There is always more to it!

Honestly, I have connected more with monica (from FRIENDS) in real life.  Things like I love rules in a game and I never play it just for fun, I want to win every time, I have OCDs, I want everybody to like me, etc etc are the sisterly traits we both share. So, yeah I am a better version (giggles) of her. But just five minutes ago, I realized I behave a lot like the crazy Phoebe Buffay. Why? Why would I say that? Phoebe has no qualities which I just mentioned above. She is the most chilled out, no tension kinda woman. Yet, with Phoebe there is always more to it to her stories.

Start a conversation with her by asking a simple question and every time you would get a detailed history about her past. Nothing is simple and one sentence when it comes to Phoebe, and so with me!

Trust me! Seriously! I swear!

Once even a colleague of mine mocked me saying, “of course there is more to the story. Tell me what happened?”

I take a day off at work and when I go back it is never as simple as “cold” or “fever”. There is always more to it. More like – “It started with pain in lower abdomen, went the doctor, he did an ultrasound, and now he says there is a polyp inside”.

The worst was when I saw a small pimple kinda thing on my neck and doctor says it is a polyp. If it grows it needs to be operated! Hell yeah!

There is no simple one line story with me.

My friend was like – “Hey, how was your India trip?”

and I spoke for half an hour only about issues. The newer diagnosis for me and my dad, how visa thing is not working out for me, why I had to suddenly come back to Saudi Arabia etc etc. Could have I just said it was “okay”? I couldn’t. That would have been a lie for sure.

Eventually people will stop asking me. I wonder if my husband already has!!! If I am at home and he asks me how my day was there is always more to it. My day can never be just good. It has to be complicated. For example today, I called a zillion people trying to understand my visa process, the more I found out, the more frustrated I got. So, now I am thinking if this was all a big mistake. Yeah that’s how my day is turning out to be. I am definitely going to write about my “applying for belgium visa” experience in a series of posts because trust me one is not enough. There is a lot more to it.

So, next time for your own well being don’t ask me questions like – “how’s your day” (It’s never good), “how’s your health” (there are always issues. I solve one and another pops up), “how’s your dad” (I can’t say he is okay, so be ready for an hour’s lecture), “what’s happening with our visa” (be ready to get your head chopped!), “when are you having a baby”(I can talk for nine months about it), “What are your future plans” (that is way more complicated than my whole life)!!!

The one question for which I can give a short answer is, “when are you moving to India?”

“I DON’T KNOW!”

Sometimes, I wonder if there is actually more to a story or I am a good narrator or just overly dramatic!!!!!

 

Goodbyes are easy!!!

Some of my friends (all) call me unstable. Some say I am afraid of commitments. Some say I don’t like responsibilities of life. Maybe they all are right! Or maybe they are not!

I say, I like change!

While growing up I detested the word “routine” and the moment I felt my life was nothing but a schedule I would take impulsive decisions just to get out of the mundane. I have not changed a bit.

Till my 12th, I studied in 8 schools. Yeah, you gotta that right! I couldn’t stay in one school for more than 2 to 3 years I guess. I loved the change. I loved meeting new people and making new friends. I loved the new uniforms. I loved the new teachers. I loved everything about the jump. So, whenever I changed my school I left behind a ton of friends but I cared less. I never cried. I was too excited about the new people. Because of this nature of mine, when I finished my 12th I was hardly in contact with any of my friends. College awaited! New friends awaited! New life awaited!

The only stable and long term thing I did was 6 years of college in the same university. I was surprised with myself. Maybe it was so thrilling and challenging that I hardly craved for the change. Did I cry when I finished my college? Nope! My friends passed some harsh comments about me being heartless. Honestly, the truth is I never believed in goodbyes. I always felt that I would see them again and again, and life is too long for goodbyes. Did I meet my best friends after college? Of course I did! So, no goodbye tears were needed.

Talking about my craving for change, in the 6 years of my career I have worked in four different towns (one outside the country), five different jobs in different settings, and two years of sabbatical from work post marriage. Don’t say I am not stable, I like to experience new things and challenge myself. But every time I left a place, I left a lot of people behind. Thanks to my 30 years of wisdom, I have learnt to maintain my friendship with all these people now. But, I never cried during farewells or had a phase of sadness. I meet these people even now. So, no goodbyes were needed even then.

