Al Jazeera Close Up

Tourette’s and Me | Close Up

This documentary project started as a short television story about a summer camp for kids with Tourette’s syndrome.  That’s where I met Zack Lamb.

In case you don’t know  – a tic is an electrical misfire in the brain … a wrong signal that hijacks your muscles or your voice. Many tics are no worse than the hiccups. But when I met him, Zack Lamb’s tics were destroying his life.  And threatening to kill the people he loved most in the world.

After that I stayed with Zack – while he was put into a medically induced coma to stop his legs from kicking uncontrollably. And I was there the day he asked a pretty girl ‘will you be my girlfriend?’  by writing the question on a baseball … and when she said ‘yes.’

I drove to the hospital with him the day of the experimental neurosurgery that would stab a lightning rod into Zack’s brain – and leave it there.

Throughout all of that I kept noticing that Zack knew things that I didn’t know. Important things. The kind of things that Helen Keller knew; that Viktor Frankl knew. About where to find hope – where I would only find hopelessness. About love – even in the face of violence.

Zack is one of those few people who write fresh pages in our shared survival guide.  Who struggle on up ahead of us – and then come back – and hand us a map that leads us straight to the very best in ourselves.

People will sometimes say “never meet your heroes in real life”.  But I am deeply grateful I met mine.


A film by: Aaron Lewis and Aaron Thomas

Producer: Vicky Strobl

Sound Mix: Jordan Moser

Composer: Vicki Hansen

Editors: Aaron Thomas and Andrew Phillips

Executive Producer: Andrew Phillips

Thanks to Camp Twitch and Shout and the Lamb family