The Move

en-route-from-montreal-to-ottawa
Photo by Steve McCullough (stevemccullough.ca) via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

My husband and I arrived at my parents’ house a few days ago. It was a rough few days leading up to it, with trying to get everything packed and into the moving trailer, trying to get the apartment clean enough to have any hope of getting our deposit back, and then the long road trip to get here. My parents actually came out there to pick us up and bring us back here, for which I am very grateful.

I ended up hurting my back, which made things more difficult, and my husband had a massive, frightening panic attack in the middle of the night before we left. He was shaking and almost hyperventilating. He ended up running outside into the night air outside our city apartment building to try to calm down. At first I went with him, even though I was scared to go out in the middle of the night, but then after we came back in and I had gotten back into bed he ran out again alone. That was scary for me. I was worried something would happen to him out there alone so late.

Two of the hardest things about the move for me were not having a lot of my stuff accessible to me while it was packed (and some of it has still not been located and unpacked since we’ve arrived for various reasons and I am agitated by that), and having my eating disrupted. I usually drink a very low-carb green smoothie for breakfast, because I’m prone to hypoglycemia and I find if I eat carbs in the morning my blood sugar drops later in the day, but if I don’t eat carbs at all until dinner time my blood sugar remains stable. I realize this is not the common advice given to hypoglycemics, but it’s something I’ve discovered about my own body and I find that this works for me. I also find that if I don’t eat carbs early in the day, I don’t even feel hungry for most of the day and end up eating less food overall, which is a plus in our current situation, not knowing where our next source of income is coming from.

My breakfast smoothie usually consists of:

  • 3 cups baby kale
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp flax meal
  • 1 squirt of Mio (or similar brand) water flavouring
  • 3/4 of a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder
  • water

I used to add some fruit until I realized the full extent of what the morning carb consumption was doing to me and realized I felt better if I didn’t include it.

Unfortunately, as we were preparing for our move, I ran out of kale and protein powder, and I wanted to eat up what we had on hand and not buy anything new because that would mean more to either move or throw out. So this meant for a few days before the move, the two days of the road trip to get here, and the first two mornings here until we went into town to buy groceries, I was not able to have my smoothie. I ended up eating more carbs than I’m used to, and it made the road trip in particular hard because every few hours I felt nauseated and irritable from the hypoglycemia and I had to pester my dad to stop somewhere. He is not a big fan of stopping on road trips. It’s amazing we (me, my husband, and my mom) were ever allowed to pee.

As for my parents’ house, in a lot of ways it’s better than I thought it would be. (They only moved here a couple years ago and I had never even visited before this.) I’m actually quite pleased with the basement suite. We have more space here than we did in our apartment. It does need work to make it look nice but that is part of the deal; we will help with the renos. My husband has been painting for the last two days and it’s already making a big difference.

I’m a little disappointed that the suite’s kitchen can’t be used yet. It’s all a bit of a bait-and-switch, where I was told, “You will have your own kitchen,” and then I get here and find that it’s not even really a kitchen; it’s just a space where the kitchen will be, and my husband will have to help my dad put it in. (I do realize I was not lied to; I will have my own kitchen, just not immediately.) Just to be clear, they are not doing this solely for us. They had planned to do this anyway to increase the value of the house, they’re just moving up the time frame for our sake. My parents estimate it will be done by Christmas. Right now all there is is a small, bar-sized fridge, a disgusting, unusable sink, and a counter piled with my parents’ junk. But the rest of the suite is usable, thank goodness. The bathroom is nice and the shower has great water pressure. That’s a big plus.

I truly am grateful for the place to live, but to be honest I hate sharing my mom’s kitchen with her. She doesn’t tend to follow food safety rules and we bicker about it. I seem unreasonable and neurotic to her, but I am only like this because I get sick so easily and when I get sick it hits me ridiculously hard. I am only trying to take care of myself and prevent that. If others were as prone to such awful physical maladies as I am they would be more cautious about such things too. That is only logical.

