A Bathtub and Other Stuff


My goodness, is August nearly over already?!  I seriously don’t know where the time goes anymore……and I realize that I’m sounding just like my Grandma used to sound.  Funny how that happens.  I feel like Aaron when he came into the kitchen after we had been into August a day or two.  He saw that my calendar page had been flipped to August and he said, with great surprise, “I didn’t know it was August!  I guess I wasn’t paying attention.  I was still on that July thing!”
Some days I think I’m still on that March or April thing!  Then I walk outside and am hit with these typical Kansas August temperatures.  UGH!  The temperature was 102 today when I took Aaron down to get him a haircut at Great Clips.  His name was called quickly because I had signed him in online.  It’s always nice to be called fast, probably more for me than for Aaron.  I never know what Aaron will say or do while we sit there in that small waiting area……….but I do enjoy the looks on the faces of the others sitting there with us as they try to figure out Aaron.  Good luck with that.  But today he didn’t have time for hardly a word before his name was called.  He stood up and I reminded him to hand me his glasses…….and as always, he stood there and also took off his watch.  He would have also given me his ring if he was wearing it.  I always wonder if the other patrons are waiting for him to remove his shirts and shorts. 
The haircut and beard trim went quickly.  Aaron answered the hair dresser’s questions but didn’t make any conversation today.  I handed the girl his debit card, which she swiped while he was putting on his watch and his glasses.  He signed the receipt, humming his monotone hum the whole time, which made both the hair dresser and me smile.  Then he grabbed a Dum-Dum lollipop from the gift display on the counter while I took the Great Clips pen from his hand before he stuffed it into his pocket.  I know him so well.  But not well enough, because while I finished writing her tip on the receipt, Aaron said that he would be right back as he quickly turned and was out the door before I knew it. 
Oh brother, I thought!  And just as soon as I got to the Great Clips door to leave, Aaron was barreling back inside……all smiles……..telling me that he had tried to open the door of the martial arts studio nearby.  He has asked and asked and asked about that place, so he decided to grab the opportunity and check it out himself.  Too bad it was closed…..for Aaron it was too bad.  Not for the unsuspecting people in there who would have been loudly interrupted if Aaron had been allowed to barge in.  I must remember this the next time Aaron gets his hair cut………or somehow manage to always take him on Sundays, when the martial arts studio is closed!
Aaron has had some intestinal trouble today, which for Aaron nearly always means diarrhea.  Usually he comes up to me and very softly says, “Mom, I have a problem.”  And I nearly always know what he means.  The other day he said, “Mom, the way I pour my cheese, it gives me diarrhea.”  
No, Aaron, it’s the way that you EAT your cheese cubes that gives you diarrhea.  More specifically, the amount you eat…….which is the amount you pour in your bowl.  OK, maybe it IS the way you pour your cheese that gives you diarrhea.  I need to think about that.  He’s usually right, in the long run.  Sorry for the pun.
Speaking of puns and irony, Aaron doesn’t get those at all.  He loves to read the comics, at least a few favorites, every day.  He read this comic in the paper during supper the other night.  I so wish I could describe the conversation between him and Gary as Gary tried to explain it to him.  I should have just grabbed my paper and started taking notes right then.  Aaron totally didn’t get the comic.  I ended up with the remnants of the conversation after supper as Aaron still tried to understand what the bowling pins meant. 
“I get it!” he finally said.  “They’re just gonna ACT like they fell!”
Well, not really, Aaron.  And off I went again, trying to explain it.
“I get it!!” he said again.  “They don’t want to be hit!”
Again I explained.
“I get it!!” the broken record repeated.  And I waited.
“They’ll act like the fell DOWN!!!”
Whatever.  Yes, Aaron!  Hahaha!  Isn’t that funny?!  
He agreed and we were both happy.  Sometimes I just have to come to grips with the fact that he will NOT ever get it…….ever.  And he is happy, so I may as well be, too.
I got him a new set of sheets last week.  He was with me when we found them at Big Lots and he LOVED them.  Cheetah print sheets……….right up Aaron’s alley for sure!  They went very well with his animal print fuzzy blanket that he loves.  I washed the sheets and last Saturday we put them on his bed.  He was very happy.
But not for long.  He came downstairs a couple mornings later and with great disappointment told me that those sheets just didn’t work.  I asked what was wrong with them and off we went into the world of Aaron trying to concretely explain the reason that the sheets didn’t work.   But he just couldn’t do it.  He couldn’t explain what was wrong, even as he used hand gestures and tried to answer my questions.  We went up to his bed and I saw that the top sheet had gone way down, so we fixed it and I hoped for the best.  
The next day it was the same story…..and the next.  He said the side came undone.  He said the sheet was too big.  He said it was the leopard part that didn’t work……although I thought they were cheetah, but I didn’t say that.  It was already too confusing.  I told him that I thought the texture of the sheets made them slick.  “Yeah!!” he agreed.  “They slick off of me!!”  There!  We had it!
Finally on Wednesday we just took the top sheet totally off and put on another top sheet.  However, the bottom fitted sheet kept wrinkling up……and with Aaron’s tactile issues, this wasn’t working.  It was a HUGE relief yesterday to take the sheets completely off and make his bed with a tried and true pair of sheets that I know will work.  The cheetah/leopard sheets are cleaned and nicely folded, waiting for the next donation pick-up.  
Lots of other things happened this week.  Let’s see……he stubbed his toes, but they’re OK.  Aaron goes on and on when something like that happens, wanting to talk it to death and figure out every aspect of his stubbed toes.  He finally pointed to his toes and said, “Mom, it was just these two toes.  Have you hit your few toes before?”
I assured him that I have indeed hit my few toes before and it sure felt like I had hit LOTS of toes.  And he understood that and he agreed.
Wheel of Fortune finished up their Spa Week.  Aaron was very interested in just what a spa is and what one does at a spa.  He finally felt like he had a handle on it…….unlike the bowling ball comic……and couldn’t wait to share his understanding with me.
“Mom!  A spa is where they get in a bathtub and other stuff!”
I wonder if I want to know what the other stuff is.
And I have just written about a lot of “other stuff” that has been our week with Aaron.  I could write a lot more “other stuff” but I should stop here…..for your sake.  I always have more stuff, trust me, after each day with Aaron.
Tomorrow we start a new week.  New ups.  New downs.  New stuff.
Here goes!

