As an outsider looking in, it's hard to bring justice to the enormity of a young man's courage that has now spanned more than 30 years. My son's friend and my friend's son, Robbie, has battled Tourette's Syndrome that long. It's a battle that hasn't been a fair fight. Tourette's is a disease that causes profound tics - sudden uncontrollable movements and sound bursts. The onset came at the worst possible time period - junior high; a time when the human psyche is the most tender. When embarrassment hurts worse than any physical pain could.
It took time to diagnose and multiple lengthy attempts at different doses of medication that spanned years with little or no improvement. A life totally dominated by unpredictable, uncontrollable jerking and shouts of noises and profanity. Constant disruption became the norm. Critical looks from shocked people who didn't understand. In the classroom, in the waiting room, in church, in a restaurant, in a movie theatre, on the job; everywhere the tics followed. The more stress in a situation, the worse the tics. There is no escape.
Still this gentle giant endures this life through trial and error, finding no way to escape his cross. But now, at last, there is hope in a new treatment. Somewhat experimental, the first ever tried in the United States, his treatment offers hope for a better life. It's the answer to years of prayers by committed family and friends. There is still a long road ahead but finally there is hope to replace the seemingly endless pathway of despair.
The courage Robbie continues to show is remarkable. It's been a difficult life, yet he has endured through all the trials and heartache and he pushes ahead toward hope. He is an inspiration; a hero, a man of courage. I'm proud to call him my friend.
"I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous" (Joshua 1:5-6 NIV).