Another problem is the smell. As I wrote in my post on my other blog, my parents’ houses have always had a very distinct odor. They have always blamed it on various things but the smell follows them wherever they go so I think it’s just them. You’d think I’d get used to it, especially having grown up with them, but I never have, and it’s especially bad when I come back after being away for a long time like this. I was finding it really hard to bear at first. But then I found my stash of plug-in air fresheners and plugged them in, and I discovered that one of my Bath and Body Works shower gels had leaked out into the bag it was in, which at first I was upset about, but then I realized that hanging the bag up in the bedroom made the wonderful scent fill the room. I feel so much more comfortable now that I can smell my favourite scents here. It’s ridiculous how unpleasant and distracting the odor of my parents’ house was for me before that.

Generally speaking, in spite of certain negatives, I think I can actually be fairly content here, especially once the kitchen is in.

The main problem right now, of course, is the lack of income. My husband and I both have appointments with a local employment counselor tomorrow and I really hope my husband can find something. I am willing to work too, but to be perfectly honest I am hoping I won’t have to, because of how sick and stressed and prone to embarrassing and debilitating meltdowns I get when I’m working. I would be so much happier at home. But I realize I’m not in a situation where I can choose how I want to live. I just have to do what needs to be done and I hope I can handle it and stick it out as long as possible.

Oh, I almost forgot: One really great thing about this move is that I don’t have asthma here. I am completely inhaler- and wheeze-free all of a sudden. The same thing happened in 2006 when I moved back to my home province from elsewhere. I’m certain I am allergic to something that doesn’t exist here. My asthma was pretty scary sometimes, and inhalers are expensive, so it’s a huge relief to be free of all that!

 

 

My Worst Sensitivities

Photo by DLG Images / www.directline.com via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
Photo by DLG Images / www.directline.com via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

I have huge sensory issues. These are the worst ones:

Smell/Odor

The biggest one is odor sensitivity. This isn’t always negative. I can smell when someone bites into an apple in another room. I can usually tell when something is done baking from the way it smells. I can detect the slightest odor when no one else can, leading people to think I’m imagining things, but the source of the odor is almost always eventually located and I am proven right. My husband jokes that I should get a job as a sniffer dog at the airport.

Unfortunately, as I’m sure you can imagine, this leads to problems as well. I have been known to vomit if I smell excrement, sweat, or food that’s gone even slightly off. I am intensely uncomfortable if I smell cigarette or marijuana smoke. And I am nauseated by the smell of some cooking, especially curry, but also ground beef. Funnily enough, my mom says she was nauseated by the smell of ground beef cooking when she was pregnant with me.

My odor sensitivity is one reason I’m actually glad I’ve never been able to have children. I cannot change diapers or even be near a baby with a full diaper. People say, “It’s different when it’s your own,” but I don’t believe it would be for me, because (and I apologize if this is a rather crude thing to say) sometimes it’s not even different when it actually is my own, if you get my drift. You can imagine how difficult this can make everyday life for me.

I know at least one woman who loathes me and unfriended me on Facebook because I ran outside and threw up when I could smell dirty diapers in the church nursery. She’s one of those people whose life revolves around babies and children, so to encounter someone who is sickened by the smell of their natural functions is a great offense to her. In a way, I can understand. But I can’t help it.

Another problem my odor sensitivity has caused is with my in-laws. I am married to a Brit, and his friends and family always want to go out for “a lovely curry.” Unlike for most Caucasians here in Canada, it seems to be their go-to dining out or take-out choice. But I can’t do it. They say, “You can eat western food while the rest of us have curry,” but I can’t even be present where it’s being cooked or eaten. I will vomit. I have heard my mother-in-law on the phone with her friends talking to them about how weird it is that I don’t like curry, and how it negatively affects their plans.

Taste/Food Texture

I have food taste and texture sensitivities, as well as gastrointestinal issues. For texture, the worst is any kind of fat or gristle in meat, and I am grossed out by anything with bones. (I’m this close to becoming a vegetarian, but that’s a topic for another post.) When I go out, I stick to boneless skinless chicken breasts, shrimp, or white fish. I don’t like fish such as salmon, as it’s too strongly flavoured. At home I will eat roast beef, only if it’s boneless and I’ve cooked it in the slow cooker until it’s very well done and removed all obvious fat.

