Category Archives: Crisis DuJour

With Prejudice

I’ve been keeping secrets.

Because I had to.

Because it involved a court case.

That involved my son.

I wrote an anguished post with gut-wrenching pathos at the time it happened.

And I’ve waited until the final hearing to share it.

You may question whether it is appropriate to publish such personal information.

I certainly have.

But, I have decided that if it is at all possible to help another child by sharing what we endured…

…to reach out to other autism families.

…to other police officers.

…to other neighbors.

Then, maybe next time, nothing bad will happen.

Or something better will happen.

Or nothing will happen at all.

And wouldn’t that be beautiful!


Cops
Who did this protect and serve?

June 9, 2018

Dear Officer:

We met today under the worst circumstances. You were just doing your job; I understand that. But I feel I need to explain why I behaved the way I did and, perhaps, you can understand a little bit how the exchange seemed from my side of the handcuffs.

I came to the door, half-clothed and disoriented by lack of sleep, to learn my son had escaped. For fourteen years, I have been responsible for keeping my child safe and I have failed. Again.

But this was different from other times.

The neighbors whose home he entered were sleeping. All they heard was an intruder.

And my son no longer looks like the little boy he is.

When you first approached me, you said something about my son not responding to requests. My reply was not polite.

“Of course he can’t respond. He is a non-verbal autistic!”

You walked away as if you needed space to process that.

So, when you came back and asked me, “Do you realize what might have happened?” I answered you honestly.

“Yes. Yes, I do. It is my greatest fear.”

I was not trying to argue that the situation wasn’t serious. I was just grateful nothing worse had happened. I was focused on making my son feel better, to calm him down right now so he wouldn’t injure himself.

And you wouldn’t let me see him.

You have protocols for interactions. None of the officers would let me approach the car where my son was handcuffed. But I could hear him wailing from where I was standing in my bare feet on a damp sidewalk. You have your emergency response and I have mine.

I have a mother’s need to care for and defend her child. It doesn’t matter that my ‘child’ is five feet eight inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. He is still a child who was crying because you had his blanket, crayons, and papers. Materials now taken away in evidence.

It is probably not expected for officers to feel empathy for the wrong-doer, or his mother. To care about both sides of an equation. Perhaps you were running on adrenaline?

Did you train your firearm on my special need child? He couldn’t follow a simple command like, “Put your hands in the air and get on your knees.”

This thought haunts me.

I later learn, from the reports, that you had to tackle my child to get the cuffs on him. That he resisted and clung to a door frame as he was pulled from the house. This explained the bruises and abrasions.

Trust me, I can picture what might have happened in painful clarity.

In the past, when my son has escaped and entered homes or the nearby church, people have recognized his special needs and things have been okay. Maybe that made me blind to a growing problem.

The fact that my son was wearing a pair of Christmassy pajama bottoms and a Victory Day t-shirt from the school’s special needs programming wasn’t enough to tell you how very special he is.

The training that kicks in and locks an officer into a rigid response doesn’t allow you to recognize my shock and relief at a nightmare that wasn’t fully realized. Perhaps that looked like an insult to you? It wasn’t meant to be.

You couldn’t know that I had been sick with Salmonella. That Friday night was the first night I got any real sleep in almost a week. So, when my son woke at five a.m. Saturday, I was disoriented and put him back to bed. That when he woke me at 6:10 a.m., I was more so. That I fell back asleep is my fault. I promise you, I’m wide awake now.

I am haunted by what might have happened. I am haunted by it every time he is out of sight. I am haunted by a future I cannot see or control but can only dread. Fear never leaves me.

I am grateful that he wasn’t taken into a police station and booked. Thank you for releasing my son into my custody. Even if, like Cinderella, you sent him home with only one shoe.

I had hoped that the neighbors would drop the charges against my son for entering their home and scaring them so badly. But their fear was greater than their understanding of autism or the limits of a system that is not built for children like mine.

I do not blame them. Or I try not to. I understand how it must have looked from their side of the road; I just wish they could see the situation from mine.

Just as I hope you can understand. And that you never learn how it feels to watch your baby in handcuffs, crying and just wanting to go home.

*


Like many unpleasant life lessons, this has been a learning experience.

The wheels of justice move glacially slow. 

We waited weeks for the notice that my son was being charge with first degree home invasion. Then we had to be assigned an attorney by the court. Then there were appearances and reports to submit. The sheer drag time of getting a competency review dulled the initial sharp stabs of terror to a steady, gnawing anxiety.  I cried a lot this summer and into the fall.

During that time, Child Protective Services became involved. I was very grateful for the unexpected kindness of the Children’s Services Specialist who eventually cleared me of charges of neglect.

There were some positives.

The county health organization expedited Alexei’s process for getting ABA assistance as well as Community Living Supports. We are finally getting the help we’ve needed. 

Also, I was able to take advantage of a program through Vivint Gives Back to get a reduced rate for a security system that will wake me up if any one of the doors or windows are opened.

And my son’s window now has security bars, because he can get into trouble even faster than an alarm system can wake me.  (I stopped jerking awake at the slightest noise after these were installed.)

My son’s psychiatrist agreed to let my son take stronger meds to help keep him asleep.

And this week, my son was declared legally incompetent.

The case was dismissed with prejudice. Which is a good thing. It means he can’t be held responsible for his crimes and the verdict is final.

And I can only hope that the next time a family like mine is struggling, that it doesn’t take a crisis to get assistance. And that maybe the neighbors will offer to help make our lives easier instead of harder.

As for me, I spent these months channeling my fears and anxiety into my garden. Every time I had a panic attack or thought about losing my son, I planted flowers. I think I there are over five hundred bulbs and perennials out there now.

So, when spring arrives, perhaps it will bring a promise of better things.

Tulips

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Lost in Fremont

I travel for a purpose. Generally, that purpose is to get to a destination. Sometimes, however, for my son’s sake, I travel for distance. For pleasure. To lose myself in the rolling roads dividing the countryside into rows of waving cornstalks and fields of bucolic cows chewing endless mouthfuls of grass. Usually there is an Aaron Copland sound track playing in my imagination.*

 

Recently, however, I had this experience backfire…and go hilariously bad. The tale ends up with a life-saving intervention from the Michigan DNR and a ‘Hail Mary’ airport pick-up. Join us for the missed-flight entertainment, if you dare, on the adventure I am calling:

F*ck the Road Less Traveled

It all begins with meeting a friend from afar.

*

Like most heroic quests, ‘Jay’ comes a long way to meet me. (Okay…technically she is visiting family, but still, meeting me is the added cherry on the trip-from-Japan Sundae.) Unlike most of my ‘internet friends’ who are likely market-research algorithms with questionable profile pics, Jay is a real live person.

Jay is so terribly cool, she met up with me at the nearby Panera for an hour of lovely conversation–despite juggling jet lag, a toddler, and the joys of accommodating myriad family obligations to meet up with someone she only knows in the digital sense from Nanowrimo.**

Jessica and Me 3
Little Jay, Big Jay, and Bunny and Me, yukking it up at Panera!

