Time for a blog hop

I bring this long fast to an end to talk about something dear to my heart. No, not tics! Writing!

Not only did I just finish a second rewrite of my book where it’s actually being considered by some pretty decent agencies (Squeeeeeel!) but a lovely writer named Lorraine Devon Wilke asked me to participate in her Blog Hop.

What is this Blog Hop, you ask?

A Blog Hop is where a writer refers her followers back to other fabulous voices in the online community. I’m a big fan of supporting other writers, especially women, so I said ‘Yes’ to the opportunity to play.

To start with, let me give some love back to Lorraine!

Lorraine Devon Wilke is a creative hyphenate currently enjoying her three-ring circus of writing, photography, and music. She’s a longtime HuffingtonPost contributor, a successful screenwriter, and a widely published essayist; she curates her fine art photography site, as well as her personal blog at Rock+Paper+Music, and her original CD, Somewhere On the Way, can be found at CDBaby.com and ITunes. But her latest “big adventure” is the launch of her first novel, After the Sucker Punchat Amazon … stop in for a copy! Check www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for links and information, www.AfterTheSuckerPunch.com for updates and links for her book, and stop by her blog at www.rockpapermusic.com for her own answers to these questions!

Secondly, here are a few questions I was asked to answer. I will ask the same of two other writers I bring into this:

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My Story: “One Twitch At A Time” part 6

Here’s the continuation of my story, which I have posted on here over the past couple of weeks and started on my One Twitch At A Time page on Facebook.

Fortunately, Mok was able to brace himself and avoid getting thrown from the car. He got a huge bump on the head and a nasty raspberry on his arm. I, however, did not fare so well — the back of my head was busted wide open, my nose was split open, my left eye was cut open and almost took out the eye, there was a gash under my right eye, my tail bone was cracked, and there was enough road rash to make any motorcycle rider cringe.

I remember coming to and not being able to see anything as my eyes were crammed with dirt and sand, and I had the worst headache of my life. My dad’s buddy (also named Bill) was one of the EMTs first on the scene, and he recognized the car and must have deduced that I had to have been Toms’ son.

He was talking to me and in usual “Billy Dibler” form, and I was trying to joke around and be a goof — not quite realizing just how close to death I was or even what had even happened, for that matter! I just remember him trying to be calm and keep me from moving too much.

Soon, the ambulance arrived and took Mok and I to the local hospital. I remember being strapped down to one of those boards they use, still not able to see anything, but I felt some packaging from some gauze they had left on my chest, so I grabbed it and blindly made a paper air plane out of it.

Other than that, I really don’t remember the next few hours outside of the fact that they had not cleaned any of the rocks and roadside debris from my head wound before strapping me and my head down. It was becoming very painful, as the rocks were digging into my exposed skull. Continue reading

How TS translates in acupuncture terms

Tics seem to be up for a lot of folk I know — including my own kid. More vocals — this time kind of a high-pitched squeak. Not really loud, but it is punctuating his sentences big time.

The other night, while doing math with him, he was doing quite a bit of nodding and squeaking, along with some eye rolls. Did it worry me a bit? Yes. But I also have to say that he just cracked me up. He’s just so funny and charming. We had this entire discourse on the pros and cons of adding up the perimeters of an object.

I wanted to take the area of the invisible square and then do some subtraction, where he came up with some theory on multiplying a side by 10 and then dividing some fraction of the base and mixing it with the hair of a chihuahua and a bald eagle tail feather. (I swear, his mind moves so fast, I can’t keep up with his figures.)

Bottom line: We both got the same answer and had a lot of laughs in the process. I’ll take it, even if this means fighting my instinct to freak out about tics.

One might be led to ask, “Really? Then why do the acupuncture if it’s not working?”

I think that’s like telling a person who has been fat since childbirth to not exercise since they are large anyway. Movement keeps them healthy on the inside and keeps less chunk from accumulating.

Likewise, Stink has TS. As much as I want acupuncture to be a silver bullet, it serves more like a nice balance for his system. Some days are better than others. Martina is not the Tic Whisperer — she is not going to eradicate all symptoms through her magical fingers — not when we don’t 100 percent stick to diet, a perfect sleep schedule, a perfect exercise routine and a no-video policy.

What is your tic management protocol?

