I was outside on a freezing night when my legs gave way.
With my Tourette’s, my knees do buckle sometimes and before I know it, I’m on the ground. Normally, I get right back up again, brush the mud off my knees, and carry on in much the same way as before.
This time, though, things were a little different. Unable to get back up again, my body began shaking and jerking. From the outside, it must have looked like I was either a) having some kind of seizure, or b) was blind drunk and collapsed on the floor.
Of course, what I was having was a tic attack: a wave of near-constant and uncontrollable tics.
Security were quick to come over and call an ambulance. When they arrived, over forty-five minutes had passed since I had been on the ground convulsing.
The first thing I heard paramedic say was, “This is not a seizure, I’ve seen a seizure.”
In response, what I didn’t say was: This isn’t a seizure in the epileptic sense. This is something called a tic seizure, a tic attack, a tic fit. It is a stream of intense, debilitating tics. There is a lack of literature on the subject so you may not be aware of the phenomenon. The episodes can last for hours and are exhausting.
Instead, what I said was: “FUCK!” “GET YOUR HANDS OFF ME!” “PISS HEAD!”.
“Come on, stop it,” the paramedic said as he hauled me to my feet and my legs buckled for the umpteenth time.
Stop it. Just stop it. The times people have told me to just stop it, to just shut up, to just “think of the bad word in my head instead of saying it out loud”.
Funnily enough, Tourette’s doesn’t work that way. I continued to shake and groan whilst the paramedics started to drag me home.
“You can walk, I know you can walk,” the paramedic said.
I couldn’t walk. Well, I could. But for like two steps before my legs gave way again.
The five-minute journey home took God knows how long.
It was an upsetting experience, to say the least. The lack of empathy and understanding and knowledge was quite frankly shocking.
“You could have been kinder,” I said to them, as we crossed the threshold to my flat, by which time I had regained some of my ability to talk. Perhaps it was rude of me to say to two extremely tired, over-worked and under-paid paramedics, but it was true: they could have been kinder.
“We got you home,” was their response.
Yes, they had got me home, but they had literally dragged me instead of using the wheelchair in the back of their ambulance.
Yes, they had got me home, but now all I wanted to do was cry all night.
Yes, they had got me home, but two strangers off the street would have probably been nicer than they had been.
Now, if someone ever suggests calling nine-nine-nine for one of my tic attacks, I know what to do: snatch the phone off them and throw it into the river.
The reason being: the awareness and understanding just isn’t there. People just don’t get Tourette’s, medics included.