The Nightie……..Retold

 

While in Wal-Mart the other day, I noticed that they are in full Valentine’s Day mode.  Candy, cards, flowers, clothing………..which sends a little shiver up my spine.  Not because I’m so wild about all the Valentine’s Day commercialism, but because of what happened when I was in Wal-Mart with Aaron several years ago.  I decided to share this story again because I realize that many of you haven’t read about that little incident.  Plus it’s good therapy for me to write about it……to let it out.  I’m actually not in therapy, but after reading this story you may think that I should be.

 

Aaron and I did our typical entrance into Wal-Mart on that particular day…….which means that Aaron stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the crossing as we headed to the entrance.  He then held out both arms, like a policeman stopping traffic, which garnered all sorts of attention and stares.  I told him to stop like I always did, and he told me that he just wanted to be sure the cars stopped, like he always did.

 

Once in the store entrance, while I got a cart, I looked over and saw Aaron staring up at the security camera.  He had a huge smile on his face and was flashing the peace sign with both hands, while I’m sure the security personnel were busily trying to ascertain Aaron’s threat level.  Oh brother.  I whisked him on into the store, where I gave him the list of do’s and don’ts as he decided to head by himself to the video section.  It was mostly don’ts.

 

Aaron, don’t make the passing gas sound.  And you know why.  People think it’s you passing gas for real, or worse yet, when I’m with you they think it’s ME.  No, it’s not funny.

 

And no fox whistles.  That could get you in some trouble with boyfriends and husbands.

 

And lastly, as he took off down the aisle, I told him not to run.  There he went, walking briskly with both arms swinging furiously and his rear end swaying back and forth.  Quite a sight.

 

I picked up a few things and then headed over to electronics to pick up Aaron.  He was going with me to the grocery section.  I saw him looking at videos, and after a brief look at whatever new movie he wanted, I took off down the center aisle with Aaron close behind.   I wasn’t paying much attention to what was displayed beside us as we walked………right there on the side of that main aisle.

 

Valentine nighties.  Lots and lots of little nighties.  Red ones……black ones…….animal print ones.  Some with feathers, even, and others with sequins.  My internal alarms should have gone off.  You see, Aaron is attracted to the unusual……..and these tiny nighties were most unusual to him.  But no, I was focusing on peanut butter and tea bags and frozen mixed vegetables…….not on little, very interesting Valentine nighties.

 

But Aaron noticed them.  Oh yes, he did!  Something else I didn’t notice was that Aaron had lagged behind me……..quite a ways behind me.  Suddenly I heard his unmistakable loud voice saying, “MOM!”

 

I turned around in the middle of that very wide aisle full of very many people…….and there stood Aaron, a huge smile on his face……..and holding up a little tiger print nightie.  A very tiny tiger print nightie.  Things seemed in slow motion from that point forward.

 

“MOM!” he repeated.  “YOU NEED THIS!!!!”

 

I just stood there, sure that most of the people passing me were thinking, “No, young man.  Your mom does NOT need that.”

 

I wished that I was Korah.  You remember Korah, of Old Testament fame, who sinned against God and was swallowed up by the earth as punishment.  I would have welcomed that.

