Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I love our uneventful holidays!

Early on in our marriage, I told hubby that I did not want to celebrate any "special days," not birthdays, not anniversaries, not holidays, nothing.  I want everyday to be a regular day, yesterday was like today which will be like tomorrow.  Hubby thought it was kind of strange for a girl not to want to celebrate these type of things, but he happily complied, admitting that it would make life a lot easier for him (or most husbands, haha). 

Glad that I got it over with at the beginning of our marriage.  We've been married for 14+ years and we never have to worry about birthday/anniversary/holiday gifts.  In fact, we usually don't remember these dates until a week or two afterwards.

It also happens that most of our family members are states away.  None of them wants to travel for holidays (and we don't want to leave our dogs at a boarding facility), so we don't spend holidays with families.   At one point, hubby and I participated in holiday gatherings with our friends, not anymore.  They were too stressful for me.  Hubby used to think it was weird how I often became very irritable after gatherings.  I was happy and bubbly during the events, but it was a totally different story afterward.  Once I got my diagnosis, we realized it was due to sensory overload.   I was irritable because I was mentally tired from constantly trying to make sure I was saying and doing the right things.  Not that I did not enjoy these gatherings, they just took a lot out of me. 

So no more, after I got diagnosed, I decided I was not going to force myself to do stuff like that anymore.  Hubby is okay with it.  Hubby says taking care of an aspie and four dogs is no small task, he needs all the time off he can get anyway.  He is not going to complain about getting more time to rest, LOL.  Nowadays, holidays to us are just days for us to stay home, relax, and spend time with our dogs.

I do, however, make attempts to respect other people's desire to celebrate whatever they want to celebrate.  My mom enjoys birthday, Mother's day, and Christmas gifts, so I send them to her.  Internet shopping makes it easy enough to do so.  My assistants at work want to exchange Christmas gifts, I am totally fine with it as well.

Hubby and I don't buy gifts for each other though.  I always feel that if I want something, and it is within our budget, well, I will just buy it myself.  Why do I have to wait for someone else to buy it for me?  It takes too much work for me to try to drop hints and then wonder if I will get the correct gift or not.  Plus why do I have to wait for a "special day?"  Any day can be a special day, if I want it to be.  Same goes for hubby, if he wants something, he can get it himself.  It makes life simpler for both of us. 

San San and I

Monday, December 22, 2014

My special interest?

I asked hubby today, "Do you think dog training is my special interest?  I mean, for it to be considered as a special interest, I have to be obsessed with it, I don't think I am."  I've always thought of dog training as a hobby.  Some people have many hobbies, I happen to have just one. 

Hubby, "Let me see, you wake up every morning, what do you do?  Do your moderator duties at dog forums, which includes exchanging dog training ideas with forum members.  What do you do before you leave for work?  Train Fay Fay.  We come home for lunch everyday so we can do what?  Oh right, so you can train Fay Fay.  If we get out of work and there is still daylight, what do we do?  Take the dogs to a park to train. What do we do after dinner?  Train the dogs.  Oh, AND, what do you do before we go to bed?  Train Fay Fay one more time. you think you are obsessed?“

Well, if you must put it that way.....

I've asked myself before, why do I like dog training so much?  I know one of the reasons is that it can be accomplished with minimal speech.  I can relax and be myself.  After a full day of talking to people at work, it is nice to be able to interact with my dogs without words.  I can convey a lot of ideas and teach a lot of behaviors by using a clicker.  The clicking sound cues a dog on what behavior is desirable. True, dogs are like people, they all have different personalities, no single training method is going to work for all dogs.  But dogs are nowhere nearly as complicated as people are.  I am much more comfortable at reading a dog's body language than that of a person, there is no stress involved, which often is not the case when it comes to a person.  

Dog training makes me a lot more active.  I am a couch potato by nature.  But I can't do that when we have several active dogs.  I don't like to be outdoor, however, we are out walking our dogs or playing with them at parks almost everyday.  I don't like to be around people, but we train with a dog club once a week, and I've attended seminars and classes on dog training in other cities.  My desire to learn about dog training helps me overcome my hesitation to be around strangers.  It doesn't necessarily make me more outgoing, it just nudges me to do stuff outside of my comfort zone, which in turn helps me become more comfortable in unfamiliar situations.

Our dog training experience has also allowed us to help other dogs in need.  We've fostered 11 dogs over the last few years.  Several with behavior problems that required experienced handlers.   We put a lot of training on our foster dogs to maximize their chances of finding forever homes.   It gives me the opportunity to do volunteer work with very little people interaction. 

One other bonus of dog training is that my husband is interested in it as well.  After I dragged him into all these classes/seminars/training clubs, he developed an interest in dog training over time.  It is now a hobby we can enjoy together, a topic for us to talk about, it brings us closer.  

Considering all the practical values, I guess I will take dog training as my special interest =)

Training with Fay Fay at our dog club tonight.  We are working on retrieve and heel.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sensory issues

Before hubby and I realized I was on the spectrum, we both thought I was just full of quirks. 

My quirks start from the second I wake up every morning.  No light and no sound please.  My mornings need to be calm, dark, quiet, and uneventful.  Unless if it were a life-threatening emergency, do not disturb me.  Any disruption during this period can easily put me in a bad mood for the rest of my day.  I need my time alone, so I can get myself mentally ready to face the world. 

It's not like I go through any special ritual in the mornings.  It takes me anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours to fully wake up and be mentally alert.  I usually spend 30-60 minutes checking emails(but I don't respond to them, I just read them), doing a little bit of "moderator duties" on dog forums, and surfing the internet.  Then shower and get ready for work (or whatever else that is ahead for the day).  Hubby is very thoughtful of my need for "lone time."  He walks our dogs, get himself ready, and leaves for work without saying a word to me.  If he needs to tell me something, he will usually leave me a sticky note. 

Hubby and I work together.  He is my office manager.  My office does not start seeing patients until 10 am.  That's as early as I can make myself mentally wake up, be alert, and be pleasant.  My sensitivity to light and sound gets better as a day goes on.  I do, however, like to keep my examination rooms relatively dim.  Lucky for me, as an optometrist, I have equipment that shine bright lights into people's eyes, so I can afford to minimize fluorescent lighting in my examination rooms. 

I function quite well at work, even when it is very busy.  There are, however, a couple of things that my staff and I try to avoid at work, they trigger my AS.  With few exceptions, I will not see more than two family members at a time.  Especially if they want to be examined in the same room.   One on one interaction, I have gotten accustomed to, no problem.  Throw in another person that I have to interact with while I am examining a patient, I can do without my AS traits showing.  Throw in two people plus a patient whom I am examining, sensory overload!  I can still do without my AS traits showing, but only for so long.  It really drains me, especially if they were talkative, even if the conversations were enjoyable, it takes a lot of concentration and energy for me to focus on an examination, interact with others, and looking "normal." 

I don't want anything in my examination room moved, period.  My staff can clean the rooms, but do not move anything.  Not my handheld equipment, nor my diagnostic lenses, nor the alcohol wipes, nor the hand sanitizer, nor the Kleenex box, leave everything alone!  It took a bit for my husband and my two assistants to fully understand what I meant.   It really bothers me when I enter one of my examination rooms (we have two) and things are not in their usual spots.  Working in healthcare, it is simply not possible to stick with the same routines everyday.  Patients have different needs, some are more urgent than others, I have to handle them as they happen.  I try to keep what I have control over as routine and boring as possible, it makes unexpected occurrences at work a lot less stressful.  

Fay Fay at 2.5 months....