Thursday, August 18, 2005

Chronic Motor Tic Disorder: Hard To Find Humor Sometimes

Probably a short post today. We'll see how it goes.

Today was my wedding anniversary. My wife and I have been married for 17 years now. In addition, my oldest daughter was performing at a talent show at the county fair. So this would be a bad day to have a ticking episode. Of course, my body & mind had other plans. By the late afternoon, I was ticking so badly that I couldn't walk. I even fell at one point. I have never done that before. Now I can't say that anymore.

I'm not sure what was worse, the ticking, twitching, stuttering, and clenching or the looks in my daughter's faces as they watched me struggle to do simple things like speak. I received a heartfelt hug from each one of them today, but I felt like such a loser. I didn't want them to see me that way. At one point, my wife took a turn hugging me and I stuttered "why does it have to affect my speech?". I'm a proud man and value my ability to express myself. When I sound like Porky Pig on a cold winter's morning I don't feel so proud. Truth is, though, that I wouldn't have been happy whether I was stuttering or not. I simply wanted a return to the days when I seemed to have control over things like fingers and feet.

Frustrated with my condition, later in the day I chided my wife for not scheduling me an appointment with a neurologist and she chided me for not remembering, and it was really a stupid little argument to have on such a day when we both have been so busy. The neurologist was busy, too. He couldn't see me until November. Good thing it's not life threatening.

But it was. I had a clench tic today where my body sort of bent into itself as if I were trying to imitate a fruit roll-up. My neck was compressed, I was near the top of the stairs, and I banged my cane on the wall to get my wife's attention. Thank Heaven I could do that much. I was having a hard time breathing. The tics have gotten worse over time, much to my chagrin and denial.

Falling down. Unable to use a cane. Pretzel tics. Hey, I was ready for a night out on the town. Watch out Salt Lake! Duck for cover.

All week has been this bad. I've never seen anything quite like it. And though I tried to make jokes and find humor in it, I finally broke down. I couldn't laugh at it. Too intense.

So what do you get out of reading this? Let me tell you.

Coping Strategies:

  1. The first coping strategy was to swallow my pride and schedule an appointment with a specialist.
  2. I stopped snapping at my family. I hadn't realized I was cranky, but once it was pointed out to me I had the sensibility to take a few deep breaths and give my family a break.
  3. Then I stopped fighting myself and raising my stress level and simply sat down in front of the boob tube with my iBook and tried to be as productive as I could possibly be.
  4. I wrote this blog entry
  5. I will now got to bed. I've been pushing my time back and, believe it or not, this is progress. Sleep is important. I say this at 4am as a raving insomniac. I've been raving for a few months now. Haven't been able to draw much. I've missed church every week all Summer. It can all be traced back to my terrible sleep.

I can't say that I'm happy now. I missed going out to dinner with my wife on this special day. I missed my daughter's performance. The ticking eventually stopped, but returned again later. But I was less stressed about it. Not accepting of it. No, I don't accept this at all. But I wasn't full of self-loathing anymore. I'll take my victories where I can get them. So if you are feeling overwhelmed by neurological tribulations, or if life is simply getting you down, check yourself. Don't take your frustration out on everybody around you. Try to relax. You may not be able to fix the problem, but you can fix your attitude about it.