Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Trip to the Bank

Today I went to the bank to deposit the money I earned from my job as an usher at Opera Theater. I actually earned quite a bit of money working there which is always nice. But that did mean that it would take a little longer for the teller to deposit everything in my checking account. As she was entering in the numbers on the computer, I started doing one of my tics without even realizing it.

When I'm next to a counter, I will usually start banging my knee up against the counter. I do it so often that I don't even realize when I'm doing it. I'm not sure how long I had been doing that tic but the teller next to the one who was helping me said "Does anyone hear that banging?? Or is it just me?". The teller who was helping me replied with "I hear it. It's loud". The man next to me even chimed in too saying that he was hearing it too.

I was trying to figure out what the banging noise was, when I suddenly realized it was me again. Note to self: check what I am doing when people around me comment on unusual noises. I immediately stepped back  from the counter so that my knee would stop banging into it and after I had stopped, the tellers agreed that the people upstairs must have been having a wild party or racing. This kind of thing really does tend to happen to me too often. That's life with Tourette's for ya.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Neuroimaging Lab

Well I'm not really in the mood to write a blog post right now, because I just woke up from a nap and also did my first exposure today in my OCD intensive program (which surprisingly went very well), but I feel like I should blog about the lab i'm working in so here I go anyway. So this blog post might not be very long.

About a week or two ago, I started working in a neuroimaging lab at the Medical school as a Research Tech for my summer job before college starts! I can't give out a lot of specifics about what I do at the lab, because of HIPPA laws, but I do know what info is okay to say and what is not. Basically, I'm working on a study that focuses on kids who have just started ticcing. The study preforms clinical evaluations, has the patient's parent fill out question airs about their child's tic symptoms and related symptoms, does sophisticated brain imaging on the child (an MRI) , then follows the child for 1 year to determine if the tics persist or go away.  It studies children at risk for developing Tourette's or chronic tic disorders. Why do some children's tics go away and why do some children's tics persist? That is what the study hopes to investigate further. It's a very fascinating study and I am so overjoyed to be involved with it!!! 

So anyway, what I have been doing is working 10-15 hours in the lab on this study with the study's coordinators, Dr. B and Dr. G, both of whom I've developed relationships with over the past year or so even before I started working on the study. They both helped me out when I was making my Tourette's documentary and then when I inquired about helping out in the lab they were more than happy to give me a position as a summer job before college. I've been doing lots to help out, and I feel very useful in the lab, so that's always good. 

Best thing of all, I don't have to feel too self conscious about my tics! Even my new and fairly noticeable grunting/coughing tic doesn't even rate a second glace in the lab when I'm working with Dr. G and Dr. B. Of course I appreciate this, when out in the real world on some days I frequently can get stares and questions. 

So far working in the lab has been great! I've even gotten to observe some parts of the real study with the kids, which for me has been one of the best parts because I really feel like part of the team (or at least a college student getting to observe real research that is). 

After working in the lab, I really feel like I want to do more research in my future and maybe even become a postdoctoral fellow (like Dr. G) and make a real career out of neuro research and maybe teach at the university level as well so my research can be funded :) Maybe I have found my passion/life's work. We'll see. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

I've been crazy busy: OCD intensive and more

Gosh I have been so busy! The last two weeks I have not been on even facebook or youtube for more than 10 minutes and that's really saying something. Every week day at 10:00-12:00 I have been going to the OCD intensive program i've been blogging about. Then I've been working at a neuroimaging lab from 2:00-5:00 which I have not yet blogged about. And then from 6:30-11:30ish I've been working as an usher at my state's opera company. Yes, i've been busy. And the past two days I have been doing an orientation summer program where I get to register for classes, meet my advisor, meet some of my classmates, and do fun activities. Gosh I haven't blogged in so long that I don't even know where to start. I almost want to skip blogging about all this because it's just soooo much stuff that's been going on. So I guess I will do a quick summery for each and then go into more depth later if I feel like it.

OCD intensive program: I have been making progress! At least I think I have been. Mostly mental progress because I haven't done any real exposure yet, but I feel like i'm ready to do exposure which for me is a lot of progress! I love the other people in the program and group. They are all around my age and it's so nice to feel like i'm not the only person dealing with this. A girl named Ally also has tics like me. She doesn't specifically have Tourette's but she knows what its like to have tics. When I mentioned to the group that I have Tourette's/tics, Ally said "I have tics too so you don't have to worry about getting any stares here!" and another girl in the group also said that she has tics when she gets nervous. I feel so at ease with these people because they know exactly what i'm going through. Ally and I always talk on our breaks and yesterday we talked about tics. I have this semi-new tics where I make a sort of grunting/coughing noise and she asked me about it. I told her it was a tic, and that's what got us talking about it. She told me she has neck and shoulder tics and that her friends joke with her and call it "an ally spaz". She then said she even made her e-mail something to the effect of or twitchyally or something like that. I thought this was cute and told her that under my about me section on facebook it says "I make noises; you should be jealous" and she just loved that! Anyway, on Monday I actually start doing exposures. I'm pretty nervous, but I'm going to try my best and I think I can do it.

More to come about the neuroimaging lab and Art Sci weekend later!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tourette's Helped My Team Win Cranium!!!

Tourette's helped my team win Cranium! Well that's a sentence I never thought i'd say. Let me explain! So I went over to Steam Punk's house last night. Like I've said before, Steam Punk is one of my best friends and my other best friend, Tie Dye was there too along with more of my friends (both guys and girls). In total there were 7 of us there and 6 of us played Cranium.

Our teams were pretty much tied throughout the whole game, but when it came to the last few questions our team pulled ahead because of me! First I guessed right on toupee during the drawing portion, then I guessed right on "Girls just want to have fun" on the humming a song portion, and then finally I knew the trivia answer that led our team to win.

