Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Talking to The Class of Grad Students at the Med School about Tourette and my Experiences!

I just got back from talking to a class of medical students and it could not have gone better! I want to blog all about it here before I forget! I found the building alright and as soon as I walked in I saw the teachers assistant who was going to meet me at the main entrance and direct me to the classroom. I was there a little early so I sat in a seat and listened to the rest of the Dr.S's lecture. Boy was this lecture way over my head! He was talking about things like the basal ganglia, and statistics, and complex chromosomal research findings. I tried to follow it the best I could and look attentive. I couln't help focusing on my tics more than usual though, because I was in a room with 35 graduate students who had just learned all about Tourette's Syndrome and in a few minutes would be meeting me and asking me questions about Tourette's. Thank god I didn't go in yelping or squeaking though. I was just doing motor tics. Pretty soon the lecture was over and the Dr. S called me up to the front of the room. When I walked up, mostly all the grad students seemed to perk up. They went from looking very bored and dull, to smiling at me and looking excited. I'd have to say if I was one of those grad students I sure would appreciate a break from all that intense medical jargon to see an actual patient dealing with these symptoms. They all looked very friendly and excited! Dr. S then clicked on my documentary link to the trailer but there were no sound capabilities so he just played the image in the background as he did a mini interview with me for the class.
Here is a summery of my interview with Dr. S for the students: 

Dr. S: Asked me when I had my first tic 

Me: I answered that that depends on what you classify a tic as then went on to explain that when I was five years old I started picking and biting at my lips and I have heard some people classify this as a sensory tic but also have had it classified as a compulsion. After that I had my first "classic" tic in 2nd or 3rd grade when I started sniffling, raising my eyebrows, and tightening my muscles. 

Dr. S: Explained further to the students that it's very hard to distinguish between a tic and a compulsion and the medical world is sometimes still unsure of which is which in certain situations. He then asked me if it feels like a tic. 

Me: I told him that yes it feels very much like any other tic to me 

Dr. S: Asked me when I first knew I had tics 

Me: I answered that I knew I had these "habits" as my mom called them for a long time. I didn't actually know they were called tics until I was 16 years old. My mom always used to tell me to stop doing my tics and told me to use more self control because she didn't know what they were either and just thought I could stop. This obviously didn't work and I didn't stop because I couldn't.  

Dr. S: Explained that this happens to many children with TS. Their parents don't know the kid has TS and thinks the kid can control it so they tell the kid to stop. He then asked me if this made them worse. 

Me: I explained that yes when my parents told me to stop or when anyone told me to stop it just made the tics worse. 

Dr. S: Explained that this happens to a lot of children with TS. When they tic and are told to stop it just makes the tics worse. Then he asked me if I knew anyone with tics when I was a kid. 

Me: I told him that no I didn't know anyone with tics when I was a kid. My first cousin has Tourette's and I knew her as a kid obviously but I did not know she had tics or Tourette's when we were younger. I didn't know anyone personally with Tourette's until after I was diagnosed. 

Dr.S: Asked me how I made your documentary and how I got the people to participate. 

Me: I explained that I made an informational video, contacted some friends with TS who I had met through the Tourette's Syndrome Association, and pretty much spread it around through social networking. 

Dr. S: Asked me if I had ever talked about my tics in front of a group like this. 

Me: I told him, Nope! This was my first time! 

When we were done with our interview, Dr. S asked if anyone had questions for me. Only three people asked questions though! Probably because they were too exhausted after that intensive lecture to think of anything intelligent to ask. I was asked if I had ever tried CBIT therapy for my tics. I answered that no I have never tried CBIT for tics but I have OCD and I am doing exposure and response prevention therapy for OCD. I sadly don't remember the second question for some reason, maybe it will come back to me. And the third person asked that if my tics went away when I was really focused on something like Dr. S had mentioned earlier about an athlete whose tics went away when he was playing a sport. I immediately thought of coxing and said that I am a coxswain (or was) for the rowing club here and that when I coxed and steered the boat and shouted out commands that yes I didn't tic and my tics went away for a little bit. Dr. S said that he remembered this from when we first met and that he remembers why I was made for coxing. Because I am small and because I have OCD. The class laughed at his joke and Dr. S talked about how OCD has benefited many people and doctors in helping them in their work. Then Dr. S told everyone that he would send them the link to my documentary and they could watch it from their own computers. The whole thing went by pretty fast! After it was over a bunch of people shook my hand. Dr.S, some doctoral fellows, and some other people, and they all thanked me for coming. They all seemed truly appreciative and only woman said that she was so glad that I could come and that she thinks the students really benefited from seeing a patient and someone who actually has the condition because it brings the subject matter to a more real life perspective! Very glad I did this and helped the students learn more about TS! I am even kind of disappointed that it's over! On to the next thing in life then! What a great experience! 

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