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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Autism: Sensing a Theme

A couple of days after my dishwasher went, the oven in my stove stopped working. A day after that, I realized one of the front burners on my stove wasn’t working. I am sensing a theme here… computer, dishwasher, oven, range… what will be next?

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I am actually doing pretty well with the dishes. I mean, I have to really push myself to do them (that got old fast!) that is more due to my health issues and the overwhelming sense of exhaustion I have been feeling these days, but it only takes about 10 minutes after each meal, and I love how clean the kitchen is after. We didn’t often get that with the dishwasher for we had to wait for it to fill, and not all of the large dishes could fit in at once – meaning that most of the time, there were dirty dishes in the sink.

Well, dishes were my son’s job, but he can’t seem to get them clean washing by hand. So I do them, and he puts them away after a while, and the kitchen stays clean! Besides, on his own he offered to clean the basement (his ‘suite’) and has been doing it every week for at least a month. It may not have the frequency of the dishes, but it leaves me with only one floor to clean, and cuts down on how overwhelmed I feel with the size of our house. It is a good thing.

For the computer, I did a system restore back to about October 22nd. Not that I really understood what I was doing! My son suggested I do a virus scan, and told me it would be easy. I looked for that, but found the restore – with a note on it that said “try this first.” Okay. Feeling as if I was doing something I shouldn’t even consider, I clicked the button, and hoped it wouldn’t cause trouble. My computer hasn’t frozen up since, and it has been four days (considering it was freezing up something like 5 times an hour, this is a good sign.)

I am not sure how I feel about the computer thing. I had so much free time without it – but then I haven’t had any energy, and likely would have just spent these days watching Netflix anyway.

The oven, though. I guess that is something that will have to be replace. I do have a Nuwave infrared oven that I ‘won’ at a silent auction at the thrift store. I haven’t used it much as the timing is different, and things don’t seem to get as crispy – for things such as pizza, this can be an issue. Still I know it works – or at least it did the last time I tried it – so I guess we will use that for a while.

As for the burner… often I find that even having four burners isn’t enough – potatoes, gravy, corn, vegetables, and where do I make the stuffing? Since we don’t have an oven, however, I don’t imagine we will be making a lot of large meals, and three burners will have to be enough.

Considering that ovens, like fridges, dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers are no longer made to last, I hate the thought of buying another. Besides, they aren’t cheap. Once again I am frustrated by the greed of some people. My desire is that when I have to make these purchases, I would buy them once with the expectation that they would last the rest of my life. The idea that they might only last for five years not only doesn’t fit within my view of how things should be, but is beyond what I can accept.

So we will wait for a decent stove to come in to the thrift store. We will pay something like $25-$50 for it, depending on the condition, and we will hope that it will do for a few years.

Meanwhile, my head whirls trying to come up with an acceptable solution. I wonder if I could build a cob stove, or a rocket stove, or… There has to be something better than this.

 

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Autism: Breaking the Dependence

Maybe my desire to live a simple life is being met in ways I never considered. My computer is dying; therefore I am spending more of my time writing on paper, reading books, and doing crafts like making my dog a sweater from the sleeve of an old knit shirt: forgotten skills.

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Out of necessity, I rented my first computer for college in 1999. I never wanted a computer; didn’t like them; didn’t trust them. Most importantly I hated the way they made me feel (drained, dull, and trapped.) While my son, who had just turned three at the time, seemed to have been born for computers, that was not the case with me.

When did it change then that a necessary evil, which I used to serve a specific purpose, was suddenly something I depended on for constant entertainment? When did a machine I didn’t even want become something I couldn’t live without?

As I scream in frustration while my computer freezes up for the fifth time in about an hour, I contemplate the question: What do I need it for anyway? I know that for my son, his computer is his connection to a confusing world. I think that in my case, I would live better without it. We do have a library after all, and unlike most public spaces, I enjoy spending time in there.

Then, two days ago as I was standing in the kitchen making my lunch, I heard the sound of pouring water. I turned to my left to find the dishwasher spraying water all over the now flooded floor. As I mopped it up, I again thought, “Do I really need this?”

So I cleaned the floor, and I washed the dishes by hand, and set them back in the dishwasher to dry. My hands hurt after because putting them in water makes them sting – but the kitchen was clean, and I felt really good about that.

The next day I went into town and bought myself a couple pairs of good rubber gloves. We had the repair person in (at my husband’s request) but since the seal was gone, he was unable to fix it. When I was a kid, appliances were built to last 20+ years. I am told that these days, we are lucky to have them last for 5. That makes me angry, for it isn’t about whether they can make them to last so long, but about whether they choose to – and out of greed, they don’t. It makes me angry because I save for 5-10 years, using thrift store appliances that don’t work great, trying to get enough to buy new only to find they die shortly after.

In that case, I don’t think I need a dishwasher. A good pair of rubber gloves, and a few minutes of my time, and the result is a simple solution that calms my senses. That is what I need!

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Choices Made Long Ago

This morning I woke up early with a nearly overwhelming urge to plan What if? Not what if I get this job, or win the lottery, or suddenly find myself pregnant, but more on the lines of: What if I could return twenty years in the past, indwell my twenty year old body, and live and make decisions based on who I am now, and what I now know?

If that were possible, what would I do differently? What would I do the same? Where would I live? (On ‘my little corner’ where I always find myself in my dreams?) Who would I live with? What job would I do?

If I didn’t move across the country, would I still have turned to church and found faith? If I hadn’t met my husband, what would his life be like now? (Probably much messier, much simpler, and easier for him, I imagine.) If I hadn’t tried to adopt “my” children, would someone else have succeeded in adopting them? Would they still be together now?

