Thursday, December 24, 2009

Questions Without Answers: Guest Post by Josh Hanagarne

I'm very excited to have my very first guest post to be written by Josh Hanagarne! I have learned so much from my friend Josh, who is an inspiration and one of the very best writers on the Internet, and I have become addicted to his posts. After you read this one, you'll know why. Please visit his website when you get a chance. You'll be glad you did.

Questions Without Answers

By Josh Hanagarne, World’s Strongest Librarian

I have extreme Tourette’s Syndrome.  While it isn’t life-threatening in the slightest, it’s a huge hassle, it can be very painful, and I’ve let it take too much of my life away from me.  I was twenty years old when it began to get really bad.  Even though I was diagnosed early in 9th grade, I didn’t seek professional help until I was twenty.  And then, the question of “can anything be done for this?’ was forced on me.

I thought I knew everything, but unfortunately, it turned out that my working knowledge of advanced neurological abnormalities was pretty pitiful.  (Unbelievable, I know!)

So…what to do, what to do?  Of course, I went to the people with the answers: the specialists. 

Two Years Later

Things were worse than ever with my symptoms.  I had learned nothing that suggested that my condition could be treated.  However, I did make an observation (not come to a conclusion) that both fascinated and terrified me:

I had yet to meet a doctor, specialist, reflexologist, or any other sort of “ist” you can think of who actually seemed to enjoy their work.  This is, in many, many cases, unfair and na├»ve of me to say.  Maybe I was just dealt a bad hand of “ists,” but wow!  Not only did most of them seem bored, many of them actually seemed to hate their jobs.  Again, not saying they did, but this is how it seemed to a scared kid in his early twenties.

And so this group I came to think of as The Joyless Healers was born.

Exhibit A

I got botox injections in my vocal cords every five weeks for three years.  It made it so I couldn’t scream, which meant I could go out in public again.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t really talk anymore either, and I had to give up singing in my band.  When I got the shots, I was pretty scared. 

The doctor, an otorylary-something-or-other, applied some cream and wires to my head.  “This is kind of like that electroshock scene in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” I said, desperate to lighten the freaking grimness in that room.

He leaned down over me and said, “I want to be very clear.  This is not electroshock therapy or anything like it.  You’re getting shots.”

Sorry, I thought as the needles came down.


Exhibit B

I had been waiting in a room in the neurology clinic for 90 minutes.  I had made my appointment a year earlier.  The doctor—I’ll call her Doctor Awesome—swept into the room and told me to stand up and touch my nose with each index finger.  “How’s everything been?” she said, flipping through my file.

“Bad,” I said.  “I’ve started hitting myself.”  She put me through a few more calisthenics and said, “Really?  You must have some self-loathing tendencies.”  

“No,” I said.  “They feel just like any other tics.  It’s just changing into something else.”

“Well, you probably need to see a therapist,” she said before writing a prescription.  “You can make another appointment with my receptionist.  People usually have to book me 18 months in advance.” 

Then she was gone and I sat there with a prescription in my hand, wondering why I had driven 200 miles to Salt Lake that morning.


Fast Forward

The years went on.  The pattern didn’t change much, and as I went, I no longer cared.  It gave me an excuse to treat myself.  I am a happy person, and I want other people to be happy as well. I want them to enjoy their jobs, families, recreational time, and so on.  While admittedly a very, very small sample, it was disturbing me to see so many well-paid, brilliant, academic people who were in the business of saving bodies, minds, and lives…and still not seeming to enjoy it much.

I have wondered many times if it was simply because I have a condition they cannot treat or prescribe accurately for.  Tourette’s is a reminder that some questions don’t have easy answers, no matter how much money someone makes or how smart they are. 

That is frustrating for me as someone with the disorder, but exhilarating as someone who is pathologically curious.  There are questions out there that I hope are never answered.  I’m all for mystery and intrigue, but I also want people to be happy and I expect good manners. 

And that, my friend, is my long-winded, rambling stab at writing a guest post for Beth, one of my greatest friends and inspirations. 

If you are reading this today, I hope you enjoy your life and relentlessly look for ways to enjoy it even more.    

Josh Hanagarne

Get Stronger, Get Smarter, Live Better…Every Day

About the Author: Josh Hanagarne is the twitchy giant behind World’s Strongest Librarian, a blog about living with Tourette’s Syndrome, kettlebells, book recommendations, buying pants when you’re 6’8”, old-time strongman training, and much more. Please subscribe to Josh’s RSS Updates to stay in touch.


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