I was geeked. Her dad joined the venture–mostly because he was her chauffeur–but he was an engaging story teller who kept the conversation rolling. When our time together ran out, he invited me to come up to the family reunion scheduled for Saturday next.

“Sure.” I say. “But I’ll have to leave in time to get my mother-in-law from the airport.”

“I live in the woods, so, when you get up there, just call me and I’ll meet you so you can follow me back to the house.” He assures me.

“Oh, I have GPS. I’ve been up in that area before. I’m sure I’ll be fine.”

FAMOUS.

LAST.

WORDS.

Saturday rolls around and I cram my kid in the car and we’re off winding the back roads of beyond because I haven’t yet figured out that my car’s GPS has been avoiding highways on purpose. We arrive with only a few rural/off-map detours. (Okay…we got lost three times finding the house. But for me, that’s ONLY three times.) This makes me unbelievably cocky. If you don’t know me well, know this…if anyone can get lost going someplace, it’s me. But, I’ve come to rely on my son’s innate desire to travel to get us where we want to go.

Mistake.

BIG MISTAKE!

IMG_3006
Here is my personal GPS Giant playing next to Jay’s sweet little munchkin.

 

Jay is warm, her daughter is adorable, and her father is welcoming. A yard full of strangers don’t question me or my giant son’s right to be there. The picnic is a nice, if brief, interlude at someone else’s family reunion. Before long, it’s time for us to leave to meet a plane. I tender our regrets clutching the scrawled map Jay’s father painstakingly wrote out for me to follow back to civilization. Upon leaving, I immediately take a wrong turn and don’t figure it out until it is far, far too late. Much to my son’s delight.

If you have never been to Fremont, Michigan, I highly recommend you visit. Especially if you want to become part of the witness protection program. Because, I promise you, once you move there, no one will find you again. Ever.

We are in the car, driving in the wrong direction, down a dirt path and I’m alternately swerving to avoid trees that are apparently just growing in the middle of the track we are following and I’m questioning whether the map is wrong or I am.***

It’s when we finally hit tarmac that I make my worst mistake of the day. There is an option to turn left or right. A quick glance at my dashboard GPS is of no help. So, with my son as the designated navigator we turn left. The most mistaken 50-50 shot of all.

This is where the paved road ends…

Newaygo Road Sign2
Not the actual road, but this is basically what it looked like. I didn’t know at the time I should be making a visual record in case they ever found our bodies…

When asked whether we should turn around or keep going, my son’s intrepid response?

“Straight!” He barks from the back seat.

I eyeball my GPS doubtfully, tap the screen and gauge how far it is through the unmarked green area to the road it depicts on the other side.

“Well, it doesn’t look like it’s too far…about half an inch.” I think to myself. “How far could that be?”

Those of you who have ever taken a snowmobile trail are probably laughing your heads off at this point. I, however, haven’t a clue.

And into the woods we go…

IMG_3008
About fifteen minutes in, I decide I’d better start taking note of landmarks…not that they were much help, to be honest.

Need I mention it is a one-lane track?

IMG_3012
It took me wayyyy too long to figure out my GPS was just turning in circles because it either had lost a signal or was metaphorically throwing its hands up in defeat.

 

 

And that we need to hit Highway 31 pretty darned quick if we are going to have a chance to make the forty-some odd miles back to the airport in G.R.?

IMG_3015
There were all these helpful posts. What a shame I had no internet connection so I could look up what they meant.

Pretty soon, things get a bit desperate. We’ve been in the woods for at least half an hour. We are definitely going to miss the flight we were scheduled to meet!

Who do you call when, at fifty-one years of age, you are lost and need assistance?

*Gets cell phone*

BEEP.. BEEP.. BOOP.. BEEP.. BOOP…

“MOM? HELP!”

After a frantic conversation in which I fear signal loss almost as much as I fear the drones of mosquitoes following our car like we are to-go container they are trying to figure how to open, Mom comes to the rescue…

Insert appropriate theme song here

…of my mother-in-law anyway.

“I’ll go.” Mom promises. “But you owe me! I was already in my pajamas for the night!”

We keep driving. The huddling clouds overhead limit what visibility we do have beneath the canopy of the old growth forest we are traversing.

I’m not exactly panicking…yet.

But I’m thinking about it.

Last Seen Wearing...
Last seen wearing…turquoise sweater and eau du desperation!

 

 

When along comes the cavalry…

I have to unroll my window in order to ask for directions.

The mosquitoes, at least, were deliriously happy.

IMG_3009
Cavalry not picture–I promised not to include their sacred images if they would tell me how to get out of the labyrinth I wandered into by mistake.

The nice young men from the DNR—wait…doesn’t that mean Do Not Resuscitate?—correction, the Forest Service Department of Agriculture (it says it right on the door, Kiri) give me some directions on how to get out of the woods.

“You’re gonna come up on a fork in a bit, take it to the left…then you follow the road until you see the exit to Highway 31. It’s not that much farther.”

I thank them, and slap at mosquitoes trying for a second pint of blood, before I hastily close the window to depart.

Our vehicles squeeze past each other like fat ladies wearing hoop skirts moving through a narrow hall.

And then we are back on the trail, slightly more confident that we will make it home.

But first….

There’s the fork…

IMG_3013
I so would have taken a right here had I been given a choice.

And more trees than you can shake a stick at.

And then we come to what looks like another choice…

IMG_3017
All that sunshine gave me the deluded hope our trials were at an end.  But no!

This turns out to be a random opening in the forest.

“What the actual hell?” I am cursing young men who think they gave detailed directions but obviously skipped a few steps.

If I knew how to use Google Earth, I’d check to see if our little blue Prius was captured in the center somewhere.

IMG_3020
I dub this wasteland: Donutsville. Because that is the obvious pastime of most who come here.

While it is possible to go left, that way seems certain doom based on the quantity of wild flowers and stumps in the way.

We veer right and hold on to a waning hope.

The GPS is now openly mocking me.

It dances in circles around and around but never moves toward Highway 31 and freedom.

IMG_3018
This seriously sucks.

We pass the dusty roundabout, heading right.

Pretty soon, we see a verdant meadow, puffy clouds, and dream of escaping this wildness nightmare.

But those fantasies are dashed by what looks like the burial site for other lost travelers cleverly disguised as a “Coastal Plain Marsh.”

IMG_3022
So close…
IMG_3024
You can almost taste the asphalt…
Three Rocks
But NO! It’s back to the woods for you!

Leaving the erstwhile, granite grave markers in our rearview mirror, I can’t help but feel like the forest is trying to tell us something.

Keep Out!Keep Out 2Keep Out 3

But what could it be saying?

Eyes Right!
“Eyes on the Road, Mom!”

 

Apparently, it’s telling us it is time to go home.

There, in the distance, it beckons us.

The way out!

Going the Distance

Ahhhh….civilization…or as close as it comes in rural Michigan.

Civilization 1
It may be the middle of nowhere…but at least it’s a well-marked nowhere.

