A young Australian – who doctors say had one of the worst cases of Tourette’s in the world – says she doesn’t want a cure for the condition which has ravaged her life for years.
Bianca Saez, from the Sunshine Coast, first came to the nation’s attention 11 years ago when she appeared on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes as a 16-year-old with uncontrollable tics and expletive-laden outbursts.
The footage was distressing to watch for many, with Brisbane neurologist Professor Peter Silburn saying her case of Tourette’s was the worst he’d ever seen.
Seemingly without control of her own body, she would lash out at those around her, often striking her parents and things in her close proximity.
Her condition was so bad she was admitted to a mental health unit but Professor Silburn was desperate to ensure she didn’t spend her whole life in institutions.
She became the first person in Australia to have surgery to try and fix her Tourette’s.
Electrodes were implanted deep into her brain in a bid to reset faulty neurons which prompted her tics.
For the first two weeks, the results were remarkable. The tics and foul language had disappeared and she was able to enjoy her life without the violent outbursts which had plagued her previously.
However, in a cruel twist, the electrodes had to be removed after she contracted a staph infection. Further attempts in the following years to undergo surgery again failed.
Bianca’s ticks slowly returned, but now at 27-years-old, she’s managed to take a firm grip of her life despite the odd outburst as a result of her condition.
“I had it, I lost it. I have to get over it and move on,” she told 60 Minutes about the possibility of ever finding a cure.
Bianca has taken massive strides in recent years, including getting her own home and settling down with her boyfriend.
“Look if I was offered a cure tomorrow, I don’t think I would take it because I’ve been given this really bad Tourette’s for a reason, so I’ve had to do something good with it, I guess,” she admitted.
Being able to move into her own home, which has been custom-made with reinforced materials and plastic alternatives for glass, has given her hope she can now fulfil other dreams such as getting a job, learning to drive and going abroad.
Her surgery has since opened doors for other Tourette’s sufferers, with Bianca saying she wants to help others in the future.
Reflecting on her own life moving forward, she says her inner strength has guided her to where she is now.
“If I’ve been able to handle badness like you guys saw in the last 60 Minutes I can handle anything,” she said.
“I’m very resilient… if I wasn’t resilient I don’t think I’d be here right now.”
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