Archive for the ‘ADHD’ Category

I wasn’t late.

I never really intend to be late anyway, but normally I am, despite my best efforts to plan ahead of time, for traffic, for getting ready.  Despite the understandable outrage of those who are forever punctual, lateness doesn’t represent a lack of respect on my part, nor does it mean I think my time is more important than theirs.

It’s a function of a brain that works in kaleidoscope, rather than lines, the latter of which has starting points and focused destinations.  Didn’t find that out until the diagnosis I received a few years ago.

But I digress.  This was a rare victory, and I was relieved.

I even had time to relax for a bit.  Sit down and watch the automatic doors as they briefly opened, and burped out a few people before closing again.

I could feel my heart starting to race, and found that I could no longer sit.  So I stood up and watched the doors, until my little girl sauntered out, smiling.

She rolled her suitcases to the end of the ramp where I stood waiting.  Both of us dropped our stuff and we grabbed each other for a huge and tearful hug.

I honestly forgot how long it had been since we last saw each other in person.  We keep in contact all the time via phone (and occasionally by Skype) but hadn’t spent time together since, I’m guessing perhaps two years ago, when we went on a camping/canoeing trip together.  And where I learned the importance of only camping with a trailer that features a Craftmatic adjustable bed.  She on the other hand could camp out on the floor and not be affected.  The brat.

After the hug, she stood back and mapped out my face, checking for imperfections.  To her delight (and to my tolerant amusement) she found one.  There was a single hair growing on my cheek, which it had no business doing.  Mind you, there was like, a million of them growing on my chin and beneath my nose.  But I guess those were okay, as they were only following instructions.  So she plucked that one hair, saying “hold still, Dad.  Take a deep breath”

I didn’t. I pluck hairs all the time from errant locations.  I’m used to it, and the performance no longer brings tears or even flinching.  I smiled.  She plucked and missed.

Horrified, she said “oh I’m sorry. Let me try again. Are you okay?”

I nodded, still smiling.  She plucked again and this time she got it.

Grooming all done, we turned and began walking.  “How are you doing?” I asked. “Are you hungry? Did you get a bite to eat on the plane?”

She thought for a moment. “Well I could use a tea, Dad. Is there a coffee shop nearby?”

There was, and so we went, chattering as if we hadn’t spoken in a year.  (Well, she chattered. I added an observation here and there).

Our relationship has always been like that though.  We can not talk on the phone for weeks at a time, and when we connect, it’s as if we just spoke yesterday.  I never realized how rare that was until encountering some folk who feel rejected if you don’t check in with them in scheduled intervals.

Afterward, and after dumping her suitcases into a limo-SUV (I really don’t know what to call those things: it’s a limo service, but our ride took the form of an SUV), I warned her about my place.

“You’re going to hate it” I said. She looked at me, grinning.  We both knew she would be making some changes, even though she would only be there for a few days.

And change it she did.  Prior to her arrival, I had the perfect bachelor setup: big-ass plasma TV, front and center, Lazy-boy chair right in front of it. Dolby surround-sound speakers placed in such a way as to make the chair the “sweet spot” for….well, for pretty much everything. 

man_cave.jpg

Not exactly like this, but you get the idea.

The sofa was to my right, along the wall.

As soon as we walked in the door, I braced myself.  This wouldn’t do.  Not at all.  And she confirmed it fairly quickly.

She also didn’t like my office setup, which was situated in the dining room.  It was too closed off for her liking, and “no one can see the beautiful screensavers – all they can see is the back of the monitors and all of the wiring”.

“No problem” I thought.  “It’s just me looking at the stuff, and I really don’t care.”

“Trust me, dad”, she said. “If you don’t like what I do with it, you can put it all back.”

We spent most of her second day there, going to town.  I was assigned the task of sorting out the bookcase.  I have no idea why I still have a bookcase, actually, since I buy all of my books in e-book format, and have no need of physical books anymore.  Right now the bookcase serves as a drop-off point for stuff that lacks a home. Receipts that I haven’t shredded, the odd flyer, pennies and pens that I pick up off of the floor.

My apartment isn’t nearly as bric-a-brac as I’m making it sound.  It’s just that when I have something in my hand, and no time to figure out where it goes, the bookcase is my instant repository.  I put stuff there, knowing that I’ll get around to sorting it someday.

“Someday” is right.  When I started sorting, I found a lot of outdated stuff that belonged in the trash.  Stuff I hadn’t seen in a couple of years actually. It was a little embarrassing, particularly since I’ve made it my life’s goal to de-clutter.  The protocol is: if you don’t see or use it within a year, you don’t need it.

I had a lot of stuff there that qualified for the green bin.  Still do, actually, since I didn’t make that much of a dent in it.

Daughter however did just fine with her tasks – which was pretty much everything else.  She shoved everything around, made it all tidy, grabbed whatever twist ties she could to make the entertainment center and desk wiring all serene, if not beautiful.  When she ran out of twist ties, I became the scotch tape caddy, doling it out as she needed.

When she was done, my place looked presentable again.  The big chair was kitty-corned to the TV set, with the couch forming the other part of the scene.  The TV itself was in a corner.  And my office space was transformed such that any visitors could clearly see everything I was working on. I don’t plan to have many visitors.

“What do you think, Dad?”

I stood in front of my office desk, looked up at her and gave her a small wave and a smile.

She laughed out loud and went to grab her camera.  So I had to hold that pose for a while. Such jocularity loses its pizzazz when you have to pose for it.  I think we both knew that.

Our time together ended way too soon.  I saw her off the next day, when she left me to go visit her mother for the other two days she would spend in Ontario.  And now she’s off to western Canada, there to provide massage treatments for tired skiers.

I miss her already.

ADHD Drugs.  Tried them.  Worked as advertised but also had some interesting side effects.  I’m not sure I can ever get used to the second head that grew out of my shoulders, but whatever….

I think I went a little nuts when the doctor sat me down, showed me a chart and announced that his findings of my symptoms were almost off of the charts.   “Here’s where normal people are” he said (or words to that effect) as he pointed to a line across a graph.   Then he pointed to a line near the top of the page that went from left to right in a kind of a zigzag pattern “and here’s where you are.”   I was more than pleased; I was ecstatic.

squirrel-dog

There are so many more symptoms to ADHD than just the propensity toward distraction.  Many of us – especially ones with a more severe case of ADHD – become debilitated throughout our lives.  A great many can’t hold a job, a marriage or maintain our health.  Many of us have addiction problems.  I don’t mean just drugs; I mean anything under the sun: sexual addictions, problems with booze, problems with almost anything.  And so many of us hop from one addiction to another.  My dad was an alcoholic, so I was fortunate enough (long before the diagnosis) to recognize that I may have inherited his fascination with booze.  So although I enjoy wine, I was smart enough to occasionally go through dry periods “just to make sure”.   Then I realized that I was beginning to enjoy pot too much (this was years ago, officer), so I stopped taking any of that for a while.  There were a number of other ones – I won’t bother to list them here.

Many of us become adrenaline junkies, often taking horrible chances with our lives while looking for that “high”.   Scratch the skin of a person who gets into way too many car accidents and you may find a person with ADHD.

Socially, we are often just a bunch of misfits.  I never realized it until my daughter and I started comparing notes.  “Dad” she would say “I feel guilty about getting so bored with conversations sometimes”.  I would reply “I KNOW, RIGHT?  It’s like they’re all ‘blah blah my vacation blah blah” and I’m like ‘what time is it? Oh I’ve got to go’”.

Sometimes I even blogged about it.   Like the blog I posted about a guy who was into some of the same types of books I was interested in – only in a kind of steroidal way:  it was all he could talk about, and it bored me to tears.   I eventually realized that the problem wasn’t him, it was me.  (“Sure it was” I hear you say.  “That’s so cliché, man”.  And okay – so it is.  Happens to be true).  Normal people – however “normal” is defined – can carry on linear conversations that have beginning, middle and conclusion points.   I realized that wasn’t the case with me or my daughter:  our conversations were more like exploring birds, hopping from tree branch to tree branch, never landing on the same one twice.   A bouquet of non sequiturs, if you will.   We eventually realized that we were annoying others who wanted to get in on the conversation but felt they couldn’t.   “Can you not stay on the point???” they’d exclaim, exasperated.   “What point?” would be our innocent response.

Our conversations often frustrated ourselves as well, but only for brief moments.  It kind of went like this:  “um, what was I talking about?”  “I dunno” *shrug*   Whatever it was seemed important; it was a point I was trying to get to, only I was too excited by the process of the conversation and so, as usual, the conversational car left the track and flipped end over end into a field of much more interesting thoughts.  Crash and burn.

“Were you aware that there’s an eclipse of the moon tonight?”

“Oh really?  I’d love to see that.  I can’t stay up late though, I have a test in the morning.”

“Well maybe you don’t have to stay up to watch it.  Maybe you could….”

“Oh my God Dad.  I remember the last time I saw the Northern Lights.  They were so beautiful…”

“Was that when you were on that camping trip?”

“With Pete?”

“How is Pete?”

“He’s married now and he’s running his own shoe store.”

(Then I’d think: shoes, running, Nike, “just do it”)

“Hey I’m going to finish the next chapter of my book tonight.”

“Really?  That’s so good, Dad.”

(And she would think “books, Kindle, Amazon”)

“Do you know that Amazon delivers to Canada?”

(And I would think “old news, news, newspaper, columnists, Conrad Black)

“I knew that.  Hey have you ever read any of Conrad Black’s stuff?  The man’s a wordsmith!”

(And she would think “wordsmith, clowns, elephants, circus”)

“No I never have.   That reminds me: Cirque du Soleil is coming to town.  I’ve got tickets!”

And on it would go.  You can just picture other “normal” people saying “okay – just what the FUCK are you guys talking about?”

We’d both look at each other and smile.

I think even my writing gets affected and infected by this type of meandering.  For example: I meant to tell you about my foray into the ADHD drug world.

So the first one was a long-term drug that you have to take every day.  It’s supposed to get into your bloodstream as a constant presence and affect what’s called “executive function” – whereby you retain the ability to not only focus, but keep all of the balls in the air at the same time.  Most people aren’t aware of it: they put their current thought on a shelf – NOT FORGOTTEN, just placed aside for a moment – while they deal with a more pressing thought.  Then when they’re done, they go back to the shelf, bring down the thought and work with it again.  With ADHD folk it’s more like we hoof that thought into the outer stratosphere, completely forgotten and rarely ever seen again.  It’s not deliberate; it’s just the way our minds tend to work and process.   This drug was designed to help patients gain a measure of control.

I have no idea whether it worked or not; I didn’t stay on it long enough.  Just a week.  Just long enough to notice that I was having a very hard time trying to pee (among other things).  It was horrible.  I got worried that maybe my body was going through an unwanted change, until I got onto the net and started reading about the side effects.   So I dropped that drug like it was a flaming bag of dog poop – and I felt better almost immediately.

