When Will I Learn (to take myself seriously)?

After all these years of observing how oddly (by other people’s standards) my body reacts to things, and even after several years of understanding that a lot of that has to do with being autistic, I still hesitate to assert myself.

Case in point: I went in to my local clinic the other day to get a pneumonia shot from the nurse. The result was needlessly painful.

My doctor, at my last physical exam, had recommended three different shots: one for flu, one for whooping cough, and one for pneumonia. I have never had a flu shot, and I’m a bit anti-medication, but I acknowledged that all of these were a good idea. To my credit (knowing that I can have “strange” reactions), I told her that I’d like to have them done on different days, not all at once.

Over the past few weeks, I had gotten the first two, and this past week came the appointment to get the third. In the event, the nurse asked me if I cared which arm she used. I said no, that I’m right-handed, but I didn’t really care. Wrong! I should have told her to use my left arm. She asserted that “this shot, unlike some others, doesn’t leave any soreness.” Right. And I’m not autistic.

Two days later, my arm was so sore I could not raise my hand above waist level. Sore is an understatement. I was in intense pain. I felt like I had been on the losing end of a barroom brawl. Fortunately, I did not plan to go skiing or do any other activities that required any great arm strength. Picking up hay to feed the horses was the most challenging activity I undertook (and that wasn’t easy).

As the pain lessened, I decided it was okay for me to go skiing, and I’m glad I did. In almost-blinding sunshine, I floated down all the black-diamond trails that Jiminy Peak has to offer (some of them more than once). As I pointed my skis down the hill and let gravity do its thing, I kept in touch with the mountain by yelling at myself (mentally) to “use the entire ski” — if I get lazy, I have a tendency to lean back, instead of aggressively putting my weight on the full length of the ski.

Addiction is a powerful thing. My skiing pleasure center (there is such a thing, right?) was enjoying the sensation of flying that my rapid descent created. There were very few other skiers on the black trails, so I didn’t have to dodge bodies very much. As I passed other skiers, I took a small amount of pleasure in noting that I was not being passed by too many. Then, in one of my last runs (on Jericho, the only double-diamond run on the mountain), I took special pleasure in thinking that I was probably skiing it as fast as I ever had. I had left the top at about the same time as another skier — a guy in a red jacket. As I got to the halfway point in my descent (not pausing for a moment, focusing on every turn) I looked up to see where he was. He was already at the bottom. Wow! Not sure if I want to ever go that fast. But…

On the next run, my pleasure center was crying for more. My legs, on the other hand, were crying for relief. I had to call on my prefrontal cortex to intercede. The pleasure center was overruled, and I made that my last run. What a glorious day of Spring skiing!



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