The pain of adult tic syndrome: A man takes refuge at the easel

OTTAWA – Five years after it began, an Arnprior man continues to struggle with his debilitating health condition.

50-year-old Don Lacasse has adult tic syndrome, a condition that causes daily episodes of uncontrollable screaming and unpredictable movements.

“I’ve had episodes where I’ve been shouting three days in a row and couldn’t stop,” Lacasse said.

It began in 2016. Lacasse worked in an Arnprior auto spare shop and felt inexplicably exhausted.

“Harder and harder just to get out of bed and get to work.”

Before long, he began to faint, suffocate, and sweat profusely.

“There were so many symptoms associated with my illness that it made the doctors confused,” Lacasse said.

Doctors gave Lacasse a diagnosis of adult tic syndrome.

“When you are a child, 12 years old, they call it Tourettes. When you are 12 years old, they call it adult tic syndrome, ”he said.

Lacasse says there is a long list of symptoms that plague his health. He is not sure if they are directly related to his syndrome.

He says small winds can bring him to his knees. He is very sensitive to sunlight. His body feels as if it is flowing with electricity.

“It starts in my head and it cascades down like a cold over my body. It feels like people are hitting me with a cold bucket of water over and over again,” Lacasse said.

Don Lacasse

In an attempt to rule out other disorders that could also plague his health, Lacasse said he has had a number of medical tests – for MS, Parkinson’s, heavy metals, Lyme disease and other autoimmune diseases. He says all of these tests were negative.

Lacasse had to give up his driver’s license and leave his job.

To pass the time when he is fresh enough, Lacasse has started painting.

“It’s been my salvation. It’s pretty much all I can do,” he said.

“I always wanted to put a painting on canvas before I left this world. My wife bought me a canvas, some paint and brushes, and I was immediately hooked.”

Lacasse paints landscapes on living plaques and black and white portraits of people and animals.

His most popular work of art, however, is a series of paintings he calls “Bad Animals” – creatures who smoke marijuana.

Bad animals

“They were instantly popular. I made sixteen paintings in June alone,” he said.

The entertaining portraits – most of them finger-painted – have captured the imagination of many here in Canada, including several cannabis shops in Ontario in eastern Ontario and a gallery in the United States.

“I hope to be able to send a lot of my original ‘Bad Animals’ to a gallery in New York soon and sell my stuff down there.”

His “Bad Animals” is also available on t-shirts and sweatshirts.

For the husband, the father and the grandfather, the painting is a precious exposure to the pain and unpredictability of his condition.

“It’s like holding a baby and rocking a baby. This total calm comes over you, ”Lacasse said.

Although his condition has radically changed his world, he says it has also given him a more creative one. And he is grateful for that.

“It’s been a tough time, but I’m getting lost in my artwork. It really helps the day go by and makes a lot of people happy.”

Don Lacasse’s art can be seen on Instagram @fresh_prints_of_craig_st

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