Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I actually do have green eyes!

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.


  1. What you're feeling is perfectly normal Patsyperdu. It takes time to deny, grieve, get angry, question, accept... Of course you are going to be jealous at times. We all feel this emotion which is what makes us human. I get that little kick in the guts sometimes when I meet up with friends whos much younger kids chat and communicate with such apparent ease. Then I look and see how FAR I have come with Munchkin and push those feelings of jealousy out with my admiration of her tenacity and determination and if I admit it, her absolute beauty (no other kid is as gorgeous in my eyes!). You are allowed to feel jealous, but you will have to find a coping mechanism and not let it consume you.

    I remember having those hideous skates too as a child... but I don't ever think I suffered the side effect of IRONING UNDIES!! I hope this has passed now lol!


  2. Lovely honest blog! We've all had these feelings - don't beat yourself up over them. Mine usually surface around button's birthday when I watch other children his age planning their parties with huge enthusiasm, and all he wants is a mcd's! xx

  3. God Patricia I know where you are coming from so well, I think I am doing so well with accepting my kids diagnosis but recently had cause to regress into despair and depression, definitely seek out the help you need I have and while it is early days for me I know its necessary for me to deal with the avoidance of certain issues and try and move on. Massive hugs to you, oh and by the way I got the same hideous skates when I was small too so not alone in hiding them away lol

  4. When I see children the same age as HRH chatting away to their parents it is like a sledgehammer to my gut and I get overwhelmned and just want to cry. You and I are still in the early stages of this, only 6 months in and I have heard from some reliable (and lovely) sources that it takes about 2 years to get to grips with it. Make the call, anything that helps you will have a positive effect on your life and that of P and Dr:)

    I had a pair of those rollerskates (I use the term vaguely!!) with the red straps. Mind wouldn't go anywhere either, its like the wheels were too big to move lol.

    I tagged you over at mine, feel free to not join in hun, if you don't want to, I won't mind one bit:) That will bring you right to it:)

    Jen xxx

  5. Great post - and such a raw emotion. As you know, Ive 4 boys (so far with 3 on the Autism Spectrum), so I totally get the jealousy thing. I sometimes feel like autism should be shared out more (so that Id only have 1 or 2 auties to deal with at one time). Im jealous of the football matches that my nephew wins, Im jealous of the sleep-overs I hear so much about. Im jealous of the Mum's at the school who have nothing better to do than have a cuppa when they get home (whereas I dash from OT with Boo to SALT with Snooky) and back to the school to collect Munchie. The thing is, that over the years Ive learned to realise that my boys have achievements far greater than winning a county final, my Boo finally did his poopies in the toilet (at almost 5 years old), and Snooky has 4 word sentences now. Nothing big to any NT child, but a flippin mountain to mine. Like Petunia said, its perfectly normal to feel jealous (Im jealous of anyone who owns a pair of Jimmy Choo's too - but I know some day I may have a pair myself).
    oooo and I had those awful skates too - but I lost the little bolt thing on the bottom so they used to flap about under my feet!!
    Much love and well done on a great post

  6. Phew, thanks so much. I was literally crucifying myself for being so jealous but sounds like it's just another stage of the process. Thanks everyone, it gives me great comfort to know that you have had the same feelings and I'm not alone.

    Jen, will do on your tardis, I will send onto Paul aswell.

  7. Forgot to say that I too had a pair of those skates!!! The difference is that I thought I was the coolest kid on the planet!!!! See,I was delusional even back then!!!! xx

  8. so true Patricia You are not alone x x

  9. very honest blog and can totally identify, I remember your 1st blog actually as my son was diagnosed by the prof literally a week later and it is a rollercoaster of emotions ever since.

    BUT, BUT as much as my heart breaks some days thinking he's not starting at the local school along with his peers like I thought he might and all the other occasions that you put so well, as I think Taz said in reply to one of my own blogs which is woefully neglected these days as have to step off the ASD train before it drives me crazy, there is a new 'normal'

    Mine at the moment is being called MAAAAAAA (I hate maaa and always love mam but will gladly accept anything the youngest fella yells at me) and the fact he knows after 4 years its my 'name' we all get there just by different means and a different pace to all the NT's.

  10. There with you, most days Paul and I play - torture each other with stories of little "nt" children we've seen today and what they said or did, always ends in teary eyes and then feel guilty for feeling like that, we often wonder will we always feel like this, hopefully not,

    Vicki M

  11. patricia, im STILL jealous, cant help it, joey would be due to start school in sept so all the kids born the same time will start school.... and yes i had those skates . Lucy xxxx

  12. I got my first pair of actual blades at age 29. They were to fulfill a deep trench of resentment and envy left by Diane Nichkes Beautiful White Boot skates with red laces- WHICH she couldn't even skate in.
    Don't worry, we broke her giant dinosaur Easter egg at the time, but it took 19 years to really treat that wound.
    Of course I got pregnant within a month of buying them, and started on a very different route.

    You are a very gifted writer Pats- I'm jealous of that!!

  13. I'm worse - I bought my eldest daughter those skates oops. Though she got nice shiny white rollerblades with pink laces soon after. Course my other dd will never need skates and my ds shows no interest, and that's hard. Jealousy is mild to how I feel sometimes, but hopefully it will get easier for you xx

  14. I prefer to think of it not as jealousy but as grief - for the life that I thought I would have, and other people seem to be actually having. It feels like jealousy but of the "why me" kind. And is still here, 2 years later, although much weaker. But, lets face it, I "grieved" when found out my second baby will be another boy (and I sooo wanted a girl). I suspect if my child was nt I would still get "the pang" when another child could read better (or whatever). He is perfect as he is, its his mammy who has to grow up :-)
    Thanks for aknowledging your feelings and thus allowing us to confess ours.

  15. I got those feckin skates too!!!!!!!
    Anger is good Patsy, it gives you energy and focus.
    It's a bit like gotta go thru the awful pain to get to the other side. Don't fear it....embrace it and it will pass (I promise).
    Your blog is wonderful.

  16. Ah Patrica - dont beat yourself up we all have that had the thoughts "what if". I remember being friendly with another mum - her son was 6wks older than Dash, as I look back I think HOW did not know there was something wrong - they were poles apart but perhaps that was my self presevation mode - who knows.

    What i can tell you, is that today (3yrs post diagnosis) I am very aceepting & very proud of Dash - everyday he bounces onto his school bus he is happy & content. He now can say "I want" to try tell us his needs rather than scream and everyday we see progress. He plays chase with this brother (only games he really plays with him) which always makes us smile and he jokes with us in his own way - playing words games telling us the wrong colour & number of his favourite Thomas the tank Engine trains.

    Life is different that I thought it would be with a son who is autistic - but I can tell you the green eyed monster is firmly in his cave for the moment but I have no doubt that along the path of life he will raise his ugly head again from time to time :(