I went back to the doc who prescribed another ADHD medication that he promised wouldn’t mess me up so badly.  The side effects were minimal and as long as my blood pressure remained under control there wouldn’t be any problem.  I went on it for a few weeks and didn’t notice any change in my ADHD symptoms so went back to him.  He increased the dosage.  I tried it for a few more weeks; still no change.  I went back – and this can get boring so let me just say it took a few more visits until we got the dosage right.   And then, presto!  The required effects kicked in.

I was able to focus; I was able to complete projects; I was able to go places and not leave my iPhone or iPad sitting somewhere for someone to pick up and adopt as their own.  (Can’t tell you how many times I’d done that before).

There were other noticeable effects too.   I started boring the hell out of myself.  Anything I wrote was tedious and long – and complete.   I hated my writing.  My creativity took a noticeable hit.  I figured it was worth the price of being able to be just a little bit linear in thinking again.

Then one day I started having pains in my chest.  Severe pains.  I went to a walk-in clinic and the doctor said my blood pressure was through the roof.  She ordered an EKG (my heart was fine), and then prescribed some nitro.  I quickly realized the culprit:  the high doses of the ADHD drug was affecting my blood pressure.

So I went off it.  Completely.  Cold-turkey.

My blood pressure’s back to normal, and my creativity is back.

In talking with a good friend of mine who is also an MD, we seemed to agree that maybe, just maybe, people are designed to be different from each other, and maybe there’s no real need to alter our behaviour (or as we called it, get into “social engineering”).

I only know I’m enjoying the crap out of life right now, and it’s doubtful that I’ll ever seek help for my ADHD again.  (Never say never though).

Final note:  I hear you saying “dude, your creativity can’t be all that great.  You rarely write a new blog.”   You would be correct:  my blogs are too few and far between and I’m planning to change that.   But – and this is a huge thing – I’m still writing.  I’ve been employed for a few months as a critic for the popular site TVFanatic.com – and I write a weekly review of two shows:  Criminal Minds and NCIS.   Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to interview two of the Criminal Minds stars too:  Matthew Gray Gubler (who plays Dr. Reid) and Joe Mantegna (who plays Agent Rossi).   If you want to check it out – no pressure! – you’ll find the reviews at Criminal Minds and NCIS.  (My name on there is Douglas Wolfe.)

In the meantime, maybe I’ll just keep playing at life and forget about the ADHD meds.  Frankly I’m having too much fun without them.

Misophonia: People who have misophonia are most commonly annoyed, or even enraged, by such ordinary sounds as other people eating, breathing, sniffing, or coughing; certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. Intense anxiety and avoidant behavior may develop, which can lead to decreased socialization. Some people may feel the compulsion to mimic what they hear

I had no idea this was a *thing*. Apparently I’ve got it. Somehow I doubt that pushing the guy’s face into his bowl of crunchy cereal (so he can *really* get a good taste of it) is a viable prescription.

(Still, it’s a good thought)

People – too many it seems – are completely unaware of their sounds.   The smack-smack-smacking of lips as folk chow down on their copious amounts of popcorn are just so damned unavoidable.  But that’s okay – I enjoy popcorn too, and find a need to chew carefully when I eat it.  Wouldn’t want to inadvertently be the catalyst for a homicidal episode from an overly annoyed fellow patron.

The occupant one stall over in the cubicle farm is completely ignorant of his sounds.  And he has so VERY VERY many of them, and they all start around 10:00 a.m. every day.  The guy starts out with some sort of crunchy cereal – which he consumes with a metal spoon from a ceramic bowl.  I know because I recognize the sounds clearly: the spoon as well as the damned clanky bowl.

When he’s done he apparently has a problem with some of the foodstuffs that don’t make it down his massive gullet – which seem obvious because he suddenly starts up with the teeth-sucking.  Have you ever heard someone sucking their teeth?  It’s amazingly disgusting.   Pfft! Pffffffffffffft!

Then there’s a myriad of other sounds.  Throat-clearing, heavy breathing, coughing.  (I’m guessing he doesn’t swallow normally either – hence the need to clear all of his passages of errant food stuffs.)

Once done, you’d think that would be it wouldn’t you?

Oh but you’d be so very very wrong.  Because you know he has to phone someone.

Home boy doesn’t have a normal voice.  No, his voice is unnecessarily loud.  I don’t mean normal loud.  I mean vibrantly dramatically loud.   And God help us if he hears a joke because boy oh boy – he’s going to LAUGH.  Not a gentle dignified laugh or chuckle either.  An outright guffaw that would raise the dead and cause sheep and cows to snort in alarm.  It’s not a laugh you share either – it’s a laugh that makes you piss yourself and run in fear.

One morning he was so bad that I honestly felt myself going insane.  I wanted to call my boss and talk with him but he was offline.  I wanted to talk with anyone but there was no one around.  I could visualize myself picking up my laptop and throwing it hard across the room.  Honestly – I’ve never felt that way before.

Someone offered me this advice:  “when he starts up, just take a break and go to the washroom.”

My sincere response: “I’m not allowed to spend six hours in the washroom.”

****

You know – there have been many times I’ve found myself hyper-aware of annoying sounds.  Maybe they’re only annoying to me though.  My dad – back when he was still alive – used to hack and cack in the washroom every morning.  He’d do this long dramatic throat clearing, and it would sound as if he was fixin’ to throw up the contents of his cavernous stomach.  Only he’d get so far and then not actually do it.  It was worse than hearing a cat coughing up a hairball.   “HACK HACK *cough* HACK HAAAAAAACK!!!!!”   – long 20 second count – then: “*spit*”

Used to make me almost offer up a sympathy barf.

(Sorry.   I know that’ s disgusting.  Now you know how I feel.)

Just a guess here but….I’ll just bet that this “misophonia” thing is exasperated if you have ADHD.  In that you’re so easily distracted by anything or everything.   So obviously if certain noises unduly annoy you it’s a fair bet that such noises are naturally going to catch your attention at the most inopportune of times.

For a while I was on ADHD meds and these noises didn’t annoy me nearly so much.  I was aware of them – but I was able to concentrate at the task at hand, so the noises became background white noise.  Time passed and I found a need to stop the meds – and the annoyances came back.

What about you?  Is this topic completely new to you – or do you too suffer from this social noise pollution?

Whirling and whirling

Posted: January 24, 2012 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

*thinking*  “Shoot, I’m late.  Better call a cab.”

“Wait.  I’m not nearly ready and if I rush I’m going to forget something.  Better get everything together first, then when I’m about five minutes from being ready – THEN call.”

“Good.”  I nodded to myself.  “Smart thinking”

I ignored the brightly coloured fairy lights flitting around in my brain and set to work. 

Lunch?  “Don’t need it – I’m buying a sandwich when meeting with a friend today.  So… check.”

Boots?  “It’s cold out.  Got ‘em right here”  *Slips boots on.*

Coat? “Right here”

Gloves? “Check”

Hat?  “Check”

Anything else?  “Wait.  iPad.  Can’t forget the love of my life.”

Laptop for work?  “Got it in the laptop bag.  I’ll put the iPad in with it.”

iPhone?  “Got it.”

Call the cab.  “Ok.  I’ll connect up with my bluetooth earpiece and talk to them while doing a last minute check around the place.”

*Calls cab.*

I go out.  Lock both locks on the door and walk down the hallway to the elevator.  An older woman smiles at me.  I nod back and say “hi there.”

I hear the elevator.  *Ding!*

The door opens.  Something twigs in my brain – so I ignore the elevator and go back to my apartment.   Unlock both locks and walk through the apartment with my boots on.  Grab the new combination lock so I can head to the gym today.  (Lost my last one on my trip to Tofino).

Re-lock the apartment and, as the elevator opens, my phone rings.  I tap the bluetooth earpiece and hear “hi there.  You called for a taxi?”

“Yup.  On my way down now.”

I jump in the cab and,  just as it leaves the on-ramp and hits the highway, I realize that I forgot my security card for work.   So I think “nevermind.   I’ll just have to find a public washroom if I need it, and make sure that I don’t leave the building after 4:30 (unless going home) because I won’t be able to get back in.”   Good.  It sucks, but at least it’s a plan.  I’m not spending the money to tell the cab to go back.

And…just as I get in the door at work I realize that my security card is safe in my laptop back.  I forgot it was there.   “Oh good.” I think.  ” Serendipity.  Thank God for small blessings.”

I get to my desk, plug in the laptop, secure it to the locking cable and turn it on.

I sit back and, after waiting for it to boot up, I finally see the login screen. 

Sort of.  It’s kind of hard to read.

Ah.  I need my glasses.   I reach into my pocket.  Earphones, iPhone….. no glasses.   “I wonder where they are?”   

They’re sitting on the counter at home.  Right where I left them.

I think “what the fuck is WRONG with me?” 

“Why is my brain such a massive blur today?

“Did I take my ADHD meds?”

I did.  It was almost the first thing I did today.

Good thing I have an doctor appointment for tomorrow – because it looks as though they’re not working anymore.

I think “well, I’ll have to buy some reading glasses from the pharmacy across the street.” 

So I do.  Bring them back and sit back down to the computer. 

Uh oh.  There’s a plastic thing securing them – I’ll have to cut it off. 

I get the scissors,  cut the tag and put them on. 

My vision is blurry. 

So I take them off, clean them, put them back on. 

Still blurry. 

Take them off and look at them.  There’s a big scratch across one of the lens.  Apparently when I cut the tag, I was way too impatient.  Pretty much madly assaulted the $35.00 glasses during my haste to use them - and now they’re worth nothing.

Put them back on and decide to use them for the rest of the day.

Later, I meet my friend for lunch.  She says about seven things in the space of a paragraph, and as she says EACH.INDIVIDUAL.THING – my brain captures a relating thought, all of which I want to say to her.  When she stops speaking, I can’t remember a single one of them.

Tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

If you could write a letter to yourself when you were sixteen, what would you say?

Joseph Galliano, an editor, has compiled a list of letters from people many of us know, and has created a book from that collection, entitled “Dear Me.  A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self”.

So…..

What would I say?

It would go something like this:

—————————–

Hi there.  There’s some stuff you should know.

First off:  trust your instincts.  Remember how troubled you felt when that guy came to pick up your sister for a date?  Remember how normal he seemed, and yet you couldn’t shake off a feeling of danger?  Well, sadly, you were right.  Your sis was OK and everything, but it got pretty dicey for a while there.  The man was dangerous and you were right to be afraid for her.   You have an instinct that borders on ESP.  Don’t worry that it sounds all airy-fairy – just go with it.  Trust yourself.  It doesn’t mean you should quickly judge everyone.  You’ll get older and wiser and soon you’ll be able to differentiate between prejudice and empathy.   You have the empathic spark though – don’t forget it.