After I started working in AISJ, I have realized a real “goodbye” is possible. I would wave bye bye to someone and never see them again. Ever! Last year when my dear friend and colleague left the country, I was hopeful that I would meet her. I am still hopeful. But, there is a sense of loss in my heart which keeps throwing some moments of sadness. Now, when it’s my time to leave the country and the people I love the most, a lump has formed in my throat which doesn’t want to leave me! How am I going to say goodbye to these people? Am I never going to see them again? What about my kids? Just a hug and “miss you” is not enough. I spent the last two years of my life with them in a country which offers very limited social life. So yes, they are not only my colleagues but my friends who are like my family. And now, I realize I might never be able to see them again. That’s not fair at all!

Why the new adventure of going to Belgium is not pleasing me anymore? Why am I not looking forward to moving to a different country? Why my hormones are taking a nap rather than being excited?

Is this what being sad means? Is this what a real “goodbye” feels? Does this mean “goodbyes” are hard?

Image result for goodbye to a student

Oh hell yeah! They are hard. The mere thought of not playing connect 4 with a student of mine bothers me. The thought that nobody will peep through my window and wave at me bothers me. The thought that nobody will call me “Ms. Shushi” “Ms. Shooti” bothers me. The thought that I won’t be getting regular cards with funny writings bothers me. The thought that I will be out of their lives bothers me. The thought that they might forget me forever bothers me. I am leaving behind not just people, but the love of so many! And nobody can fill this void this time. No new person can replace the love of my students, colleagues, and friends. They mean much more than I thought they did!

So,

I am not moving on this time. I am leaving a piece of myself behind!!!

The midnight story!

My brain – “It’s past 12 am!!!! Go to bed”

My eyes – “We can’t hold it any longer”

My body – “hibernating already”

My heart -“already beating in the resting mode”

Then why am I awake?

It is called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

I can’t stop a work mid way, but why would I start a work at mid night? Well, to my surprise I started my work at around 7.30 pm! School work? Nope. Moving things? Nope. Packing bags? Nope!

The task was simple – to copy the pictures from my iphone to my laptop (windows). Yes, that’s the highlight! Windows!!!! I started the process with itunes, no luck. Then tried my hands on icloud, no luck! Then, bought 50GB of storage data on icloud, yet no luck! After spending hours in trying to move my pictures to my laptop, I grew more obsessed and restless. Finally, the man of the house showed up to help. He did nothing (trust me, absolutely nothing) but viola, it worked. I was able to copy all the pictures in 5 minutes.

I could have slept then!!!

My OCD buddy said – “how can you sleep when your pictures are not organized in the folders?”

Damn right!

I started organizing pictures and copying them in to folders inside folders.

I could have slept then!

I couldn’t! The task was to empty my phone. Now the music player had to be emptied. And to all the lazy android users, who would select all songs at once and delete them, iphone wanted me to individually select folders and delete. I did for 175 songs!

I could have slept then!

But no!!!!! I saw a notification to update my phone. I couldn’t leave this task on hand. I started updating my phone which usually takes about 2 minutes, but today it took almost 15 minutes.

Now, it’s definitely time to sleep.

My brain – “I am awake. How about we finish the last progress report?”

My eyes – “Wide awake. Would love to watch an episode of elementary”

My body – “I am tired, but if all are awake I am in”

My heart -“Racing. Ready for a jog”

Are you guys kidding me?????????

Middle schoolers in Speech Therapy

I have always loved working with children. They are naive, innocent, full of questions, and without a filter. They say whatever they feel like, and that’s the best thing about them. But, when you are working with teenagers, you wish they had a filter. They can sometimes be very difficult, rude, arrogant, and full of attitude. I did have my share of “trouble” working with teenagers, however after almost two years with them, I have found my ways to deal with them. Thankfully, now we all are friends. They talk to me about teenager problems, their dreams and ambitions, their crushes, their difficulty in studies, their feeling of who they are etc etc. This exchange has developed a bond between us, which in turn helps me because now they listen to me, they work with me without being forced, and most importantly they feel belong in my classroom.

Image result for middle schooler attitude problem

But what happens when they see me outside my classroom? Well, I have categorized them in to three categories based on how they react looking at me outside Speech Therapy sessions –

