Last week I watched the third programme in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror series. The stories in each programme aren’t connected but there are wider themes that overlap. The last episode was called The Entire History of You. It showed us a frightening glimpse of a near future in which people have chips implanted in their brains which record what they see and enable them to play back and zoom in on their memories. The programme was fantastic and thought-provoking.
Tourettes means I’m acutely aware of what a complex and strange organ the brain is. It means that my memories and experiences spill out randomly, that I sometimes give away information I wouldn’t choose to – like what someone’s going to get for Christmas – and that I say things I don’t mean and which don’t reflect my true feelings at all. And any word I’ve ever heard or known has the potential to turn up as a tic.
Tourettes and brain implants have been in the news a lot in the last few days because the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, where I’m treated, is trialling a neurosurgical treatment for Tourettes. It’s called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) and it’s already used for other movement disorders. It’s meant to work like a pacemaker for the brain. DBS has been mentioned to me as an option by my consultant but it’s something I still consider too experimental and risky.
Fat Sister, who’s a doctor, was talking with her colleagues about it at work a few days ago. One of them said, “It’s exciting medically, but you wouldn’t want it tested on your family would you?” to which she responded emphatically, “Exactly.”
Even if my own wiring is, as my dad described, a little dodgy, and although my tics are quite severe, I’m happy, well supported and I have a good quality of life. As long as this is the case my brain will remain wire free.