P o n d e r i n g s

... on What Sensory Overload Feels Like.

I wake up, dreading this particular day. I look at the calendar. I know the sensory torture will be worse today than usual; this day I will go for my medical checkup.

After breakfast, I leave my apartment. I look around and sigh. It is raining slightly, muggy and cool. A few blackbirds roam the sky. I wonder why anyone would want to get out on a day like this. Perhaps the clinic will be near empty, I hope.

Alas, such is not to be. When I arrive at the clinic, really a medical mall, I am filled with a sense of dread: the lot is packed with possibly 200 cars. I fear that the wait in the lobby is will be lengthy and my earplus will not be enough. I pause momentarily at the automatic sliding doors, check to see if my earplugs are firmly in place, take a deep breath, and step forward into the battlezone.

The assault on my senses commence almost immediately. My nervous system begins to sting. Televisions blare their noise. Small groups converse. I hear the hum of the central heating. Like tiny needles jabbing me. I grit my teeth and inform the receptionist I've come for my appointment. Without looking up, she tells me in an unemotional tone to take a seat. The stinging is already jarring my ears and pulsating throughout my body. I feel it in every nerve fiber.

I feel my head filling up with dense polluted fog, as it were. I feel my mind already struggling to process everything being said within the building, trying to find meaning out of the cacophany. Even with the partial protection from the ear plugs, my head starts spinning, my body aches and feels detached from my head.

I find a magazine nearby and try to concentrate on it, but to no avail. The words increasingly fail to make sense.

After an hour or so, a nurse comes out and calls my name. I turn to her and summon my coordination. I slowly, deliberately get up, hoping not to fall on my face again.

She smiles. "And how are you today?"

I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and smile back. The relative silence comes as a welcome relief. Moments later, my seizure aura begins. I hope my internist will take her time in getting to me, to give my head time to clear.

Later, at home, my body continues to ache. It feels like my whole nervous system is bruised. I take a warm bath to ease the pain, then rest in bed the remainder of the day. I feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, and virtually paralyzed.

As much as I hope it will never happen again, I know it will. All too soon I will need to get back out to go to the grocery store. A thought of getting some shooting-range style ear muffs crosses my mind.

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More Ponderings on:
  • New Year Resolutions
  • Rituals
  • Sensory Integration
  • Sensory Overload, #1
  • Sensory Overload, #2
  • Why I Chose To Speak Out
  • Working Together

  • * "A Reason for Hope: Insights into Autism" by Daniel R. Hawthorne, copyrighted 2007. "Child of the Forest" by Daniel R. Hawthorne, copyrighted 2004.

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