One of the blogs I wrote that got a lot of response, and I still get e-mails to this day about, was 2010's The Fever Effect. In that blog I stated that, when I have a fever, I feel better mentally as my brain slows down. Other parents, and some on the spectrum, stated similar sentiments. That blog mentioned a fever, though, but yesterday I seemed to have the opposite effect.
This morning I woke up with one of the worst headaches I've had in several years and neck pain that was downright absurd. Yesterday afternoon I started feeling a little bit "off" like one does when they first notice a slight pain that shouldn't be there. Then, later in the afternoon, my girlfriend and I went shopping to pick up a cooking pan and some food. I knew stores were busy on the weekend and very quickly I remembered why I try and stay home on the weekends.
Hectic would not be a strong enough word to describe the chaos that was at this first store we went to. It also didn't help that there were more university students there than one could count as I'd have to assume that it was move in weekend. Once we parked and walked into the store my senses went to a hyper level of vigilance as I began hearing everything and the ability to focus on one thing, or the act of buying a pan, just wasn't there; it was as if every ounce of energy had been vacuumed out of my body. I was awake and alert before entering the store but after about 30 seconds of navigating around the crowds, and handling the ambient noise, I became exhausted and couldn't quit yawning. This morphed into myself being highly skittish and quite edgy.
Another thing that may have played into this was the fact that I had never been to that store which new places tend to cause a tick higher bit of anxiety. During this episode I was worried on how my girlfriend would take this because gone was the confident Aaron replaced by a quiet, and rather edgy Aaron.
From that store we went to another store and this place was even more chaotic. It was the definition of people overload and navigating the thin aisles was very much like trying to dodge rain in a downpour. I thought it odd that I can talk to a thousand people at a time without any hint of anxiety and yet, this store was on the brink of bringing about a sort of paralysis. The reason as to why though was that in this store there was no order; maybe that's why I like the concept of racing as everyone is headed in the same direction. In this store, however, it was a mish-mash of randomness and trying to process who was going where and at what pace so I would not cross paths with anyone was an overload within itself, but then add the noise of the place and I almost fell asleep standing up because it wore on me so greatly.
Checking out the clerk started up a conversation (I once blogged about this store and their radio ads which they proudly proclaim, "You won't find any automated checkout lanes here because we encourage our staff to engage you in conversation" and I proudly stated, "That sounds like the scariest concept ever!" I know, that's a very Aspergerish way to view the world) and I was not prepared for it at all and I think I mumbled out some words having no idea what I was saying. My only thought was freedom, ahem, checking out and getting back home.
On the ride home I wasn't talkative and I was just recuperating from the sensory bombardment I had just endured. And then, when I got home, it took about an hour before I got my strength and attention back.
So yes, that happened yesterday but then this morning, as I awoke with this horrible headache and neck pain, I wondered if the onset of this cold made the chaos of yesterday worse. I know when I have a fever I become much more relaxed, but could the onset of an illness make a situation worse? It's something I don't have an answer to and it's kind of hard to know as I've never thought this and I only this one time to go by, but I'd have to think it played a small factor because I haven't had an overload situation like this caused by just a normal situation in a rather long time.