 

But there was no escaping my large, very happy Aaron standing there holding this unique very tiny tiger nightie way up high for me and all the other hundreds of people there to see.  OK, there weren’t hundreds but I sure felt like there were.  What could I do but tell him to hang it up, and turn and walk once again toward the groceries?  I couldn’t wait to stick my head in amongst the frozen vegetables to cool my flaming face.

 

Aaron couldn’t understand my embarrassment at all.  He thought that this was a very funny moment but not awkward.  Why wouldn’t mom want to look at this cool tiger print little thing?  I just told him to trust me on this, and I was very thankful when we were headed home.

 

No way was I going to tell him that I liked the red one with the feathers better.

 

Are We Having Fun Yet?

Gary’s military career took us to many places over the years.  Many of our family were able to come visit us in the various places that we lived, including Germany.  Fort Huachuca, Arizona, was our last assignment before Gary retired.  We had lots of family and several friends that were able to come and spend some time with us while we were there, but one trip will always stand out as the trip like none other……….the trip that no one would want to re-live.
Our military housing on Fort Huachuca, Arizona
My mom and dad came out to see us in October of that particular year.  October in Arizona is usually a great time to travel because it’s not too hot and not too cold.  Since Dad didn’t like to fly, they drove for several days across country, all the way from southern West Virginia to southern Arizona.  Mom and Dad enjoyed traveling, so the long drive didn’t bother them.  They had decided to just take their time and enjoy each day.
Our backyard view –  Fort Huachuca, Arizona
Now my mother, years prior to this trip, had been diagnosed with a very rare form of colitis.  She would go for rather long periods of time with no problems, and such was the case before they left for this long vacation trip to Arizona.  She had been fine, so she didn’t even think about bringing any of her prescription medicine.  However, on the long drive across the country she began having problems with her colitis.  As soon as they arrived at our place, later that evening, Mom pulled me aside and told me that she would need to go the emergency room the next day to be checked and to see if she could get some of her medicine.  It really wasn’t a big deal, she assured me, and so I wasn’t alarmed.
The following day, I took her and Dad to the ER in the town of Sierra Vista.  She was examined and plans were made to get her unusual prescription filled there in town for her rare form of colitis.  This would take some time, though, so in the meantime the doctor gave her something else to take.  In addition, they noticed that her blood pressure was high……….so the doctor said that she would need to come back the next day to have that checked as well.
Over the next several days, we juggled Mom’s ER visits with our day trips around southern Arizona.  There is so much to see and do there, and they didn’t want to waste a minute.  Mom’s colitis, though, was not getting any better but was actually worsening.  And her blood pressure was still an issue, so back and forth we would go to the ER to have her checked.  We were also dealing with Aaron’s seizures and behaviors……but despite it all, we were having a great time as we saw the sights and went on picnics and enjoyed time together.
One day I drove us all up through the Coronado National Forest.  We ended up at the top, at Montezuma Pass, where we looked out over the gorgeous view.  On the way back to the van from the overlook, there was just a tiny little incline with very small rocks on the ground.  Dad usually took hold of Mom’s arm to help her in an area like that, but this time she had gone on by herself.  Before we knew it, she slid on those tiny rocks and fell down.  We rushed over to help her up, and she assured us that she was fine………except that her lower leg hurt.  As we drove down off the mountain, I heard her tell Dad that her leg really hurt and that she thought she should go back to the ER to have it checked.   Now Dad, who was the sweetest husband ever, proceeded to tell Mom that her leg was fine and that she did not need to go to the ER.  At this point, they had been to the ER so many times that some of the staff knew them by name.  Dad was hoping that their ER days were over, but it was not to be.
Coronado National Forest
As soon as I dropped the kids off at our house and left them with Gary, I drove Mom and Dad back to the now very familiar emergency room.  Dad and I waited while Mom was X-rayed…….and then we were both shocked when the doctor walked out to tell us that Mom’s lower bone in her leg was broken.  Broken?  Are you sure, we asked?  Yes, we’re sure, he answered.  So Mom’s leg was put in a splint, and we were instructed to be seen by a certain ortho doctor on Monday.  This was Friday, so we had the weekend to wait.  And now Mom couldn’t walk……..and her colitis was bad, which meant frequent and VERY fast trips to the bathroom.  Oh dear.
We also, for some reason that I have forgotten, could not get a wheelchair at that time.  So we would put Mom in Gary’s desk chair with wheels, and we would roll her quickly around our quarters to the bathroom when the need would hit…….which as I said, was often.  VERY often.
We also had another little complication on this ever more interesting vacation trip.  Remember that we lived in military quarters.  When the housing authorities decide to make repairs on your quarters, they don’t typically ask if they can make said repairs.  They TELL you when they are making the repairs, and you deal with it.  Before Mom and Dad’s trip, we were told that there would be a certain project that would start on such and such a day on our house.  Just a small project…………putting on a new roof.  Oh, and since they were fairly certain that there was asbestos in the old roof that would be removed, we would need to make plans to be gone from our house on that day.  Gone…….as in gone ALL day……so as to avoid the asbestos.