Oh, and to help you along:  here’s one indicator of the difference.  Empathic awareness is insistent and relentless and often has no bearing on perceived logic at the time.   Prejudice on the other hand, isn’t nearly as urgent, and it tends to rationalize – usually based upon someone else’s opinion, presented as fact.  It’s almost a form of laziness.  You’ll understand.  It’s just a matter of time and unending curiosity.

Which brings me to another point.  Remember how your dad criticized you for thinking all the time?  Remember how weird that seemed?  Well he was wrong.  This is actually one of your best qualities, and it will serve you well.  Though you’re not great at school (and by the way, forget about trying to memorize names and dates – I’ll tell you why in a minute), your curiosity will take you through life in an amazing way.  You’ll learn so much, just because you thought to question.  And you know what else?   This is a side benefit of your curiosity:  people love to talk.  Especially about themselves.  So ask them, and just enjoy their experience.  It’s sort of what makes you tick.

Which brings me to another point.   If you’re curious enough, and ask the right people, you can probably avoid a lot of years of spinning your wheels in frustration.  Start slowly, but work on it constantly.  Ask questions from people who don’t share your religious beliefs.  Get to know what life is like for people who don’t go to your church. It’s important.  Read some of the great philosophers (if you can – I know how hard it is to get into intricately detailed books.  There’s a reason for that.  More later.).

There is such a great value and such pleasure available to you when you learn to open your mind up a bit.

Oh, and something else:  remember how you sought out the advice of a school counsellor during those times when your father was creating a living hell on earth at home?  Remember how you sat in her office and told her about how he would get so drunk and so angry, and everyone was afraid – and about how you called the cops on him?

Well that was a good starting point for you, but it wasn’t the end.   In between all of that crap you sort of got lost.  You thought your identity was with the church, because people there were really nice, and they welcomed you so gladly.  Their hearts were real, and they really did like you, but you made a tiny little mistake:  you thought you had to be like them.  I mean, exactly like them.  You mimicked them so closely that you really had no idea who you were.  Oh, I know you think you did, but trust me, you didn’t.  You tried so hard to be the social chameleon out of habit:  you knew that in order to survive in that hellish house, you had to figure out what The Beast wanted at any given time, and manoeuvre yourself accordingly.  You learned how to placate and accommodate, as this is what your eight year old self figured out, to survive.  You knew if you did this, maybe The Beast wouldn’t hurt anyone.  You had no idea back then, that what you did didn’t really matter.   He was looking for an excuse to lash out.

I think you should take the time to see a doctor and get yourself sorted out.   You lack one major thing right now – self awareness.  Once you have that, you’ll be on your way.

When you’re talking with the doc, also share with him about how much you hate school projects, and why.  Tell him too about all of your clumsiness and accidents.  It’s important.  Tell him about how you daydream all the time, and forget so many things.  Tell  him about those comments in your report cards, where the teacher says “could do better if he applied himself”.  About how you’re always late, and always always ALWAYS have to run to school every morning to get to band class, because you’re just not able to ever leave on time.   What you’re going through is not normal – and hopefully the doc will pick up on that.

Pay attention to what you like in school, and what you don’t like.  Indulge your love of music and dramatic arts.   It’s part of who you are.  Find ways to get more involved.  Forget about what others tell you that you *should* do, relative to class courses.  Take up the drama class, and join the drama club too.  There’s a brilliant teacher there – get to know him, even though he’s a little frightening, because he’s abrupt and cold, and because he’s really big, like your dad.

Even though your history teacher is amazing – because he brings history to life so well, – you’re going to find yourself hating it in Grade 13.   The new teacher will want the class to memorize names and dates for everything – and you’d rather get into a fight with a school bully than do that.  The daydreaming at this point will be your downfall and you’ll want to give up.  And maybe you should.  But not for long.   Being a kid, you think that you should be able to do everything, or nothing.  You’re kind of black and white like that.  It won’t occur to you (which is why I’m telling you now) that everyone has strengths in certain things, while they suck at others.  You’re never going to be an academic – you’re intelligent enough, but it’s just not who you are.   You won’t work in the trades either.  You don’t know it, but your strength is in people, and in entertainment, and in the arts.  This is not a bad thing.  These are the things that excite you, and get your heart racing.

There are other things to tell you but they should be a surprise.  You’re going to go through some heavy stuff, but if you follow all of the above advice, you’ll at least establish a firm and trustworthy foundation for dealing with them.  Some of the harsh stuff will bring some interesting surprises that you’ll love.

One last thought: some of the best plans never work out.  What is true for you today might not be true tomorrow.    Trust yourself, and trust your instincts.  The one seed for your tree of life never changes:  you must live.  Not just survive, and not just tolerate.  You probably have no idea what I mean by this, so search out a book, called “Jitterbug Perfume”.  Read it one time so that you satisfy your curiosity about the plot.  And when it’s done, read it again.

—————————–

So.  What would you write to yourself?  Better yet – if you feel like it, write a blog, and provide a link to it in the comments here.

“You’re having trouble urinating? Here’s a script for OxyContin.  Won’t help the problem, but you won’t care anymore.”

You wouldn’t trust a doctor who treated you this way, and neither would I.  Some patients are looking for just such treatment though – and for them, a doctor who did this would be a god-send.  There are likely as many different motivations for a visit to the doctor’s office as there are patients.

Unfortunately, the first visit to the doctor’s office about a single symptom (or usually, a combination) might not be as simple as one would hope.

A friend of mine – who happens to be a medical doctor – has been branching out into the alternative medicine area.  Normally, this is forbidden territory for doctors, as there are a great many quacks out there, touting their substandard snake oil remedies.  However, in amongst the frauds are those folk who have re-discovered traditional remedies from other cultures, notably Indian and Chinese, some of which appear to work.

The cynic would suggest that maybe some of these remedies work because of their placebo effect, and I would tend to agree.  Then the question is:  what’s wrong with placebos, if the patient gets better, or his symptoms begin to subside?  It doesn’t necessarily suggest he was psychosomatic, or was faking his illness.  It speaks to a fundamental truth (well I think it’s a truth, though really it’s just a good guess or opinion) that the body has an amazing ability to heal itself.

Full disclosure:  though not a cynic, I tend to lean that direction.  People who complain about illness all the time bore me, mostly because I have a hard time believing their ailments are real.  I know that sometimes they are, but I know that for every person with a legitimate complaint, there’s another one right behind him who is subconsciously looking for attention.   I’ve been privy to their conversations too, which go something like this:

“I’ve got a headache”

“Oh yeah?  Well I’ve got a headache and a backache. “

“Well that’s too bad, but guess what?  I’ve had my headache for two weeks.”

“I know what you mean.  I’ve had this backache since I was born.”

“Really?  And the doctors haven’t figured out why?”

“No.  I’m supposed to go in for an MRI next week.”

“Wow.  Yeah.  The doctors haven’t figured out why I have so many headaches either.  My great-grandfather had them so it’s probably genetic.  My kids will probably have them too.  I keep asking little Cindy if her head hurts.”

“You shouldn’t do that.  You’ll get her thinking she should have a headache.  That she’s not normal unless she has one.”

“I’m not worried.  I do see her putting her hand to her head sometimes though.  Just like I do.  It’s why I ask her.”

“Well I—OWW!”

“What?”

“My back.”

“Oh.”

“Yes, see you later.  I’ve got to get some pills into me.”

“Oh?  What kind?”

“Demerol”

“That’s kid stuff.  You should get your doc to prescribe Oxy.  It’s the BOMB, man.”

“Huh.  Maybe I will.”

(a.k.a. Dance of the Aching Fairies)

My doctor friend, in pursing the road less travelled, is exhibiting all kinds of courage, I think.  She has given credence to the fact that modern medicine doesn’t have all of the answers (though it often pretends to), and that some alternative remedies have been proven to work, above and beyond the placebos effect.   Her belief is that modern medicine has its place, and that non-traditional medicine should not be so easily dismissed.  I believe her, actually, even though I don’t always agree with what she has to say about some things.  More on that later.     Her blog, by the way is here:   http://www.bloomingwellness.com/

Today, she wrote a status update on her Facebook page – http://facebook.com/BloomingWellness – which pointed to an article about how some bizarre behaviours might be indicative of internal organic issues, rather than mental problems.    She had this to say:

I just finished an interview for Alternative Mental Health with Attorney Beth Maloney, who was recently featured on this segment of The Doctors and author of the book, Saving Sammy. We talked about how her son was misdiagnosed with OCD, put on SSRIs, when in fact he had PANDAS- an autoimmune disease caused by an antibody to Strep. Pneumo. that attacks the basal ganglia in the brain. Parents should be aware of PANDAS, a disease we don’t really learn about in medical school ( we don’t) , because certain behavioral issues in kids ( like ADHD ones, OCD, Tourettes, etc…) can actually be due to PANDAS, and doctors miss it all the time. A simple blood test may differentiate a true psychiatric issue from an autoimmune one so your child can receive the right treatment instead of a mess of drugs that are wrong.

It seems to me that the root of the issue – not about such an innocuously named condition called PANDAS, but about the initial wrong conclusion – has its basis on a culture which likes to speed everything up.  Got a problem? See a doc and get a diagnosis so that you can get some pills and get rid of it.   Most of us want that – though some would prefer a prescription of exercise or a change in diet over taking pills.  Not many of us consciously wish to remain bound by a condition or disease which limits us.  Even those who subconsciously enjoy the attention, really are miserable, and know they’d be better off if they were well.

I’ve heard stories from a few doctors about patients who come to their office, pretty much demanding antibiotics because of a scratchy throat.   In addition to a fast-paced society which can’t tolerate downtime due to illness, this presents yet another problem:  patients who think they’re doctors.  We can probably blame the internet for this, and sites like Google and mayoclinic.com .

We have all heard stories about teachers with imagined qualifications in psychiatry who diagnose ADHD in their children.   Many people use this abhorrent behaviour to cast doubt on ADHD altogether.  I can’t tell you how many times – since receiving my own diagnosis – people have said “oh EVERYONE has ADHD” – by which they mean that no one does.  My doctor friend and I have disagreed publicly about a lot concerning ADHD but to be fair:  she’s a medical doctor and I’m not; and some of her objections are I think quite valid.

She worries that too many people are looking to medications to resolve their issues with ADHD, and she wonders about the motivation of drug companies in this respect.  The same could be said of cancer and drug companies for that matter – and I’ve already heard a repeated cynical comment about this:  “the cure for cancer is already out there but isn’t being shared because too many organizations will lose money.”   I’m not sure I completely disagree.  I truly believe everyone has a motive for what they do, and that no one spends money building products without expecting some kind of return at the end of the day.

This does not equate to non-altruistic motivations though.  A doctor needs to make a living and gets paid accordingly, yet many often come close to burnout in doing so.  The extra mile they take often has nothing to do with money, and has everything to do with patient care.  Ditto those doctors who travel to remote parts of the earth to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders (or Médecins Sans Frontières).   I have to believe the same kind of ethic holds true for many in the drug companies too.