I’d love to hear where you are all at in regards to managing tics. Personally, I am really listening to my readers who have TS and encourage me to let my kid be who he is. (As long as Stink remains happy regardless of a few twitches.)

If I ever sound like a broken record, too, I want to know.

You can follow me at Twitter @andreafrazer.

You can find me on Facebook under Happily Ticked Off.

You can e-mail me at HappilyTickedOff@gmail.com.

I’d love to connect with you!

My day job as a writer for Spark Network

You also can find me writing about my faith at Believe.com. Any writers out there or people of faith? Contact me and I’ll be happy to link you from my posts when applicable!

Hey! You have other kids, you know!

As many of you readers know, I have a little girl I refer to as Pip. She’s a year behind Stink in school. She pretty much worships the ground her brother walks on. This includes not wanting to give up sharing a room with him, laughing until her eyes pop out of her sockets at him, and giving a speech at school about why “Stink is My Hero.”

None of her adoration comes from feeling sorry for his tics. Quite the contrary, she just finds him hysterical because, well, he is.

I write this because I’ve had this huge shift lately in how I talk about my son. While yes, he does tic (and with that comes some special accommodations like diet and the whole “he has TS” speeches for new play dates and school years) he is not really what I’d consider special needs. There’s not a darn thing wrong with his academic or social life.

You know who does have special needs more and more? My daughter.

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Tics, faith and Believe.com

Are you thankful for tics this Thanksgiving season? You’re not? When my son was first diagnosed, I wasn’t either. But today, from a place of experience and growth, I am happy for the character building that has come from this crazy ride.

“How is that possible?” You might ask, before reaching through the computer and throttling me with frayed nerves shot from hearing 30  minutes of throat clears on the way to morning drop off. “I’m terrified my kid is going to be made fun of. Or worse, that this condition will be harder for him than it is for me!”

I get it. I really do. And all I can offer is my own experience, which is this: 6 years later, my son is totally fine. Yes, he still tics (last night his vocals were driving me a bit nutty … low gulps and clucks) but he completely embraces with who he is — not a kid with Tourettes, but a kid who creates video games, loves his sister, rocks math class, has a gaggle of geeky computer boys at our house every Friday night and, oh yeah, he tics. It’s a microcosm of who he is in the grand picture.

Yes, people ask him about his tics sometimes. And he always gives them the same answer: “Jesus made me this way.” I never saw myself as a religious person, but from the vantage point of time, I realize just how much my faith has meant to me and how much it’s shaped my son’s worldview of himself. Continue reading

Fifth-grade blues (for me)

At an informal parent meeting last Wednesday, I was told to brace myself for the fact that peers would be more important than parents this year. Hairdos would trump propriety, and social obligations would outweigh homework priorities.

In my heart of hearts, I wish I could say this wasn’t true. That MY kid was still a mama’s boy. that MY kid would still hug and kiss his mom outside the classroom door — to hell with his skinny jeaned posse! While some of my wishes have been granted — he still hugs me on occasion or mutters “Love you!” while sinking his curly mop into my shoulder (Oh, God, my shoulder… he’s getting so tall) — he has, true to the warnings, started to show real signs of maturity.

And while this naturally brings out the weepy eyes in this mama, there is also a sense of pride and gratefulness. Despite my big worries about TS and its effect on his future, he really is just like any other boy — finding his way, navigating friendships, and loving a good fart joke.

Today, he brought a new kid home — one that shares the same faith background as him as well as his very namesake! The two of them barely spoke. They barely looked at each other. But at 6:45 I got a happy text from this boy’s mama. “My Stink said he had so much fun today! Let’s definitely get the boys together again soon!”

Sounds like a plan to me!

Person > Label

Each and every case of Tourettes is unique, but we all have similarities, a connection. Sometimes I feel like I want to be separated from TS and OCD, to just be me without having to worry about what I look like when I’m ticcing in public or what people think when I make funny noises or get upset over something that may seem trivial to them, but is part of what makes my day go on.

