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Tic-ing Along Nicely Until You Came Along

, , , , , | Healthy | May 22, 2018

(I have pretty mild Tourette’s syndrome, with my only real vocal tics being a wheeze, a cough, or consistent sniffling. Most people understand once it’s explained to them. I’m at the gym, working on the arc trainer, and my Tourette’s is having a bad day, so I’m making all manner of noises. Next to me are two ladies. I have my headphones on, so I’m pretty oblivious to the goings-on around me, when suddenly I’m being tapped on the arm. I take my headphones off and look over to see one of the ladies standing by the machine I’m on.)

Lady: “Excuse me, but you should be wearing a mask if you’re sick.”

Me: “Huh? I’m not sick. I feel fine, but thanks?”

Lady: “You’re coughing and wheezing and sniffling. You must have a cold or the flu. You shouldn’t even be here, but if you’re going to be, you need a mask!”

Me: “Oh! I’m sorry; I actually have Tourette’s. I’m not sick; those are just my tics.”

Lady: “If you’re sick, you should wear a mask.”

Me: “But I’m not sick. I just told you. I have Tourette’s. It’s a neurological thing. I’m not physically ill.”

Lady: “I’m a nurse! I know what Tourette’s is, and you should be wearing a mask!”

(At this point, I’m more annoyed by the fact this lady is interrupting my workout than her insistence she knows more about my health than I do.)

Me: “If you know what Tourette’s is, then you know a mask wouldn’t do any good. I am not sick. I’m sorry if the tics caused some confusion.”

Lady: “You should be wearing a mask if you’re going to be sick here! I’m going to complain to the front desk!”

Me: “But I’m not sick. And really, if you’re worried about germs, is this really the place for you to be?”

Lady: *after a moment of silence* “You should have a mask.”

(She and her friend then moved down to the end of the row of cardio machines and went back to their workout, and I went back to mine. They kept shooting me dirty looks throughout. The worst part is my Tourette’s gets worse when attention is drawn to it, as I get very self-conscious and nervous. So, thanks. Nice job breaking it, lady.)

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