"I understand the fear; I live with the fear every day."
Physical and emotional pain. It's what Marge Fitzsimmons says she feels all too often.
"This is my norm," says Marge Fitzsimmons. "This is what I’ve been working on so I can be out in public and not have people grab their kids and run away."
Marge, a 36-year-old mother and licensed practical nurse from LeRoy, constantly struggles to cope with vocal tics and uncontrollable body movements. Symptoms which she said began in October and became more challenging with each new day.
"It just was constant jerking, my arms started to jerk, my legs started to jerk, the vocals started."
Marge sought a team of health specialists in the area, searching for any kind of answer.
"I had cat scans, MRI’s. I've had all the normal blood work-ups. I was tested for heavy metal poisoning, mercury, copper, lead,” she said.
Fitzsimmons said an explanation finally came from neurologists at both Dent Neurologic Institute in Buffalo and Strong Hospital in Rochester.
"Said I had a psychogenic disorder, which is a conversion disorder."
Neurologists told Marge it started from a traumatic experience earlier in her life and was triggered by stress and anxiety.
It's the same diagnosis several teens in her community received from Dent.
There are up to fifteen cases of students at LeRoy High School with similar symptoms. Marge says she personally knows one of them and feels for all of them.
"It ends up affecting your whole life."
Marge has accepted her diagnosis. She is currently in counseling, learning to cope with it all.
But she understands why the affected teens and their parents are not so quick to settle on the diagnosis of 'conversion disorder'.
"They are advocating for their child. They want their children to be back to the way they were,” she said.
She encourages the teens to lean on friends and family for support and for the community and others to show understanding.
"Don’t stop, point, stare, it's not helping," she reminded.
Marge looks forward to a life free of this controlling illness.
"I want to be able to go back to work. I want be able to play with my daughter and have her not say, 'Oh mommy, you got hiccups?' That's what she calls my tics: hiccups."