You can probably guess that the day of the roof removal was on that Monday……….the Monday that Mom was scheduled to go get her broken leg put in a cast.  I had planned a full day trip to Mexico for all of us so we could do what the contractors told us to do……..which was to be gone………..and so we could avoid the nasty asbestos……….and so we could show my parents Mexico and we could shop and we could eat and we could have so much fun.  Instead, we were trapped in our house with Mom in a rolling chair with her leg stuck straight out, careening up the hall like crazy people to take her to the bathroom……and contractors at our door bright and early, asking us when we were leaving.  I explained that we were NOT leaving, and these Mexicans were trying to understand until they saw Mom……….and then they knew.  So they instructed us to keep our windows closed and good luck.
Dad and I got Mom to the doctor, and she came home with a nice new cast…….and still with her colitis, as strong as ever.  I don’t even remember how high her blood pressure was at this point, but I’m pretty sure that Dad’s and mine was right up there with Mom’s.  At least now we also had a wheelchair, and so life was a little easier……..except that our quarters weren’t exactly big enough, especially the bathroom doors, for a wheelchair.  Boy oh boy!
The Mexicans were working on the roof and we had our windows closed, but we noticed the dark clouds that were rolling in over the mountains.  Surely not.  It couldn’t be threatening rain in Arizona in October.  Not with our roof off………not with Mom in a wheelchair and a cast.  Soon our doorbell rang, and one of the Mexican men stood there rapidly firing off his mixture of Spanish and English.  I knew enough to know that he was telling me that they were hurrying as fast as they could to beat the rain, but that most of the roof was still not rain-ready.  And as we stood there, they also told us to move our vehicles because they were spreading tar on the flat roof………and the wind was whipping up because of the approaching storm.  So now we had very little roof and we had blowing tar.  Yes, blowing tar.  The tar didn’t get on our vehicles that we moved, but it blew all over our yard and carport……..and it seeped into our storage room………..and it got tracked all over the inside of the house.
Then the rain came………a hard, blowing rain.  The workers all left………..and we were left with drips coming out of our ceiling all over our quarters.  We used trash cans and buckets and bowls to catch the water.  Which meant that now we had Mom with a broken leg in a cast and with colitis………bad colitis, remember………being pushed quickly up the hall to the bathroom while dodging buckets and bowls and trash cans……….and somehow making it with our help to the toilet.  Soon after this rain fiasco started, I heard Mom in the bathroom laughing.  There she sat on the toilet, with steady drips of water landing right on her head.  Well, at least it was one drip that didn’t need a bucket.  We just kept the toilet lid up to catch the drips, and handed Mom a towel to hold on her head whenever she had to go.
The next day the workers returned and I tell you no lie………the same thing happened.  It rained yet again!  We had to laugh at this point.  I was so thankful for Mom and Dad’s good attitude, especially Mom’s.  Dad was getting a little stressed, of course, as he worried about her and wondered how on earth they were going to get home to West Virginia.  Finally, the decision was made.  My sister, Jan, flew out to Arizona in order to ride home with them.  I picked her up in Phoenix, and on the drive down to Fort Huachuca she asked if I could stop to let her use the bathroom.  On down the road a short way, she asked me once again to stop.  When she got back in the car, I asked if she was OK……..and she sheepishly said that her colitis had flared up.  OH NO!!!!!  She made me promise not to tell Mom and Dad, and she said the next day that she was fine……….and off Mom, Dad, and Jan went to drive back to West Virginia.
From what Jan told us, the drive back across country was pretty much a nightmare.  One day she told me that she stopped counting at 27 the number of times they stopped for Mom’s colitis attacks.  Many bathrooms were not wheelchair accessible.  Some hotels didn’t have any handicap rooms available.  It took at least 5 days to get home………..maybe more………..neither of us can remember.  I do know that Jan said by the time they got home, Dad was totally exhausted and he looked grey.  Poor Mom was wiped out………pardon the pun, but she would totally love that.
But things were not over.  Nope, not by a long shot.  When they got back home, Mom ended up in the hospital with pneumonia!  Yes……..colitis, broken leg, and now pneumonia.  But wait……….there’s more.  While in the hospital with pneumonia, she developed a blood clot and had an embolism.  She was in the best place for that to happen, although it was still a miracle that she didn’t die.  Of all things, this was her second embolism.  She had one years earlier after toe surgery.  She must be some sort of statistical miracle for sure!
This long story is just to show that through it all……….through this absolutely horrible vacation……….Mom and Dad stayed calm and strong.  Especially Mom.  Her strong will and her sense of humor kicked in, and she never acted like she was down or distressed.  She joked about everything and made the whole situation easier.
And most of all, as she lay in that hospital bed after the embolism, she said that God comforted her by giving her the verse that became her verse.  I wrote about that verse yesterday.  Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.”  She said she lay there and just let her mind dwell on that verse.  She knew that God was in charge of all this craziness, and in charge of her health………..and that if she died, it would be fine………..and if not, then she would remember that He is God.
Tomorrow is Mom’s 87th birthday.  She has Alzheimer’s and has forgotten more than she remembers now.   I bet she can’t remember that disaster of a vacation…….and maybe that’s best.  But I’m thankful that the rest of us can think of it and remember what a testimony she was through it all.
We love you, Mom!  And we think of what you always said when you had these colitis episodes……”It’ll all come out OK in the end.”   HaHaHa!  That’s my Mom!

