Long ago before Dr. Destructo, we were in U.S. for six months in 2003. P was there for work and I enjoyed being a lady of leisure. The odd morning after the cornflakes and before the pool, I would turn on TV while I was diligently cleaning or ironing P’s underpants. There is some great American TV programmes but the actual presentation is destroyed by endless advertisement breaks and ‘infomercials’. In particular, I was struck by the amount of ads or commercials for health products, either services or drugs. It seemed possible to pick up the phone and dial a toll free number to order drugs for any kind of ailment from haemorrhoids to heart disease. Medication that would only be available here on prescription could be freely purchased in the local Wal-Mart, which also sold guns, but maybe that was just in Texas. In addition, there was no need to go to your GP for a referral to hospital for surgery, again dial that number and charge your hip replacement to your credit card.
All of these commercials had one thing in common, an extensive and exhaustive list of possible side effects which were quickly recited at breakneck speed at the end. The side effects could be also read scrolling across the bottom of the screen, and this is where I perfected my speed reading from!! The U.S. has an extremely litigious culture so it would seem that all side effects had to be meticulously listed in case a person taking medication for migraine suddenly began to suffer from headaches. For some reason, the lists always included nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, palpitations, loss of libido etc etc. It was fascinating and hilarious in equal doses (yes there are a some medical puns in this one so be preparation h’d). If you had the dollars you could book yourself in for surgery as easily as booking a hair appointment.
Thinking of our visit to the Prof’s cabin back at the end of August reminded me of one of those ads. The ringing and booking of the appointment, the consultation and diagnosis, and the prescribed course of Home Tuition, SLT, OT & referral to services all seemed to pass as quickly as one of those commercials for incontinence. I can hear the annoying American voiceover as we were leaving the hut listing all the possible side effects and can see the words scrolling across the windscreen as we drove home in silence. Possible side effects include: sadness, grief, depression, marriage break up, dependence on alcohol or shopping, ocd tendencies towards cleaning, in fact this diagnosis and prescribed treatment will seriously change your life. So the months have plodded on and we have endured and survived most of the side effects, but there is one side effect that has surprised me with its symptoms and immunity to all antibodies, and that is jealousy.
I remember when I was seven and roller blades were all the go. I wrote to Santa and promised to be very, very good if he would just leave me a pair under the tree. Christmas morning came and I bounded down the stairs with thoughts and images of rolling around the green on these spanking new blades with all my friends. Now I wasn’t the most graceful of children, you will never see my bare legs because my knees are destroyed with scars from many, many falls. So either because of this (or more likely because they didn’t have the money) my parents got me a pair of what can only be described as iron monstrosities. They were a version of roller skates, not blades for a start, with a metal sole that could be adjusted in and out to fit any size, with two ugly red straps. I was devastated but went outside to give them a go. The skates were strapped on over my shoes and even though I stood at the top of a steep icy hill with one of my friends pushing, the wheels refused to move. Meanwhile, my two friends were spinning around on their gorgeous roller blades as I stood with these metal yolks attached to my feet with wheels that were an insult to the caveman who invented them. The most unforgettable emotion from this memory is jealousy. I was consumed by this envy for my friends’ roller blades; it seemed to take over my life for weeks. I stashed my ‘skates’ in the black hole under the stairs and never put them on again. I refused to go out to play with my two pals until their interest in their blades dwindled and we moved back to rope jumping and hopscotch. Over the years, I’ve lost touch with these friends but if I’m visiting at home and catch a glimpse of them, to this day I can clearly remember the jealousy.
This side effect of jealously is towards parents of NT children. It’s eating me up. Everywhere I go I see parents with their little ones and I just feel so bloody jealous. It’s such a negative emotion and it leads to another extremely negative and dangerous emotion, anger. I swear I can see myself slapping some innocent mother because she is chatting away to her 5 year old in the checkout queue or swimming pool changing room. On my drive into work, I have to pass a cluster of four schools and hate getting stopped by the traffic warden having to watch all the children walking in with their parents. I am embarrassed and upset by my jealousy but I cannot seem to cure it. I need help, professional help. So it’s time to pick up the phone and make that call. My jealousy is a symptom of my reluctance to fully accept Dr. Destructo’s autism. If I can cure the jealousy I can cross the threshold into full acceptance.
So I will call 1800-ACCEPTANCE, side effects include; contentment, happiness, satisfaction, etc.