After a couple shots of tequila, it’s normal to have a bit of difficultly walking. You might sway a little. Maybe straight lines are difficult. Or else, you might bump into something because your drunken brain has decided to be an inattentive buffoon.
The other week, though, I got the impression that my trouble walking had something less to do with tequila and something more to do with Tourette’s. I was walking to the bus stop after work, and every other step, my right knee kept buckling. Taking an Uber felt like giving up, and so I just carried on walking in my new weird way, tripping, stumbling, and stopping altogether every other step. At one point, I decided that if I couldn’t walk, maybe I could run. But I couldn’t. My legs just wouldn’t let me. On the bus, I stubbornly took my shaky legs up to the top deck, and when I alighted, my usual ten-minute walk home took me twice that.
Up until then, my Tourette’s didn’t seem to realise that my legs existed. My motor tics mainly manifested in my head, shoulders, arms, and torso. Below that, I was tic-free. But unfortunately, in the weeks that followed, the tics in my legs got worse and I found myself walking in increasingly bizarre ways. Sometimes, my legs would kick out in a way that apparently looked like a scene from Monty Python. Other times, I would kick walls, fridges and cupboards, the muscles in my calf would tense of their own accord, and at the end of the day, my legs would ache from the strain.
Tourette’s feels like many things, but in instances like this, it really does feel like you’re a puppet being controlled by a malicious five-year-old child. The child wants to embarrass you, make people stare at you, make you do things you really don’t want to do, and cause you harm. It’s frustrating. Frustrating not only because one week you can walk just fine and the next you can’t, but also because this facet of Tourette’s isn’t well known at all. Many tics are really funny. But when you can’t walk, it’s kind of hard to find the humour.