 

Is It Dusk?

For several days before the Fourth of July holiday, Aaron had asked if we could go to see some fireworks.  Gary and I decided to drive over to our little town of Goddard to watch the fireworks show there, and so I told Aaron this news on the morning of the fourth.  He was matter-of-fact about it, not showing great excitement but still indicating that he was happy about going to see the fireworks. 
 
We had a laid-back kind of day, not hurrying or rushing about anything.  Aaron asked a few times during the day if we could take our Great Dane, Jackson, for a walk around our neighborhood circle……..but I told him no because the temperature was in the mid-90’s, and big old black Jackson doesn’t handle the heat very well.  We had a late supper, and afterwards Aaron again asked if we could walk Jackson.  This time I said I wasn’t sure because I really wanted to clean the kitchen before we went to see the fireworks.
 
“What time are the fireworks?” Aaron asked as he looked at the clock.  He was hoping that we would have time for that walk.  I told him that the fireworks didn’t start at a set time, but that the paper said they would start at dusk.  And thus began the questions from Aaron……questions about dusk………that nebulous time of evening that has no set time.  If you know much at all about Aaron, you know that he loves exact, set times.  For instance, that very morning he slept late and when he finally lumbered downstairs, the first thing he said was, “Mom!  I slept til 9:23!”
 
So Aaron wanted dusk to have a time.  He wanted me to tell him something like, “Well, Aaron, dusk begins at 9:16.”  When Gary and I finished cleaning the kitchen, I went up to tell Aaron to get ready to leave for the fireworks.  He replied, “So can we take Jackson for a walk before we go?”  I told him no, that we didn’t have time, and he once again asked, “So what time do the fireworks start?”  I reminded him that they started at dusk and he asked again, “When does dusk start?” 
 
Aaron, dusk starts……….well, dusk is when it’s just starting to get dark.   And again he asked, “So what time is that?”  As I walked down the hall, I turned and over my shoulder told him that I wasn’t sure but that it was pretty soon and so get ready!  And we were only beginning.   I will put Aaron’s comments in italics for the rest of this blog.
 
We piled our chairs into the van, grabbed water bottles…….and Aaron brought his two jars of peanuts…..and off we went.  We had barely started driving when we heard Aaron.
 
Is it dusk yet?  No, Aaron, it’s not dusk yet. 
 
When will it be dusk?  In a little while, Aaron.  We drove on, talking about this and that while Aaron made sure that his CD was loud enough for him to hear.  Then we heard……..So when is dusk?  It won’t be long, Aaron. 
 
We found the perfect spot to set up our chairs, and we settled in with our water……..and Aaron with his peanuts………..and he turned to us with,  So is this dusk?  No, Aaron, it’s not dusk yet.
 
Then how long until it’s dusk?  Not long, Aaron.  Just enjoy the people’s fireworks that we can see around us.
 
So they’re doing fireworks.  Does that mean it’s dusk?
 
No, they’re just doing fireworks in their yards. 
 
A short time went by while Aaron drank some water and crunched peanuts.  But to Aaron, the time seemed to be going very slowly.  When is it dusk?
Soon, Aaron, soon.  Look at those cool fireworks that those people are setting off over there! 
 
Will dusk be soon? 
 
Look at those fireworks!  And then Aaron wanted to know if the neighbor’s fireworks were THEM…….the fireworks that we had come to see………at dusk.
 
Are those them?  Nope, those are just some fireworks that people are doing in their yards.
 
So it’s dusk?  Not yet.
 
Then why are they setting off fireworks if it’s not dusk? 
 
Because they don’t need to wait until dusk.
 
Dusk is soon, right? 
 
Trust me Aaron……….it can’t come soon enough.
 
Are those them?!  No, not yet. 
 
But isn’t it dusk?
 
Well……yes…..it’s kinda dusk, I guess.
 
I thought you said the fireworks started at dusk!
 
Aaron, they didn’t give a TIME……..a PRECISE TIME!!!! 
 
There was quietness for awhile……….a little talk about the small dog that was on a leash…….about the little children that toddled past…………Is it dusk?
 
