Give me life, give me pain, give me myself again –Tori Amos
This morning at 4:40, I woke up from a sound sleep in the midst of the worst headache I’d experienced in 16 years. I knew it had been 16 years because the last time I had a headache that bad, I took my then 4-year-old daughter in the middle of the night and drove to the ER when I could hardly see and actually let them shoot some kind of novocaine up through my eye sockets to finally make the pain stop. Can you imagine how bad it must be to do something that crazy?
This time around, I had a husband in the house, who can usually deal with these middle-of-the-night migraines with a combination of medication, massage and pressure point manipulation. But this one he couldn’t. After 15 minutes of tears and moans, he got me dressed and drove me to the ER. The needles were in my arm several times and back of my hand once or twice (I was in no condition to deal with needles, though I did try to hold still) and finally, four hours later, the pain had been drugged away.
We never figured out what triggered it; so it may happen again at any time. They asked relatively few questions, actually, mostly geared toward whether I was having a stroke. to my best guess. No tests. No nothing else, just threw drugs at it. Thank you, doctor, for the Cure.
I’m not particularly vulnerable to pain any more, after five years or so of fibromyalgia; pain is a fact of everyday life. Pain like this, though, needs intervention. But it also started me thinking about the ongoing discussion I’ve followed across the autism blogs and news, particularly in this month of autism awareness, about interventions and “cures.”
In the same way I walk with pain every day, my child walks with autism. We do things differently than our peers, to accommodate our issues. For example, I may avoid being outside in cold, damp weather; she will avoid noisy, crowded places. I may take ibuprofen to cope; she takes speech therapy. Each of us, in our maintenance stage, do not need to be “cured”– we are who we are, doing what we need to do to be like our peers. We are given life.
When we are stretched to near-breaking by extremes, like this headache, like her failure to register pain to the point she doesn’t realize she’s sick (and how ironic it is that even our extremes are opposite!), then we must take action as we are given pain.
But we do not need to be changed into something we are not. I am still a mother, lawyer and writer, coping with my differences with minor interventions as needed. She is not in pain, not being damaged, living everyday with smiles and sunshine and flowers in her hands, learning to communicate with us a little more each day. With a little bit of help, we are given ourselves again.
And really, what more could we want?