The trivia question was something to the effect of "What musical group won a Grammy for a song they didn't actually sing?" and immediately when the question was asked, I shouted out "Milli Vanilli!". The rest of my friends looked so confused and absolutely could not believe that I knew that. When Steam Punk said I was right, she just looked stunned. No one in the group had even heard of Milli Vanilli and even less would have been able to get to that answer from the question.

So how did I know with such certainty that it was Milli Vanilli? Well, it's because of Tourette's! I explained to the group that I knew the answer because i've watched the movie "Front of the Class", which is about Brad Cohen who has Tourette's, at least 6 or more times, and throughout the movie Milli Vanilli music is played and the band is talked about briefly in the movie as well. After watching the moving quite a few times, the Milli Vanilli songs got stuck in my head and I looked the group up on Wikipeida and read about how they won a Grammy for a song they never even wrote.

So yes, I knew the answer because of Tourette's! My useless information about Milli Vanilli was finally put to good use! My friends continued to be amazed that I knew the answer and Steam Punk went up stairs, grabbed a tiara and put it on my head insisting I wear it for the rest of the night as the Cranium queen.

I did have to take it off after a few minutes though because my head and neck tics did not agree with the tiara, lol. Anyway, my friends are great. I forget that my tics are anything different or out of the ordinary when i'm around them. They're just so used to me ticcing that they don't even react in the slightest.

So go enjoy some Milli Vanilli music and if you feel like it, go look them up on the internet! Who knows, it might come in handy some day. :P

Front of the Class Clips/Report:

A Milli Vanilli Song: 

First Day of OCD intensive Program

Well today was my first official day of my OCD intensive program at the behavioral medicine institute. I missed the group part unfortunately because I didn't know where it was held and it only lasted 5 minutes today as a check in for some reason. Now I know where the group meets though and i'll be sure to be there for the group part tomorrow. Maybe it will be a bit longer tomorrow because people will be introducing themselves. So I went to a private room and waited for a therapist to come greet me.

The way it works is there are three therapists in charge of 6 patients who are there from the 10am-12am slot. Each therapist is supervising 2 patients for the day and they go back and forth between us. Then we also have a few meetings a week with our primary therapist (the person who formulates our treatment goals and talks with us about our treatment plans and progress). Basically the program is where we do the work (exposure and response prevention) and we do the talking with our primary therapist. While I was waiting for the therapist to come greet me, I was greeted by a very friendly girl who looked to be a few years older than me. She poked her head in the room, asked me if I was new, and then enthusiastically introduced herself.  She then said, "You look scared. Don't be! The first week is just orientation stuff, and everyone is really great". This made me feel so much better and made me feel welcome as well.

I met one of the therapists, and she went in and out of the room while I was working on the worksheets she gave me. One worksheet was on my long term goals and treatment goals, and another was on how my OCD  affects me now and will effect me in the future (ie. 1 year, 5 years, 20 years). The therapist was nice, my tics were very low, and I didn't have to do anything challenging just yet. A good first day. Hopefully I will like the group tomorrow when I meet them and hopefully it won't get too challenging just yet.

Friday, June 1, 2012

OCD Progress!

First blog post of June! This is exciting, and i'm making sure the first post of June is a positive one. A few days ago I had a very positive and uplifting OCD therapy session, which is something I really can't say a very often if at all.

Over the past month or so, I have been able to do things that my OCD protests against and actually fight back for the first time in a while. My OCD puts up fights against doing seemingly simple things for most people like wearing the clothes that i've worn once yet haven't washed, touching the photography table at school, touching any part of a sink, touching the side of the shower, touching trash cans, washing my hands in any way different from my rituals, doing laundry, and so much more. I can do these things for the most part, but I just have to wash my hands afterwards in a specific way for a specific amount of time.

So like I said for the first time in a while, I was able to do some of these things without washing my hands because I was able to put up a fight against OCD and resist doing my compulsions. I was able and continue to be able to wear clothes that i've worn before yet haven't washed. I work as an usher now at an Opera company and we wear a uniform that would be impractical to wash each time after I wear it since I work almost every night during the week. I was able to touch the photography table at school briefly without washing my hands when we had a special breakfast at the table for the last day of school. And I was also able to not wash my hands after I accidently touched an area near a sink and the side of the shower. These are HUGE for me! I know they seem really easy for most people, but trust me for me with my OCD these are big accomplishments. I don't really know why I am able to make this progress now when I wasn't able to make this kind of progress a month ago. Maybe my OCD medicine, Lexipro, is finally starting to help me, maybe its the fact that I am out of school and I have less school stress, or maybe I am just more motivated now to fight against OCD because i'm going off to college. I couldn't tell you which one it is, or if its a combination of them all, but I can tell you that whatever it is, I am really glad!

So anyway, I told my OCD therapist about these things at our last session and she was really blown away. I have been at a stand still with OCD for a long time and haven't been able to move ahead very much, and when I told her about my recent progress she said that I really really made her day. I responded with "Really?" because i'm sure my therapist has more important things to make her day but she told me that she gets her happiness from strange places and that I had really truly made her day by telling her this. I don't know if she just said this to make me feel good about my progress, or if this really did make her day, or if she just doesn't have very many patients actually making progress right now, but whichever one it is, I cannot deny that it really made me feel good to hear her say this.

In a few weeks, I am going to start an OCD intensive program with a behavioral medicine clinic and this progress that I am making now is really helping me to feel more ready to do the work and to start the program. I am doing the program now, because I don't want to be inhibited by my OCD in college to the extent that I am effected by it now. College is going to be a challenge already. If my OCD could possibly just be a bit better, then its one less thing that needs to be a  challenge for me in college.