this (twitchy)

life

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Lifelines - Fiona Stocker

I’M re­ally hop­ing they don’t put ads on the ABC be­cause my hus­band says my tic wors­ens dur­ing ad breaks. Since my child­hood I’ve had Tourette syn­drome. It’s thought an over­pro­duc­tion of dopamine, which con­trols fine mo­tor move­ment, causes you to tic and twitch. You could call it an af­flic­tion, as it’s a life­long com­pan­ion, but most of the time it doesn’t bother me that much. Just dur­ing the ad breaks.

One of the fea­tures of Tourette is that you can de­fer your twitch­ing for a spell. So if you’re meet­ing the Queen, say, you can wait un­til you’re safely out­side Buck­ing­ham House be­fore hav­ing a good twitch to make up for lost time. It’s like not want­ing to scratch in pub­lic. This be­ing the case, even your clos­est friends may not have no­ticed you do­ing it. There are two com­mon re­ac­tions when you bring it up. One, they ask you to demon­strate your twitch as if you’re a per­form­ing poo­dle; or, two, they do a demon­stra­tion for you and say ‘‘Is it like that?’’ It’s not the most sen­si­tive re­sponse, but if they want to make a spec­ta­cle of them­selves that’s up to them.

It’s an in­her­ited con­di­tion, so there’s a 50-50 chance of my chil­dren hav­ing it. Since my diagnosis I’ve be­come adept at spot­ting other peo­ple who have it. This is how I know that if I had chil­dren with the pre­sen­ter of a pop­u­lar mo­tor­ing pro­gram, our prog­eny would be guar­an­teed to in­herit it and our house­hold would be a fes­ti­val of twitch­ing. Also, my present hus­band would be rather taken aback.

The Tourette Syn­drome As­so­ci­a­tion is keen to move away from the com­monly held per­cep­tion of Tourette as the swearing disease. A com­pul­sion to say in­ap­pro­pri­ate things at the wrong mo­ment is a char­ac­ter­is­tic for a small mi­nor­ity of peo­ple. I feel com­pelled to swear at cor­po­rate jar­gon, sales pitches and ad breaks but be­lieve this is com­mon to many peo­ple. I don’t think it’s a fea­ture of my con­di­tion. Per­haps it makes me bet­ter at swearing. Or maybe I just en­joy it.

Since I have only a mild case it’s easy for me to be philo­soph­i­cal about it. There are plenty of peo­ple who have worse to deal with. I’m not in pain and it’s not go­ing to kill me. The day is com­ing when I’ll have to ex­plain it to my ever-watch­ful daugh­ter, and she’ll prob­a­bly ask if she’s go­ing to get it. It was harder to bear in child­hood, so let’s hope we can help her be philo­soph­i­cal about it, too.

It was a worry when it came to at­tract­ing a de­cent man. But there’s al­ways some­thing to put up with, isn’t there? In­dis­cre­tions with the tooth­paste cap. Com­ing from dif­fer­ent plan­ets. A de­cent man doesn’t worry about a bit of twitch­ing. Mine says it gives him some­thing to watch in the ad breaks.

So we don’t watch much com­mer­cial TV any more. And I’m hop­ing they don’t put ads on the ABC.

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