Gary and I were exchanging glances, halfway amused and halfway frustrated…………wondering how much longer Aaron could wait for dusk.  Even though it was actually becoming quite dark, we would NOT tell him that dusk had passed.  Not in a million years!!
 
When is dusk?  Oh, how I wished I hadn’t even mentioned the word DUSK!!!! 
 
I don’t think they’re going to start at dusk.
 
Just enjoy the music, Aaron.  Just enjoy the people, Aaron.  Just enjoy your peanuts, Aaron.  Just enjoy your water, Aaron.  Just enjoy something OTHER THAN DUSK!!!!!!!
 
Finally, finally, FINALLY, the national anthem played and then the beautiful fireworks started.  Aaron enjoyed them but he wasn’t as exuberant as I hoped he would be after the long wait.  I think this waiting for dusk business had taken a toll………had superseded the fun.
 
When the fireworks were over, Aaron hopped out of his chair, grabbed his water bottles and peanuts, and walked quickly to the van.  He came……he waited……he saw……he left.
 
At least on the way home there was NO mention of dusk!
 
Mom, can we take Jackson on a walk tomorrow?
 

 

I almost told him that maybe we would walk tomorrow…….at dusk.  But I didn’t dare!
 

Depressed? Feeling Sad?

 

Yesterday I drove Aaron to McConnell Air Force Base for a doctor visit.  He loves this time together.  We listen to music and there is much for Aaron to see and to talk about with mom…….who can’t go anywhere else but in the driver’s seat right beside him as he talks and talks and talks.  He talked about road construction and house remodeling that we passed; he talked about trucks that we passed; he talked about the purpose of U-Hauls; he talked about RVs and what they are and what they’re for and what they look like inside and do they have a bathroom and can we get one to take on our next trip back east; he talked about storage buildings and what people do with them and he remembered our storage building in Arizona; he talked about the guards at the gate going on to the air base and why they have to check our ID cards; he talked about all the planes that we passed at the airfield and why are they here and what kind of fuel do they use; and he even talked about the beer bottle he saw on the ground beside us at a stop light!  My ears were very weary by the time we opened the van doors and walked into the clinic.
 
I had already told Aaron in the van, after he made his famous farting noise with his mouth, that I did not want him making ANY noises when we got  in the clinic.  “OK,” he said……..and then made his other famous “POP” noise with his mouth.  “And not that noise, either!” I added.  And as always, he questioned, “Isn’t that better than the farting noise?”………and I reminded him that I said NO noises – farting, popping, or otherwise.
Check-in went smoothly and I was thankful that our name was called quickly.  After his weigh-in, we were ushered into the exam room by the little medic who looked like she might have been all of 12 years old.  She was sizing Aaron up, I could tell.  Aaron sat on the exam table and promptly began to take his shirt off and to tell her about the rash under his arm.  Our little medic was looking a little shocked, and I was telling Aaron to just keep his shirt on………but he was having none of that.  He was ready to get down to business, much like he does when he plows into Great Clips to see if he can get his hair cut, with me walking behind him as he practically yells out, “Can I get my hair cut!!??” 
So now his shirt was off and the little medic was a little flustered, but Aaron was already well into his story of the rash under his arm……….as he held his arm up high for our little medic to observe.  And she certainly could, since she was seated conveniently on the rash side.  I finally got Aaron to hush while our little medic collected herself and began to fill out the required paperwork.  She was struggling somewhat with whether to ask me the questions, or direct them to Aaron.  Finally, she got beyond the queries about phone numbers and the meds that Aaron takes.  She looked at me and began saying, “How would you rate…..” and then she finished the question by looking at Aaron……”your pain level?”
 
Aaron was absolutely delighted to have a question aimed at himself.  He had been chomping at the bit, waiting for this very opportunity…….and before I could even part my lips, he had launched into his answer.  “Well!!” he bellowed, “it hurts when I use soap on it!!”  Our little medic grinned and was trying to decide how to put this answer on her chart……and I’m quite sure that Aaron was hoping that she would tell him that he no longer needed to put soap under his arm, as taking a shower and actually using soap is not one of Aaron’s favorite priorities in life.
 
She glanced at the next question and then turned to Aaron……..not to me……..and asked the mental health question that is always asked at these military medical visits.  “Are you depressed or do you feel sad?” she asked Aaron, as he sat there grinning and wide-eyed at this attention.  Even I wanted to hear this answer, so I sat back in my chair and relaxed as Aaron pondered this unusual question.  But of course he had an answer!  “Well,” he said, “I’m tired of all this!!”  I had to laugh, for my own mental health, and our little medic was even beginning to enjoy this.  I have no earthly idea what she wrote on his chart, but now she was ready to ask the last question.
 
