Two months after the daily daymares started, in early July, Veronica was finally weaned off the last of her traditional meds. The gasping episodes waned, but never disappeared. Instead, they morphed into an extreme combination of other motor and vocal tics: blinking, eye-rolling, grimacing, throat-clearing, coughing, neck-stretching and head-jerking. We had seen some of these symptoms when she was younger, but never so severe. Now, the dots were all connected. After hoping and praying for an easy cure, a quick fix or a magic pill for our bright and beautiful 15-year-old girl, we embraced what several hundreds of thousands of families across the country confront every day with every breath:
This is what Tourette syndrome looks like.
When she’s in an enclosed space, like an elevator or a quiet classroom, Veronica feels suffocated. Strong odors, loud noises or rude people can trigger an uncontrollable wave of ticking. Even if she’s able to temporarily suppress the urge, some form of tic comes back with a vengeance later. There are other comorbidities: migraines and OCD. She is still fighting chronic fatigue that is interfering with normal life. There are many more tests and doctors’ appointments to come.