Chromatic aberration of a different dimension. Multiple X-rays in the morning. Then the Rheumatology clinic. Throbbing headache – was it the radiation or the combined sensory assault of the strange environment, sonically and visually disturbing whirring machines, flourescent light and gasping for fresh air in the stuffy waiting rooms? Maybe it was the $500 total bill?
Lucy – my only one constant. Calm. Tranquil. Trusting. Faithful. Warm vanilla. Sleek black silken velvet. Beautiful serene elegance. Deep amber eyes. My sensorial oasis in the dry, crackling, electrostatic riddled desert highway. There she was, lying in the corner by the chair, in the waiting room, in the imaging room, in the rheumatologist’s consultation room, wherever I was, there she would be.
When we are children, and we have to face something daunting or fear inducing, we often wish for the presence of a parent, an older sibling, or a friend. Reassurance, perhaps? Well, I am sure there were times I may have had that “I want my mummy!” thought, though I cannot consciously recall it, but I most definitely felt a great deal of fear and anxiety throughout my life. Much of this was sensory based and triggered. I am happiest and most calm at home, in my own space, doing my own thing, at my own pace (which can be super frenetically speedy, or languid and slow). Pushed outside this sphere of safety, anxiety and fear begin to engulf, inundate, seep in through every pore.
But pushing – a cogent, palpable, very physical effort exerted upon the sensory, mental, emotional fabric – is a huge part of our daily lives. Everyone needs to go through that exertion of living and being, but for us autistics, at every point of the spectrum, it is all that much more strenuous and deliberate. A sharp, acute conscious endeavour. Speaking to strangers. Speaking at all. Dealing with our own sensory reactions to visual olfactory, tactile, proprioceptive, auditory assault. A war zone. That is what we enter and have to fight our way through. Every minute that we have to step beyond our little exclusive sensory oases. And that is a lot of minutes, continuous, arduous hours, for us who have no choice but be out there on our own, scrambling alongside the neurotypical throng, fighting the multifarious dragons of neurotypical ‘structural normalcy.’
My baby girl is snoozing in bed now. She is tired too, but she has never once complained about the strain on her senses that I subject her to. We mustn’t forget that our service pups become worn out by the effort they put into helping us. I didn’t have any decent treats for her either. She had to make do with the few crumbly bits of beef biscuits from yesterday’s bake. I ran out of treats halfway through our stress-filled journey. I think she has forgiven me, after I gave her a boiled egg when we arrived home.
I am spent. In more ways than just sensorial. Drained of all reserves, literally. $500 is not petty change to me. It is 50 days of food money, or Lucy’s dental treatment, which is due in August. Anyhow… Nothing more I can do but tuck into a hearty meal of leftovers (crispy noodles from last night’s dinner) and hot soup (homemade mushroom soup mixed with half a tin of Campbell’s cream of celery). Time now to crawl into bed with my Angel of Calm and Comfort.