Motions of Tourette

Eyes clenched, squeezed like a pair of fists, seconds before a fight. Eyeballs lurch, left then right, pushing ripples behind my bunched-up lids. Rapid eye movements in a dream of pain. Probing for that sandpapery spot—oh, they itch so much.

I think no one is watching.

Teeth on edge, scraping, my jaw gliding, forward and back, chin bobbing an undancable beat. Enamel upon enamel, microscopic fragments cascade in a daily toothfall. Year by year, eroding my smile to a border of graying stumps. Spearmint gum dredged from the glove-box restores a sense of calm.

Chewing my pinky just above its base on the outside of my hand. The part of my fist I pound on the door when I’m pissed or need to get in. A callus, small and hard as a button, catches, offering something to pull at. At least I’m not scraping my teeth.

Thumb-knuckle protruding, jabbing at my outer thigh. Sharp, piercing, repeated with every step, just beyond my reach. Hinge at my waist, raise my knee, a practiced movement, unconscious, like flipping your keys or checking your phone. Something to occupy my hands. A soothing snack of pain.

“Why do you do that?”

This heats my cheeks, my vision-edges fade, my hearing turns to fuzz. “It’s a neurological disorder,” I say, “I don’t have control.”

I escape, conscious of who I am.

9 thoughts on “Motions of Tourette

    • So I spent a weekend at a writers conference over the summer. Lots of socializing with people I didn’t know. Tourette Syndrome escalates when I’m stressed. And for those four days, I thought I might explode. On my walks back and forth from my hotel to various workshops, this ‘poem’ materialized in my mind. I essentially just made note of what I was doing and I wrote it down to the best of my ability.

      Liked by 2 people

    • To the degree that they reduce stress, yes. However a hard run or ride will cause some *distress* which heightens my tics. I’m a pain in the ass to be near in a race. I make this motor sound in my throat with every breath, and every now and then I make a horsey lip-flapping exhale sound. During the spin classes I would instruct, I would grunt. I have tics for certain occasions. Those are my running tics. My office tic is scraping teeth, my meeting tic is eye-rolling, my dealing with people tic is pinky chewing, etc. I can better control them with more medication, but that brings me down. I’m at a happy balance of mildish tics and anxious directed energy.

      Liked by 2 people

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