My family and I have been experiencing some extra stress over the past few months. As many people know, life can get more and/or less complicated at any given moment — especially in families with Tourette Syndrome.
My updated story has ups and downs, twists and turns and a miracle. As I have mentioned before, my son, B. has Tourette’s-plus and Crohn’s Disease, and is presently slowly working toward a college degree.
His dad and I have made extra help available to him for his organizational needs and academic support. Because he is incredibly motivated and positive, B faces the daily struggle of a rigorous college program — even though just getting himself to classes on time can be an ordeal.
Executive functioning is a huge challenge for him at all times. But on Jan. 7, he showed us how amazingly he functions in an emergency.
On that day, he and his granddad (my father) enjoyed a men-only Philadelphia Flyers hockey game. On their way back to New Jersey, my dad had a sudden-death heart failure and lost consciousness while driving.
The stars must have all been lined up because even though the car hit a pole, it was at a slow speed. Neither one of them was hurt in the accident. Luckily, traffic stopped around them and another driver pulled my dad out of the car and performed CPR successfully until the EMTs arrived to take over.
That person is angel No. 1 that day. My son, B, was angel No. 2. While at the scene of the accident, B called me on his cell phone and calmly relayed the events as they were unfolding while simultaneously answering questions from the EMTs and police officers and his frantic mom, shocked grandmom and B’s worried twin sister (who was calmly navigating me to the hospital in Philadelphia).
Later, despite not knowing if his granddad was going to survive the night, in the ER, Bkept his cool as an accident investigator and the doctors asked him persistent questions. I am elated to report that my father is finally at home continuing his recovery from open-heart surgery and that my son and daughter are back at their respective colleges for spring semester.
I guess what I wanted to share is that even though I have always been proud of my children, I still could not have foreseen how mature and steady B would handle a crisis. In a way, his dad and I have often been B’s support and anchor because of his difficulty handling life while battling illnesses, severe tics, forgetfulness and disorganization.
Since B was a young child, we have had the ultimate respect for his fortitude and strength. His unshakable management of this traumatic event nevertheless astonished me and made me realize that I might be worrying unnecessarily about his future.
Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the daily hurtles our children face and forget how much inner strength they have developed to cope with their personal challenges. Though daily life with TS is tough, the person they become can be resilient and an inspiration to others. As his granddad keeps saying, my grandson is my hero.