Some doctors and drug officials are of course totally in it for the money.  I’m just not convinced the paint brush is that wide.

When it comes to mental issues, there’s a harder diagnostic road to travel.  Unlike cancer or an enlarged prostate, you can’t open the brain and say “oh there’s the problem.  This part of the brain is green while the rest is gray and so that’s why this patient is schizophrenic.”  Instead, doctors must look at a whole host of reference material, which includes but isn’t limited to patient behaviours.   In my case, the hours of testing included looked at my childhood, genetic factors, and behaviours that everyone has experienced on one occasion or another.   The testing was designed to eliminate other factors or conditions or medical problems, in order to come to a robust conclusion.    This was NOT a case of my family physician hearing my complaint in one session and then coming to a diagnosis.

Much had to do with my own motivation as well.  The first surprise was realizing that everything I thought was normal – and something that everyone struggled with – was not normal.  Until then, I was convinced that my problem was a combination of laziness and even early onset of Alzheimer’s.   I had no idea why others in school progressed so quickly and retained so much, while I struggled along, barely making it.  I knew I was intelligent but you know – for a while there I thought I was incredibly stupid.   I learned how to work around my symptoms, and found creative ways to avoid circumstances and work that would highlight my deficiencies.   Really creative – which is how I figured out I wasn’t stupid.

Ultimately, it was the body of behaviours that indicated a deviation from the norm.  Whether we call it ADHD or “Yellow Pickle” is immaterial.  The issues are:  what’s the cause; and then, what’s the treatment?

Even this seems to vary, depending upon the patient.  Some fellow ADHDers swear by increased exercise, copious amounts of coffee and stern attention to diet.  Others have taken the behaviour therapy route, which goes like this:

  • I have trouble focusing, which means:
  • I often lose my keys; or
  • I am late for appointments; or
  • I forget I even have appointments; or
  • I can’t remember important details in a work project; or
  • I often look for stimulants, like illegal drugs; or
  • I put myself in harm’s way too often, because I need the rush; or
  • ….any number of other behaviours (there’s quite a list, actually)

Any of these can be mitigated by any of the treatments mentioned above.  Some of the behaviours might be rooted in causes other than ADHD.  There could be chemical issues.  The science on this is not yet perfected.  About the only thing doctors seem to agree is the body of behaviours.  Thank God for that.

The bottom line is what I told my doctor friend:  the path to diagnosis and treatment is neither as quick or as easy as patients (and occasionally doctors) would like it to be.  It’s not simple, and much depends upon the expertise and experience of the doctor (which is why my own GP didn’t want to treat me – she had neither), and upon the willingness of the patient to wait until all of the facts were in.

Your comments are invited:  have you or anyone you know (no names please, let’s keep it anonymous) struggled with getting a diagnosis about anything?   What are you thoughts about people who diagnose themselves?  What about alternative medicines – what are your thoughts on that?

Sneaky Bastards

Posted: May 15, 2011 in ADHD, writing
Tags: , , ,

It’s funny:  when you take pride in being unique, there are little things that poke you in the back to prove you are not.  That you’re just another variation on a common theme.

Like words, for example.  I like words a lot, even though I find myself sometimes frustrated at the dearth of just the *right* words required to make a point, or to paint a picture.  In writing my book, I’ve taken inspiration from my favourite author, Tom Robbins, who can paint vast majestic vistas with a paucity of Just The Right Words (if you’ve read Jitterbug Perfume you’ll know what I mean).

I like words so much that I pretty much inhale books.  Give me a good book one day and I’ll hand it back to you the next.  Boring words, like those found in manuals, or in a long treatise will only serve to pinch out the flame of whatever desire I had for the object being discussed.  I can rarely finish those.

I get bored way too easily for my own good.  (Yes, that is part of the ADD curse/blessing, in case you were wondering)

It wasn’t all that surprising to discover the appeal of Twitter.  Each tweet is limited to 140 characters, which is ideal because there’s no chance to get bored.  You have time to read (or post) one thought only.  This is good exercise for writers because you have to find creative ways to make your point with as few words as possible.  The bane of every writer, believe it or not, is too many words.  “In order to” is an example of a poor choice.  I took out the garbage in order to make the place smell better would make an editor get out his red pen.  So you turn it around, creatively, to make a more compelling point without losing the essence of what you said:

The kitchen’s ambience caused my eyes to water, and my nose to run.  Not in joy or sickness but in abject horror.  The wallpaper frowned and threatened to peel.  The laughing nemesis was that rotten carton of milk that my darling mate (She Who Must Be Forgiven Everything Just Because)  had deposited into the bin.  My stomach took a hairball hint from the cat, and began its dark dance, up against my oesophagus.   Chest heaving, I grabbed the bag.  There was no time to search for a twist-tie – I just took it and ran down the hall to my symbiotic saviour – the garbage chute, with its sticky handle, crusted with god-knows-what.  Opening it quickly, I vomited the hellish bag of death down its dark gullet.

So, OK – more words were used but at least we eliminated the dreaded “in order to”, didn’t we?

Lately, through my tweets, I’ve discovered a worrisome thing:  it appears that some common expressions have found their way into my lexicon.  Some are obvious, and therefore easy to spot, while others are elusive and subtle.  “Apparently” – is a word used as a comic device in many tweets, usually expressed after making an outrageous comment.  After commenting on that guy’s shoes, I suddenly realized I left my testicles in my other coat pocket.  Apparently.

It’s ok when used one or two times, but when everyone on Twitter starts using it, it gets old fast.

(It gets old fast, is another example of a too-often used phrase.  Time to retire it.)

Another sneaky word is “totally”.  A recent tweet from yours truly, based upon an event at work:

Hot Jamaican babe microwaves some oatmeal.

Me: “are you putting some brown sugar on that?”

*awkward silence*

Then we totally made out.


Once again, “totally” is being used as an expression of emphasis, like a question mark.  In using it, I unconsciously followed the pack instead of going for a unique stance.

Time to declare war on these little bastards.  We must remain vigilant.

That is all.

(Damn.  Another one)

The Cats of Creative Invention

Posted: February 21, 2011 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

Curious kitty

 

“I’m just calling to tell you that you’ve got the job”

The female voice on the other end of the line waited for the exhalation of joy.  She didn’t wait long.

The recipient could barely contain himself.   “I did?  Awesome!”

Awesome?  Kids use that word, not grown men.  “I mean, that’s great.  Amazing.”

She laughed.  “Yes, I did a blind evaluation of the submissions, by asking my assistant to number them without telling me who submit what.  I didn’t want to inadvertently favour anyone.  Yours was definitely the one that stood out.”

He nodded, momentarily unaware that she couldn’t see his body language.  Then he shook his head with a smile.  “I see.”

“Right” she said.  “I mean, I recognized some of the ideas you proposed as coming from you.  Still – you seemed to have the best grasp of what’s needed for the position.”

He was never any good at accepting praise.  Getting the job and the additional praise was almost too much to handle.

“Well thank you.  I appreciate this…..all of it.  I can’t wait to start.”

Enthusiasm.  That’s what the voice was waiting for.

“Great!  So you’ll start in two weeks time.  Does that work for you? I mean I spoke with your current boss, and that’s the date he wanted.  Give you time to hand off your duties to a subordinate.”

“It works for me.  And thanks again!”  He grinned, as they ended the call.

It was a promotion.  He was no longer a supervisor; he was now a manager.   In the large bureaucracy, this was a significant step up.  What’s more – it was a brand new position, and as such there were no employees in his group.  Just him.  He was, effectively, a manager of new ideas for the Information Technology organization.   Basically, he was in charge of accepting new ideas, and then linking the right groups together to work on them.  With the downturn in the economy, many organizations needed to find ways to automate their work, so that they could provide more service while using less capital.  He was tasked with making that happen.

The great news kept him smiling – right up until the flow of work came in.   In his excitement, he had forgotten about the historical effects of his ADD.

One by one, the ideas sauntered in, on unobtrusive cat’s paws, sniffing around the room, checking underneath the cupboards, and then settling at his feet, meowing plaintively for attention and food.   It wasn’t long until opportunity’s door opened wider, and suddenly there was a flood of ideas, each clamouring for attention.

His ADD mind struggled with the competing thoughts.  Almost all of the ideas were bright and shiny and deserving of attention.  He could feel his neck tightening in anticipation of the work involved in vetting them all.  His boss pointed out one major one and merely added to the weight.

The weekend showed up at his door, hands in its pockets, and he sighed with relief.   At his home on Friday night, he battled the tension; he breathed out and tried to fill his chest with air.  The cascade of ideas was still there, waiting patiently for Monday morning.  Some of the ideas even tried to sneak into his mind while he was trying to enjoy the time off.  He slammed the door on them each time.   Monday would come soon enough.  This was the weekend, and he adamantly refused to deal with any of them.

Monday morning blew the trumpet directly in his ear.  He thought he recognized the tune:  “March of the Bureaucrats”.   He sat at his desk, tired, grumpy and a little frightened.  The now hordes of thoughts crowded his feet, all meowing; a triumphant caterwaul of noise.   He thought of a caption for his Facebook page:  The orderly garden of the mind suffers violence when the cats of creative invention come to play.

Certain that he was going mad, he closed his eyes, there at the desk.  Then, he breathed in.  Then out.  Then in again.  Then out.   He kept this up, each time concentrating on his breath, and working to increase the length of time each inhale and exhale took.  It was a meditation technique taught to him months ago by someone he loved.  He knew it would work.  It had to.

He felt the tension leave his neck and shoulders.   The idea-felines were still crowding him, but their incessant roar had mellowed somewhat.   He opened up a new document and started typing some of them in.   He noticed that as each idea made it to the page, the roar lessened, just a bit.   And so the day progressed.

His boss spoke with him later in the day.   When she told him of one of her suggestions – that at some point he might want to get into project management – he felt the tension return.  This time he confronted it.

“I don’t tell this to many people” he said.  “But you need to know.”

“What’s that?” she said.

He knew that there was always the possibility that what he would tell her would rattle her.  He had already figured out that the worst thing that could happen would be that he got bumped back to his old position.  And he knew that this wasn’t a bad thing.  Not at al.

“I’ve recently been diagnosed as having ADD”, he began.

“Oh really? ” she asked.  “I guess it must have been a surprise, finding that out as an adult”

“Yes” he said.  “It did explain a heck of a lot though.   I always wondered why so many people were able to do seemingly simple things while I struggled.”   He paused, thinking.  “Anyway, when you grow up with it, you just learn to cope, and to find workarounds to handle all of the millions of thoughts that compete for attention.   So projects and project management has never been my strong suit at all. ”  He laughed.  “I guess I’m just not a fan.”

She laughed too.  Music to his ears. “Well, I don’t know if I can help you do what you need to do, but maybe we can meet often, at a scheduled time, or whenever you need to meet.”