As we drove home…we admired the sights we thought we’d never see again…

Civilization 2
Highway construction–a sure sign of civilization if I ever saw one!

Even traffic cones were a welcome sight!

We passed the bakery with the oddest name ever for a location smack in the middle of an alluvial plain.

Civilization - Hill Top Bakery
HILLTOP BAKERY? HILL? WHAT HILL?

 

And then, like the plains of Africa in the song by Toto, the rains came.

Bedraggled and drained, we make it home in time for dinner.

And it’s going to take a lot to drag me back to Fremont unless I’m giving a guided tour, perhaps by a team of strapping forest preserve on-call rescuers? For emergency purposes only, of course.

Until then, I grow restless, longing for some solitary company…and a song to sing me home.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I mistakenly Googled Erin Copeland and got a completely unsuitable track the first time. #NOT MY MUSIC.

**If you do not know what NANOWRIMO is, we are apparently not as close as my imaginary internet friends.

***Hint, it’s not the map.

Tick-Tock, Time’s Up.

For thirty seconds today, I thought my dishes were all clean.

*Tick*

As my son’s bus pulled up to drop him off,

*Tick*

I was putting the last cup in the cupboard.

*Tick*

The sink was empty.

*Tick*

So was the dishwasher.

*Tick*

I sometimes wish I could hit a “Pause” button.

*Tick*

My son would freeze, mid-step, off the bus.

*Tick*

The grass would not grow, undoing my work mowing in 90 degree heat.

*Tick*

And I could breathe deep of the scents of life.

*Tick*

The smell of the thyme the mower blades edged along with the grass.

*Tick*

The newly-minted caulk from the resealed tub.

*Tick*

Signs of progress, and yet…

*Tick*

I can’t help but wish I could stop the hands from moving.

*Tick*

The To Do list never really stops growing.

*Tick*

That the unpaid bills could wait just a little bit longer…

*Tick*

Life is like an insistence bomb.

*Tick*

It goes on whether you want it to or not.

*Tick*…*Tick**Tick*

You just have to ignore the *ticks*

*Tick*

Or suffer a case of time disease.

 

Click Bait Title

You won’t believe your eyes!

Nine out of ten people won’t read past this sentence.

You can’t believe how this story turns out!

Who would have thought anything so strange, bright, bold, beautiful, and bouncy could happen here?

Only my real friends will read to the end, and copy and paste this, and dance naked in the rain while singing the theme to the Brady Bunch. 

“Here’s the story…of a lovely lady…”

Try not to hate me.

*

CLICK BAIT!

I guess I am as guilty as anyone else. I click the title that leaves me hanging, that asks for, nay, demands attention. A dangling question mark with a spurious answer. Unless it has a mysterious sea creature or a poisonous arachnid that I absolutely must know about before going to bed. (‘Cause that’s not gonna cause nightmares at all!)

What I’m saying is, I’m a sucker for flashy headlines that drag me onto an eye-blistering site with multiple pop-up ads, hidden read-more arrows disguised by embedded commercials. Oh, and let’s not forget the blinking GIFS causing neural disruptions. FUN!

I hate that I fall for these things because they drag me away from real life and important things…like laundry and grocery shopping.*

Sometimes I lie to myself–that following these idiotic stories is in pursuit of knowledge.

I’ve watched videos on the metamorphoses talents of cuttle fish and octopi which change outfits so often they are the aquatic equivalent of The Next Top Model, but underwater.**

Though my favorite videos are by the guy who voiced Dear Kitten Commercials. It’s awesome when he goes off the deep end:

If you’ve got a hook, I’ve probably swallowed it:

Pseudo science dumbed down to bite-sized consumer factoids?

Bring on the quasi science fiction babble about neutrinos emissions formed with pop rocks and microwaved coca-cola.

Something innocuous actually poised to kill or permanently maim mankind?

I swear, everyday someone is ruining a favorite treat with a gross video or unsubstantiated claim about the poisons in our everyday life. My mom sent me one about my favorite ‘Don’t Kill Anyone Today Beverage.”

Tea – A Killer Cup of Poison? One lump or two?

I read the whole thing, but didn’t see any links to data or studies. But then, I was reading it on a microscopic phone screen while simultaneously trying to keep track of my boy child. Still, who has time to follow up on the facts? Not when there’s all this junk to sift through!

Testability2
http://www.toondoo.com Who says it so much better than I could!

Why stop to fact check or at least think for a moment about how likely the fear really is?

There are actual sites for that you know:

Woofighters.Org for example.

 

Snopes.com for another

There are plenty of examples of how horribly effective and subversive clickbaiting is as a propoganda tool.

My first search on the topic brought up this article from 2017:

You won’t believe how these 9 shocking click bait titles work?

Life is more valuable than reading a regurgitated tale of misrepresented woe/gladness/shocking/sadness/turned-joyful-resolution.

Unless there is a tragic picture of homeless, frozen kittens who’ve had a fuzzy make-over.

Or squirrels. I will apparently watch anything having to do with squirrels.

Or the lost Atlantis.

Or “You won’t believe how they look now!”

(Google this yourself. I’d break the internet trying this on my old laptop.)

I’d like to say that, knowing the dangers and misrepresentations, I won’t fall for these time wasters any more. But I really don’t have any answers. All I know is that putting the iPhone down for a weekend won’t kill you. Will it?

Hang on…Googles topic…Okay…finds story on the Daily Beast (which is no doubt a reputable news source with a name like that):

The Dangers of Digital Detoxing

YIKES!

DISCLAIMER: if you plan to become a luddite and leave the internet behind, perhaps you should consult a doctor before taking any drastic measures…or take away a teenager’s XBox.

There should be an easy path back to a normal life. A life unplugged and free from anxiety-inducing ersatz drama. One where you don’t jump at every text DING like a Pavlovian pooch or fall for sleezy, but alluring, tabloid-esque, ALL CAP article headlines. There must be a way back to normal!

But that’s a story for another day. I’ve got the car packed to go camping and a teenager waiting for his car ride away from electronic distractions.

Hopefully we will both survive to meme another day.***

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Okay, I really hate doing laundry and grocery shopping so it doesn’t take much to distract me from a task…oh look, a SQUIRREL!

**You know that an Underwater reality show is in the works somewhere. Hosts will be Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid and Charlie the Tuna from the Star Kist commercials.

***I’ve been meaning to write this one for a while. And to do a much better job of it than this. Sorry.

________________

Feature Image stolen from LocalSurgeMedia.Com

 

Diarrhea Diaries: Volume II

Warning: Graphic and disgusting subject matter. Not for the faint of heart. Reminiscent of my prior post on the topic: The Diarrhea Diaries. Which, as it turns out, was volume one of an unfortunate series.

*

Dear Diarrhea:

The US Food and Drug administration recommends two to four servings of fruit per day.

I don’t think they had this in mind:

BEWARE KILLER MELONS!

 

Killer Watermelon
Borrowed without permissions from drawception.com.

