Gaj Trcek – ski jumper with Tourette’s syndrome [part 1]

Author: Aga Pająk, Published:
gaj trcek

Gaj Trcek is a 32 years old Slovenian guy who was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome when he was 9. But this disease didn’t stop him, in 2008 in Planica he set his personal best on 193 meters.

It wasn’t easy. At the age of 9, Gaj Trcek was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome. Many of parents wouldn’t let their kid to be a ski jumper, but Gaj’s mother made a different decision and that’s one of the reasons why he’s very grateful to her.

“The Tourette’s syndrome isn’t that easy to diagnose”

-It’s not that easy to diagnose this disease. You can’t just go to the doctor to do a blood test and the results will tell you that yes, you have Tourette’s syndrome. I had to visit a lot of neurosurgeons and during that time I was one of the few people in Slovenia with this syndrome. It was so unknown. I was diagnosed right after I started to practice ski jumping, at age of 9. First I had ticks just with my head and it wasn’t very serious but then when I was getting bigger, I started to have stronger ticks. – says Gaj Trcek.

“My mom found it out”

– My mom was studying psychology at that time and there was just one page about this syndrome in the neurology book. Then she came home and told that maybe I’ve Tourette’s syndrome. We were all smiling on her because when you start to learn something, you think you have actually become an expert and think that you know everything. We were laughing about that but then she took me to a neurologists who was her professor at the university. He told that I’m a typical example and have for sure Tourette’s syndrome. I think I was the second or the third case in Slovenia who was officially confirmed.

“People in a wheelchair know how to deal with their condition and I also know how to deal with my disease”

– So it started from 9. The hardest was from age 15 to 18. I had to take a free year from high school to take all the tests that were needed. Back then I tried some medications but they would have resulted in addiction. I was 13 years old when I tried taking them. It was strange, I didn’t feel as if I would be the real me. I don’t have so much ticks now, but I still don’t feel like taking medication although it might work better now as I am older. People in wheelchair know how to deal with their condition and I also know how to deal with my disease. The first thing is to realize what you have, you have to face it and become friends with it. When you have accepted it you will see that it’s nothing so wrong with you. For some things, like studying, you need more time as many others but you are still a normal person. It is not a life threathening disease.

“The more adrenaline there is, the more relaxed I am”

– All my ticks I’m doing myself. I can adjust it or can have it under control for a little while but only if everything is normal, when I’m relaxed. It’s funny that the more adrenaline there is, the more relaxed I am . It’s not that I’ve more ticks due to adrenaline but the higher is the level of adrenaline, the less ticks I have, the less my brain is working, because it doesn’t even have time for it. Some people after the age of 20 calm down with ticks but I’ve that kind of syndrome that is not likely to change with aging. It’s more how I deal with it. The more stress I give to myself, the less ticks I have.

“I still don’t have full control on my ticks”

– I still don’t have full control on my ticks. Sometimes I have a few of them that I can’t control at all. I know that when I’ve to do a tick and I don’t do it and if O avoid them several times then 2 ticks afterwards it will be so much stronger. If you don’t have them, you have to have 3 ticks really loud so noone can hear or see it. These are really painful but then you’re okay for a while. If i had small ticks it’d be normal.
While ski jumping, singins, DJ-ing, I don’t have them at all. That’s why i wish I could do those things all the time or similar ones that give me the same feeling.
Every tick is made by me. If I wouldn’t manage to have them under controll I wouldn’t be able to drive a car. It’s impossible to not have ticks for all day but when I’m driving, doing something that’s dangerous, I never have tick because I know myself that I can’t and its more like fighting with them. The more adrenaline, the less brain functioning. That’s why ski jumping is a perfect sport for that. If I played basketball or did cycling, I’d still have planty of time to think.

” If I wouldn’t have a mom I’d be lost in this world “

-When I was at school, it was quiet and I had a lot more ticks. I was thinking that I shouldn’t bother anyone, so I was trying to tell myself to control ticks. I knew kids will laugh and then I wanted to avoid it. I had to concentrate so much that I could not pay attention to the teacher during classes. I’m the person who must be in action all the time. When I sit or study then my mind starts to work and then ticks come stronger.
If I wouldn’t have a mom I’d be lost in this world. But with her it’s different. Parents are very important. If they know your disease, if they know whatever is wrong and they know how to deal with it then it’s good. It’s pointless if they try to overprotect you. My mom was always saying that I must have courage, must be better than others. That was something that was pushing me in my life.

The next parts will be published soon. You’ll read about his contact with coach and the flight in Planica.

source: own information
interviewed by Agnieszka Pająk