Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

The Whole Story

with 30 comments

I haven’t written about what has been going on, but I’ve decided that all parts of the story need to be told.  This month has been hard.  I need to let my friends who call me a super-mum know that I’m really not feeling super.  I need to explain that although we love living here, it comes at a price.  But most of all, I just need to tell the truth about hard times, because I know many people are going through even longer, tougher, more challenging times.  It isn’t fair to them, or myself to pretend everything is fine.

So, this month has been hard.  Mostly it has been difficult because I’ve been unwell.  So as not to scare away my (three) male readers, I’ll refer to my health issues as some ongoing lady problems that have been getting progressively worse.  Ultimately, I’m now very anaemic, which is good in that it is treatable, but bad in that it makes me feel lousy.  I’m weak and tired.  My brain feels like mush, and can’t seem to retain any information, I’m forgetting appointments.  I have heart palpitations, and wake up with numb hands, arms and feet.  My immune system is struggling, so I’m catching every germ I come across, and each one is hitting me hard.

Some of my medications have nasty side-effects too, and one weekend my fingers swelled up and I had to have my wedding and engagement rings cut off.  But I am receiving treatments, including iron injections every two weeks so that I’ll be back to speed in weeks rather than months.  Though I can’t exercise at the moment, I’m doing my best to rest, eat an iron-rich diet, and take all the supplements to support the healing process.  It just takes time.

I’m spending much more time indoors than I have previously while living in South Africa.  Unfortunately, living in a house with bars on the windows inevitably feels a lot like living in a prison, this is made all the worse by the fact that recent events mean I don’t feel as safe in my home as I used to.  Earlier this month, there was an armed robbery on our compound.  By a huge stroke of luck, all the families who live here were out at the time.  Generally on a Saturday afternoon, either our children or our neighbours are playing where the incident happened.  Anyone who has a young child on the spectrum knows that in the face of danger, they are likely to behave unpredictably.  I’ve lost many hours of sleep thinking about what might have happened if we hadn’t gone out that day.  The security officers here are great, and have already made some changes to minimize the risk of this happening again, but I’m shaken that an electric fence, gate, and security guard were ultimately so easy to overcome.

It has been hard because I’m always far more homesick after my parents visit than I am before.  Homesickness and culture shock are wrapped tightly together.  The more you miss home, the more alien a place can seem.  I’m struggling to remind myself to enjoy all the wonderful people and places here, rather than wishing for September to get here for an R & R trip back to England.

Last week brought things to a head.  I forgot to take Pudding swimming one day, then Cubby to OT another.  Then Cubby was ill, followed by Pudding too.  Instead of wanting to rest in bed, my kids become more hyperactive when they’re sick.  Not only was I struggling to keep up with them, but I’d missed the very things that help them to regulate.  By Friday, I was just exhausted.  Not only was I feeling too weary to face the effort of getting Pudding into school, or schedule an appointment for a 24-hour EEG for a child who couldn’t handle a 30 minute one; but I was too drained to get through another ordinary day.

Far from the “super-mum” a friend called me in an email, I was feeling physically and emotionally at rock bottom, and taking my frustrations out on the very people who most need my love and support.  When Spectrummy Daddy got home from work, I took a bath, and let my tears fall into the water, until most of the tension left me.  After we’d got the kids to sleep, we talked about what measures we could take to make things easier.  But, once I’d finally let go of trying to keep everything together, I no longer felt like I was coming apart.

It isn’t the end of this hard month yet, but I’m starting to feel stronger.  Yesterday when the car broke down, I didn’t join it.  I was just grateful it happened with Spectrummy Daddy there, and in a safe place.  I’m using visual strategies to keep me on track of the things I need to do this week, and hopefully that will keep me from getting too overwhelmed.  After all, if it is good enough for Pudding, it is good enough for me too.

