Skip to Content Sign In

Living With Tourette's: Renee's Brain
Encores Sunday 14 October 8.35pm

Show Synopsis

RENEE’S BRAIN is an inspiring documentary that follows New Zealand’s most severe sufferer of Tourette Syndrome, 25-year-old Renee Harvey, as she embarks on a surgical journey that could save her life, yet may also take her life.

Debilitated and isolated by increasingly extreme symptoms of Tourette’s, and desperate for a normal life, RENEE, the mother of a 7-year-old boy, has exhausted every medical avenue – from Ritalin and other prescribed medications to behavior therapy. Nothing has worked.

Renee swears constantly and uncontrollably. She lives with never-ending physical tics, including muscle spasms throughout her body; she often hits herself or those within reach. She spits constantly, her head and neck jerks frequently. She bites her cheek so hard that she has had to have three healthy molars removed to prevent massive mouth ulcers that won’t heal.

All these symptoms are involuntary. She has no control over what her body does, or what she says. Renee, like every sufferer of Tourette Syndrome, hates her tics.

This is why Renee has grasped the lifeline offered by the possibility of a revolutionary yet highly risky surgical operation called Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). This operation involves inserting threadlike electrodes into the brain through which small electrical impulses are sent via a pacemaker. DBS has been most commonly used to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, but within the last few years it’s also been used in the USA, Italy and Australia to treat severe Tourette Syndrome. But never before in New Zealand. 

RENEE’S BRAIN will follow Renee and her family on this incredible journey, through her highs and lows as she embarks on the biggest two months of her life.