If you visited the CNN article I referenced, you get why I fear produce. If you didn’t trip the above link, the 20-point, bold font title of the article pretty much says it all:

“Multistate salmonella outbreak linked to pre-cut melon”

Now the fact that pre-cut watermelon has been spreading salmonella throughout the midwest wouldn’t ordinarily concern me except for two things:

  1. I ate some pre-cut watermelon Sunday.
  2. Monday began a marathon that makes the prospect of running 26 some miles actually pleasant by comparison. This is not that kind of marathon.*

I did not buy my melon at any of the stores referenced in the CNN piece on salmonella contaminated fruits. This does not stop me from putting a very strong set of coincidences together and coming up with a likely culprit to my week spent regretting everything I’ve ever eaten that I did not personally sterilize in a 1400 degree Fahrenheit kiln.

I spent the last (gets calculator, does math) 168 hours visiting the powder room. HOURLY. Sometimes more frequently. A brief itinerary of my adventures can be summed up this way:

Day 1: 6:00 a.m. – stomach lets out initial howls of protest. By 4:00 p.m., I am so sick, I’m curled up on the floor of my son’s therapy office wishing I didn’t have to drive us back home. 

“Can’t we just live here?”

Day 2: After waking all night long to tango with the toilet, fever strikes and I shake my digital read-out thermometer convinced it has to be wrong.

Temperature Degree Thermometer

Day 3: Have decided that having a will to live kind of sucks. Scrounge through medicine cabinets to find decade’s old Tylenol and take it, hoping it will kill me.

Day 4: Fever finally breaks and I would celebrate, but I’m getting low on toilet paper and there seems to be no end in sight.

Day 5: Am now reconsidering my agnostic stance and will willingly convert to whatever religion will cure me.**

Day 6: There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but I suspect they are the tiny sparks as each of my brain cells implode from dehydration. I gird my loins and guzzle Kefir straight from the carton.***

I wipe curdled cream from my lips and scream:

“Take that, you plague-ridden, bacteria bastards!”

Today is Day 7. It has been a week and, slowly, I am feeling somewhat human. Though, of course, the diarrhea hasn’t given up trying to kill me.  I counter its vicious attacks with a chemical carpet bombing of Gatorade and Live-Culture acidophilus pills.

I’d really like this to be the worst thing that will ever happen to me, but I known I am just not that lucky.

As for whether this was a case of Salmonella or not, who knows? If it wasn’t, I sincerely pity the people who’ve had it worse.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be in the bathroom…freshening up.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Hint: it was not a Law & Order Marathon either.

**I’m looking at you, Vishnu, you beautiful blue man. Although, Shiva the Destroyer makes more sense in the circumstances.

***Kefir – the sound you involuntarily make after tasting fermented yogurt drink. Which tastes just as bad as it sounds.

 


Feature image stolen from UK Pinterest site. Please forgive me, I have no energy or desire to get my own watermelon and recreate your excellent work.  Although, Gallagher’s work on expressing rage by smashing fruit with a giant mallet is starting to make a great deal more sense to me now.

Skinny-Jeans, Heart Attacks and Crayon Calamities

 

“Hello, this is the VA triage line, how may I help you?” The female voice on the other end of the line is calm and reassuring.

“I think I’m having a heart attack.” Me, not at all calm or reassured.

“What symptoms are you having?” The triage nurse asks.

“It felt like someone stabbed me in the heart with an ice pick.” I say, holding a hand to my chest as if I could somehow prevent a relapse. “Can I go to the VA for this?”

“Ma’am, if you think you are having a heart attack, you should go to an emergency room.”

And so starts a most bizarre week with not one but two emergency room visits for what have to be the dumbest reasons ever.

I wish I were making this up.

*

Art - Angry Crayons
Thank you to the first grader, Phoenix K. who drew my sentiments so aptly.

Despite it being a snow day in April, Monday, which is also Tax Day in America, has been mostly uneventful. After a weekend trapped in the house due to an ice storm, you’d think the kid would be climbing the walls. But no, the boy child is thrilled being home and is keeping himself entertained. I’m firmly ensconced in sloth, enjoying Supernatural reruns on this lazy afternoon. So, I am totally unprepared for the Grim Reaper to make a house call.

I am a borderline hypochondriac. Even I have a hard time taking myself seriously. One of the surest signs that I’m not that sick? I talk about it. I kvetch. I whine. I exaggerate the nature of my near-death experiences. (Spoiler alert.)

I suspect that, somewhere deep down in my soul, I believe I can stave off something really bad happening if everything is a joke—an opera of misadventure and suspense resolved with a laugh or two. But when something rears its cackling death skull, I get quiet. Really quiet.  That is, until I can laugh about it again.

When the pick ax struck, I wasn’t laughing.

Here I am, mid heart-attack, maybe, and I’m staring at my autistic teenager who I can in no way take with me to an emergency room. What can I do? I don’t call an ambulance. No, I call my mom.

“Hi, you caught me in the middle of something.”* Mom tells me.

“I’m sorry to bother you, and I wouldn’t, except I have a problem. I might be having a heart attack.” I insert quickly.

“What are your symptoms?”

I tell her the details in brief and end with, “I spoke with the VA nurse and they suggested I go to the emergency room.”

“You know it’ll cost you a thousand dollars to go to an E.R.!” That’s my mom, ever the frugal one.

“Yeah, but I suspect ignoring a heart attack will cost me more.” I say.

She doesn’t argue with this. Like the trooper she is, mom drops everything to come watch my boy.

Fifteen minutes after that, I pull up to the nearest after-hours emergency center. I park and am through the door as fast as someone who thinks they are dying can manage.

Let me just boil down the results into one exchange:

“Were you doing anything strenuous or feeling particularly anxious when the pain occurred?”

“No…not really. I was sitting on the couch watching tv. I didn’t feel anxiety about anything.” I say, but then a thought occurs to me. “Uh…I was wearing a pair of skinny jeans though, and they are kinda tight. I might have been taking shallow breaths—maybe I was hyperventilating without knowing it? Could that cause heart problems?”

“Skinny jeans do not cause heart attacks.” The doctor reassures me. “The E.K.G. shows no signs of problems. You have no edema. No signs of a clot. We’re going to label this non-cardiac chest pain.  We’re releasing you, but make sure to follow up with your physician”

On the way to the med center, I was making all sorts of promises to do better. To get more exercise. To eat right. To take care of myself and my son the way I should.

On the way home, I bought celebratory donuts and, once mom had departed, lounged in my yoga pants, taking deep, even breaths, while licking frosting.

Art - King Evil Gingerbread Man
I am sad that Presley made King Gingerbread Man the evil villain. Personally, I think Gingerbread should be king for how much fun it is–what other cookies can be made into houses? I ask you!

This would be the end of my tale, taking a moment to laugh at the fleeting promises we make to be better people when we think our life is on the line, except that it’s not the only faux emergency I’m going to have this week. It’s not even the weirdest one.

No, this happens Friday.

