Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention…
~Frank/Elvis/Paul Anka et al
Sometimes I just don’t know why I go and write the crazy things I do. Take last Sunday’s blog for instance when I cavalierly declared:
And, of course, I’ll keep you up to date here on the Autismville blog. Every week I plan to post some sort of lame analogy related to autism and running.
Tune in next Sunday for the first of the series:
Autism and Running the Boston Marathon: Never, Ever Swallow the Snot.
Really? Did I have to go and say that?
I mean mention the whole snot thing. That’s just awful.
But I did. And a promise is a promise. I will go forth, type and publish. Please forgive me. I promise the gross-out factor will absolutely not be a trend. (Translation: I just know my mother is going to read this and be thoroughly disappointed in my full disclosure.)
So yesterday was the big twelve-mile run in week two of my training for the Boston Marathon. (One of the few luxuries related to training for Boston is the fact that you can slip it into conversation frequently. It rolls off the tongue and people are automatically impressed. Small talk has never been so easy.) I must admit, so far, so good. These forty-something legs are much stronger than I realized.
When I headed out the sun was shining and the temperatures were sitting comfortably in the thirties. (Combine one part sunshine with one part endorphins -- add a dash of favorite tunes on the iPod, and you’ve got one potent cocktail for stress relief.) Unfortunately, about halfway through my run, the sun decided to disappear and the wind simultaneously decided to kick in.
“That’s okay” I thought to myself. “I need to be used to all sorts of crazy weather. This is good preparation…”
I ran on … my legs still surprisingly strong. But my core got colder, and colder, and colder … Eventually my hands felt numb, my face paralyzed by the chill.
(Warning: if you prefer to think of me as sweet, bleach-blonde, prom-queen, lip-gloss wearing Judith, please. Please. I implore you. Stop. Now. Long distance running is a rather graphic experience. The remaining content of this particular blog entry will be as well…)
Not only does cold weather cause facial paralysis and tingling hands, it also causes some serious post-nasal drip. When the cold wind starts howling, my nasal passages start gushing. I do my best to evacuate said drainage via my nose, but the sheer power and magnitude of the mucous sometimes is too much to manage. The overflow heads due south right down my throat.
This is not a new experience for me. Almost ten years ago, when I ran (okay, okay … shuffled) my first marathon (the Marine Corp Marathon in D.C.) the weather conditions were similar. Cold, cloudy, windy.
I was new to running and still possessed a sense of southern vanity. So whatever snot I was unable to blow out of my nose, I discretely … swallowed.
By mile twenty, I had swallowed so much mucous I thought I was going to hurl. I’m here to tell you, Power Gel and mucous are not a pleasant combination. The remainder of the marathon was absolutely miserable. I finished, but was a sickly shade of green when I crossed the finish line.
So I’ve done the only thing I can do. I’ve mastered the art of the spit. At first it seemed so unnatural. But I quickly learned that evacuating via a power spit actually works quite well. No more green feeling. No more ickiness. I spit my way through the Chicago Marathon a couple of years ago and crossed the finish line with a smile upon my face.
Apologies. I warned you.
This of course leads me to the obligatory autism analogy…
I’m not sure about how you felt when your child was first diagnosed with autism. Personally, I felt completely lost. I didn’t know anything about autism. I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know when I should be doing it. I didn’t know where to turn. I needed guidance.
I resorted to e-mailing anyone I knew who might have some idea about how I could help Jack. If they had a cousin with autism, I e-mailed them. If their mother-in-law was a speech therapist I called them. I reached out, hoping that I could find something … anything to hold on to.
One piece of advice I received over and over was to become a Googler. Books were fine. Seminars were good. But the magic of the internet … that was where the most current info could be found. And current was what I needed for Jack.
So, like Jenny McCarthy, I earned my Google PhD sitting hunched over the computer monitor reading anything I could find until I drug my tightened, frightened shoulders to bed in the wee small hours. And I did find a lot of great information. First Signs helped me identify red flags. Cure Autism Now had the DSM criteria on its now defunct site. I read it over and over and over, trying to no avail to figure out how to make it inapplicable for my little guy. I read about DAN on the Autism Research Institute web site. I researched ABA programs. I watched the entire NBC News autism video series on the Autism Speaks web site. I refined my Google skills by learning about Yahoo! Groups. I felt like I hit the jackpot when I realized I could actually converse with other parents about treatments, services and life parenting a child with autism, all from the comfort of my desk chair. Fellow parents became my greatest resource.
Along the way though, I did encounter a bit of “mucous.” I stumbled across sites and organizations that were constantly in attack mode, trying to find a way to win at the blame game. I read them voyeuristically, hoping maybe somewhere I would find something beneficial. I read and read and read. And then that green feeling resurfaced. It was just too much for me to stomach.
Two years later, the bitter patrol is still going strong. (I'm not naming names because I don't want to provide free advertising.) The blogosphere is a powerful vehicle for those traveling endlessly on the rocky road of hostility and hate.
Am I saying that we should never be able to say anything negative or question the motives of others? Never have moments of anger? Absolutely not. But there’s a trend you’ll recognize. For some organizations/individuals/dwellers of the alternate universe known as the internet, that is what they do the majority of the time. They don’t spend time trying to find answers. They spend time attacking. They spend time complaining. They spend very little time doing much of anything.
But one thing I’ve learned: if you swallow too much of that non-productive phlegm, you’ll end up feeling very queasy. And it will be harder to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Harder to be your strongest for the long road ahead.
Be careful out there. Take in as much info as you can. Just don’t be afraid to spit if you need to…
Tune in next week for my second update: Autism and Training for the Boston Marathon: Strength Training. (No gross out factor, I promise!)