She turned again to look at Aaron as she asked, “So how would you describe your overall health?”  He didn’t even skip a beat as he answered, “Well, sometimes I have to blow my nose!”  I was seriously thinking that I would have to leave the room as I was about to explode with laughter.  I do believe that our little medic was wishing that she had more questions to ask.  She was relaxed and totally enjoying Aaron’s answers, especially as he expounded on the nose blowing comment by explaining that he doesn’t really blow his nose, but he wipes it on a towel that he keeps for that purpose and Mom doesn’t want him to do that………..right, Mom?……….but that it’s a towel he uses in his room, and on and on and on.  But it was time for our little medic to leave, and soon the PA and the doctor came…….which gave Aaron more opportunity to talk and to be listened to and to answer more questions, as I watched the PA and the doctor smile (they know Aaron) and try to follow his rabbit trails.
 
And all the while, as we waited for people to come and go from the exam room, Aaron had his eyes on the automatic paper towel dispenser by the sink.  He had talked to me about it and how much he liked those and did I know how they worked……….and I told him NOT to get off that table and go over there to get a paper towel that he did NOT need.  Soon it was time to go and Aaron was putting his shirt on.  I was intent upon looking at the PA and talking to her, when I heard a sound…………brrrrrrrrrrr. 
 
Yes, of course it was the towel dispenser.  Aaron made a beeline for it and was very happily holding the brown towel when I turned toward him with my mother look, and with an apology to the PA.  But she was laughing and said it was just fine, and Aaron probably would have held up his hand to get another towel if I hadn’t stopped him with my threatening look. 
 
Soon we were back in the safety of the van, where I let out a huge sigh and Aaron launched into his next list of topics.  “Mom, you know those little interviews they show before movies start?”  he asked. 
 
Yes, Aaron…….trailers.  He totally disregarded the trailer comment as he talked about seeing an interview for Iron Man 3…….”Can I see that movie, Mom?”   And the movie, Lincoln…….”I don’t know if I want to see that one.”  And of course, “Mom, can I see the Texas Chain Saw Massacre?” 
 
No, Aaron, you cannot see the Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
 
He shifted gears in his talking and said, “Mom, the other day when Katie was driving me home she asked me something and I said, ‘OK, babe!’, and she told me not to say that.”  So we discussed why he should not call women “babe” and what it means to respect someone and why the term “babe” is not showing respect………and before I knew it, we were home. 
 
I tell you, only Aaron can make a simple doctor visit into one adventure after another just by his conversations and his observations.  When we got home, and he was finished with his talking and went up to his room, I had some time to breathe and to collect myself. 
 
How would I answer the question on this day…………the question about whether I’m depressed or sad?  I worry about Aaron at times, and I get aggravated or embarrassed at times……but my goodness, he makes me laugh!  And laughter is good medicine for body and heart and soul. 
 
I wonder if our little medic thought of Aaron later that evening after work?  I hope she’s still smiling, too, and has a new insight into all the special people that will cross her path. 
 

Aaron’s good at that!   

The Church Visit

As a person with Asperger’s, Aaron often demonstrates the social impairments that accompany this form of autism.  The social protocols that most of us possess are foreign to Aaron, no matter how many hundreds of times Gary and I have tried to drill these niceties into his brain.  When these social impairments are combined with his interest in the unusual, it can be a sure recipe for embarrassment…………not his…………but mine and Gary’s, or Andrea and Andrew’s.

When we made our many military moves, we would visit churches as we tried to find the “home” church that God would want us to join and be a part of during our stay in that area.  We visited a church one Sunday morning when Aaron was a teenager.  Arriving a little later than we had planned to, we found that all the back rows were already full.  Trust me, a back row for us with Aaron was most definitely preferred!  However, on this particular Sunday we had to choose a pew near the front of the church.  This situation made us very uncomfortable as we spent a good portion of the services making sure that Aaron was happily occupied, was being quiet, didn’t make multiple bathroom trips, etc.

We already felt conspicuous as visitors…………..Aaron only added to that feeling for us.  Oh well……..we just smiled and went to the front, sitting down and hoping for the best.  Things were progressing smoothly as the worship service continued.  Suddenly, during one of the songs, there was a commotion near the back of the church – on the side where we sat.  An older woman had collapsed and her family gathered around her to help.  We all sat down and soon an ambulance was called.  The congregation was led in prayer for her as everyone waited for the ambulance and EMTs to arrive.

Aaron thought that all of this was very exciting indeed.  In fact, this was the most interesting church service he had attended in a long time……….probably ever!  Gary and I realized that he was becoming a little too exhilerated over this unusual turn of events, so we went into “Calm Aaron” mode.  We tried to redirect him from straining to look behind him at the action in the rear pews.  We rubbed his back, which he loved and which always calmed him.  We whispered an explanation to him of what was occurring as he kept asking…….loudly…….”WHAT?  What’s going on?  What happened?”

