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The Best Treatment When Nothing Else is Working – More Tourette’s Stuff


We are serious and can show you how to be super-serious too.

What is the absolute best treatment, for Tourette’s or anything else, when nothing else is working?

Laugh. Damn you, find a way to laugh at yourself and your situation or you’re going to break.

You know who the most dangerous people in the world are? The humorless. They’re always out there causing trouble and wrecking shit for other people. You think fun loving, light-hearted people who can laugh at themselves wind up in the Taliban?

Not being a joker isn’t necessarily the same as being in the Taliban, but I imagine that their membership application starts with something like:

“Have you ever smiled or laughed when you weren’t causing someone else unnecessary anguish? Please explain yourself or be put to death by bike chain.”

Humor is threatening to people who don’t know how to use it. In Something Wicked This Way Comes, do you remember how the librarian (the librarian!) defeats the dried up old witch? By laughing at her, that’s how.

I know that when you’re down and it hurts, the last thing you feel like you can do is smile at the situation. Please keep this in mind: you’re going to get better at whatever it is you spend the most time doing. If most of your time is spent not seeing the humorous absurdities and indignities of life, you’ll perfect the art of not laughing.

It’s hard to come back from. I’ve been there. I’m not going back.

Okay, enough of that.

Now: A Tourette’s update and some suggestions if you’re in the same boat.

I’ve had a glorious reawakening of tics. From morning until night I am once again immersed in the joys of involuntary movement. It’s every bit as lovely as I remembered.

For the most part…however, there are a couple of tics I simply can’t find a way to adore. I am still maddened by tics that have anything to do with my tongue and my teeth.

Last week I was biting my tongue so badly that I opened up a nasty split along the left edge. This made talking, tasting, smiling, and giving people the raspberry quite painful. And of course, if you have Tourette’s Syndrome, you probably know that once something hurts, that becomes the new focus. So, chomp chomp chomp.

I’ve also been grinding my teeth like a fool. My dentist looked in there a couple of weeks ago and said, “Oh my, still grinding, huh?”

Oh yeah!

I’ve found that my mouth tics are much harder to address specifically than other, bigger tics like waving my arms around. They’re much smaller movements and they are harder to isolate and play around with.

Here are a couple of things that have helped at times.

Get a mouth guard

This is obviously for your teeth. I had a fancy ceramic mouth guard once that I immediately split in two. It was expensive and the bald dentist assured me that it would resist my most diligent efforts, but he had no idea that I am half snapping turtle, half great white, and half librarian.

Now I’ve got a fitted rubber guard, made by another dentist. I wear it at night and as often as I can during the day. It makes me a slobbery mess, it’s not very attractive, but it fits right into the hobo chic look I want to cultivate.

Seriously: it’s saving my teeth and helping greatly with my jaw pain and the concomitant headaches. I think it cost $100 and I’ve had it for over a year.

You can still bite your tongue with a mouth guard, however, so let’s talk about the tongue.

Options for your defiant tongue

1. Find something that distracts you.

What distracts you? Do that. I’ve been playing way too much Skyrim, but it’s helped me heal up. Play the guitar. Go for a walk. Do long division in your head. Video games, books, talking, typing, whatever it takes. If I can zone out, I can heal. Nothing else is working that well right now.

2. Work on your breathing

This remains my best shot at reducing systemic tension and rigidity. I try, as often as possible, to take as many full, deep, slow breaths as possible. If I get to the point where I can take five or six in a row, I generally have less of an urge to slide my tongue against the rough edges of my teeth.

3. Chop it off

I know that pain can make you stupid and impair your judgement, but don’t do this. Please!




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  • Pauline March 27, 2012, 1:42 pm

    I told my dentist that the mouth guard is one of the finest inventions of the last century. It helps reduce pain so much. Distraction is one of my favorites, too. Saying the alphabet backwards in my head when I’m trying to fall asleep. Any time where I need to be still: thinking the alphabet with animals, i.e., alligator, bear, cat, dog. Then I try it again with other more exotic animals. Keep up with the healing laughter!

  • Todd March 28, 2012, 6:31 am

    Josh, you’re my hero. I don’t go around telling that to just any librarian – know that. Anybody that goes through these maddening tics, and still accomplishes great things is somebody to look up to in my book.