The 27 hour flight to and fro, dealing with 13 hour jet lag and the unbelievable changes to my body rhythm had left me with terrible insomnia. Nothing seemed to work. I only managed to sleep for 3 hours every single night. I had absolutely no appetite and barely ate. I’d pick at my food when dining with others, but my body protested. I’m as Melayu and kampung as they come, sandwiches and pasta just doesn’t do it for me. If I don’t get my fix of rice and spicy curry for more than 24 hours, I get withdrawal symptoms LOL!
Most days I don’t have time to eat, I was sustained by coffee and little cups of freebie food samples up and down the corridors whilst running to the next lecture. Big ups to Kettle Cuisine for their yummy soups. I lost 2kgs in 1 week, not that I’m complaining mind you, but it is an incredibly unhealthy state to be in. It was colder than expected and I was constantly freezing. I kept wondering when I was going to crash and burn, yet my guardian angels kept watch over me and I had a wonderful time. Every single day was amazing, the lectures were eye-opening and I met so many inspiring individuals. People I am privileged to call my friends.
I missed my girls but I knew they were safe and happy. Many thanks to my amazing parents for babysitting. Without them I would never have been able to travel halfway across the world to attend this conference. And to my husband for his support and understanding. It was well worth it. Many people were amazed that I came all this way to attend the conference, but to tell you the truth, the 27 hour flights, jet lag and all were no big deal to me. Living with Autism is way way harder. Attending the conference is easy peasy. For many attending the conference this may be their one and only ‘working vacation’ away from home, kids and Autism, as ironic as it may seem as this is the biggest Autism conference after all.
My days were filled with hope, affirmation and friendships. But at night I was tossing and turning and unable to sleep. How I ever managed to get to all the lectures and still sound sane and coherent when talking to people astounds me.
Some highlights of the week apart from the amazing lectures and keynote presentations are Karaoke Night- even though I didn’t sing, I had a great time, met many people and managed to get a photo taken with Dr Andrew Wakefield. After 3 years of meeting him at conferences in Atlanta, Hong Kong and finally Chicago. No, I’m not a stalker, just a Wakefield supporter. He gave me some sage advice in Hong Kong, which led us to some wonderful breakthroughs with Yasmin and for that I will forever be grateful.
Yes!! Spending time with Dr Stephen Shore was wonderful. Somehow I ended up having dinner with him and Dennis Debbault. I don’t know how I got this lucky. Jenny McCarthy is filled with vitality, positive energy and even more luminous in life. She was wearing high heels and I was in flats. Jenny had to crouch waaaayyy down for the photo:-) When I told her I came from Malaysia, she said “Get out!!”. On a side note, why did everyone say “Get out!!” every time they met me? Did I smell or something? Jenny’s cocktail party and fundraiser in downtown Chicago was great. I met some lovely people especially the incredibly wonderful Tim Welsh aka Tanner’s Dad. A gentleman in every sense of the word. He has a name y’all….. The Gala night was full of joyful moments. To think that I was so close to not going after so many days of lectures and sleepless nights. I sat with the best bunch of people ever including my amazing friend Tex. Having Pierre Fontaine and the lovely Anjelica at our table was great and I’m glad we have great photos of that night.
Tex, you know how much you mean to me. Little Pete, I love your enthusiasm, passion and commitment in recovering your son. Thank you Iowa for the dance and sharing your story. Thanks to Philly for keeping me company when I wasn’t ready to say goodnight yet. You will change how the world views Autism.
Dr Kenneth Bock finally remembered me after semi-stalking him for 3 years through Atlanta, Baltimore, Hong Kong, Singapore and Chicago. It took the red dress to make him remember me! Yet again, I didn’t get to have my photo taken with him.My guardian angels were hard at work, I won the Book of the Year Collection at silent auction. Though I have 5 of the 7 books already on Kindle version, I still wanted the autographed copies. They were bulky and heavy but I was determined to stuff them into my suitcase.
Best of all, I won the raffle for a private breakfast with Dr Arthur Krigsman! Mind you, I must have bought 20 tickets and stuffed them all into that tiny box. And to those who asked; the breakfast was illuminating. I know what my focus will be, thank you for your kind advice Dr Krigsman.I met some amazing people at the conference, especially Warrior Moms who left me breathless with their intelligence, compassion and positivity. And yes, this is how we look like every day, glamorous and gorgeous! I love you all.
I left Autism One at peace with the world and myself. It gave me further insight with how to heal my girls underlying medical issues. Though I am no longer in the fight against Autism, it has left a deep and dirty trail of illnesses and medical issues that still needs a lot of care and healing. We’re already on our way out of managed recovery, here’s hoping for complete recovery for both my little girls.
And good luck to the Canary Party, it’s about time! I look forward to hearing more.