I am finally back from the Regatta! And I have to say I am so glad it's over. The first thing that I was pretty stressed about was the bus ride, although it ended up being just fine! I was really lucky because I came on the bus pretty late and all the seats except for the front ones were taken. Everyone was already paired up with someone to sit with, so I got two seats to myself! Being in the front helped me feel less enclosed or trapped and having two seats helped with that as well. Feeling trapped is one of the major things that sets me tics off and when I was younger I had panic attacks in movie theaters, plays, and small rooms. I slept the first couple of hours and when I woke up I stayed really focused on my homework. Because I was sitting alone, either sleeping or doing homework the entire time, my tics were very mild. I had some minor motor tics on the ride but no loud vocal tics which was really a relief!
The only time of the whole Regatta when my tics got pretty bad was that night. We first went to the race site and took the boats down and put the riggers back on. During this period I was standing with Freshman buddy, and two other girls who also know about my tics, so I didn't get any comments or looks from them when I started stomping my feet really hard on the ground at throwing my arms out in front of me. When we got back on the bus I was ticcing like crazy with anticipation, but just motor tics thank goodness! I hit myself pretty hard in the jaw though accidentally due to some arm tics and got a bit of a bruise that's still sore! Little did I know that this would be my first of MANY bruises I would receive during the Regatta. However, the other bruises were not due to tics. Anyway, Some of the girls were looking over at me a bit, but they've seen my motor tics before and I'm used to people looking. We went to dinner at Red Robin and I was still ticcing pretty badly at this point. I sat with girls that all knew about my tics and with the coach who knows as well so I wasn't very self conscious and the girls and coach were very good about treated me normally like they always do. They didn't seem to be phased by my tics at all. Our waitress however, was not accustomed to someone with TS. At the end of dinner when I was done with my food I was talking with the other girls and the waitress came over. I was still ticcing, but not that badly compared to earlier, and the waitress asked my friend sitting next to me if I was done with my food. My friend said "I don't know, I think so" and the waitress took my food away. I kinda wanted to shout at the lady and say "I can talk for myself you know!" but she left too quickly. This really makes me angry because she made an assumption about me based on the fact that I was ticcing which probably was along the lines of that I was unable to talk for myself or that I was disabled in some way and needed others to talk for me. Now these assumptions are not true, but she acted on her assumptions anyway. Little did she know that I would be steering a boat down the Ohio river and screaming my lungs out at the rowers telling them to row harder and to put everything they had into the race. I would be correcting their technique and calling for pressure in order to get the boat situated in the right direction. I could have let her assumption upset me, but I chose not to. Her assumption was just that, an assumption and she only made this assumption because she was uneducated about Tourettes. If she somehow got to know me on a personal level she would have realized that her initial assumption was completely wrong and she would come to grow accustomed to my tics just like everyone else has. This thought, I guess, is what helped me to ignore the situation and not take in personally. Somehow also the fact that I knew I was going to write about it on my blog helped me as well. Writing about these kinds of things helps me take a step back from the situation and accept the I do look different when I tic but it in no way reflects on who I am as a person.
After dinner we all went straight back to the hotel to get some rest before the Regatta. I explained Tourettes to the rower that I was sharing a bed with and she seemed to be fine with it even though she was one of the rare ones who had never heard of Tourettes before. I told her that it caused involuntary sounds and movements similar to twitching and she seemed to understand and told me she was sorry for earlier when she said "bless you" after I did my first vocal tic of the day (Incredible!) which was the one that sounds like a high pitched "eeeek" or a sneeze sometimes. I told her not to worry about it and that people confuse it for a sneeze all the time.
Overall I had a very good fist day of the Regatta! I appreciated that my vocal ticcing was minimal and even though my motor tics started acting up near the end of the night I didn't let it ruin my time :)
More to come in part two!