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Cancer, Emotional Stress, and more Tourette’s Stuff

cancer cell

Dividing cancer cell

I find the steps backward to be the most valuable instructors, even if I hate them.

Although the How To Have Tourette’s series officially ended, something interesting happened in April that I think might interest anyone who found me or follows the blog for the Tourette Syndrome shenanigans.

If you recall, I had gone for one month without any tics to speak of. This was a big deal to me. I knew that what I was doing was actually working. And the process of improvement was accelerating.

In April I got the news that a friend of mine had been diagnosed with two different types of cancer. The tumors were severe but they caught it in the earliest stages. She is well on the way to recovery and her toughness and attitude continue to inspire me.

After I got the news, my tics went absolutely berserk. I’m not sure exactly what was going on inside. “Stress” as an association is obvious and redundant in this case. It was potent stuff.

There were hours where it was as bad as it had ever been. I was hitting myself, I was scratching myself, I was having more trouble sleeping than usual, and my teeth were taking a beating.

In the past I would have asked “Why?” In the past, asking why during a bad spell like this would have looked more like Why me? This would have been sickeningly inappropriate given what she was dealing with, so I was pleased to find that there was none of that.

This time it was actually pretty interesting to have enough control to simply watch and wait. I think it’s easy to forget how remarkable it is that we are an animal that can observe itself and its moods and symptoms, and recognize them as such.

Back when I started working on my tics with my friend Frankie Faires, he said something very interesting. Essentially, he said that asking “What” is generally more useful to him than asking “why,” and encouraged me to do the same.

In this case, I asked:

Q. What happened?

A. I started having horrible tics again, despite having declared myself cured.

Q. What happened before that?

A. I got some bad news about a friend and I was afraid for her.

Q. What happened next?

A. I kept doing everything that I had originally associated with getting better and minimal or zero tics, and I restored my emotional, physical, and mental equilibrium.

If you have ever had a bad bout of tics that seemed to come out of nowhere, I would suggest taking a look at the “What” versus trying to figure out the “why.” It may take you to as beneficial a destination, and there’s no pressure to determine the “cause,” which probably isn’t possible anyways.

Remember that scene in Happy Gilmore where Chubs says “It’s all in the hips…it’s all in the hips…”

I hear that in my head and I believe it’s all in the asking. How many questions will we ask ourselves to improve our situations?

Also: I saw my friend this morning, up and about, and she was wearing a sassy head scarf and laughing. She showed me two sets of earrings and demanded that I tell her which set looked better.

It was great to see her so feisty, but I had no idea about the jewelry.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Faizal Enu May 5, 2011, 8:51 am

    Kind of like training. The why’s are not nearly as important as the “what’s”

  • Tomas May 5, 2011, 11:47 am

    Ow, that sounded bad. Take care, Josh.