Living with Tourette Syndrome

Most people remember their childhood as a time of fun, friends, trouble, and adventure. Most can recall meeting new classmates; ensuring lifelong friends. Others can recall sneaking out of the house to join some random mayhem. Most people do not associate their childhood with isolation, social disbarment, and cruel taunting from their peers and teachers.

Meet Cameron, a 25 year old college graduate, living with Tourette Syndrome (TS). At the age of just 8 years old, Cameron was tested for TS at the onset of several tics. His mother and uncle both suffer from the disorder, and knew just what to look for. Tourette syndrome (TS) is an inherited disorder of the nervous system, characterized by a variable expression of unwanted movements and noises (tics). Although the origin of TS is unknown, it is suggested that one cause is an increased amount of a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

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“Yeah, they [The Doctors] did a lot of different tests, there was a huge battery of tests, in fact, to see if I had Tourette’s,” explains Cameron.  In testing for the disorder, there must be the presence of at least 2 motor tics and one vocal tic; the patient is observed for a full year. Cameron describes the diagnostic process as long and aggravating. Meanwhile, the severity of the pain of the physical is anguishing, sometimes unbearable. But there is no cure.

School life was rather difficult. Cameron reminisces on his difficulty fitting in and his inability to feel normal in any social settings.  He recalls his teachers labeling him a ‘trouble maker’. He recalls when his mother, who also suffers from the disorder, became appalled at the unfair treatment he received from the educational staff, entrusted to care, support, and guide him. “Yeah, I remember when my mother fought for my rights. She always stood up for me, so I guess that’s why it’s easy for me to stand up for myself now.” Cameron recalls. Now an active voice in TS awareness, he attends camps, encourages children living with the disorder to be strong and independent, and best of all, he lives by example. Cameron graduated at the top of his class at a renowned University, works a physically demanding job, drives long hours, and subjects himself to interviews by new job prospects.

No matter how normal Cameron tries to live, his disorder is still evident. He suffers from mild to moderate physical and vocal outbursts.  “This disorder is painful and unfair,” explains Cameron. “I have been on so many different medications, that it’s not even funny. Nothing helps. The Doctors have prescribed Zoloft, Lexipro, Welbutrin. The problem with that, is that none of them stop anything. They make me gain weight, think really negatively, and cause more anxiety,” he says.  Many of the medications Cameron has been prescribed cause more side effects and pain than the disorder itself.  “It was like they were trying to kill me!” Cameron suggests confidently of the dangers of the prescribed medications.  Cameron chooses not to take any medications.  “Most people I know with Tourette’s just smoke marijuana to ease all of their symptoms and pain,” says Cameron.

The problems with neurological disorders are that most of the medications seemingly are nonspecific and the effects on the body are almost always negative. A large number of patients and doctors suggest that natural medication is the only way to safely ease the pain of a neurological disorder. With natural medication there are no negative effects, thus causing no negative mental, anxious, or physiological effects. “So many unfortunate effects of my disorder I don’t feel like anyone should tell me I can’t. It’s just not something that’s allowed in Georgia. I just don’t want to hurt anymore.” says Cameron while fighting through a painful motor tic.

Everyday, more and more Americans go on to live a normal type of life, despite whatever ailment they may be battling.  College students like Cameron, are struggling to fit in in society while dealing with painful disorders, like Tourette Syndrome. Is it true that Cannabis and its only crime is – well- it’s a crime in some states to possess it. Today, September 14, 2014 possession of Marijuana is Illegal at the federal level (but legal at the state level in Colorado, Washington and the city of Portland, Maine; decriminalized in 14 states, medicinal legal in 20 states and DC).  Medicinal growing is legal in several states as well. All and all, a lot of the medicines prescribed for neurological disorders have side effects that cause more pain and have deathening effects on the human mind and body. It would seem that the ‘Natural’ route would be the way to go.




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