Shifting Sensations

Five days ago I waved good-bye to my tonsils and I’ve been resting at home ever since. I’ve got a reputation for not knowing my own limits and not stopping when I should, but on this occasion my throat’s been so painful that I’ve not had much choice, and I’ve been taking things very easy. This evening Poppy even congratulated me on doing ‘good recuperating.’

Last night I found it hard to sleep because I had intense earache and I found myself hitting my own thigh repeatedly. I hadn’t consciously decided to do this, but it wasn’t a tic. I found it helped with the earache because it gave me a different feeling to focus on. It reminded me of a strategy I used to use when I was a teenager.

I didn’t have a diagnosis of Tourettes while I was at school but I did find it very hard to keep still. During my A Levels this became increasingly difficult and uncomfortable. One strategy I used to use to distract myself was to sit in such a way that the blood flow to my legs or arms was restricted and then I’d get pins and needles. The sensation of pins and needles was more bearable and explainable than the feeling that I got from trying to control my tics.

Unfortunately this made it hard to take in much during lessons because I had to concentrate so hard on not moving about. Fortunately, because I’m also dyslexic, I was allowed to record my lessons. This meant I didn’t have to worry about making notes then and there and I could listen back to what had been said afterwards. I used to do this while walking the dog – we used to go for huge long walks for hours at a time. Listening back while walking along was much more comfortable and meant I was able to focus on the content of the lesson.

I did much better in my exams than I’d been expected to and I’ve always thought this was largely thanks to this strategy.

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