So now I’ve honoured the truth.  I’m not a super-mum.  Though I love living here, it does come at a cost.  I can go through hard times, and while they have absolutely nothing to do with autism, they can challenge my ability to parent.  I’m going to keep telling the whole story, even if I’m hoping that this particular chapter will come to an end soon.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

March 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

30 Responses

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  1. Hi,
    I’m a new follower. Stumbled upon your blog from Freshly Pressed. I just wanted to drop in and let you know that you now have two male and one female reader! 🙂
    I still have yet to read the rest of your blog posts but living in a foreign country such as S.Africa must be so challenging and difficult. I give you the utmost respect for choosing to live there! I would be terrified if such an event occured. I’m not sure I’d do much different either, as far as thinking and obsessing about what could have been. I know it’s easier said than done but nothing good comes from worry. Please know you have my support way across the seas in Colorado in the U.S.

    Mountain Missy

    March 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    • Thank you, and welcome! I promise South Africa is a lovely place…living anywhere different gets challenging at times, but it is part of the whole experience. 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 27, 2012 at 9:40 am

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, that sounds really hard.. I’m a new blogger too so hope you don’t mind me dropping by. Hope you feel better soon, you’ve been carrying a lot. Hang in there hey.


    March 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm

  3. I love you. I wish I was there to take you out for a bottle of hotel wine.
    None of us are super-mom. We’re human-moms. And we get up every day knowing we’re human and we face that day.
    Luckily, we’re doing it together. Maybe not exactly in person together, but together nonetheless.
    I could share all the platitudes of hang in there, it will get better, etc. etc.
    But mostly I just want you to know that on this rollercoaster ride, you have passengers to scream along with you and hold your hand. Always.


    March 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  4. Let me guess, you are at the 8-10 month stage of your tour? Am I correct? The honeymoon stage is over and you start to just realize how different your new country you are living in is and well it is easy to get lost and as you say loose it! Been there. When we moved to Brazil everything was wonderful and suddenly it wasn’t. My daughter who was 2 almost 3 at the time got very very sick and my husband was out of town and the med unit said I needed to take her to the ER and even though they went with me to help with the whole language thing I never felt more alone in my life. I was ready to pack my bags and the kids bags and go home. Then I realized that I was home. Like it or not for the next 3 years that was my home. And slowly I got myself back together. I miss Brazil now and the wonderful people we met there. Take care of you Mummy and everything else will fall into place. I think you already know that but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every once in awhile. And besides being Super Mon is highly overrated. The pay sucks and it dry cleaning of the cape will kill your pockets! Hugs!!!!

    • Oh yes, this isn’t my first tour, I know exactly how it goes….the things you can handle one moment are overwhelming the next. I could rock the cape though. 😉

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 27, 2012 at 9:42 am

  5. You are walking a difficult path right now and the strength we have inside us can only take us so far. I also walk the path of being a special needs parent who herself has special needs (rheumatoid arthritis) and I know that feeling of being absolutely drained. I can’t imagine working through it all so far from my home and my support network — you are truly an inspiration in that.

    Hugs and cheers for you and for spectrummy daddy — it sounds like he’s a great guy who really knows how to step in when you need it. And great idea on setting up your own visual system to make things easier on yourself!


    March 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    • It is truly hard being the carer when you could use some TLC yourself. At least in my case, we should be able to manage things medically for a while, at least until we get to a point where surgery and recovery is a possibility. RA is tough, especially with young children with extra needs- my heart goes out to you. And yes, Spectrummy Daddy is definitely a keeper! I’m a lot like Pudding when it comes to the calender though- I just want to scribble out all the things I don’t want to do!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 27, 2012 at 9:46 am

  6. Sorry to hear this 😦
    What a shame that you can’t be based in Durban, the people here are just as friendly as the folks in Joburg, although life here is a lot slower and not as scary!!


    March 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    • Life would be slower with less appointments, which really isn’t going to happen for a while. Would like to at least make it to Durban for a trip one time. Cape Town too- I’m so mad I can’t get there to see it blue in person!

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 27, 2012 at 9:48 am

  7. “once I’d finally let go of trying to keep everything together, I no longer felt like I was coming apart.” That line really spoke to me–it’s hard to keep it all in and once you release the valve things feel a bit more manageable. I’ve been there emotionally as well.

    I’m so sorry things have been rough, hoping things look up for you soon. Non of us are super-human, but you are a wonderful mommy.


