The torment of adult tic syndrome: A man finds refuge at the easel
OTTAWA -- Five years after it began, an Arnprior man continues to struggle with his tormenting health condition.
Fifty-year-old Don Lacasse has adult tic syndrome, a condition causing daily episodes of uncontrollable shouting and unpredictable movements.
“I’ve had episodes where I’ve shouted for three days in a row and couldn’t stop,” said Lacasse.
It began in 2016. Lacasse was working at an Arnprior auto parts shop and feeling inexplicably exhausted.
“Harder and harder to just get out of bed and get into work.”
Before long, he began passing out, choking, and sweating profusely.
“There were so many symptoms attached to my illness that it left doctors baffled,” said Lacasse.
Doctors gave Lacasse a diagnosis of adult tic syndrome.
“When you’re a child, 12 years old, they call it Tourette's. After you’re 12 years old, they name it adult tic syndrome,” he said.
Lacasse says there is a long list of symptoms plaguing his health. He isn't certain if they are directly related to his syndrome.
He says slight breezes can bring him to his knees. He’s highly sensitive to sunlight. His body feels like its coursing with electricity.
“It starts in my head and it cascades downward like a coldness over my body. It feels like people are hitting me with a cold pail of water over and over again,” said Lacasse.
In an effort to rule out other ailments that may also be plaguing his health, Lacasse said he’s had a battery of medical tests—for MS, Parkinson’s, heavy metals, Lyme disease and other auto immune diseases. He says those tests all came back negative.
Lacasse had to give up his driver’s license and leave his job.
To pass the time, when he’s well enough, Lacasse has started to paint.
“It’s been my saviour. It’s pretty much all I can do,” he said.
“I always wanted to put a painting on canvas before I leave this world. My wife bought me a canvas, some paints and brushes and I was immediately hooked.”
Lacasse paints landscapes on live edge boards, and black and white portraits of people and animals.
His most popular artwork, however, is a series of paintings he calls “Bad Animals”—creatures smoking marijuana.
“They were instantly popular. I did sixteen paintings in June alone,” he said.
The amusing portraits—most of them finger-painted—have captured the imaginations of many here in Canada, including several Ontario cannabis stores in Eastern Ontario, and a gallery in the United States.
“I hope soon to be shipping a bunch of my original 'Bad Animals' to a gallery in New York and sell my stuff down there.”
His “Bad Animals” are also available on t-shirts and sweatshirts.
For the husband, father and grandfather, painting is a precious reprieve from the pain and unpredictability of his condition.
“It’s like holding a baby and rocking a baby. This total calmness comes upon you,” said Lacasse.
While his condition has radically changed his world, he says it’s also gifted him a more creative one. And for that, he’s grateful.
“It’s been a tough go, but I get lost in my artwork. It really helps the day to pass and makes a lot of people happy.”
The art of Don Lacasse can be viewed on Instagram @fresh_prints_of_craig_st