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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rachel Getting Married

No, not the movie about the woman leaving rehab and her sister's wedding . . . I'm officially getting married! My wonderful boyfriend of a year proposed via an eReader and a written story about our lives together this past Friday, and I sobbed as I saw him down on one knee.  Yes, waiting for the surprise was agony (see last post, I don't deal with surprise too well), but we couldn't be happier. To be honest, I, personally, couldn't be happier - especially in light of my recent SPD-diagnosis. Josh has been supportive above-and-beyond the call of duty for the majority of men out there. He cheered with me when I was diagnosed, and cried with me as I stopped to consider how to let SPD become a positive part of my already-established life. He had angry words for my school's administration. He continues to brush my back at regular intervals, reminds me to shower the second I walk into my apartment (I find it centering and calming, a way to withdraw from the overstimulation of the day), and is willing to work with me to make our wedding "Rachel-friendly." I have hit the SPD-partner-jackpot (and the everything-else-partner-jackpot too) :-)

Now the question remains: how to throw a 150-person wedding without sending me into a tailspin of symptoms? Yes. Something I look forward to debating more with my OT and her intern, and something I hope you SPDers out there (here and on D's boards) will be able to help settle. I've already suggested that we go visually-minimalistic. The space needs to be contained enough for my funky proprioceptive sense to handle (don't want to "fall off the room" on my wedding day!) and well-sized enough so that the DJ music isn't too overwhelming (what's up, auditory reflexes), and the throng of guests isn't too taxing (oh, vision).

We've already started discussing details, like flowers (we're hoping off-white roses and blue hydrangeas - familiar and friendly - and especially simple), venue (TBD, but the simple criteria remains), and clothing (comfortable wedding dress! Nothing too strapped-in, nothing that makes me anxious to have on, no extraneous lace or bows or buttons). It's going to be a huge challenge, but with such an amazing, supportive man by my side, I know it will be a day remembered not in SPD-related-agitation and anxiety, but in joy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Surprises

I flat-out hate surprises. Unexpected noises make me shake out of my skin, a gentle touch from behind when I'm unaware propels me up into the air, and questionable situations - unplanned, unexplained, out of my control - can be terrifying, regardless of their inherently positive or negative swing. Imagine living your life like it's 9/11 every single day of the week, waiting for a jolt, but not quite sure when it will occur. Picture bugs crawling under your skin. Visualize an impending sense of doom, even during the most beautiful and significant moments. That's how it feels to live in this body.

Today's occupational therapeutic conclusions were very apropos to the current thought-trends permeating my life. My OT, fresh from a weekend clinic, asked me to lay down on the mats in the colorful equipment room, and told me she - with support from her awesome intern - were going to check my Moro Reflex. This is one of the primitive reflexes, the startle reflex, present within us prior to birth and through infanthood, usually discontinued or severely lessened. It is observed as a pattern: startle, extension (arms reaching out), flexion (arms reaching in), and crying. With my back against the mat and my legs bent at the knees, my OT grasped my legs lightly and quickly jolted them. While it was surprising, I don't think I did anything much out of the ordinary. I heard her walk around to the top of the mat, a bit uneasy about what she was going to do and when, specifically. She paused, and then slapped the mat on either side of my ears. It felt like I jumped out of my skin (in reality, I jolted my arms - not unlike the Moro Reflex) and then as I was laughing from surprise, I began to cry. Or perhaps I cried and then laughed, all I remember was being shaken to my core.

Big surprise (hah), I have a relatively active reflex for someone my age. (Read: most of you would probably hunch your shoulders to your ears or blink.) Another step in explaining why I am the way I am, I suppose. My OT gave me a few exercises to help me tone down the intensity of this reflex - one of them is called Boing, which makes it that much more fun, and involves me falling back into a pile of pillows landing in extension (arms out) and then pulling myself back up to a sitting position with my arms in flexion (arms in) - essentially inducing this primal reflex repeatedly without the absence of control. The second exercise involves laying on my back, pressing my feet against the wall (almost like I'm ready to push off the side of a swimming pool on my back), and bouncing a large ball off the wall. There's also a two-partner grab-and-wrestle game with the ball that I might teach Josh in all of our spare time. It's very "This is MY ball, MINE!"

I'm essentially taking control of the remainder of this startle reflex, which is amusing really, as it's a reflex to having no control over loud, sudden events. Explains so many things - the need for structure, my dislike of loud, unanticipated anything. Good times, as always, in this sensory world I call home.