My mom, the boy child, and I are scheduled to go to the local Art and Chocolate Walk which is an exhibit of local school children’s artwork at area businesses. It’s a favorite event of mine—not so much my son though. So partly, I blame him for what happens next and, in hindsight, it’s pretty damned ironic.**

We are in the parking lot beside the local mom and pop restaurant, mom gets out of her car, chatting on the phone with my brother. I’m trying to lure my child with the promise of chocolates and a walk.

He is having none of it and plops down on the sidewalk, sulking like a big dog who’s lost his favorite chew toy.

I run to grab his headphones, hoping that with one sensory battle tackled, he might tolerate the crowded venues. When I get back, I come up against Grandma On The Rampage.

“Have you seen his eyes?” Mom asks me.

[Note: she’s able to look into her grandson’s eyes right now only because he is sitting practically on the ground. He towers over both of us.]

“He’s autistic. Do you know how hard it is to look him in the eyes?” I say not a bit defensively.

“You need to be more careful and pay attention.” Mom adds, as if she never left me at my grandparents for days when I was a kid with a raging sore throat that ended up being a streptococcus virus my grandmother treated by swabbing my tonsils with Merthiolate on a Q-Tip.

So, plans canceled, I drag my kid at 5:00 o’clock on a Friday to the same exact emergency after-hours med center for treatment of what might be an eye infection or blocked tear duct.Eyeball

 

I do not ask my child if he needs a doctor—he rarely tells me when he does need one—so I just skip straight to the E.R. visit. I now wonder what he might have said…or may have been trying to tell me.

We are at the front desk and I’m handing over the medical cards and explaining our purpose of our visit and my son picks through his perpetual tin of crayons and markers to extract a red stub of an oily pastel he has no doubt stolen from the school art supplies.

I snatch it and its subsequent twin from his hand and wrap them up in tissues I nab from the front desk.

“Sorry, these can make a terrible mess if I let him have them.” I apologize.***

We are shuttled to a quiet room which my son inspects with the skills of a burglar—testing all the cabinets and drawers for contraband.

Art - Spectrum Health
I had to use Cecily’s work once I saw that she’d drawn a Spectrum Health medical professional. They all deserve monuments for what I put them through this week

The nurse who inspects my son and gets his vitals is noncommittal. She sends in an intern…or a trainee nurse practitioner of some kind. Maybe the first nurse suspects and wants to see if the newbie can figure it out.

Anyhow, it takes this young lady less than two minutes to identify the problem. She’s eyeballing his hands and I dismiss her concern that it’s any kind of blood.

“No, that’s just the pastel crayons he likes to play with.” I say…and that’s when it hits me. “Oh no. You don’t think…?”

She says nothing, instead, she wets a tissue and washes a smear of red off of my son’s hands. She gets another square wet, asking cautiously, “You don’t think he’ll mind if I dab his eye?” With assurances, she gently taps at the inside corner of his eye—which before this moment, looked like an inflamed nightmare—and, of course the red comes off after a few brushes with the napkin.

“Do you have a medical code for crayons? Something that doesn’t cost too much?” I ask, lamely.

“I’ll pick the cheapest code I can find.” She promises me.

I suppose, I’ll have to take comfort from that. If not from the fact that my son, who has since caught a virus and is home sick, suffered only from an overexposure to art crayons if not actual art exhibits. (Though you’ll note I did manage to go see a few displays which I promptly stole for this blog post.)

As for my chest pain, you’ll be happy to know it isn’t fatal. The stabbing sensation wasn’t in my heart—or in my head—at all. With a few pointed jabs of her finger to my sternum, Dr. B at the VA diagnosed it as costochondritis—or an inflammation of the cartilage area near the breastbone. You’d think I would be grateful.

I believe I put it a little less tactfully.

“Sonofabitch! Maybe you shouldn’t poke that hard!”

There’s no pleasing some people.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*This is a euphemistic was of saying, she was on the potty. I hope both you and she appreciate my sensitivity in this delicate matter.

**Really, it’s like he was saying: “So, you like art, do you? How do you feel about self expressionism or the artist as the medium?”

***For those of you who have already put two-and-two together, wait for people as slow as me to do the math. Let’s not spoil the adventure, shall we?

 

 

 

 

A Royal Pain – Part II

 

Please join me for the continuing saga of last week’s story (A Royal Pain – Part I) a kind of a mashup of Dentist the Menace and the Molar Crown Affair.

Warning, some images may be disturbing to the dentally or aesthetically sensitive…

Ahhhhhhh
No teeth were harmed in the making of this product…except for the one that deserved it. You know who you are! Bad tooth. Bad, bad tooth!

I invite you to follow along on my magical, anesthesia-induced adventure.

With a Bippity

Boppity

Boo Hoo Hoo!

*

There is a hole in my life.

I just don’t understand it fully until the dentist says he has a plan to fill the emptiness I’ve been feeling.

He probes the moist recesses of my gaping maw, as he talks.*

“We could do a core build-up for about $270, maybe.” He suggests, with great reluctance. “Or we could do this…”

Tooth Holder
Lacking a proper image, please admire the toothbrush holder I snapped in the clinic bathroom.

With a motion reminiscent of floor models revealing the latest, greatest innovation, the television screen, which previously showed highlights of a kitchen remodel, now glows with the recommended option to increase my dental family by one.

The dentist gushes, “…you could have this beautiful baby installed.”

If there is a Ferrari of teeth it has to be the Onlay-Porcelain/Ceramic Crown he unveils with unsettling prestidigitation. Then he adds,

“All it will cost you is your soul.”

Or at least, that’s what I heard.

“Beg pardon? How much did you say?”

“Approximately eleven hundred dollars, plus X-rays.” Dr. Smith says…as if he isn’t joking at all. “My lovely assistant will prepare you. I’ll be right back.”

Tools of Trade
Not torture devices. Honest!

In a puff of smoke, the white-coated magician disappears behind the curtain, where he bangs pots and pans together to create the illusion of great works or something.

The lovely assistant plonks an array of deadly-looking implements before me.

Yeah, that doesn’t look scary at all. I think.

I ask the dental assistant, as she belts me in for the ride,

“Can’t we do the cheaper option?” Me, hopeful.

“I don’t know. I’ll ask the doctor…” She says, doubtful.

Then she gives me some happy-happy gas and I am feeling a heck of a lot less anxious about anything.

 

 

 

As she places the funky nose trough on, the assistance tells me, “The gas will work faster the less you talk.” She laughs as she says this, so I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean it the way it sounds…I think.

(You’ll note, my ability to take selfies is seriously diminished, along with my cognitive reasoning, as the shots and nitrous oxide take effect.)***

The dentist returns and with little fuss or muss, he drills down until he finds un-decayed pay dirt.

Dentist: “Let’s see what the damage is underneath the repair job you did.”

Fake fill Tooth
The ‘BEFORE DRILLING’ IMAGE with DenTek emergency spackle in place

 

You know you’re in a bad place when you hear the doctor making the following sounds over the drill:

Dentist: “Hmm…” 

Me: “Ah ah.. hunh ah?” (What is it? What’s wrong?)

