Bill Tope

Suffering in Silence

NOTE: “Suffering in Silence” was originally published in The Telegraph, Alton and is republished here with permission.

Have you ever seen someone with a nervous tic, such as an incessant blinking of the eyes, twisted facial muscles, turning one’s head first one way and then the other, or coughing for no apparent reason? If you witnessed some or all of these gestures, there is a chance that that person suffers from a disease which is called Tourette’s Syndrome. Though many sufferers don’t know it, there are effective treatments for Tourette’s.

I personally have suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome for the past forty five-years; however, I have been taking medication for this condition for the past thirty. For fifteen full years I didn’t know that medicine existed for this disease and suffered terribly. When in college a student, unknown to me, videotaped me addressing the student senate (I was a rather active student) and exhibiting all the symptoms. He went on to tell me that his class laughed uproariously at my “performance” and couldn’t understand why I didn’t find the episode amusing.

Much later, when I worked for the state of Illinois, a fellow worker became so incensed at my repeatedly coughing for no apparent reason, that she took to wordlessly dropping cough drops on my desk each morning and then stalking off to her work station. Then, she started popping her chewing gum very loudly, once she discovered that it annoyed me when I was trying to work. She was just paying me back for my equally annoying habit. All this was rich entertainment for our colleagues. One manager even referred to me as a “head case.”

Today I am 90% free of symptoms, all thanks to a public service announcement on television explaining Tourette’s and the available treatment. So I visited my doctor. At first my physician said that Tourette’s didn’t really exist and that there was nothing I could do about it anyway. When I mentioned the PSA he seemed to remember something and prescribed Pimozide (Orap). Another equally effective drug is Haloperidol (Haldol).

So, if you see someone suffering (and they do suffer) from these symptoms, tell them what I’ve told you here. There may be some hope for them and they will never forget you.

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About the Author

Bill Tope is a retired 67-year-old who has suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome for over 40 years and Parkinson’s Disease for more than twenty. All in all, he’s doing well. With respect to his employment history, he worked for many years as a Public Aid caseworker in both Illinois and Missouri. Bill has also been a cook, a construction worker, and a maintenance man; he was even a nude model for college art classes. Bill lives alone in Illinois in an eastside suburb of St. Louis, MO.

Read Bill Tope’s Fiction, “A First Date,” published in this issue of Wordgathering.