I don’t like most strongly-flavoured cheeses, and I don’t like spicy food unless it’s Mexican and as long as it’s not overloaded with cumin. In fact, Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines, taste-wise, even though it sometimes gives me a stomach ache. Speaking of stomach aches, I get horrible ones from bananas. I get mild ones from cucumbers and avocados. I like leafy greens, especially spinach, but it goes right through me. I also abhor the taste of coffee and won’t even eat mocha-flavoured desserts.

It is very difficult for me to eat at other people’s homes and I have had very bad experiences as a result. To compound this issue, I am prone to hypoglycemia, so I do need to eat regularly. If I find myself somewhere that has nothing I can tolerate, I can end up in a bad state. I have to try to remember to carry a fast sugar plus a protein bar at all times.

Touch/Tactile

I am sensitive to the feel of some fabrics and fits of clothing. I have hated corduroy my entire life. Touching it creeps me out as badly as nails on a blackboard. I also don’t like velvet or suede. There are others I have an aversion to that I don’t know the name of.

My sensitivity in this area has increased as I’ve gotten older. I used to be able to wear uncomfortable things for the sake of so-called beauty (like pantyhose back when they were still in fashion, or high-heeled shoes), but I can’t do it, or perhaps I’m not willing to do it, anymore.

Now I will only wear soft fabrics, preferably with some stretch in them, and nothing too form-fitting in my abdomen or arms unless it’s very soft and stretchy. In recent years I have shopped almost exclusively at Old Navy because I can always find affordable, comfortable clothing that fits me the way I want it to. I’m sorry if that sounds like a commercial. They’re not paying me to say that. They can if they want to.

I also don’t like physical touch. I remember my parents arguing about this when I was a child. My mom thought I should hug the relatives, and if I didn’t like it, I should get over it, because it’s the kind and loving thing to do. My dad thought I shouldn’t be forced to hug anybody. He doesn’t like hugging either, so that is one thing he’s always understood about me.

My aversion to touch got worse when I was about 7. I remember being cuddled up to my mom and smelling a certain odor coming from her body, and it just grossed me out to the point where I couldn’t touch her after that. I never explained that to her, and I don’t think I should have, but I think she’s since felt hurt by my rejection of her physical touch. Also, around the same age, I somehow came up with the weird idea that if people touched me, they would be able to read my mind, and I didn’t want that. It’s not that my thoughts were bad, it’s just that they were mine.

I no longer believe people can read my mind. Maybe my life would be easier if they could, as my motives would no longer be misunderstood like they often are.

There are exceptions to my aversion to touch. I like touching and being touched by my husband (although there are things I can’t tolerate even with him, like being tickled), and I can hug my closest friends. And I love cuddling with cats, although I can’t always stay in one position for a long time like they want me to.

I have become pretty good at putting on an act, like when I used to attend church, where people hug all the time. I act like it’s okay and like I even enjoy it, but my skin is crawling with revulsion the entire time. And there was this one woman I couldn’t handle hugging because she had really bad body odor, so not only was I repulsed by the touch itself, but I nearly vomited every time she came near me. Then I was terrified of hurting her feelings if she realized I was vomiting because I thought she smelled bad. But then I actually did hurt her feelings because I started avoiding her. She became very aggressive, actually chasing me down and saying, “I’m not going to let you get away without giving me my hug!” (For what it’s worth, I heard her saying that to other people too, so I wasn’t her only target.) It was so horrible, I actually finally had to confess to her that I was uncomfortable with hugs. To my utter horror, she started to cry and she told me about how when she was a child, she desperately wanted someone to hug her and no one did, and that’s the reason it was so important to her to have hugs as an adult.

Immediately after the encounter, I went out to my car and had one of my meltdowns, crying and shaking and gasping for air. I was certain that I was a horrible person who had disappointed God with my lack of love and my callous treatment of one of His people. I felt that I’d be better off staying away from people entirely, instead of being around them and hurting their feelings so badly.

More of my sensitivities are mentioned in my next post.

The Puking Pipeless Pied Piper

Photo by Benjamin Griffiths, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.
Photo by Benjamin Griffiths, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

*Warning: This post may be triggering for those with odor and gag reflex sensitivity.

Through no effort of my own, I seem to be some kind of Pied Piper for cats and dogs. Is this an Autism/Asperger’s thing?