Dentist: “Oh. Well this goes a lot deeper than I expected…” 

Dental assistant probably wipes dentist’s damp, furrowed brow in an encouraging manner.

Drilling noises resume…accompanied with what sounds like boulders being crushed in my mouth.  Then sounds stops.

The dentist turns and comes back with a weird wand of some sort and a ring tone like an alien landing throbs as he probes my open orifice (and not in a sexy way).

NOTE: The drugs have really kicked in at this point…the next bits might be total hallucinations on my part:

DA (Dental Assistant): “Doctor…is that…TOOTH DECAY??”

Dentist: “I’m afraid so. We’d better keep going…”

DA: “But, is it safe to continue, doctor?”

Dentist: “Safe or not, I’m going in…”

WHIIIIiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRR

KA-CHUNK…cReaaaaaaaKKKK

UNHOLY SHRIEKING COMMENCES. 

A CHOIR BEGINS CHANTING A GREGORIAN DESCANT…IN LATIN!

Dentist: “Oh, dear god, what is that thing?”

DA: “Aaahhhhh. Hit. Hit it with mallet. Kill it. Kill it dead!”

Something heavy slithers away. Crashing dental implements hit the floor. The room is filled with weeping and the gnashing of teeth—not necessarily human.

Dentist: “What have we done? What nightmare have we unleashed? Oh the humanity…”

—INTERMISSION FOR A BRIEF REALITY CHECK—

What actually happened:

Dentist: “I had to take a bit more than expected. This is what’s left of your tooth.”

Half-tooth Cutaway
Yep–that’s the Grand Canyon of Craters.

Me: “So, that’s not going to be the cheap option is it?”

Dentist: “I think we’d better go with the crown. I couldn’t guarantee the work would last otherwise.”

AD: “If you want, you can follow me; you can watch me make your tooth.”

Cerac Machine
If I remember correctly, this fancy system costs the dental office over $200,000. That’s a lot of moolah for molars!

So, I got to see the birth of my new tooth. It’s a step above watching a B-grade horror film and I recorded it for posterity. If you squint, you can hear me slurring questions about the process.

WARNING, this video is a lot more interesting under the influence of dental anesthesia.

The dental assistant chats very nicely as the two tiny drills carve away at the cube of purple stuff that looks like so much plastic explosive to me.

 

 

DA: “It only takes about ten minutes to make the tooth.”

Me: *clicks photo of screen* “Cool…”

And it is. Despite the hassle of it all, watching the Star Trek-level technology carve a new tooth out of ceramic is pretty fascinating. Again, I am still kinda drugged…though the gas is starting to wear off when it comes time to actually install the new tooth.

F.Y.I—This is NOT the fun part.

DA: “It starts off purple, but then we heat it in the kiln and it strengthens the new ceramic piece and the color turns to a more natural shade to match your existing teeth.”

 

 

They test the tiny wedge of ceramic to make sure it fits the space before firing it. You can see the before image left of the after one above.

The dentist returns and, with grim determination, fits the formerly-purple, puzzle piece into my mouth.

First, he rinses the existing tooth with an acid wash. (And I thought I hated the 80’s jeans by that name.)  If I had to describe the taste—think rancid nuclear waste mixed with tinfoil.

Then he sands the new tooth to make sure my bite is good—with me chomping colored paper between takes.

Dentist: “How’s that feel?”

Me: “It’s kind of high in the back.”

Dentist: “We’ll keep grinding until it fits. Don’t worry.”

I swear this part takes the longest…or maybe it is because all the nitrous has worn off and I’m starting to feel things again. Like panic over the impending bill.

The dentist shows me the final work. And it’s pretty impressive.

Final crown
The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth—so help me blog.

He positions this R2D2 type cart with a rollerball joystick to spin through the pictures he took of my mouth.

Cerac AC
The mapping device that sounded like an alien ship landing shows the damaged area. (In blue above.)

While I might whinge about the expense, I can’t deny, the work looks good.

“Now the rest of my teeth look terrible.” I cry with no little dismay as a thought occurs to me. “Are they all going to fall apart like this one did?”

“We don’t know. We look for signs of stress.” Dr. Smith rolls the ball and a new image appears. “Like here, where you can see a crack going right through the tooth.”

“Ack. Are those my teeth?” I say. (Showing signs of stress.)

“No, no! I’m just showing you these as an example. All in all, your teeth are in pretty good condition.” Before I can relax, he adds, “We just can’t tell from an x-ray what might be happening underneath the fillings.”

“Good to know.” I say. Then another alarming thought occurs to me. “What if this pops out and I swallow it?”

“It won’t.” Dr. Smith assures me.

“They never come out?” I say, pushing for some reassurances.

“If it does, we’ll make you a new one.” He says, probably tired of me but hiding it politely.

“For an additional $1100?” I say with a squeak.

“For nothing.” He says, moving to leave. “I guarantee my work!”

And that’s all one can really hope for. I thank him and pay up and skedaddle out of there.

So, like a disturbingly dark fairytale or an old-fashioned monster movie, you leave the experience relieved that it’s over…but not entirely certain you’ve left the horror behind for good.

Only the teeth know for sure…and they’re not talking.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Any resemblance to the start of a raunchy, seventies-style porno is totally unintentional, I assure you.

**He did not say this. I exaggerate for effect. I do that a lot while under anesthesia.

***I had to wait several days before writing this just so I could piece together everything that happened. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any pixies involved in the procedure…at least none that showed up in the photos I took.

 

————————————-LEGAL DISCLAIMER——————————————

Tooth Image

This is a humor blog. I embellish. I stretch the truth. I invent. This was a very routine dental procedure done by a competent professional with courteous and friendly staff. It is no way an endorsement of getting one procedure done over another. Though, I would recommend D.D.S. Joshua Smith of Northway Family Dentistry in Grandville, MI, if you can afford the work. If you can’t, you’d better be diligent about flossing, because plaque waits for no man. Let’s also hope the doctor has a sense of humor about the above portrayal.

A Royal Pain – Part I

Last week in a post entitled Reflections of an Autism Mom, I made a case that I deserve a tiara.

The universe listened.

The universe is perverse.

…and has a twisted sense of humor.

The bastard.

*

After receiving many kind and wonderful remarks on my autism parenting skills, the very next day, I decide to take my son to the nearby Kroc Center to swim…DURING SPRING BREAK.

The gasp you just heard was all autism parents everywhere, inhaling in shock. Wait for a minute; the planetary vacuum pressure should return to normal momentarily.

For those of you who DON’T have autistic children, picture taking any child anywhere at times of peak attendance…and then hand that child a rabid mongoose and suggest he or she juggle the beast, while running barefoot across broken glass, and let’s throw in some flaming darts to dodge for a little excitement. The reaction would probably be somewhat similar*

My son managed one turn on the swirly slide into the pool before he informed me in his inimical fashion, that he was “All Done.”**

After the aggression and tears subsided, I slunk home depressed and discouraged and kicking myself for trying when I knew it was not likely a good idea.