    March 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm

  8. As one of your 3 male readers, I’d just like to say that just because you don’t feel super, doesn’t mean that you’re not super. And I can’t speak for the 2 other male readers, but any female problem you have certainly wouldn’t scare me away. That just adds to the fact that you are super.

    I’m sorry to hear that your home was threatened, but it seems that you’re handling it very well. Being from Canada, we don’t really experience things like that here. So I hope that once March ends and April begins, you’ll begin to feel super again.

    Jim Reeve

    March 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    • Aaw, thanks Jim. Yes, I think maybe we should aim for somewhere nice and safe next time, and I do love Canada! Fingers crossed April is easier.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      March 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

  9. Take Courage! I enjoy reading your blog (all the way from Colorado, USA as well 🙂
    My in-laws live in Jo-burg, right next to the consulate. We have been there several times, so I can picture exactly where you are! It is strange that such a lovely place could at the same time be so dangerous. Sort of like that rose with very real thorns. Hope and prayers that you all feel better soon!


    March 26, 2012 at 6:02 pm

  10. My sister lived with her new husband in Japan for three years and I think a big part of what led to their ultimate divorce was the loneliness of being left at home alone while he worked every day, away from friends/family, with the language barrier, etc.

    I can see where it would get tough. Even superman has weaknesses. Succumbing to yours doesn’t make you any less super.


    March 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm

  11. Hugs for you. I hope you continue to feel better…when we are down for the count, it seems like our microcosms go down with us. None of us are super-human….I like how Alysia says we are human parents. We are all have our struggles…but we can get through them when we confront them head-on and put one foot in front of the other…and you are still an awesome parent…struggles and all.


    March 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm

  12. You are still one of the most brave, adventurous and strong moms I have the pleasure to know. I know about the heart racing – palpitations – it came and went for me for a few years. That with anemia? Very difficult. You must be so weary. But as moms, there is little time for rest, right? We just keep going on. So the seams sometimes feel a little tight. Like therocchronicles says, when you release that valve, you can get some relief.

    We are all here for you as you release this tension. Once you are full of spinach and other dark, leafy greens, the virus bugs go away, and the kids get their OT and swimming, you will emerge stronger than ever. The scare with the robbery – that could happen anywhere, in the States, England or there. It’s a sense of feeling very violated though. The balance will come. Then, maybe you will be able to see what we all do – you are a supermom and you always will be. ❤


    March 26, 2012 at 11:26 pm

  13. […] Friday afternoon, I was trying to hold it together.  I was exhausted, and wanted to crawl into bed, but that wasn’t an option.  I’d kept […]

  14. I actually disagree with you: You ARE a super mom BECAUSE you are so willing to be honest. That takes real courage. I cannot imagine how difficult things have to be for you–I mean, I barely have energy enough (and patience, too) to deal with my kids many days, and I don’t have anemia. I sure hope you are feeling well soon!

    But I want to thank you for being honest and sharing that you have rough times too. It helps to know I’m not the only one struggling. Though our struggles are different, many of them are similar, and it’s just nice to know I’m not the only one who loses her patience with her kids or gets overwhelmed. SO thank you!


    March 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm

  15. […] happened on this night.  After I was done crying, and Spectrummy Daddy had talked about ways we could make things […]

  16. Call me crazy, but I read ALL of your posts and I don’t know how I missed this one….. !! I hope you are feeling better and getting the rest (yeah, right!) you need both emotionally and physically!! Times away from all which we hold dear can be so tough, even though you have your beautiful family with you…. Big hugs coming your way and wishes that your battery gets recharged sooner than later!! I always love your stories about your children, but I must say the real human-ness of this post and all you’ve been struggling with really hit home. Here’s to better days – and SOON!!


    April 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm

  17. […] I don’t feel safe at night.  A woman is raped here every thirty seconds.  There was an armed robbery right where our children play.  I’ve held a woman who had just been told her son was murdered, and not had the words to […]

  18. […]  I went to the doctor last week to talk about some of those challenges.  Back in March I wrote a post about a difficult time I was having.  I’d ended the post hopeful that things would get […]

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