A Short One

I don’t know what to title this blog post. But it is a short one, so I’ll just go with that.

There are a number of common comorbidities to autism, and I am in the process of being evaluated for some of these. It will be a number of months before I get an actual diagnosis, because that’s just how backed up the system is, but I’ve taken the screening tests and I know my scores. That being so, I have a good idea what the results are going to be.

I scored very low on the ADHD test, I scored right on the line between mild and moderate on the OCD screening test, and I scored off the charts for alexithymia.

The only one of these that surprised me at all was the OCD test, but on reflection I’d say that’s just me being unaware. Apparently, not everybody has the unending internal dialogue that I thought was normal. Fortunately, my level of OCD doesn’t really interfere in my daily life. At least, I don’t think it does.

As for alexithymia, when I first read the definition, I knew that fit me to the nth degree. Basically, alexithymia is a difficulty in discerning emotions, either my own or other people’s. I’ve seen it described as emotional illiteracy. I remember once telling someone that if they gave me three days, I could figure out what I was feeling. I’m sure that sounded crazy at the time.

I experience emotions as physical things. My stomach hurts. My chest is tight. I can’t quite take a full breath. Usually, all I know is that I’m feeling negative emotions or I’m feeling positive emotions.

When Anju and I were out for dinner last week* I was explaining these test results and what alexithymia is, and her response was “Oh yeah Dad!’ So it seems this is much more apparent than I ever thought it was. I hope it didn’t make me a bad dad.

As for discerning other people’s emotions, I have these internal dialogs when I’m interacting with other people that might go “oh, his voice is going up and he’s making bigger and bigger gestures. I think he’s angry.” Often I’ve no idea why, so I just assume I did or said something in a way to make the person angry, usually unintentionally.

Okay, that’s it. Short and sweet!

* This was written last month soon after I got back to Tennessee after my trip to New England

Week One Is In The Books

I’ve been here in Iloilo City for a week now. It feels like I’ve been busy, but at the same time not busy at all.

When my flight landed at the crack of dawn in Iloilo last Friday, I was met at the airport by two other expats living here who I had connected with on Facebook. Chris and Mary were so kind to pick me up and drive me to the condo I had rented on Airbnb. It made a wonderful start to my time here.

Since then I’ve figured out my neighborhood a bit. I’ve shopped for groceries a couple of times. I either run or walk on the Esplanade most every morning.

There are some things I need to do to settle in here. One of those is to get a Philippine phone number. My US number is with Google Fi, which works in most countries in the world. Here in the Philippines, Fi uses Globe’s network. Since Globe and Smart are the two big players here, I chose Smart for my local SIM. This way, I should have coverage most anywhere I go.

I tried to buy an eSIM from Smart via their website, but in order to complete the checkout, they require a Philippine phone number. So I went to the Smart store in the mall to take care of it. It cost me P40 for a SIM, which included unlimited calls, texts, and 5G data for 3 days. Since my phone is dual SIM capable, I have both my US service and my Philippines service active at all times, and I have it set so the phone automatically switches to whichever data service is better at the moment. Very convenient.

The system for funding a prepaid phone plan, and for choosing what calling, texting, and data options you want, is completely different than in the States, and very confusing to me, but I think I’ve figured it out enough to have a working phone. There are so many little details of daily life to learn anew!

When I landed in Cebu and went through Immigration, they stamped my passport with a 30 day tourist visa. I’ve since gone online and applied for a visa waiver, which gives me another 29 days. It was very easy to do online. I logged into the Bureau of Immigration website on Sunday night, filled out the form and submitted the payment, and on Monday morning I got an email from BI with the waiver attached. So now I’m good until Christmas Day, December 25.

I believe in December, when I apply for a visa extension (I don’t know why the first extension is called a waiver, and then you subsequently apply for extensions) I can also apply for my ACR card. ACR is Alien Certificate of Registration and is a government issued ID card for non-citizens living in the Philippines.

The other significant thing I’ve been working on is finding a long-term rental. This Airbnb is okay, but it’s relatively expensive, it’s very tiny, and I don’t love the location as much as I thought I would. I looked at a one-bedroom unit that’s currently available at a condo complex called Avida Storey. It had a reasonable amount of space, but the way it’s laid out makes no sense and results in a tiny living room with a significant amount of wasted space by the kitchen. The plus side to Avida is that I really like the complex. There are a lot of conveniences on-site, including a 7-Eleven, a water refill station, and a laundry service, as well as some coffee shops and restaurants. The pool area is really nice, and shaded in the afternoon, and there seems to be more air there. It’s also not right on a main road, which I am here.

So I didn’t like the unit I looked at, but there’s a different one-bedroom unit coming available in early December, and that one has a much better layout with a decent sized living room. Right now I am waiting to hear if they will discount the rent if I sign a one-year lease.

This was meant to go out on Friday, and it is now Sunday morning. So I should properly rename this entry “Week One Plus Two Days Is In The Books,” but I’m not going to. Such a rebel!