He felt relief.  “That would be great.  Actually, I have access to your calendar so for now, maybe I’ll just schedule myself in whenever the time is right.”

“Sounds good to me” she said.

It sounded good to him too.  And after exchanging a few more administrative details, they ended the call.

There was lots of work to do, and he knew his ADD mind wanted it all done right now.   He had to remind himself that it was only day two of his assignment.

He walked out of the offices that day, much lighter than when he walked in.

For a Monday – it wasn’t too bad at all.

There is something a little satisfying about meeting a group of people who have something in common with you.  I realized the joy of that when I attended an ADD support group recently.

Having been formerly diagnosed as having Attention Deficit Disorder a few weeks ago, I’ve made up my mind to do something about it.  Contrary to popular belief, the answer is *not* drugs.  Or rather not *just* drugs.  No, the psychiatrist who gave me the diagnosis said “wolf, you need to get to the point where you have more control over your impulses and focus.”

He grabbed a pen and pretended he was writing something.  “Basically, when you do anything at all, you’ll want to be in the moment.  When you pick up the pen like this, you’ll want to be aware of how it feels in your hand.  What part of your fingers are touching it?  Is it rough or smooth?  And when you put it to the paper, you’ll want to be aware of the pressure your hand has to exert to write anything at all.”

I nodded, even as I acknowledged that, with the exception of the rent cheque each month, I NEVER write anything.  And that got me thinking about what day it was and whether the rent was due soon.

The doc brought me back on track.  “So…you won’t be able to do that right out of the gate.  So you’ll need meds initially to get you to that point.  But, the goal is to come to the place where you won’t need the meds anymore.”

I nodded.  This sounded just about, oh I don’t know, pretty much perfect to me.

“You told me you long suspected you had ADD.  What have you done about it so far?”

I looked at him.  “Well, I’ve attended a couple of workshops and….”  I thought for a moment.  “Oh yes!  I joined a support group.”

“You did?  What is it?”

“It’s a group that meets at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health every couple of weeks.”

“Oh yes.  I’m aware of that group.  Good.  Keep going.  And see your family doctor for the meds.”

With that, I thanked him and left.

The other night I met with the support group, and a few of us “newbies” split off into a separate group, where we were encouraged to tell our stories.   When it got around to me, I had so many different things to say, and I wanted to say them all at once, that I got stuck.

“Sorry – there’s about a million thoughts going on right now.”

They all nodded knowingly.  Every last one of them.  They knew.   They knew exactly what it was all about.

Awesome.

Earlier, we had discussed Executive Function – that process in everyone’s brain that allows you to consider several things, categorize them, and put them on various shelves in your mind, so that you can pick them up at will and work with each one individually, until completion.   The classic ADDer doesn’t have a fully functioning system.  We take all of those things and we want to process them all at the same time.   Executive function allows you to start and stop actions, anticipate stuff and adapt to changing situations.   The lack of it can really mess you up.

Here’s the thing:  when you grow up in this state, you have no idea anything’s wrong.  You watch other people complete projects fairly easily, and you think that maybe you’re just not smart enough (because you know you’re *lousy* at doing projects).  I used to truly truly HATE it when the teacher assigned projects to us.

Then, later on you realize that you really do “get” a lot of concepts, and often you’re leaps and bounds beyond others.  So you know you’re not stupid.  So you conclude maybe you’re just too lazy.  Input from others (teachers, parents, friends) seems to confirm this self-analysis.

You discover you have a penchant for seeing “the big picture” in any situation.  You realize that you’re well suited to managing conflicts, mostly because you can simultaneously see various viewpoints at once.  You understand how they got there – and you understand almost instantaneously.  Seems like a wonderful trait to have.  And by God you’ll accept that one, since you’re such a miserable failure at other things.

You often do hilarious things too.  Like turning on the tap to fill up the sink so you can do the dishes, then sitting down at the computer to work on something, only to realize twenty minutes later (if you’re lucky) that you left the tap running.  This unfortunate circumstance is confirmed as you walked out into the hallway, straight into a mini-lake.

Or you come home from buying groceries, some of which are frozen foods.   You put them down to get the key out of the door.  You realize there’s a program on TV that you wanted to see, so you put the keys down and go turn the TV on.  Then you remember an email that you wanted to send, so you go into your office and bang it out.   Then something else, then something else and then it’s time for bed so you brush your teeth and hit the sack.

The next morning you come out the kitchen and you see the now-smelly “frozen food” that you left out the day before.

This is my life, folks.

There are a lot of positives about the ADD life:  there’s an incredible creativity that comes with the “gift”.  A lot of actors and comedians get into the entertainment business because of this knack they have.  I’ve done improv comedy and I have to tell you:  that was one of the highlights of my adult existence.  It takes you back to the time when you were a kid, and anything was possible.  “What if I was an old man, with a young trophy wife who wanted me dead?  Or what if I was a pimp, with a stripper girlfriend and a four year old child?”

You get to play all these parts (the stripper/pimp thing was played out in real life on a crowded bus one day, to an unsuspecting audience.), and you have so much FUN.

The downside:  you take on projects and never complete them.  Not without some prompting.  Also – you can barely stand linear conversations.  You get so *bored*.  So easily bored.  It’s one reason I hate telephones.

There’s one personal project I’ve had on the back burner for quite some time.  There’s a book I want to write.  I have several concepts that I really want to share in it.  When I say “quite some time” – we’re talking a few years here.  And I’ve started it several times.  Each time I got distracted and lost momentum.

A good friend of mine mentioned a once a year event, called NaNoWriMo.  That’s a kind of awkward acronym for “National Novel Writing Month”.  It’s a trans-continental event that takes place mostly on the net.  The shared goal of writers everywhere is this:  we have to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  Entirely do-able – and this is evident by the fact that so many writers manage to do it every year.  It’s been in existence for I think twelve years, and each year there’s an exponentially larger list of participants.

The other night I attended the local Toronto NaNoWriMo kick-off party.  We had a ball!   There’s going to be an all-night event where some of the participants get together at a large house, specifically to write as much as possible during the night.  I frankly can’t wait for that one.

There’s another event, where we get on the subway at one end of the system, and we ride it for as long as possible, just writing away.

This is the aspiring writer’s ADD dream:  to have input and a goad to get this particular goal accomplished.

I am *so* grateful to my friend Katy for having introduced this to me.   She’s done NaNoWriMo herself, with great success.

I will too.  Part of the method for getting this done involves making myself accountable to others.  Telling as many people as possible about it.  Potential embarrassment is a killer motivator.

So….this begins tomorrow.  November 1.

You likely won’t see much of me during the month.   I get emails when you leave comments on my blog though.

So here’s the deal:  if you’re so inclined, please drop me a comment here at the bottom of this blog, now and then.  Ask me how I’m doing.

I promise to answer.  And I will tell you the truth.

Oh man.  This is going to be good.

Harvest Moon Howl

Posted: September 23, 2010 in ADHD, humor, Life
Tags: , , , ,

Guess what?

I’ve got some new readers!

And guess what else?

They’re my work mates!

And you know what that means:

  1. No more selling heroin in the corporate washroom
  2. No more talking about sleeping under the desk (hey Costanza:  you had a great idea buddy.  Pity it didn’t work out.  For you or for me.)
  3. I can’t tell you about all of those times I plugged the corporate servers into “The Clapper”, causing severe mental anguish to the entire organization.
    • “Help desk?  Can you tell me what happened to all my files?”
    • “What files, sir?”
    • “The files I was working on”
    • “Hang on while I check……………………………..Ok there are no files, sir”
    • “I KNOW THAT!”
    • “So why are you calling, sir?”
    • “I”M CALLING ‘CAUSE I WANT MY FILES BACK”
    • “That’s nice”
    • “Well?”
    • “Well what?”
    • “Are you going to get them back?”
    • “No, I don’t think so, sir.”
    • “WHY NOT?”
    • “Because it wasn’t me who lost them.”
    • “WHAT?”
    • “I didn’t delete them sir.  I had no reason to.  I mean, you know, I like you.  So why would I do that?”
    • “Huh?”
    • “So that means you must have deleted them.”
    • “I–uh—what?  You like me?”
    • “Good bye sir.  And have a nice day”
    • “But…”
    • *click*
  4. And for sure I can’t talk about those times when I went to a whole zoo of cubicle farms, and forwarded everyone’s phone to the next one.

(Really bummed about the heroin thing though.  That was a real money-maker)

Maybe it’s time to develop some sort of “wink wink” code.  So when I say “it’s a sunny day out” you can interpret it as “way too sunny – and I’m much too hung over to appreciate it. In fact, I’m still a bit drunk.”)

In other news……

Some of you have been asking, so I’ve decided to tell you:  saw the doc yesterday and, after a whole series of tests and interviews and after injecting his practice with a whole raft of money,  he advised me that yes indeed – I have ADHD. 

Not a big surprise.  Kind of a relief actually.  I’m no hypochondriac, looking for diseases or conditions.  But when I first read the list of symptoms I couldn’t help yelling “HEY.  THAT’S ME!” (Well I didn’t yell, actually.  I mumbled it.  Kind of softly.  I think.  I don’t know for sure, as my noise-cancelling Shure 535 earphones were plugged into my ear-holes.  I could have been shouting it out at Ozzy Osborne levels.)

(Maybe that’s why they didn’t invite me to the office picnic this summer)

(Also, I seem to be missing my scissors.  In fact, there are no sharp-edged instruments of destruction anywhere near me)

Anyway, the doc told me what I need to start doing.  I asked him “do I need to see you anymore?”

He said “no.  I don’t think so”.  

We shook hands.  He sort of crushed mine.  I tried to keep calm, knowing the pain would end soon.  No tears, not even one.  And I didn’t grimace.

I’m pretty sure my ears popped though.

Glad that’s over with.  I’ve got stuff to do now.  And long-lost plans to resurrect and get going with. 

The future is frigging *bright*.

And in still other news……

Did you see the harvest moon last night?  Awesome, wasn’t it?

Fickle Butterflies

Posted: June 28, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

“My thoughts are like butterflies”, he said.  “They’re beautiful.  But they fly away.”

It was a lament offered up a little boy, and quoted in the book “Delivered from Distraction”.

I nodded furiously.

Kind of stupid isn’t it?  Nodding at something you read in a book.  Sort of like clapping at the end of a movie, when you know none of the production folk or actors are there to appreciate it.

All of my life I’ve heard about ADD and the favourite companion topic: Ritalin.  Usually, Ritalin is said with a slight hesitation, or in some circles, a gasp.  It was the go-to drug for every unruly child (or so the legend goes).  It became the excuse drug, the alternative to discipline as an answer to bad behaviour.

ADD has been relegated to the annals of mental illness.  A disorder if you will.  Something We Don’t Talk About.

Not surprising, then, given its history, that some people get annoyed by the topic.