I just started a new job and it’s hard enough being someone who isn’t traditional by nature, because people don’t accept different and they’re intimidated by it. So it makes it that much harder having to tic in front of them. Every time I go into a new setting I have to go through the steps:

  • Start with facial tics, because they’re less noticeable.
  • Next a few neck and arm “stretching” tics, because they look natural, right?
  • Then most of my quiet resolve dissolves into upper body shaking tics and some lower body if I’m standing.
  • Then come the ones that may seem a little more embarrassing or scary looking: sticking my tongue out or hitting my arms against my sides.
  • Finally, the pièce de résistance … What do I do about my vocal tics??? I don’t get them very often, but when I do, there’s nothing subtle about them. Ever since I’ve grown up I think I’ve struggled more with those and have yet to come to terms with them. I developed a little bit of a stutter now and again and I do bird calls and random noises.

I recently started a new job, and I’m in this 15×20 room training with over a dozen other people and I tic in front of them all the time. I went through all the steps, only treading lightly on that last one, but I’ve done it. I tic and I sign in front of them and I don’t care. It feels so good and it makes me feel like I’m just a person, not a label. When I’m able to do that, I can get out of my own head and see other people and things. Although I have to be pro-active in said process too, I couldn’t do it without God and my family.

Check out this guy on X-Factor who has TS and OCD. Here’s the article and video. It takes a great support system to have the courage to do what he did. 🙂

Replace fear with faith

I speak to so many of you worried mamas offline. I was once like you — scared about the future, dreaming of fearful “what-if” scenarios, wondering if my kid jumped up and down in excitement over a surprise Disneyland trip if this might, in turn, make him jump up and down 1,000 more times and he’d develop a compulsive tic that resembled a springy clown from a jack-in-the-box.

In fact, what if he started obsessing about clowns or, worse, started shouting the word “Clown! Clown!” when he was supposed to be sitting quietly on the tram or paying attention in Circle Time?

I want to tell you that none of those things ever came to pass which is a great thing for me, my kid, and any people on public transportation or at public school who have a terrible phobia of clowns.

What I did start doing, however, was the best thing that could ever have happened since my son’s TS diagnosis. It was a cure I didn’t think would be more powerful than a Tic Tamer, Bonnie Grimaldi Vitamins, NAC or Gluten Free/Dye Free/GMO organic elephant poo from India — but it really was magical. It was called Faith over Fears.

“Oh, man, this is not what I wanted to hear,” some of you might say. (In fact, you one mama in the Midwest who has been Googling for cures all night… I just heard you groan from here.)

To your “arrgs” I want to say, “I know. I wouldn’t have wanted to hear my advice at the beginning either. But I wish someone would have told me anyway, because it’s the best cure there is.”

It looks something like this: Continue reading

“Tourette Syndrome: Coping With Difference” — Autobiography

The following is the beginning of a series of entries that, as a whole, comprise a paper titled “Tourette Syndrome: Coping With Difference” I wrote for a class I am taking at the University of Texas-San Antonio.

“It has been said that time heals all wounds.  I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”
— Rose Kennedy (“The Kennedy Legacy, n.d.)

I was barely out of diapers when I first realized my family was different. My parents were going through a divorce and my mother would soon become only a distant memory. My dad would eventually remarry, but no one could ever take the place of having my own mother. It hurt to be without my mother, but being a small child, I was able to bounce back fairly quickly.

The first few years of my life, other than missing my mom, I was virtually unscathed by the differences between myself and those around me. Then I became school age and over the years my image of myself began to change due to how others chose to view me.

I remember being in kindergarten and wetting my pants at school. I recall the other children laughing and pointing at the “baby who wet her pants”. That was my first lesson in humiliation. It was the first time I can remember being made fun of and I can still feel that sting, the burning in my gut, and the tears welling up in my eyes as my peers continued to laugh.

By the time I was leaving grade school I had already been labeled the fat kid by my peers and even some of my own family simply because I was a little heavier than the norm. When I was 12, my dad divorced my stepmother after 8 years of marriage. Continue reading

Kids are a Godsend, so go with the flow

Well, here it is, 9:30 a.m. the first day of school 2013, and my 11-year-old daughter is still home and all worked up. It’s difficult for her to foresee a good day when she’s full of fear and anxiety.

At this moment, she has decided to take a shower, as this often helps her decompress.

I have recently decided to go with the flow, as both her sanity and mine is so very crucial. We are blessed with a teacher who, unfortunately has the same experiences at home, yet makes life for us simpler because of it. She is a Godsend!

This life is not a simple one, as many parents will attest, but with the grace of God, who has given me a daughter with lots of spirit, along with a kind and supportive husband and a son who follows in his fathers footsteps, we will prevail!