Once these triggers were eliminated, they were able to drastically reduce the tics.
Medication vs. Supplements
You are not a patient person. You want to stop the tics this instant and are hell bent on getting a prescription for Clonodine or Tenex quicker than you can say Giles De la Tourettes. You want a quick fix and medication is your answer.
That is a very personal choice and I support you on that journey. I am considering this possibility for my own son, especially as he enters those tumultuous tween years. I’ll keep you updated on this on the blog.
More to come in my next post …