  1. There are a bunch of students who ignore me completely outside my class even though we share a wonderful rapport inside the classroom. Initially, I just couldn’t understand why. Most of my elementary kids waved at me from half a mile, whereas my lovely middle schoolers walked right through me as if I was invisible. I decided not to invade their space thinking someday I would be recognized – that day has not come yet! – and appreciated all the work we do together. Yes, this is how middle schoolers are. They are in the zone of “showing off” and a speech therapist to their list doesn’t look very cool to them. They want to keep my name miles away from theirs as somewhere they don’t want to acknowledge me or the difficulties they are facing.
  2. I am genuinely happy to be acquainted with the other category of students who are very friendly with me even outside the classroom. They greet me wherever they see me and have a small conversation. Some of the naughty ones play pranks on me (nothing of the embarrassing sort), and some discuss life problems right where they see me. I never discourage any of my students. I can take a break from my “pee break” to have a small chat with them. It is wonderful to see how well they have accepted a speech therapist in their life, which indirectly means they have accepted their problems and they no longer care who says what about them. Only if all the students can get to this stage.
  3. The third category of students are the most difficult ones, and maybe that’s why I am a more inclined towards them. They are my students who struggle to socialize. The moment they see me in a crowd, I can see a smile of familiarity, yet they are hesitant to talk to me in front of everyone. Some kids struggle because of autism, some because of emotional trauma, and some because of both. They try very hard to break out the shell to come and talk to me. They take two steps forward but move slowly backwards and completely avoid eye contact to avoid any sort of embarrassment. Only with these students, I approach them. I go to them, make them talk to me, and show them how easy it is to talk to someone even amid the crowd.

From morning till evening, this is what I go through with all my students. They are all friendly inside the classroom. But outside the classroom, some have “being tagged” issues, some have “I don’t care” attitude, and some have “come and talk to me” switch on. Don’t you think I have a lot on my plate right now? Yes, I do. I have lots and lots of love being served.

We all have “disability”

After working for so many years as an SLP, you either quit your profession (because you can’t handle it) or start loving it. Of course, I am in the latter. I have never come across an SLP who is not proud of what he/she does. WE are always proud of our profession, our small achievements and the fact that we are trying to reform the lives of many. Yet, there are situations which makes you vulnerable, sad, and most importantly helpless. You blame the society, parents, yourself but nothing gets any better.

I am sad today. When I got to know that one of my students is depressed, I decided to have a little chat with him. Being a teen with Asperger’s is not easy. He just wants a “normal” life – go to college, fall in love, have a girl friend, get a job, get married, have babies, and spend the rest of his life being loved. This routine of life looks so cliched to us. Like Ranbeer Kapoor says in Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani that I want to fly and etc etc but I don’t want to be settled. Yes, for us being settled is ordinary, boring, and so normal. But there are so many people who wants what we have. A perfect definition of a “normal” life.

I assured him he can have all that when the time is right. I wasn’t sure if I was believing in what I was saying, but I wanted to believe. After 20 minutes of “emotional counselling”, he felt better. I am sure about that because unlike us “normals” he can’t fake emotions to make me happy. Then he made a remark – “disability can’t stop me”. Hell yeah! I should have been proud, instead I was hurt. Why the term “disability”? Who told him that? Why a definition? When we never say “a student with normal behavior/intelligence”, why say “a student with a disability/autism/ADHD”? Why can’t a definition be limited to professionals? Are we trying to educate them or segregate them?

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Source

The moment he used the term disability, I couldn’t help but counter his view.

“So what’s a disability? a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. Then I have a painting disability! Something in my brain gives a wrong command when I try to paint. My husband has a memory disability. He can’t remember anything!”

He was confused. That wasn’t the traditional definition explained to him. So he asked,

“that means I don’t have a disability?”

“That means everybody has a disability because everybody’s brain is not equipped to do everything. You can’t do certain things. I accept that not because you have Asperger’s syndrome. But because I can’t do certain things myself. Just that nobody has done enough research to diagnose me”

I could see that he felt better. Definitions/diagnosis helps us understand the condition/characteristics better, but not the person. You want to be a good SLP, then you have to understand the characteristics. If you want be an excellent SLP, then you have to understand the person.

“Individuals with disability” – Ah, we all are!!! Never using that term ever again for sure!

 

 

What do you do?

In this era of doctors and engineers and surrounded by relatives who make statements such as, “there is no course better than engineering” maybe because their kids are engineers, opting for a profession which people hardly know becomes very difficult. Even I didn’t know what Speech, Language Pathology and Audiology was all about. But yes, I had the basic idea about it. In the past eleven years people have asked bizarre and stupid questions, some of them I find extremely funny, some annoying and some insulting.
 I am sure after reading this post people in my profession will be able to relate well to the situations, people outside my profession will have a good laugh and people who still have no idea about what we actually do will stop asking irrelevant questions or acting smart!!!!
1. He – “So, what do you do?”
Me – “I am a Speech, language Pathologist and Audiologist”
He – Is it engineering?
Me – No
He – Is it a part of MBBS?
Me – NO
He – Then why are you doing it?

