Last week at work I had a ‘ticcing fit’. It started suddenly in the middle of a big group activity with loads of children around. My support worker Hannah and my colleagues were quick to respond. Fran, who’s previously provided me with a lot of support, was working that day and she came to help manage the fit.
Most of the children I work with regularly are familiar with my fits but because it’s the summer holidays there are lots new children who haven’t seen it happen before. From my position on the ground I could see that some of them looked anxious and I was relieved to hear my colleagues reassuring them.
My fits don’t usually last long and as soon as they’re over I’m generally able to check in with any children who were around so they can see I’m OK. Sadly this fit lasted for over an hour and all the children had gone home by the time it ended.
The patch of dusty ground outside where the fit started wasn’t particularly safe and I’d fallen onto an old log and scraped my arm. The fit was severe and moving me wasn’t an option so Hannah and Fran, helped by several other staff, quickly made the area safe.
While I was stuck on the ground with my body too locked up to move, it started to rain. But I’d only felt a few drops before two of my colleagues got a tarpaulin and held it over Hannah, Fran and me.
Though my muscles were extremely tense I felt safe in my makeshift blue tent, supported by my colleagues. It’s hard to describe how touched I was by the care and compassion I was shown and by the relaxed approach of everyone around me.
But I felt guilty that I was taking up so much of their time and keeping them from other things. I knew I hadn’t fully recovered from being ill and I’d made an unwise call by going into work. Whenever I’m unwell my ticcing fits increase and even when I’m feeling better it takes some time before I fully recover.
I’ve described before how surprised some people are that I work full-time, given the severity of my tics. The reality is that I’m able to do my job because of the formal and informal support I receive. My Access to Work funded support worker is crucial in enabling me to do my job, but so is the help and support I get from all my colleagues and my employer.
My colleagues weren’t the only people to take my fit in their stride the other day. I heard one child say to another ‘Don’t worry, it happens all the time, she’ll be fine in a minute, let’s go and play’, and another asked ‘Do you need any help?’
To everyone I work with, adults, young people, children and families, thank you for your continued support and for helping make work such a joy.