So, I decide a night like this calls for take out pizza.

What could go wrong with pizza?

Alexei scarpers away from the table with his half of thin and crispy—like Gollum hoarding his precious. I’m just calming down from the painfully upsetting events of the day. I take a few bites of food and have to admit, pizza is a nice consolation prize…and then, something goes unexpectedly…

CrUNNncH

OH NO. 

I feel around with my tongue–excavating the new, sharp dental landscape. I’m no expert or anything, but even I recognize when a sizable portion of a tooth is missing.

DenTek
Over-the-counter repair kit–surprisingly cheap and easy to use. Sadly, not a permanent option.

I head to the store for some emergency tooth spackle, lightning and thunder are crashing down around me…mixing with April snow showers…and HAIL. I kid you not.

I stare up at the greying dusk looking for the frogs that are obviously next as a harbinger of the apocalypse. I’m reminded of the scene from Forest Gump in which Lieutenant Dan climbs the mast of a small shrimping boat and curses God during a hurricane:

Unfortunately for me, the world doesn’t end…because I am just not that lucky. The next day dawns bright and crisp and I find a nearby DDS with an opening.

“You’re probably gonna need a crown.” Dr. Smith is peering into my mouth and poking around with sharp implements—because that’s what sadists…I mean dentists…do to fill the time. “We won’t know for sure until we remove your emergency filling and see what kind of damage there is. How’s next week look for you?”

Me, glumly, “Expensive. Next week looks expensive.”

All I wanted was a tiara. To feel like royalty.***

The universe answered my request, but it did so in the way Grimm’s fairytales warn us about. Be careful what you wish for…it may just come true.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Not good. This just goes to show, despite many years of experience, we autism parents can have fatally blind optimism about outcomes.

**He bit me.

***I felt royally screwed, if that counts. On the upside, while Googling terminology, I discovered a secondary definition of Dental Dams. A whole new understanding of crass humor is now mine.

Becoming Super: Reflections of an Autism Mom

I grew up expecting to be somebody special…someday. This is both wonderful and terrible, hopeful and sad. Mostly, it just gets in the way of being somebody now. Looking for the arrival of an idealized self, you can’t see the greatness in everyday heroics because there is no spangled outfit or magic amulet to show you how great you are. I blame my childhood.

Wonder Woman in Picasso Girl Before a Mirror
Thanks to Nick-Perks of Deviant Art for permission for this absolutely perfect expression of my inner self.

*

As an overly imaginative little girl, I envisioned all sorts of futures. I was the conduit for every character I read or saw on television. I would adopt a persona and play dramatic roles for an audience of one. I was Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie long before Elizabeth Gilbert stole the role I was destined to play. (I wanted the blue hair ribbons, darn it.) Life is rarely kind to such dreamers.*

I had a giant, wall-sized mirror in my childhood bedroom—it covered a massive hole in the brickwork. After dark, mice would crawl up behind the giant glass pane and scratch at the edges trying to get into my room.** I was both terrified and mesmerized by that mirror; it held all my hopes and fears.

Super Girl Mirror Image
Thanks to J. Hilla for this depiction of my inner child.

Unlike the magic mirror in Snow White—my looking glass never made dire predictions. It was more like the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter lore. It was a stage for my heart’s desire: a place where I could be the hero of my own epic adventures. What you don’t realize as a child? Most superheroes have a tragic back story that propels them to become super in the first place.***

I marched back and forth in front of that mirror transforming into whatever television character I was enchanted with at the time. One of my earliest superhero flashbacks is wanting to be Wonder Woman. Maybe it was because, as Diana Prince, she had dark hair and glasses, like me. I made tinfoil bracelets to ward off bullets—making “pi-too pi-too” noises as I deflected imaginary attacks. I would spin in circles until I fell over dizzy and giggling.

Wonder woman Crop - Fan Fest
Liberated from http://www.soapchat.net – so yeah, totally legal use…

Linda Carter marched onto the tv screen as Wonder Woman from 1975-1979—finally representing everything the 1970’s said a woman could be. Wonder Woman was strong and sexy—a woman who had all the power and could whip men until they cowered at her shiny red boots. An excellent role model for a prepubescent girl. Um…uh…yeah. Anyway...

WONDER WOMAN
Liberated from http://www.soapchat.net. I’m hoping they don’t: a. notice, b. mind, c. have legal rights and the energy to sue…

At the time, I didn’t question wearing a skimpy outfit and go-go boots as the appropriate wardrobe for a crime fighter. In my defense, I was eight at the time. I desperately wanted to be the heroine who saves the day. Honestly, I’ve never really outgrown those early impulses.

As television programming changed, so did the sophistication of my dreams. Since I couldn’t be reborn as an Amazon, perhaps I could become super via technology? From 1976 to 1978, Lindsey Wagner followed on the celebrity that was the Six Million Dollar Man—who, in today’s currency, would barely register as any level of super being.

The Bionic Woman was my first taste of a regular person who became super-human through the advancement of cybernetics. Looking back, the sound effects and ‘action’ sequences of speeded up film look laughable, but back then, I ran everywhere emitting “da…da…da…da…da…” for high-speed sound effects or making “SprooooooIIiiiing” noises while jumping off the couch. (My brother and I owe my mother apologies for what we did to her furniture.) My hero complex would not be complete if I did not include a certain spectacular trio who entered our homes as black silhouettes surrounded by flames.

Charlie’s Angels dominated the airwaves from 1976-1981 finally exhibiting *cough, cough* attainable qualities of superhero-dom: athleticism, skill, and wit. That they looked good in a bikini and frequently wore one to fight crime is only more impressive now when I know how hard it is to find a swimsuit you can swim in none less run and tackle bad guys wearing one! (The heroine is wearing the bikini in the preceding analogy…but now that I think of it…it would be much funnier the other way around.)

I asked the internet to find “Bad Guys in Heels” but it gave this instead:

Sorry, got distracted there for a minute. What were we talking about? Right. Becoming super.

Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, and Charlie’s Angels were the quintessence of female power and prominent pulchritude—women I so badly wanted to grow up to be. There is just one, tiny problem with this, as it turns out.

Being a superhero in the 70’s required that a woman be multi-talented, super intelligent or powerful, and it helped that you were *ahem* well-endowed with superspeed, a lasso of truth, surgical enhancements or have an invisible billionaire backer with a voice to melt butter. No biggie. One thing all of these super women have in common though is only obvious by its absence. None of them are mothers.

Apparently, one can either be a superhero—strong, confident, and kicking ass in man-devouring footwear—or you can be a mom. I tried, but I couldn’t think of a single superhero of my generation where that was possible. This is a big problem when it comes to finding your inner super qualities.

Being any kind of mother is incredibly hard work. It is mostly filled with endless, thankless, and unrewarding tasks and—unless you are some kind of Stepford Saint-of-the-Year with built-in lack of aspirations—parenting kind of sucks. Anyone who has ever changed a diarrhea diaper will tell you how un-fun it can be! But, it is particularly hard to feel that you are living up your super-mom potential when the son or daughter you are raising has autism. Don’t get me wrong, autism is not the bad guy here. It’s the character-building plot twist that makes you want to be a super mom in the first place!

