Saturday, July 28, 2012

10 Years After

I'm actually a little premature writing this post; Nic's 10 year dx anniversary is still several weeks away. But, in the eye of eternity, 3 weeks is nothing, and I'm pretty sure what I am moved to write now will still be true on August 15.

Looking back over the last decade to the day that changed everything about our lives, I find myself humbled and grateful by the many teachers, therapists, friends, and strangers whose kindnesses, great and small, have helped my family adapt, adjust, progress, grow and thrive. I still wince when I remember some episodes and encounters with people who were less than kind, and I wince when I think of all the times I lost my temper or composure in the face of unkindness, ignorance, and prejudice.

By the same token, I look on all of our experiences with life on the spectrum with gratitude and wonder, and am floored by the sheer number of blessings that this life has revealed to us. I often pride myself on my ingenuity at all the opportunities I have created for both boys, but at the same time, I know that ingenuity has its roots in the countless conversations I've had with other parents who have already been there, blazed those trails, carried those weights. And I find myself paying it all forward to parents who are just getting to some of the places my boys have already been, lighting their way, guiding their footsteps.

Autism changed our lives forever. But finding those hidden blessings on this long and rocky road has altered the way I live--for the better. I remember a point about 5 years ago where I was quite bitter about the person I had become--I didn't ask for any of this, and this was not the person I was supposed to be, or so I thought.

Then life intervened, various crises needed to be sorted out, and I kind of forgot that thought until yesterday.

If I had the chance to talk to the me from 5 years ago, I'd give her a good shake. And kick her ass, for good measure.

I've had a lot of really good role models to learn well from. And I have had the weight of my own experience to balance what my gut has told me at any given point. And I have lived long enough to know that nothing lasts.

So, as I listen to my chatty young men talk between themselves, I'm thankful that they can talk to one another, that they love each other, and that they have each other. And I am thankful that I have them both. They have made my life a fuller, richer, and much more interesting place than it might be otherwise.

And I can't believe how far he's come. Not that he doesn't still have a long way to go, but that he's where he is now is always a source of amazement.

I can't wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Concussed and Other Altered States

It begins with an industrial-sized bottle of laundry detergent.

I'm not sure who put it on top of the clothes washer; I know I didn't. But it matters not. The fact remains that some one put it there.

The reason we don't put things on top of the clothes washer is because stuff "walks" when the washer goes into spin cycle.

So Wednesday night, I ran a load of whites, and the industrial-sized bottle of detergent took a walk--straight off the edge of the washer onto the floor and split, spilling copious amounts of clear fluid onto the kitchen floor.

How slick is this stuff? Slick enough to send an adult woman's feet where her head was only a split second previously and send her head, neck and shoulders slamming to the floor in less time than it took to think "Holy s----."

The boys came running in and laughed at their upended mom, who never lost consciousness but did briefly see stars. Older son is directed downstairs to get a bucket while mom tries to process a dozen different  directives.....and is surprised that she literally can't think.

Hubby, finding confused mom on her knees when he arrives from work, sends her upstairs to clean up and wants to send her to the ER. She refuses.

Sleep comes easily and normally. For me. But the ride to work next morning ("I'm fine, hon, really.") becomes a white-knuckled affair. Traffic on the turnpike seems less predictable than usual. I opt for the longer route through Valley Forge from the turnpike to collect myself.

And I feel fine. Until I was required to do my usual multi-tasking in meeting. And that was much, much harder than I could have imagined. Stuff got done, but a few times my anxiety and panic that things were somehow harder than usual for me nearly got the better of me. I text my co-worker that I need to leave after I'm done the meeting. I feel terrible. It's hard for me to admit this.

As the meeting wraps up and everyone talks among themselves, he's at my side asking "What can I do?"

At that point, I am gritting my teeth. "I'm good," I lie. "Almost done" Not a lie. "Let me finish up."

"Go home."

I nod. He vanishes.

I finish up. Call my husband, who insists on taking me himself to the ER. And wait.

Long story short, I have a concussion, which I already knew by that point, but the good news was that I didn't have anything worse. Miraculous, considering my head and neck took the force of my weight when I landed.

So, I'm in the process of healing. And taking things slow. And easy. And I don't handle this well.

"I'm not a baby." I respond repeatedly to varying admonishments to stop or slow down.

"The opposite," agrees hubby. "But you need to stop."

Taking my younger son to the labyrinth yesterday, I find myself asking a whole new string of questions. And I'm somewhat confused by the answers. And I wonder if my confusion lies in the fact that I am asking the wrong questions.

I think back to Friday when I had a lengthy conversation with one of Nic's team.  She called me at home and we rehashed his summer so far, my concerns, and we re-wrote parts of his IEP over the phone. Clean slate for September. And I was able to do this despite my temporary disability. I can still think quickly and reason things out, but it feels as I am doing it through layers of insulation.

But, my emotions are just as strong and incisive and distracting as ever, and I wish the insulation extended to cover the sharp edges of my own feelings. Kindness tends to throw me. And I'm thrown, in more ways than one. Another thing to recover, more to think about, ponder in my heart, and all that good stuff. Why do I have to make so much of small things? So much better to simply pay things forward and not think so much.

Ask me not to think, however? You may as well ask me not to breathe.

But for the sake of those who love me, I'll stop for a while.