I was aware of this ambience around ADD all my life.  Aware but disinterested, really.  I couldn’t have cared less.  I know my sisters were on Ritalin for a while, but didn’t know why.  I knew they didn’t exhibit bad behaviour.  Being a kid myself at the time, I just didn’t pay attention. (Did you know that ADD only affects about 4% of the population, on average?  Not quite the catch-all most people have assumed over the years).

I was not an unruly kid either.  I mean, well I was at first, before hitting kindergarten.  I ran away a lot.  Not because I was angry at Mom.  It was because, like most little boys, I was curious.  Probably a little more curious than most, because I wasn’t really running AWAY so much as running TO – whatever it was that caught my eye.  One of the earliest memories was of riding my tricycle down the street and into a construction zone.  I remember my Mom being so very angry (read: worried), and I recall getting a spanking out of that deal.  The first of many, actually.

They say that ADD is the comedian/actor’s disorder.  There’s a reason for that.  The same condition that provides a lack of concentration in so many of us actually promotes creativity.  It’s not that we can’t focus, it’s that we focus only on bright spots.  For many of us (me included) it’s actually a plus, in so many ways.  A lot of ADD folk don’t like the idea of taking any kind of meds for it, because they’re worried they won’t get those bright ideas anymore.  Rick Green, who is a producer and comedian and an actor – said that the meds actually don’t stifle his creativity at all.  It allows him to corral those same ideas and follow them to completion.

Another myth:  people who have ADD can never focus.  In fact, the opposite is true.  We either lose focus easily, or we hyperfocus, to the exclusion of all else.  We can be so heavily focused on something that we won’t notice that there’s a fire in the house.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been late for an appointment, or forgot something really important, mostly because I was hyperfocused on something.

There’s another aspect of ADD that you may find to be of interest (and we’ll make this the last one for this blog).

Over the years, both here and on MySpace, I’ve spoken about my various forays into activities that turned out to be suspiciously addictive.

The other day, when I sold my doctor on the idea of buying an iPad (mentioned in the last blog), I asked for a refill of a narcotic prescription to alleviate migraines.

She said (as she tends to say every time this prescription is refilled):  “when’s the last time I gave you this?  Don’t want you getting addicted to them again.”   

Every time she says this, it irritates me.   She makes it sound like I could so easily become addicted and need to go into rehab or something.   So, this time I addressed it.

“Doctor, I wonder if we could spend a few minutes talking about addictions and ADD?”

She leaned back, and peered at me over her glasses.  “Sure.”

“Years ago, I developed a dependency on this medication….”

She interrupted with “yes you did.”

I continued.  “But I weaned myself off of it, gradually.”  I wanted her to know that back then, that *I* took control of the addictive behaviour and did something about it.  That the change in behaviour wasn’t forced on me; it was something I chose to do, on my own.

“I then got into drinking wine, actually quite a bit.  So much that it scared me, so I stopped drinking it at all for quite a while, just to make sure I wasn’t an alcoholic.”

She gave me her rapt attention, and I could tell she was actually listening.

“I got into pot, with the same results, and with the same concerns, and took myself off of it, just to make sure I didn’t actually need it.   And I’ve done the same with fatty foods and chocolate.”

“So” I said “I’m aware that people with ADD have a tendency towards addictions and addictive behaviour….”

“That’s right” she said.  “And it’s good that you’re able to recognize it and do something about it.”

I nodded, satisfied that I’d made my point, and so we sat there, silent for a while.

“Doc I really don’t know what I’m asking, here.”  In truth, I wasn’t asking anything. I just wanted her to acknowledge that I’m fully aware of all the dangers of narcotic medicines and am therefore armed against abusing them.

She said “maybe you’re wondering about the science of it all?”

I nodded.

“Well, people with ADD are lacking stimulation, so they tend to self-medicate where possible.  That’s what that’s all about.”

She was silent for a moment.  “In fact,” she said “for all the talk about alcoholism and drug addictions being an illness, I don’t buy it at all.  If it was truly an illness, you wouldn’t be able to control yourself.”

I agreed with her.  “Yes, even when I was heavily into wine, I can tell you that I wouldn’t have sat in front of my boss with a bottle in my hand.   So there has to be some measure of control.”

She nodded, and we finished the appointment.

The bottom line is that addictive behaviour, while not in itself indicative of ADD, it is one of the many factors.  In fact, when a person displays any of the individual factors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person has ADD.   It’s the combination of those factors in overwhelming numbers that may indicate it.

And it’s not always a bad thing.  In fact, with a bit of control (read: cognitive therapy and meds), ADD can be the best thing in the world.  I certainly see it that way and am looking forward to exercising some of my creative ideas to completion.

I mean – I really like the shiny butterflies, and would rather see them stick around a little longer than they typically do.

iPad

Posted: June 15, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , ,

Ever since Steve Jobs started talking about the iPad (well, even before that) I have drooled for that thing. 

Consequently, the Life Priority List changed, just a bit:

1. Food
1. a) iPad
2. Clothing
3. Shelter
4. Transportation

Last Friday I walked into Future Shop.  Can’t remember why.  But I saw a big iPad display sitting there, all shiny and sparkling.  And it wasn’t even real.  It was cardboard.

I wiped my face, and turned to the nearest sales guy.  “So.  You have any 64 GB 3G iPads in stock?”

“I don’t think so.  Let me check.”

He checked.

“No.  But we should be getting in some more tomorrow.  Apples sends its shipments to us every so often and tomorrow they’re scheduled to send us another one.”

“Oh.”

“I can take your name and number and send you a text if they arrive.   What do you think?”

Still disappointed, I said “sure” – and gave him the details.

The next morning I was downtown having breakfast and suddenly had a thought.  There are a bunch of Future Shops around town, and they have a great website where you can specify what you’re after, and it’ll let you know which stores have it in stock.  I quickly did the deed and found one store in Toronto that had one.  So I paid the bill and off I went.

The Apple girl was cute.  That’s the first thing I noticed.  And she was excited.  Not about me, of course – just my business. 

(The business about buying an iPad. Geeze.)

When I told her what I wanted, her bright smile disappeared behind a disappointed frown.  “Oh I’m sorry.  I think we’re all out.”

I said “OK” and turned to go.

“Wait.   Let me check with one of the Future Shop guys.  Just to be sure.”

I shrugged, and waited, while Jeremy (I think that’s what his name was) grabbed a key to the storeroom.

A minute or two later he came out.  “Here.  It’s the last one.”

And there it was, too.  A 64 GB 3G iPad.  Top of the line.

I felt like a 1950′s guy, all happy about his Mercury. 

Or that father in “A Christmas Story” – all excited about his new prize:  a leg lamp.

Or like Ralph from the same movie, with his Red Ryder BB gun.

Truly, the iPad was a thing of wonder.  A brand new technology, and there it was, sitting in my hands.  I remembered how so many people at work knew I wanted one.  Every day since it came on the market, they’d asked if I had one yet.

And now I did.

Unfortunately I couldn’t go right home until several hours later, so asked if I could set it up right there.  They said “sure”.

Later that afternoon, when I was at the ADHD workshop, I took it out and flipped it on so that I could take notes.   When someone several rows back gasped “it’s an iPad”,  I smiled, knowingly.

I took it to work with me yesterday, and showed it off to everyone.  Even people I didn’t know came up to watch as I demoed some of the cool apps on the thing. 

There was one thing I hadn’t counted on though.  One little detail in the experience that just never occurred to me.

Paranoia.

It’s not like my e-book reader, which I didn’t mind leaving out on my desk.

This puppy is *expensive*.  Also, it’s cool.  There was no way I was going to leave it sitting around. 

Hence, like a little puppy, it follows me everywhere. 

Losing it or having it stolen (which is the same thing) would suck so bad.  Almost as bad as losing my iPhone.

Last week I went to the movies, and at one point had to leave to use the washroom.  For some strange stupid reason I decided to check my email.  (Yes, *before* I actually did my business).  Instead of sticking it back in my pocket, I left my iPhone on top of the TP dispenser.  I remembered thinking “better make sure I put it back in my pocket before I leave”.

I finished up (all the while distracted by a host of different thoughts) and washed and went back to the movie.  There was some pretty cool music playing and I wanted to use one of the iPhone apps to “listen” to it, so that it could tell me the name of the song and the artist.  I reached into my pocket and……..

I jumped up and made a mad dash for the washroom.  There were dozens of people between me and the place, all just getting out of another movie.  I ran into the washroom and opened the door and….there it was.  Right where I left it.

Heart thumping hard, I walked back to the theatre, grateful and shaken.

So maybe you can understand that there’s some residual angst around owning these things.

I picture some Buddhist master grabbing the iPad from my hands and intoning “son, you don’t own this.   It owns you.”

And I picture myself grabbing it back and saying “yeah, fuck you, Master.”

Still.   It is a thing of beauty.  Isn’t it?

…..preciiiiousssss….

Extrovert Epiphany

Posted: June 14, 2010 in ADHD, Life

Isn’t it amazing how mistaken a person can be?

I never thought I could be so wrong about something.  I’m not sure why any of it matters, really – except that it does.  Probably because I’ve believed an untruth for such a long time.  Learning the truth has been the equivalent of me learning that the sun is really the moon and the moon really is just a big plate in the sky.

It all stems from a comment one of my favourite bloggers wrote on the last blog.

contoveros (a.k.a. Michael J.) wrote: 

“You an introvert? 
Nah.  Not the way you write!
You got extrovert written all over you.
Nice guy, but no introvert.”

I disagreed with him.  Told him why he was wrong.  Told him why I’m an introvert.

Learned the truth over the weekend.  The resulting mind-rush has left me a little messed up.

Let’s start with what “they” (whoever they are) say about introvert and extrovert personalities.  

A psychiatrist who was speaking at an ADHD conference on the weekend said something like this:

“An introvert speaks from the head; from the mind.  He rarely shows emotion and in fact can be mistaken for dull.  He’s more interested in the facts, not the feelings behind them.  Introverts” he went on to say “do have feelings.  Don’t get me wrong.  But they’re buried deep inside.”

“An extrovert, on the other hand, wears his heart on his sleeve.  He’s invested in the heart of things and when he feels, he feels deeply.”

I can hardly keep it together when watching a particularly well-acted movie where the heroine dies, leaving her young son behind.   (So fucking annoying, that.)  I’m keenly aware of people, and can often “read” them within a few seconds.  This awareness has everything to do with their emotions, their body language, the flickering look they get in their eyes, everything. 

But what about this need to process everything before reacting?  Why this abhorrence to displays of drama? (And oh dear Lord yes – I *hate* being around overly dramatic people)

The psychiatrist opined:  “sometimes people, when they’re young, start off either as an extrovert but conditions dictate that they have to grow up fast”  (check)

“Sometimes, they have to submerge their extraversion into a semblance of introversion, just to survive” (uh oh.  check again)

“And it’s only when they get older that they feel free to let loose and be the extrovert that was always there.” (uh huh.  Life of the party.  Hmm. )

But wait.  What about the fact that I can’t stand being around people for too long?