No, the evil villain in this story is the irrational effing voice in your head telling you that every action or inaction has the power to make the difference for your changeling child. I call my villain ‘The Heckler’ and its voice is particularly shrill and nasal. (Think Fran Drescher on helium wielding a chain saw.) You search for therapies, solutions, answers to meet your child in a maelstrom of unknown and unseen terrors. No matter how far you come, you can only see how far you have yet to go, or worse, how far you’ve fallen short of your ideal. It’s Sisyphean motherhood at best.

I don’t want to whine about the challenges of parenting on the spectrum. What I am talking about is being able to look at my actions through a kinder mirror. One where I see that, though my accomplishments may not be as death-defying as stopping bullets with a bracelet, they are equally amazing and wonder-worthy. But how?

One of my favorite Curly Girl designs by the artist Leigh Standley, says this so much better than I can:

Cape and a Nice Tiara
I have the honest authorization to use this artwork. I know! Squee! I just about fainted with glee when I got the okay! Go Leigh Standley!

 

Seriously, Autism parenting would be so much easier if I had super powers!

This got me to thinking.

What if?

What if…I drew my character on paper? Give her magical gadgets and abilities…and a cool catch phrase? That’s it! What I need to do is…become super! But what super powers would I give her to make me believe in her heroism? What would make the perfect Autism Mom?

Super Autism Mom Checklist

Autism Mom needs…

Emo Vaulting—the ability to leap toward compassion in a single bound. (Or maybe a lasso of empathy to throttle idiots who lack any?)

Psychic Powers to know why in the world her kid is doing ‘X’ repeatedly so she can stop going crazy and let him be. (I’m looking at you Exit 59.)

HyperSonicSensitive Precognition—the ability to detect and avoid sensory overload meltdowns!

Rx Defensive Measures—an emergency bandolier of psychiatric medication on hand at all times—for herself or her kid, as needed. These prescriptions would magically fill themselves before running out and would be totally covered by insurance.

Supercomputer Implants that would remember all the I.E.P. goals, meetings, and doctors’ appointments. Now before you can say ‘iPhone’…it is also a time machine to be able to go back and attend anything accidentally scheduled for the same day. Plus it survives a bath in the toilet and a trip down the laundry chute!

Guards Against Humanity Cloaking Device—an invisible shield of imperviousness so narrowed-eyed onlookers and snide remarks would slip right past her when she takes her child out in public.

A Cone of Silence would descend so that screaming fits would calm to a dull roar and wrap the sufferer in a soothing cocoon of sensory deprivation so outbursts would subside in half the time. This will work for the child too.

What else? Oh, I know, let’s add:

Telekinetic Magic Belt that would dispense a flare gun, a fire extinguisher, a tourniquet, you know—the usual ‘whatever’—needed on a given day in Autism Parenting. It would miraculously produce whatever special item your autism adventure demands—like Dora’s backpack, but less creepy.

Our super heroine is almost complete. Almost fully armed for the battle of her life. All she needs is one…more…thing…

The Unbreakable Mirror of Truth.

Autism Mom would carry a magic mirror so that, whenever the evil inner demons start chanting her failures, she can hold it up and it will reveal the super mom she truly is. Instead of unwashed hair and sweatpants camouflage, she will shine for all the world to see.

[Note: The Mirror of Truth will also show her as several pounds lighter because, come on, don’t we all really want that super power!?]

Head Shot
Looking super silly!

 

Anyway, she is the me I want to see when I look in the mirror.

And…

Oh, yeah. I almost forgot.

Every Autism Mom deserves a nice tiara.

Just because.

I recently re-watched the pilot episode of Wonder Woman and was struck by the advice Queen Hippolyta gives Diana before sending her out into the world. Words we autism moms should all live by:

“Go in peace, my daughter. And remember, that, in the world of ordinary mortals, you are a wonder woman!”

We truly are.

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Dreams, by their nature, only exist if one suspends all disbelief and evidence to the contrary. This is why they rarely survive waking.

**Mirror, Mirror, on the wall. What the [bleep] doth creep and crawl?

***Again with the blessing and the curse analogies. Man, am I heavy-handed today. My bucket of overwrought symbolism overfloweth.

 

50 Shades of Earl Grey Crème…

Wanted: A naughty cup of tea with a bergamot bite.

I’m on my knees.

I’m begging for relief.

Aching for that particular and distinct pleasure that only a true acolyte of the libatious arts can attain. But alas…

My cup is empty.

I am truly lost without my Earl Grey Crème.

————————

 

The week I learned that Teavana was going to close its doors, I went straight to the mall, plunked down a piece of plastic and ordered an obscene amount of tea–something near 7 pounds–because that was the minimum I could order to get 30% off the total price. I did not even look at the receipt when I signed it. No price was too high a cost to pay.*

You think 7 pounds doesn’t sound like a lot?  Imagine the backpack sized tea parcels they gave me–I’m sure I looked like a tea mule smuggling fine grade, uncut pure leaf addiction–I’d show you…but I drank it all.

In less than a year, my precious was gone.

My Precious
Thanks to: http://www.vitamin-ha.com/gollum-memes-14-pics/ for coming up with a Gollum/Tea meme.

 

I swore I wouldn’t buy any more tea until I have drunk some of the thousands of other teas in the many, many containers I already possess.

You think I’m kidding?

I’m not.

Tea Time 2
I have issues. Crazy, manic, matcha-based issues.

 

I’ve stuck by my resolution not to succumb to temptation. Not to bend. Not to splay myself prostrate crying

Why have the tea gods abandoned me? WHY?”

I’ve been sucking down Twinnings Chai to sublimate my desires. I sugar it. I even use the latte foamer that makes me feel like a pampered princess…until I have to clean it.

IT’S ONLY DAY THREE!

I’VE CRACKED.

 

I am now hunting for a replacement.

How hard can it be to find a fragrant facsimile?

A delicious doppleganger?

A tantalizing taste bud teaser to pleasure the palate? A tea that will make me whimper when it’s gone bottom’s up!**

I’m putting out an ad to the area tea purveyors:

“I’m a sweet young thing looking for the bad boy I’ve been missing…oh where, oh where is my Earl Grey Crème?

Fortunately, the internet is ready to cater to most discerning clientele.

Clickety, click, ka-ching!

So, bring on the Adagio Moonlight loose leaf and the Earl Grey Crème wares of Art of Tea–I can’t wait to sample your charms!***

Hurry to me, my darling. I’m waiting for you!

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*I lied. I did look at the receipt. The total was shocking, and this was after the discount. And, though I did not faint, it was only because I was afraid I would drop my complimentary cup of tea in the process.

**I want a tea that will own me, make me say “Thank you! May I have another!”

***This post may be a sign that I need an intervention…or a really dominant cup of tea.