Thursday, September 20, 2012

Autism and A Story

My OCD self is kickin in. Yesterday was all about pedicures and manicures. I once again have fingernails that extend beyond the tips of my fingers and are a deep red color. I wasn't at all impressed with the skill of this nail tech. My finger tips look like paddles. Not enough filing done on the sides and the nails do not look enough like my natural nails as they should. I'll be on the hunt for a new nail tech when it's time to get refills on these.
Luxurious Nails is a chain of stores locally owned and operated by a family from Baton Rouge. Two operators were on duty when I opened the glass doors and stepped into their shop. The walls were painted a soft yellow/gold, rough barely beige tile covered the floors and two large white round columns reached upward to the ceiling. The walls were adorned with frameless paintings of scenes that were obviously Roman inspired and hung on iron decorative rods around the room.
The wall to the right sported 8 large deep brown  recliners with foot baths and a small stool for the nail tech to sit while the pedicure was being done. The left wall was lined with small manicure tables; a chair on each side, one for the client and one for the tech. From the ceiling hung chandeliers of rusty looking iron with white glazed globes shedding a soft light into the room.
I was directed to a recliner where the nail tech had filled the foot bath with warm water and a blue cube of something that turned the water the same shade of blue.
There were two other clients being served and only two nail techs so I knew I was in for some "relaxing" time until I was attended to.
My attention was drawn to one of the clients. A long lean woman, a dark tan and a blond pixie haircut that glimmered beneath the rusty chandelier overhead, she watched closely as her fingernails were being painted. The shorts she worn were shorter then what is usually seen on a woman her age, the LSU warmup jacket was tied around her waist by the sleeves. As she stood up after her hands were done, an athletes stance was assumed. You know that stance. The one where they stand forward onto the ball of their feet and look as though they are ready to sprint forward. Their walk is like a dance, light and springy. Her legs were muscled firm, not bulging. Either a runner or a swimmer I guessed.
She  danced across the floor to the chair beside me and submerged her feet in her own bath of blue warm water.
I've been struggling with what to do with my hair and now that all the color has been cut off and I have it al natuarele, I'm debating if I want to have blond high lights done or maintain the salt and pepper look I have going on right now. My goal is to do as little as possible; maintenance free would be wonderful.
I smiled as Ms. Athlete sat down beside me and broached a question "Do you mind me asking, is that your natural hair color?" Just a note to say, I have never felt as though asking this question has ever offended anyone. Maybe if she was a much younger lady and trying to pass off her hair color as 'natural' but usually the response I get is positive. I'm not an obtuse person and can immediately perceive if someone is uncomfortable with a question I have asked.
She laughed and said "Good Lord, no. My hair is mostly white and has been since I was in my early thirties".  We discussed her hair dresser, my reason for inquiring and she was very friendly and open. She watched and  laughed  as I squirmed when the nail tech got close to my feet with the nail file. I cannot tolerate that part of the pedicure and opted to pass on getting them smoothed with the file.
As the pedicure progressed, both hers and mine, she bought out a cell phone and rifled through the pictures. When she got to a picture of her son, taken on a prior visit to this shop she turned the phone so that the nail tech doing my feet could see the picture and said "this was the last time C****** was here in this shop."
The nail tech acknowledged seeing him and she offered the picture to me to view.
A young man of 20 yrs faced the camera. Tall and thin and dark of hair, his head bowed down, I could make out his facial features even from the angle the picture was shot.She said "he's a special needs child".
I hesitated now. Should I just nod and smile and leave this alone?  Judging from her demeanor, I moved along and asked about his special needs. Softly she spoke about his Autism and  fifteen years ago when he was diagnosed at the age of five. Then living abroad  with her husband and how she left her husband to his job while she flew back to the States with this only child when she realized some thing was not quite right with him. How she was in denial after the first visit with the doctors and for the next years both her and her husband searched and searched for answers to this child's behavior. How when she finally went again to another doctor, both her and her husband were inquiring about what to expect for the kind of life her son would have.
She said, tears in her eyes, that the conversation was going along calmly until she looked down to the desk where his papers laid and in black and white, his diagnosis was printed. He was labeled. This label would follow him for the rest of his life and the full reality slammed into her. She looked at her husband and the doctor and excused herself from the room. She went to the ladies room and hyperventilated. The tears streamed from her azure colored eyes as she looked up at me from her chair where I stood, on my way to select a pretty color for my nails.
The nail techs stayed away and let her talk. She told of all the research she had done, the support groups and the doctors, the anorexic condition of her son and his dramatic weight loss this year. She fears he will die from failure to thrive. Feeding tubes are being used back "East" for these patients but the doctors here refuse to consider putting a feeding tube in him.
Her house has been upgraded to safety standards for this child. He follows instructions given him but there is only "black and white" in his world and she told this story. Leaving the house one day, she told him to not let anyone in and she would be back shortly. While she was gone, the grandmother visited. When "C****** came to the door he shouted through the glass to his grandmother, "I can't let anyone in" and then he turned and left the room. He does exactly as told; he cannot make a "judgement" call on anything. This, she says, frightens her. "If a burglar was in the house, he wouldn't know to try to flee." He would just accept it unless he was told specifically what to do".
He will get a certificate from the school he attends in May. It won't be a diploma. I asked "What then" and she said "I don't know and that is very scary. We are in uncharted waters."
During our conversation, she did say that this was their only child and that was by choice as studies have shown, having one autistic child increases your chances for subsequent pregnancies being autistic and having two autistic children, the probability increases to 30percent. She told of a woman she knows that has 4 children and all of them are autistic.
She believes that this proves this is partly genetic..the children are genetically predisposed but also the MMR vaccine affects these genetically predisposed to develop it after the MMR vaccine.
Her husband, she says, is an oilman but was at one time a professional football player. She was a cheerleader all through high school and college then  taught cheerleader camps all across the USA. She also is a competitive runner and spoke of her ankles being broken 4 different times and the injuries runners face.
Being both athletes, it was especially difficult on them to know their son would never be able to enjoy their love of sports. She recounted going to college football games and barely being able to tolerated seeing other young boys and the anger she felt knowing her son would never be like those boys.
She was a professor at a college; a job she relinquished 15 yrs ago to be a stay at home mom and care for this child. 
As she picked up her keys and her purse and stood up, she thanked me for listening. She said it helps to have someone listen. With tears in both our eyes, she stepped forward, placed her hands on my shoulders and drew me in for a hug. The remainder of my day was spend thinking about this woman, her sacrifices and this story. As I sit here and write this, the tears again well up for her. I may never see her again but I won't forget her.
and today:
Today I'm concentrating on my little red "hot rod". That's what Carrie calls the roadster. She says  "Nana, let's take the hot rod" as we are preparing to leave the house on a shopping trip. Sometimes I acquiesce. It depends oh now much shopping I need to do since the "hot rod" doesn't have a back seat or trunk space.
The "hot rod" hereafter known as the roadster has a slow leak in the right front tire and today she is going in to have it examined. I'm tired of airing it up every 4 days. She needs a good cleaning and since the weather here has cooled down into the low 80's, I'm going to spend some time on her.
The husband called a few minutes ago and he may be headed home tomorrow. I'll need to tidy up a bit around here won't I. Just a few things that needed picked up and put away. I like it to appear as though I'm holding up my end since I am not a member of the work force and don't want to be either.
I didn't intend this post to be so long and wordy. Sometimes it happens and I just let it roll. I'm out of here to get that car to the shop.
It's almost the weekend..which really doesn't mean much to one that enjoys every day as though it was the weekend! 

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