(Someone cue the ADHD marching band)

“ADHD people have minds that go all over the place.  They don’t want to stay in one place for too long.”  (Shit.  Check.   This explains why it’s hard to be around “normal” people who talk about “normal” things.  It also explains why there are so many problems staying focused when in a classroom or lecture or speech.  Or teleconference call, even when I’m the moderator.  I thought it was me being drained – as I told Michael – but it’s not.  It’s that I’m way too easily bored).

Finally, I discussed the whole ADHD conference with a gorgeous friend of mine at work today.  

**Why do I say she’s gorgeous?
==> Because she is.
**Yeah, but what’s significant about her appearance?
==>Well it’s more than her appearance, really.  She has a bright, curious gorgeous mind too.
**Right.  So what?
==>Well, I like her OK?  Get over it.
**FINALLY!  We get to the heart of it.
==>Pfft.  Whatever.

ANYWAY.   She said something startling.  And she said it so matter-of-factly – like everyone knew this and where the hell have I been that I missed it - that it left me a little shocked.  “You?  You’re not an introvert.  C’mon.  YOU?  No way.  You’re an extrovert like me.”

And there it was.

So Michael.  I’m wrong and you’re right.  For the rest of you reading this – take a look at the last blog.

This changes everything.

Also….

Time to party.

P.S. I got an iPad.

*snicker*

In Search of Logic

Posted: June 9, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

They finally caught up to me.

It feels like months ago that I learned that the ADHD doc who was supposed to see me in July died.  At least a month ago.  I wondered back when I heard the news whether I would show up on the scheduled date, only to be met at the door by a clerk, dabbing her tearful eyes as she informed me the doctor was OUT and would, barring a miraculous resurrection, never quite be back in.

It was with some surprise that I picked up the ringing phone today to hear the subdued voice of that same clerk, who was finally getting around to letting me know the good doctor had joined the howling chorus of angels.   That he had shuffled off his uncaring mortal coil, and that he had slithered into eternity with his bright aviator sunglasses on.    That he had pondered his last thought, and had instead pushed his soul past the clamouring ants and worms, on his way to the Ultimate Zenith.

“He’s dead”

“I know.”

“Oh”

*silence*

“Well, we have another doctor who might be able to see you.  Would it be OK if we got back to you before the end of the month with an appointment?”

Such a weird question.  Would it be all right?

All right….. what?  All right that they would get back to me?

Or all right that I had to wait until the end of the month?

How the FUCK does any office run that way?  Where they have to consult with each other to figure out an appointment time?  Or figure out if they really want to see you at all?

What office do you know takes the time to call up prospective clients or patients, to ask them if it’s OK that they get back to you later on this century with an appointment time?  They took the time to call you this time – why not save on time and make the appointment right now?

I don’t get it.

Maybe it’s an elaborate screening process.  Maybe you gotta REALLY want an appointment.  Maybe only the whiners will get to see the good doctor.  Maybe the nice ones will get left out, deemed “not really in need” by virtue of their kind niceness.

You know what?

I made a mistake.

I said “sure”.

I should have said “FUCK NO!  It’s not all right!  I’ve been waiting for months to see someone, and now you’re taking the time to give me a fucking phone call asking me if it’s fucking ok for me to get a call from you later?  What the FUCK is this?  Romper Room?   Do you see me through your magic tennis racket?”

Yeah.  I know.

I didn’t want to be “that guy”.  You know the one – makes everyone uncomfortable with his anger and his disgustingly bad language.

*sighs*

Well…..this time I was nice.

I’ll give them two weeks and when I call back……

I won’t even remember what “nice” feels like.  And neither will they.

Fuckers.

Night

Posted: April 26, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , ,

“Night time…is the right time….to be….with the one you love…..”

That Ray Charles song resonates.

There’s a life-beat to it, a drawing, a capture that won’t quit, won’t let go.

Night time.

Even the words amaze me.

Long before I figured out that ADD had a place in my life, I knew that the night-time was a friend.   She would glance at me through her long dark hair, her smiling eyes dancing, daring and ready to run.   And we would scamper around the dark city, curious about the next corner, not sure whether what was on the other side was dangerous or fun.  Or both.

There were so many failed mornings; mornings that would see my mother grow exasperated and angry as I struggled to get my act together so as to get to school on time.   Our school band had practice every single day for years at 8:00 in the morning.  And every single morning – every *single* one – I found myself running to school.  I never had enough time to merely walk it.

That should have told me something.

So many nights I became alive and alert.

There were many times after improv class when a few close friends and I got together, to sit under the stars at the top of an apartment building, listening to the sounds of the street.  We spoke of so many “what ifs” and laughed and drank.  It was under one of those night skies that my friend decided that next Hallowe’en he was going to dress as a priest.  My other friend figured that if he was going to do that, she was going to dress as a nun.  They both decided I should dress as an altar boy.  With a slave collar and chain.

We would walk down Yonge St. and scandalize society as best we could.

There was a time, when I was still in high school and didn’t live in the big city.  When I lived in Oshawa, a town that was about thirty miles away from The City.  The train was the only way to get here, and so that’s what I did on occasion.   I remember the first time I walked down Yonge St. too.  (That’s the longest street in Canada, or so it’s said).  It’s the main drag in Toronto, and it contains, per capita, the highest number of light bulbs on any given street you’d care to mention.   There are bars, next to record stores, next to strip clubs, next to department stores, tarot card readers, ice cream parlours and other restaurants.

The street was – and is – *alive*.

That first trek down Yonge St. evidently made an impression on me.  I remember a few hookers looking at my curiosity-filled, upturned, open-mouthed entirely naive teenage face, and laughing at me.

Where ever my feet would take me, that’s where I went.

I remember later trips, this time with friends, where we spent the entire night exploring the city, walking everywhere, laughing as the rain came down and we scooted from shelter to shelter.   The fresh smell of the wet air was invigorating.   We didn’t really *do* anything.  Yet we had such a great time.

It took me the longest time to realize that it wasn’t Yonge St., or the long lightbulbed corridor, or the smells, or the curiosity that affected me so much.

It was the night-time.

Yonge St. during the day is boring.  It’s filled with people, all scurrying from point A to B in the quickest way possible.  It’s what I imagine major streets in New York to be like on a busy day, albeit on a slightly lesser scale.

Night time brings clarity.  You notice things more at night.  Like smells. Glances.  Things.  People.  Lights.

There doesn’t seem to be an end to the night.  You can’t really believe morning will ever get here.   You revel in it, and you wonder how people can ever stand to be out there during the day.

Clubs, bars and curiosity shops each have their own characters that seem (to me) to only become apparent at night.  The light show and driving thump-thumping of dance music in clubs compete with the gaze of strangers, all of whom seem as curious as you.

Here’s the thing:  night-time captures my interest like nothing else does.  The ADD-enhanced frustration of day time business goes away at night.  That white noise buzzing of competing priorities fades away.  Everything – EVERYTHING – becomes so clear.  Like crystal.

I used to make a habit of walking the eight miles from my home to the south-most part of Yonge St..   I’d do this while listening to one of the extensive music playlists on my iPhone.   The  few times I did this last year was enjoyable, even though I found myself totally missing the scenery of that walk.  The music took my mind away on vast vistas of thought.  This happens every time I walk anywhere while the music is playing, and even when it’s not.

My leg is broken right now and I’m not walking anywhere.

But when it’s healed, one of the first things I’m going to do is walk from my place to the south end of Yonge St., again.

This time, I’ll do it at night.

I can’t wait.

Nasal Warfare

Posted: April 19, 2010 in ADHD, Life, writing
Tags: , ,

My stomach tossed and turned.  It knew the day was early but it clearly was uncomfortable, maybe even bored.  So it decided to wake me up.

*RRRR*

I glanced at the clock.   6:30.

Six-freaking-thirty.

Who the hell gets up voluntarily on a Monday morning at that awful time?

Evidently I do.

I ignored my stomach and rolled over.  Stomach protested.  Loudly. 

Sometimes it’s good to be a bachelor, what with all of that irritating rumbling going on.   This way I only annoy me.

Looked at the clock.  6:31.   Closed my eyes.

Brain woke up and started rummaging around in my head, knocking shit over and just generally being loud.  “Hey!  It’s a new day!”

I thought back.  “Fuck off, brain”

It persisted.  “But you can do so much now.  Don’t have to be to work until 9:00 so what can you do in the meantime?”

I thought “sleep”

“No no no.  You’ve got a few hours.  HEY!!” it shouted.

I opened one eye.

“What if you get your washing done?”

“What if I just shoot myself.  In the head.”

“No seriously.  It’s Monday so you know NO ONE is going to be in the laundry room.  You’ll have all of those washers and dryers to yourself.”

I rolled onto my back.  Brain had a point.

Fucking brain.

It was useless to try and get back to sleep.  Stomach and brain were both pushing and prodding at me so I got up, got my shit together and went down to the laundry room.

Having loaded the laundry, I was waiting outside the elevator to go back to my apartment when I heard a screeching sound, like metal banging on metal.  Loud.

And smelly, I realized shortly after the noise started.  I figured it out.   The garbage bin people were here, hauling out all the vomit-inducing detritus of the apartment-dwellers’ stinky cast-offs.

Ew.

Then the elevator door opened and I eagerly stepped forward to escape the stench.

Only, there was a rather large woman with a massive red beehive coming off, so I stepped back.

Good thing.    Her smell hit me harder than the garbage truck.   

Double ew.

She tottered on her stiletto heels out to the parking lot, overly large designer shades just sitting there precariously on her face.

I thought to myself  “Lady.  Spend some money.  Leave the Kmart bargain bins alone when you’re buying scent.”

I’m not stupid.  I didn’t say any of this aloud.  She had enormous fists and I have a delicate face.

And an even more delicate nose.

I’m just glad I didn’t have to work in the same office as her.  I could feel the headache coming on, just from those few moments of exposure.   The aura of “L’Eau de Backed Up Toilet” competed heavily with the garbage truck outside.   The perfume laughed in derision, pummeling the garbage truck odour into a quick submission, and finishing it with a round-house kick, right to the gonads.

The garbage truck was down.   And the people in the stands trampled each other as they left the stadium in panic.  Perfume glared around, just daring anyone else to challenge it.

Fortunately for me, just then, the elevator doors closed.

Appointment With A Dead Doc

Posted: April 18, 2010 in ADHD, humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

My motto at the top of this blog is “Awake, Aware and In Constant Movement”

Well tonight’s the “awake” part.  It’s 2:06 a.m. and I’m just so jazzed to be so vibrantly awake right now.

