This weekend brought a slew of social activities- parties, etc. – because my niece got getting married on Saturday. I like to write about day to day activities that we all take for granted but rarely seem to write about in the perspective of having ADHD.

So let me share my manicure story to see if it relates to you.

I’ve written before about my sensory issues in regards to certain sounds, smells, fabrics, etc. Well, this is about my sense of touch…

Last week, my daughter and I went to get manicures for the upcoming wedding. As you know, I rarely make PLANS, but instead, just sort of…jump into things when the thought or feeling strikes.

I hate manicures. And I’ve never had a pedicure. I hate massages, as well. Is it the thought of a stranger touching me? I think it’s more- it’s my aversion to certain sensory experiences.

We easily found a walk-in nail parlor and boy… I thought I’d entered a county fair or something. The hustle and bustle; the colors, sounds and odd “stations” took me completely by surprise.

First stop was a nightmare for someone with ADHD. I was told to choose a color. CHOOSE A COLOR? There were hundreds of bottles to choose from! As you know, most nail polish colors fall in the pink/red range. Even with my art background, I was astonished to see so many hues with pink and red in them. Had I been bolder, I’d have chosen orange or blue. I finally found a light light pink that wouldn’t make me my fingers look like bloody daggers.
It took a good 10 minutes to figure this out. But it took my daughter, even longer.

I was instructed to sit elbow to elbow with my fellow manicure customers. Then the fun begins. It starts with filing. The smell of that sickens me- like the smell of an electrical fire. But I got through it and actually am fascinated that someone can file while not looking at the person’s fingers.

Then the bad part begins: I’m being slathered with lotion. One of my biggest sensory freak-outs is feeling anything sticky or gooey on any part of my body. While others scream at the sight of a spider, I shriek if my hands accidently touch a greasy doorknob or if my foot lands on a sticky floor.

That day, I was facing multiple sensory phobias. And it continued with…THE HAND MASSAGE. I looked around and watched as women closed their eyes, SMILING while their hands were being mashed and manipulated. I gritted my teeth, counting the seconds before this part would end. Only to be tortured by step #2- having my greasy hands encased in plastic baggies and inserted into a heated torture chamber. I was afraid to even look at my daughter, worried she would start screaming at me for putting her through such torture.

Finally, the manicurist removed my hands from the goo and started the next step, torture #3: trimming my cuticles. I watched in horror as she took these clippers which had to have been used on hundreds of other women before me and hadn’t been sterilized for me. Now I ask you, dear readers…IS THIS NORMAL? I’m not a germaphobic, but I know a little bit about the transmission of disease and infection. But I digress…

What others brush off as annoying, *I* feel the same thing as PAIN. Clip clip clip (ouch ouch ouch). Finally, it’s over. Wait. It’s not. She’s using that stick to push my cuticles back. I hate every second of it.

The next step is less painful but no less annoying or sensory distressing: the application of smelly, colorful chemicals called nail polish. The smell alone nearly knocks me to the ground and I’m grateful that I’m already sitting down. Thankfully, the process goes quickly and I actually enjoy this part. One, two, three…brush brush brush. Done! Or so I thought.

I’m led to the drying station. The good part is that I know I’m almost done. The bad part is, I am not allowed to move my hands. I’m not particularly hyperactive, but the thought of being trapped is also an “issue” with me. Elevators, planes, trains, busses, dental chairs, MRI machines are all somewhat anxiety provoking for me. Now I can add the drying station to my ever growing list of claustrophobic experiences.

Finally, the machine goes off and we’re done. My daughter fared much better than me. We examined our nails in delight, until I realized why I never ever wear nail polish- it feels like a 20 pound weight is sitting on each nail. I hate the sensation and immediately ask if the shop also sells polish remover, knowing that as soon as the wedding weekend is over, I’m removing these dead weights from my hands.

We exit the torture chamber, and as a reward for my daughter’s exceptional behavior, we stop at the ice cream shop where we both enjoy a special treat, though I think I earned it more than she did. She LOVED the day at the spa!