As I mentioned in a previous post, when I was a small child I used to go for walks in the woods with my dog and cats. They would all follow me or walk alongside me completely of their own volition. No leashes or harnesses. This does not seem weird to me, but my mom often brings it up. She says she’s never seen anything like it. She says even other animals would join in sometimes. It was like a fairy tale.

Animals have always appeared to be drawn to me. Dogs I’ve never encountered before get really excited when they see me, as if they already know who I am and think very highly of me. As if I’m some kind of celebrity in the canine world. If I’m with a group of people, I’ll be the one dogs run to.

Photo by Nadir Hashmi, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).
Photo by Nadir Hashmi, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons.

Often I’ve been told things like, “He’s not usually like this with anyone. He was abused before we adopted him and is afraid of new people.” Meanwhile, he’s frantically wagging his tail, jumping all over me, and trying to lick my face.

Photo by Eric Danley via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo has altered from original (slightly cropped).
Photo by Eric Danley via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo was altered from original (slightly cropped).

I’ve even had aggressive dogs calm right down and sit down submissively at my feet. My mom is afraid of dogs because she’s been bitten before, but I have never had a dog act aggressively towards me in my whole life.

Cats are naturally more aloof than dogs, but they like me too. (My cat is cuddled up on me as I type this.) Again, it includes cats who don’t usually warm up to people. I’ve inadvertently pissed people off by somehow managing to be a magnet for a previously feral cat that they’ve just claimed will only come to them. These cats will saunter right up to me and push their head into my hand so I will pet them.

Photo by Peter Stevens via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo was altered from original (cropped).
Photo by Peter Stevens via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo was altered from original (cropped).

A long-time friend who has witnessed this happen to me many times once said that animals sense that I am just completely harmless. But a lot of people are harmless. This seems like something else.

People have often said that I should be working or at least volunteering with animals in some capacity, but I have a problem. I am extremely, cripplingly sensitive to odors. If I so much as get a whiff of excrement or even a wet dog (among many other things), I will vomit. This has caused problems for me many times in life.

I try not to let it happen. At home I keep a bottle of scented oil from The Body Shop nearby so I can immediately get another scent into my nostrils. I try to use mind-over-matter to think of other things and ignore the revulsion. I have a specific song that I quietly sing to myself as a distraction: My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music.

My husband now tries to help me by singing it to or with me when he sees that I’m about to spew. More often than not this is all to no avail and the inevitable happens. If I can’t get away from the smell, I will continue to dry heave even after my stomach has long been emptied, making it impossible to function in any useful capacity.

Obviously there is no way I can volunteer in an animal shelter or start a dog-walking service. I would be useless. It’s hard enough sometimes to have a pet, but our cat brings so much joy to our lives that we work around my issues. Outside of my own home I would not be able to have so much control. The litter box is kept in a storage closet with the door left open just wide enough for our cat to enter. Every time I need to be near the closet door I breathe through my mouth (this doesn’t always work because if the odor is strong enough I will smell it through my mouth too). My husband handles all the litter box and cat puke issues. That was our arrangement before we adopted her and is the only way we can manage having her. If my husband goes away to a conference or something, I have to get someone else to come and scoop the litter box. It is difficult to explain to people why I require this and I know they don’t understand and probably just see me as a fussy princess who finds icky things unpleasant, but it is so much worse than that. It is completely undoable for me. I’m sorry I’m like this. I hate being judged.

I hear about volunteer opportunities for animal lovers and think I would be ideal for them if only it weren’t for my odor sensitivity. I especially love cats and I wish I could handle having more than just one, but more cats mean more odor. I watch kitten cams on Livestream, which I greatly enjoy and find to be quite therapeutic, but it’s not enough. Whenever I hear of homeless or sick cats my heart just aches for them and I wish I could take them in.

Photo by California Chan via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo has been altered from original (cropped).
Photo by California Chan via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons. Photo has been altered from original (cropped).

It’s frustrating to feel or be told that I have some kind of gift with animals and yet not be able to do anything about it. So is this an Autism thing? I mean, I know the sensory issues are, but is the animal-magnet thing? Since I’ve suspected that I have Autism, I am seeing a lot of aspects of my life in a potentially new light.