Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Aspie in the closet - unknowable consequences

So... I was having a chat in the staffroom with the only other person present a couple of days ago, and I was talking about my two kids, their autism and the challenges that's causing towards the end of term, with excessive tiredness, and pressure around school plays/carol concerts as well as general Christmas anxiety (am I going to get the present I really really want?). In my defence, the day before had been very tough, and had resulted in a big row between myself and dh, and I was feeling quite vulnerable.

But at some point in the conversation I realised that I was getting carried away and was about to start talking about my own autistic traits. I did mention one before I caught myself and got up and made myself a cup of tea, and changed the subject.

I'm going to blame a cup of caffeinated coffee I'd had in a meeting that morning, caffeine has a very powerful effect on me, making me hyper, sociable and very chatty. This is not a natural state for me, and I find it difficult to control once I get started. I know that when you stop taking any kind of drug and then have a little, it has a disproportionately strong effect, same with alcohol and cigarettes. I've been off the caffeine for a few years now, and generally feel better for it, but visiting people can be difficult. It's hard to bring your own decaf teabags out without looking rude!

For quite long periods of my life now, I forget about my aspie status, and start to believe I'm quite normal, then something suddenly reminds me.  My big struggle at the moment is with my self-limiting preference to spend time alone, at the expense of my family, and especially my kids. I feel so guilty when I come home totally peopled out and just want to sink onto the sofa and watch TV without talking to anybody. I am trying harder than ever to do better at being a parent even when I'm shattered.

This is the stuff that's floating around my head when I'm talking about my family, and if somebody asks questions and shows an interest in the autistic side of things, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to actually talk about it in real life, and not on Twitter (lol) that I get carried away. Especially because it's a huge special interest as well!

In the end, I have to remember that not everybody has my best interests at heart. I need to protect myself, because once I get out of that closet, there's no getting back in, and the consequences are unknowable.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Long may it last...

So...bit of a sad day today at work, a lovely lady that I've been looking after for 5 weeks on and off, had a scan yesterday for possible recurrence of pneumonia, and they found cancer just about everywhere.

She doesn't even know yet, her family is coming in tomorrow once the specialist has had time to review her scan, and they will be all told together. She has absolutely no idea, we just did her home visit recently, with a plan to discharge her soon.

I also heard a really upsetting story today at the team meeting about one of our patients and how they came to be in hospital after an overdose.

I came out of work today in overload with too much running round in my head. I was lucky that I was leaving at the same time as one of my fellow students, and was able to offload slightly with her, it always helps to debrief slightly. I've no idea how the nurses cope with this kind of upsetting news, I had to go in the toilet to cry, and was nearly in tears all afternoon. I know I won't be telling dh about any of this, it doesn't feel right to add to his load of stuff he's carrying around at the moment.

So I'm sharing on here, where I can moan and nobody is going to tell me to shut up (I hope).

When I look at the elderly people on the ward, I think about my parents, and hope that they never end up in hospital. Not that the staff on the ward are bad, in fact I've been impressed by their professionalism and efficiency. But it's so awful to be living long-term in such an impersonal place where you have to adhere to somebody else's routine and live in a clinical setting, with blue paper curtains, and people with dementia in the same bay as you, getting upset and shouting. And while the staff are efficient, they are always thinking about the next job, as they put you on a bedpan or change your sheets. They're always in a hurry, and don't have the time to spend chatting to make people feel more at home.

These may sound like small things, but the great thing about being a student is that I don't have a 'to do' list in my head, and I can find time to chat to people and get to know them, so I can treat them as individuals. The ladies I've been looking after said today that they were sorry I would be finishing on Thursday, because "You're the only one with any patience".

My Mum is 76 and my Dad is going to be 78 in January. They're both currently in pretty good health. Long may it last.