N Is for Jitters

I get the jitters a lot. My hands shake and twitch, and sometimes my whole upper body does the same, kind of like when you’re about to fall asleep and your whole body jerks? Yeah like that. It freaks people out, but there’s a perfectly good reason for it: my nervous system is outta whack. That’s why N is for Jitters.

There’s a dispute in the medical world about why I have the jitters. Some doctors say I’m epileptic. Some say I’m not because nothing shows up on the EEG except a “variant pattern” and “photic driving.” (I didn’t know photons could drive, actually). One doctor speculated PTSD because I have risk factors and a possible triggering event or two about the time the seizures started. What’s going on for real? Beats me. All I know is that flashing lights, stress, sleeplessness, and some foodstuffs increase my jittery misadventures. For the moment, my official diagnosis is “non-epileptic seizure disorder,” subject to change if I go to a different neurologist. Hey, I don’t blame them. One neurologist told me, “Hon, you might just be a little weird.” Yep. I can go with that.

(c) 2012 Alex Prolmos // Retrieved from Flickr Creative commons on this date and used unchanged

(c) 2012 Alex Prolmos // Retrieved from Flickr Creative Commons on this date and used unchanged

I would hope that in this era, people would understand that people who have the jitters aren’t doing it on purpose. Sadly, I have found that’s not the case.

At the start of every school year, I would explain to my class that my hands shake and twitch. It happens more when I’m tired, but it’s nothing to worry about. It isn’t contagious. It’s not dangerous. Worst case scenario, I’ll need to sit down and send someone for the nurse or to the teacher next door. I might then go home. Usually, that did the trick. The kids asked me some questions ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime and then all was well.

One year, during parent conferences, a parent came in to talk about her child. The child had been an A student in previous years, but this year she was fighting for a B. I explained that 4th is hard because there are a lot of new skills and writing has to be perfected in fewer than 6 months. A sudden grade drop was not unusual especially in the first six weeks when the students were getting used to the change in workload.

The parent had her own theory. Her child was “failing” (B is not failing) because my hands shake. Really. My semi-permanent case of the jitters resulted in the kid pulling a B average with some effort. I explained the jitters to the parent, who then told me that in the interest of her child, I had to make my hands stop shaking.

Um. I can’t. Medications don’t work. Weird epileptic-friendly diets don’t work. Meditation exercises don’t work on the jitters, but they used to work on other types of seizures I used to have. Trust me. If I could make it stop, I’d make it stop. I don’t choose to have the jitters, and I sure don’t enjoy them.

When I “refused” to make my hands steady, the parent went to the principal and requested a transfer out of my class. Eventually, she got her wish.

Your next prompt: O is for Fish Sauce


4 thoughts on “N Is for Jitters

  1. Well, let us hope that her child magically improved her grades!


    • Her grades came up only a few points, not nearly into the high A range, but more of a B to B+. Other factors: the new teacher gave assignments that were much closer to the style of 3rd grade classes and didn’t grade as strictly as I did. The other class also had only a few severe behavior cases. I had ~1/2 the class behaviorally challenged.

      Nevertheless, the parent was happier and considered that proof positive that my jitters caused her sweetheart to fail.


  2. eightpawswriting

    That’s awful! I taught special ed and I wanted to use positive reinforcement. It was usually the parent who had the problem and made teaching difficult. They are blinded by their pursuit of a perfect child!


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