When I was writing about the Squease vest yesterday it reminded me of a different kind of squeeze. This was one that I’d been experiencing over the last few days which had revealed new things about my attempts to suppress my tics. It was the squeeze of the blood pressure machine.
While I was in hospital having my tonsils out, the nurses were engaged in a running battle with my arm tics while they tried to get an accurate reading of my blood pressure. My whole arm needed to be still for this to work but even with someone holding it, the continuous tensing and un-tensing of my muscles kept throwing the machines off course.
The other more surprising problem was that my blood oxygen level, which is recorded simultaneously with blood pressure, was regularly low while my arm was being squeezed, but went up again as soon as we stopped trying to get a reading. Initially this was perplexing but it soon became clear that it was happening because, while I was trying to hold my arm still, I was also holding my breath!
I hadn’t realised I do this when I try to hold my tics at bay, but it probably explains why I can never manage to keep it up for more than a few seconds.
I think I do the same – it’s probably natural when trying to stop some muscle movements to stop others as well. When I try to suppress my tics I tend to tense my entire body.