Realizing that no one in this church knew us or knew Aaron made us even more aware of how odd Aaron must have looked to everyone around us.  We reached a point where I do believe we would have just gotten up and left if we were near an exit, but this wasn’t an option to us at that point without being very disruptive.  Aaron, as usual, wasn’t displaying the proper responses to this tense situation.  He didn’t care about the poor woman who had collapsed.  He didn’t care about her very worried family members.  He definitely didn’t care about his very embarrassed parents or sister or brother.  He was excited!  Here was a situation that grabbed his attention and peaked his interest!

Aaron’s eyes were darting here and there as he anticipated the arrival of the ambulance crew.  When they finally came, they seemed to fill the front of that small church as they entered a side door.  Naturally, they ended up walking right in front of and then beside our pew.  Now Aaron had moved beyond excitement to being absolutely thrilled.  When Aaron is beside himself with excitement, he bends over at the waist and rubs his hands together.  And so there in the pew, as all eyes were on the EMTs pushing the stretcher right beside US, Aaron bent over at the waist………….rubbed his hands together rapidly…………..and said………….loudly, of course…………”COOL!!!!!”

Cool?   Did Aaron really just say, loudly, that this was cool?  Now Gary and I were in “Shut Aaron Up” mode.  We were beyond embarrassed……….more like horrified………and felt that we should stand and offer a public apology before slinking out the nearest exit.  I’m surprised that one of us didn’t have a stroke and have to be hauled out on a stretcher, too.

Well, we all survived.  The dear woman who passed out was fine after a brief hospital stay.  Gary and I recovered as well, as did Andrea and Andrew………….though it took the siblings a little longer.  As for Aaron……..he never did see the problem with his reaction, so he had absolutely nothing to recover from.  He rehashed and rehashed the entire story many, many times……….complete with bending over at the waist and rubbing his hands together.  This was, to him, a church service worth remembering!  It was for us, too, but for very different reasons than for Aaron.

And for once, we had no problem the following week with getting Aaron out the door to church.  He couldn’t wait to go back to that church to see what would happen next!

Four or Forty Tops?

Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome often become fixated on certain areas of interest.  This is also called “perseverating.”  When Aaron demonstrates this behavior, we call it:  “Oh good grief!  What’s Aaron stuck on now?!”

On our recent trip back east, he took his CD player with him along with some favorite CDs as well as some CDs he hadn’t listened to often or ever.  He loves oldies music and so when he started listening to The Four Tops CD he was captivated.  Over and over he played certain songs, and over and over he stared at their picture inside the front cover.  I had to look at it; Gary had to look at it – and we had to listen to Aaron talk and talk about The Four Tops.  At one point he said, “I love The Forty Tops!”  I told him that if they were The Forty Tops then they would be a choir.  He thought this was “quite funny,” as he says.

 

He observed that The Four Tops wear “shiny church shoes” and because of the tapping on one of the songs he’s just sure that they are tap dancing.  Somehow I can’t see The Four Tops tap dancing, but I could be wrong.  Bing Crosby, maybe, but The Four Tops?  Anyway, he wanted to know their names and so I looked that up on my tablet as we drove.  Then he wanted me to write their names beside their picture that he stared at on the inside cover, which required me to log onto Wikipedia and compare faces with names, etc.  I felt like I was doing a research paper!  Aaron was becoming happier by the minute as he gathered more info – or as MOM gathered more info!

In a moment of brilliance, I suggested that we check out YouTube to see some Four Tops videos.  I did that, and he was enthralled, but the video kept stopping and Aaron kept getting disappointed – which can lead to Aaron becoming frustrated – which we don’t want!  So I rescued my tablet and told him he could log onto his computer at home for the YouTube segment of our Four Tops education.  And true to form, as soon as we were home Aaron was on YouTube watching the singing and dancing Four Tops.  At supper that night, he educated Andrea on all he had learned about The Four Tops, whether she wanted to hear it or not.  She was shown the picture with the names printed, heard about their shiny shoes with which they certainly tap dance, and was told that The Four Tops twirl when they dance.

And Aaron wonders why The Four Tops sing about girls all the time, and things like love, and he cracks up when they sing about staring at the girl’s picture and kissing it a thousand times – or something like that.  In his literal mind, this is beyond comprehension.  And again, why do these guys keep singing about girls and love anyway?!  So this morning as we drove to his group, he did NOT forget to bring The Four Tops CD to the van.  When he heard them sing the phrase “I get all choked up,” he declared, “Well, that’s weird!  Why are they doing that?”  I asked him to tell me what he thinks “all choked up” means and he said, “You know – that coughing thing!!”  Whereupon I nearly became “all choked up” as I tried not to laugh!  And I will try very hard not to “choke HIM up” when he returns home today and we have to talk about all of this all over again!!