In earlier blogs I mentioned that I’m getting assessed for ADD.  I just learned tonight that the doctor who was going to do the assessment has died.  I don’t know if I should keep the appointment anyway.  I doubt he’ll be able to shed much light on my situation.

Doesn’t matter.  I can talk better with him dead anyway.  For one thing, he’ll have a hard time interrupting me.

Dead people make such great listeners.  And they hardly ever complain about your hygiene or what you’re wearing either.  I can wear age-inappropriate leather pants with rips and coloured beads and I can wear a t-shirt that says “FUCK  WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I BOUGHT THIS SHIRT” and it won’t matter.

His hygiene might be a problem though.  I can always take off my t-shirt and wrap it around my head so that my nose is covered.   Won’t matter if I’m topless.  My words will be muffled that way but then again – it’s not like he’ll complain.

I’m worried he might nod off though.  Nod off and fall to the floor.

Are dead people shatter-proof or do they just fall apart at the slightest provocation?

He’ll probably just lay there, looking stupid and lifeless.

(No, that’s not what my last girlfriend said about me.  And anyway I was drinking)

(Like I am now)

Roses are red

My doctor is toast

I had an appointment

But doc’s done gone and give up the ghost

Earphones

Posted: April 6, 2010 in ADHD, Life
Tags: , , , ,

Apparently, business travellers are prone to deviant behaviour.

I attended a film yesterday, and the above was the explanation offered by the film’s police desk sergeant to a woman whose husband was killed in a hotel room after he apparently made raging sexual advances to a female police officer.

That was only one of a number of unintentionally funny comments made by straight-faced actors in this supposed drama. I wish I could tell you the name of the film but it escapes me. I’m a business traveller on occasion. The only really deviant behaviour happens in my head, where thoughts fuck each other like bunnies, and produce crowds and crowds of little baby bunny thoughts. The curse (or blessing) of the ADD afflicted exploding mushroom brain. But that happens when I’m at home just as much as when I’m on the road.

It happens at work too.

“Sir, I’ve noticed that you have your earphones plugged in all the time. Is that your way of keeping other people at bay?”

I took out my earphones. “Excuse me?”

The security guard repeated his question.

I laughed. “Oh dear God no! I like people! I really do.” I thought for a moment. “This is just my way of keeping all the marauding thoughts in my head from overwhelming me.”

He looked at me, one eyebrow raised. (I could never master that. I’ve tried, but each time I’m only able to raise both eyebrows at once, like a sexually suggestive creepy circus performer.)

I elaborated. “Are you familiar with ADD or ADHD?” He indicated he had. “Well, listening to music is a way of letting parts of my mind focus, while another part can concentrate better on the work.” The attempt at explaining the dynamic was valiant, if flawed.

Still, it sufficed. He said “oh. I understand.” Which is more than I can say for myself. Kudos to him.

And why is it that people see these honking in-ear earphones rocking in your ears and still think you can hear them?

Especially bums people of the street. Maybe it’s because they feel they’re predictable and you should know what they want without actually having to hear their words. You scoffing entitled asshole moneyed class, you with your brand new K-Mart sneakers and your oh-so-proud flashy Cubic Zirconium rings, with your “I’ve got a job and you don’t” Cheshire Cat smile.

Don’t know what it is. Maybe I’ve lived in the big city too long. I rarely give money to anyone who outright asks for it. If someone is doing street performance however – I feel grateful for their entertainment and so I’ll throw them a dollar or two. The ones who ask for money though – well, they mouth the words (which I can understand, despite the enticing strains of One Eskimo’s “Kandi” playing in my ears) and I’ll give my customary negative head shake. Some of them respond with “God bless you” which I suppose is better than “fucking asshole”. The thinly disguised attempted guilt-provoking sarcastic response has no hook on me. I’m a red-sun Superman charity giver walking down the street of a largely impotent yellow-sun world.

Maybe some of the people living on the street are there legitimately. Maybe they just wouldn’t make it in the working world. Clearly, some of them would make lousy salesmen. Especially those who come up with a long-winded setup to enhance their begging agenda.

“Sir, I live in Shitsville, Florida, and I’ve lost my passport and wallet to thieves. My wife kicked me out and I came up here to start a new life but now without my wallet I can’t even get to the next city over for a job interview tomorrow so I wonder if….”

“You would like some money.”

“Yes, sir, if you wouldn’t mind.”

“Sorry”.

He looks so disgruntled as he turns away to try his story on someone else. He hasn’t learned the salesman’s most important lesson: know your audience. He should have picked an openly pleasant smiling naïve person, not me. I’ve gotten so good at deflecting these stories that if I don’t hear what this stranger wants within the first seven words I’ll cut him off and say “look, what do you want?” It’s disconcerting and it interrupts the flow of their carefully crafted con, but it works for me.

I’m trying not to say “sorry” but it’s hard. “Sorry” is a Canadian trait, you understand. It’s in our DNA. We offer it at the slightest provocation, at the mere wisp of a glancing touch. We don’t *want* to say it, but we’re often helpless. It’s not politeness. It’s a reflex.

A blonde jogger was standing at the condiment station at a Starbucks when I was putting cream in my coffee. She wanted a napkin so she reached over me and said “sorry”. Recognizing the impulse I smiled and said “no you’re not.” She grinned. “No, I suppose I”m not”. I cocked my head (which is easier to do than you’d think) and replied “funny how we always do that”. She stirred her coffee, before taking a sip. “Yes. Don’t know why though.” I shrugged. “We’re Canadian”. She nodded, smiling.

Maybe saying sorry to a street person is a form of anticipatory proactive safety. If you say what you really think (“fuck off! I’m tired of people like you asking for some of the money I made working every day, while you get welfare and free meals whenever you want, and I know you just want it for your extras, like booze and drugs. You made a choice, bub, not like the beggars in India who have no choice but to sit out there on the street with their missing limbs and missing teeth. Hey, here’s a thought – gain some credibility – saw off an arm or a leg. You might find people will give you more. I tried giving one of you a meal voucher the other day and he told me to go fuck myself, so now I’m telling you do to the same, aiight?”), you might be asking for trouble. Really, is it worth it getting into a fist fight with a stranger because you don’t want to give him a dollar?

No, it’s not worth it. “Sorry” is better.

I’m not though.

Other people accost me on the street while I’m wearing these obvious noise-cancelling earphones. (Seriously these Shure earphones stick way out of my ears. They’re obvious, like a pair of muddy work boots sitting on an otherwise pristine dining room table is obvious.) Invariably, someone who is new to the city will avoid other walkers and make his way to me, the ONLY person wearing earphones, to ask for directions.

I don’t mind, not at all. But I am curious. Why me? Maybe this is God’s way of tilting the world game so that the only rolling quester can’t help but bump into me.

Sometimes the constant earphones work against me too. Like when I see the gorgeous woman on the subway and we exchange smiles, and I can’t get the earphones out fast enough without looking desperate. By the time I’ve maintained my cool by taking them out gradually, she’s gone. (Don’t ask me how to take out earphones gradually. It’s just possible. Take my word for it.)

Still, I love my music and my earphones. I love how it stills some of the chaos-storm in my head.

Anticip………..ation

Posted: April 1, 2010 in ADHD, humor, Life
Tags: , , ,

I woke up this morning, startled.

I could see daylight, and that never happens.   Blearily, I squinted at the clock, which wavered back and forth, like a bad 3D movie.  The damned thing wouldn’t stay still.

“Stand still”

“Um, no.”

I pushed my knuckles into my eyelids, massaging the eyeballs, trying to coax them awake.  I opened my eyes again.

Oh dear lord.  It was worse.

Finally I dragged myself out of my warm – oh so warm, and comfy – bed and staggered over to the clock, which finally relented and maintained a constant pose.

“Oh good.  It’s only 7:00″

Wait.  7:00?  That means I only had………and I tried hard to compute the sleep hours I had tucked into my consciousness.  And failed.   Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough.

Stumbling into the hallway on my way to the bathroom I noticed a smell.  I stopped, sniffing.

Then I realized it was coming from me.   The smell was familiar too.  It was like a long-lost philandering cousin.  It wrapped me in its embrace.  And that’s when I realized what it was.

I was bleeding alcohol through the pores of my skin.

Ew.

Strangely, I didn’t have a headache, or exhibited any other signs of being hung over from last night.

I remembered last night and I smiled.   Such a great night.  I haven’t had such a full night like that in a long time.  One thing that happened though:  my companion and I closed the bar.  One of us noticed one of the servers sweeping up and suggested we leave.  It seemed like a good idea, so we did.

As I staggered to the sink, and closed my eyes for a few seconds, realization dawned.  There was a good reason as to why I had no hangover.

I wasn’t quite done being drunk.

That truth brought a grin to my face.   There was time to get on top of this thing, and that’s what I did.  I made a beeline for the water cooler and started loading up, in an attempt to stave off dehydration.

Work of course was a complete write-off.  I tried.  My eyes rebelled though.  Bad enough that they were red and watery.  Asking them to look at a computer screen was too much.  I brought a newspaper to work with me too, and was just as successful getting through that.

Finally, after lunch, I put my feet up on my desk, and thought “just a couple of minutes of shut-eye should do it.”  In theory, it’s supposed to work.  I nodded, and jerked awake, only to hear the ongoing sounds of productive work being done by my colleagues.   Figuring it was safe, and no one could see me, I closed my eyes once again.

And woke up startled once again.  This time, there were no sounds around me.  I’m not positive, because I was unconscious at the time, but there’s a 95%  chance I snored out loud.   No one was that uncouth as to ask about the state of my consciousness.  For that, I was grateful.  Had they done so though, I would have laughed.  What are you doing to do?

It’s not as if I regularly close down bars and try to work the next day.  A family member suggested I “work” from home.  In retrospect – that was a damned good idea.

I gave up trying to nap.  It wasn’t working and I was still pretty much dragged out.  Placing my feet back on the floor, I pulled my chair over to the computer, only to hear my cell phone ring.

“Sir?  We have an appointment for you.”

I was stunned.  I’d been waiting for this phone call for four weeks.  It was the doctor’s office, letting me know I have an appointment to be assessed for ADHD/ADD.  I had been calling them once a week, looking for that appointment, and they hadn’t gotten back to me.

Until now.

I was elated!   Finally – a time and date.   She gave me the details and we hung up.

It’s like you have this limp all of your life, which prevents you from full-out running.   You think everyone has this limp; that it’s normal, and that you’re just not trying hard enough to run, because you see other people around you running just fine.   And then someone comes to you one day and says “you realize that there’s a group of people who limp the same way you do, and that they’re born with this limp, and that there are ways to get around it, so that you can run like the rest.”

The elation only lasted for a while though – I still had the lack of sleep and the after-effects of the full-on drunkfest to deal with.  So I returned to earth, a little regretfully, but happy just the same, both with the memory of last night, and this news percolating gently on my brain.

It’s in the beginning of July.  Closer than I thought but still pretty far away.

Still – I can’t wait.