…Do you have days when you feel out of control?
…Moments when you aren’t really sure you will be able to keep yourself from yelling at the person who just cut you off?
…Or throwing something away that you just can’t seem to get right?
…What if for no reason you just banged your head against the wall; and out of the blue, you’re twitching so badly that those around you think you are having a seizure?
Now the last two seem unreasonable to us — controllable. But for someone with Tourette’s Syndrome, they are a way of life. According to a documentary I once watched, an estimated 1 in 100 Americans suffer from this neurological disorder and have mild symptoms — such as chronic motor or vocal tics. The severe form of Tourette’s affects around 200,000 individuals and is 3 to 4 times more prevalent in males. Early onset begins between the ages of 3 and 9 years old, and slows down in the late teen years or early twenties. Though the symptoms may ease up a great deal, the tics never completely go away.
Lyle Hunt….had Tourette’s. Around the age of 4, he began having a twitch in his eye. (Some form of ‘tic’ involving the head is generally the first sign of Tourette’s. The progression can be mild to severe.) In Lyle’s case it became severe. By the time Lyle was a teen, he had over 37 different tics. They ranged from banging his head and seizure-like spasms, to less severe tics such as subtle flinches.
Lyle is originally from Henry County, where he attended Strong Rock. He currently resides in Oracabessa, Jamaica where he is serving on a three year mission. He is the Coordinator of youth and children ministries with the Warm Whispers Ministries facility located here. He runs soccer camps, tutoring programs and discipleship studies for 30-150 kids. (Oh, did I mentioned he’s only 19.) Not long ago, while still in high school, Lyle went on a mission trip to Nicaragua. It was here that his life changed forever.
When Lyle and I spoke during our 30 minute telephone interview, there was no evidence he had ever struggled with any verbal impediment. He informed me his previous time span of uncontrollable tics, either verbal or physical, was around 30 seconds. He stated that he would have days that were bad and other days that were very bad. His physical tics would manifest as violent shaking, lasting an uncomfortable amount of time. Other times, up to four different tics would happen all at once.
The severity of his Tourette’s was challenging, not only for him, but those around him. He spoke several times in front of the student body to try and explain what was going on. This was a great platform for educating others – but caused some embarrassment on Lyle’s part from time to time.
I asked Lyle if there were any humorous tics he dealt with on occasion. (I believe in finding the humor in every situation, if you can.) He told me about a time during school prayer that his vocal tic, which sounded like a turkey gobble, kicked in. And he also had a ‘catch phrase’ he would say at the most inopportune moments – like a boss – sometimes repeating it over and over again. Lyle chuckled about the events.
But normal day-to-day life with Tourette’s is not very laughable. During his high school years it was at its worst…. until Nicaragua. Lyle knew God had a plan for him and at the start of his mission trip, he asked God to help him do what he was called to do. And God answered. He immediately was free from any and all tics. And no relapse! Lyle entered the mission field, surrendered his life to God’s plan, and was instantly equipped with the capacity to handle his God-given task. Lyle is living his passion and walking in the strength God has miraculously provided. He is holding to his faith and confidence in a God that still performs miracles…. Like a Boss.