I smiled and thought “Because life is beyond engineering and medical”

2. She – “Hey, long time.. So what do you do now?”
Me – “I am a Speech, language Pathologist and Audiologist”
She (trying to be a smart one) – Oh!!! Is it? Lovely. I have see the news for deaf and dumb. It must be interesting to do sign language.
Me – ****facepalm****

My profession is way beyond sign language and interestingly we don’t even use it. We try other modalities of communication in case if you didn’t know.

3. He – “So, what did you study after 12th?”
Me – I did my masters in Speech, language Pathology and Audiology
He – so what are you called as? Doctors?
Me- No. We are not doctors. We are called as Speech, language therapists and audiologists
He – That is too long. I am asking what people call you? Doctor?

Me – facepalm + clenched fists!!!!

4. She – So children who come to you gets cured completely?
Me – First of all, we are here to help gifted children. We help them to be independent and improve their quality of life.
She – Oh!!!!! Then what is the whole point if you can’t cure them?

Me – Did you just hear what I explained????????

5. He – You profession is like a social service. Isn’t it?
Me – Yeah, in a way
He – Then you should give therapy for free

Me – I would if I could survive just on air!!!

6. There are some over smart people also in this world!!!
He – I know what you do. Autism, ADHD. I know everything about your profession. Given a chance even I could do what you do
Tells me a person who has done his BCom!!!!
Me – Oh is it? That’s great. I have a kid with severe dysphagia. Could you please help me out in preparing a therapy plan?
He – Dysphagia? what is that?

Me – That is something you didn’t know!!!!

7. This is my favourite of the lot.
She – “Do you work in a spectacle shop?”
Me – Hell, NO!!!
She – But I thought opticians sell hearing aids. Could you please explain what you do exactly.

Me – Double facepalm!!!

Now if anybody asks me what do you do? I ask them if they have watched the following movies – Black, tare zameen par, The king’s speech and I tell them I help these kinds of individuals. I even deal with stroke patients like Hritik Roshan in Guzarish or maybe autistic kid like Jhilmil and hearing impaired kid like Murfi from the movie Barfi. After all the bollywood explanation, I normally receive a different kind of regard. People have often told me, “wow, you do something incredible” and no doubt, it does feel good.

But once when I proudly listed all the movie names and a guy said, “sorry, I don’t watch movies. Could you please explain what you do?
 “Ah! Not again. Kill me!!!”.

I am generous

When you grow up in a hospital locality, you almost know all the existing diseases. The physical ones, I mean. And all, the issues beyond this was considered as “mental retardation”!!! I apologize for using this term, but that’s how we perceived things in the utmost foolish way. So, during my first year of college, when I was exposed to the terms “autism” “ADHD” “mentally challenged”, I felt I belonged to a different world altogether. I had no clue what my professors were trying to teach me. Honestly, I didn’t even believe these words could become reality.

The reality struck me hard during my clinical hours. The first year was all about observations and digesting the reality god has bestowed upon us. How cruel, I thought! There were days when I cried in silence, and some days I just wanted to quit because I couldn’t take it any longer. It was like through the golden compass, I had opened a new dimension, a new world. A world I hated! A world which had so much struggle and sadness! One year down, I came to terms with what I had gotten in to. I understood this profession isn’t about just sign language. It’s much beyond that. It’s a life changer.

You definitely learn a lot of things in theory, especially in a (para) medical profession. Yet, you remember those things which are learnt practically. I was once handling a student with autism who was about 4 years old. verbal autism with speech and language delay! During our sessions, I developed a fondness for her. She showed all the features of being socially aloof and I made all the attempts to get closer to her. I praised her, accepted her, and loved her. She made me realize how she was different yet, alike. How she was socially distant yet, very close. One of such sessions, she wore this beautiful pink dress. I complemented her for her dress, and out of my sheer stupidity (or lack of knowledge) I asked her if I can have her dress? What answer do you expect from kids?

A brutally honest “NO”

Or some tears of manipulation

or some explanation as to why they can’t give it to you – “My mom got this for me” “My mom will scold me” and what not!

But here, I was in for a surprise. Within seconds, she removed her dress and gave it to me. I was shocked, and trust me, scared like I was going to die. Imagine, if somebody had walked in to that room, I would have been suspended with multiple labels attached to my not so fancy name. I immediately helped her get back in to the dress, and swore to god never ever to ask for any things from any kid (ANY KID).

After the session, I explained what had happened to her mom and apologized for the incident. She understood. Thankfully!

So, being possessive is not one of their strong traits. If you know a kid with autism, don’t ever play the “possessive” trick. It may back fire to burn you!!!!

Feel free to share incidents related to this topic in the comment section if you have come across any…