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If I hadn’t moved away from home, would I have followed through on homeschooling my son? If we had remained close to our families, would my son be more social? Would he have friends who lived close enough to visit? Would he seem so alone?

If I didn’t have twenty years of failure behind me, would I still have sought my Autism diagnosis? Would I have brought my son in for his? Would we still have gotten it?

I am completely overwhelmed by the reality that my choices have such lasting consequences – and that if I choose wrong, working to fix it won’t remove all that was set in motion due to that choice.

I don’t know whether this is in spite of, or because of, my form of Autism, but I spend an unreasonable amount of time and energy considering things that are outside of the laws of the world I find myself in.

And though I know making plans for what I might have done is at best a waste of time, the pull is so strong that I will likely spend my day fixated on it anyway. Though I realize it will ultimately lead to me feeling trapped so far from home, for a while – a very little while – I will believe that “anything can happen,” and there I will find hope.

 

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Autism: Halloween Again

Well… this is attempt #2 at this topic, as I lost the first draft when my computer froze up. So frustrating! I almost feel irate (a word I never used before studying Latin, but they use often in the Derivatives section.)

It is that time of year again, when I have to turn off all our lights and hide away in our own house. At least it was last night. It isn’t that I don’t like Halloween; when my children were young, I took them out, and enjoyed watching their excitement. When I was a child, I also went out, and enjoyed it. For years we gave out candy. I think, for children, it is a fun tradition – but we don’t celebrate it anymore.

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For one thing, we were getting over 100 children at our house most years. This because:

  1. In a town full of hills and mountains, our neighbourhood (and especially our home) are rather level.
  2. We live in a rich neighbourhood. We aren’t rich, but many in our area are – so the kids are brought here expecting better candy. I do understand this: it is what we did as kids, too. (Only the middle class neighbours usually gave out more and better candy than the rich ones.)
  3. It was too expensive to buy the “good” candy (chocolate and chips) and the kids complained at suckers.

So we just gave up, and started hiding every year.

On top of that, there were my Autism related issues to consider:

  • My anxiety and sensory issues seem to be getting worse as I get older, meaning…
  • getting stressed out with kids knocking at the door over and over for hours,
  • fear of being judged (for giving the wrong candy)
  • fear of saying or doing something wrong (like dropping things)
  • my own dog who would bark continuously
  • fear of the unexpected (like people saying or doing something ‘off script’)

There are lots of reasons why Halloween is no longer celebrated in this house, but I really do hope the kids enjoyed themselves.

All day I was anxious about the evening to come:

  • What if the kids came before my husband got home?
  • What if they knocked on the door despite the lights being off?
  • What if they noticed we were in the bedroom watching a movie, and got upset with us?
  • What if my dog still barked all night?
  • What if…

As a result of the darkness, however, my husband and I did three things which we have done extremely rarely since our (foster) kids were moved:

  • We ate supper together at the table (which became too hard, too quiet after they were gone)
  • Because we were together at the table, we actually had a conversation (about or wedding, since our anniversary is November 1)
  • We watched a movie together – “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Despite all of my fears and concerns, I ended up having an amazing night – and felt it was a wonderful way to ‘salvage’ our anniversary since in all other ways it would have been as disappointing as my birthday.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Frustrating Technology

In the last week or so my computer has been acting up. It randomly freezes to a blank blue or gray screen, and then I can’t do anything with it. I have to shut it down with the power button – which likely exasperates the problem.

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It isn’t even like I am using a lot of power or anything. It often shuts down when I am doing something like entering my password to get to the desktop, or reading my email. Sometimes I am not even doing that much. Yesterday it happened several times in a row before the icons saying that my internet was ready had come up. I was just waiting.

Other times I can be doing many things at once – playing Facebook games, while loading a movie, while looking through Pinterest, while I have my written blog open on Open Office waiting to be scheduled – and the computer runs just fine. Still it has happened several times a day for about a week. My son says it is likely a hardware problem – the graphics card or motherboard – and I have to replace my computer. It is incredibly frustrating.

Today I had a bit of trouble, but it had been running well for the afternoon. I decided to write my blog, and was on Open Office just about finished when, “blip,” the screen went gray “No!” I cried. I mean, the thoughts just flow as I am writing. It isn’t as if I could remember what was there. Sure, I remember the topic, but I couldn’t possibly word it the same – and I thought I was writing particularly well today.

I fully intended (because this happened a few days ago, though I had only written a paragraph then) to save it every paragraph or so. Once I get into my writing zone, however, all other thoughts go out of my mind, and I just write. So I prayed it had an automatic save feature and would still be there when I recovered it. Of course, it wasn’t.

So now I have turned to paper and pencil (because pens run out of ink, and I can’t deal with more frustration at the moment) as I should have been doing since this began. If this happens again when I am transferring it to my blog, at least I will still have the words.

Technology is not my friend!

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

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Autism: Morbid Thoughts

If I died, I would be okay. Those are the thoughts that have been consuming my mind this weekend. Morbid thoughts, I admit, but my thoughts just the same. The difficulty is that I am sick. Really sick. I have been battling these issues for many months, but they continue to get worse. I don’t know that I am dying, but… have you ever been so sick with the flu or something that it felt as if you were going to die? And it was so bad that in the moment, you really didn’t care if you did die, if only you would stop feeling so sick? That is how I have been – only I don’t think this is the flu.

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I also don’t think that I am dying. It is possible, and as I consider that, I consider all the people I know who died young for health reasons – two of my cousins (cystic fibrosis – age 21 and 26,) four people I went to highschool with (heart attack – age 33, stomach problems – age 34, brain tumour – age 36, breast cancer – age 39) three of the people I went to school with had very young children they left behind. At least I don’t have that. Then there was the boy.

A beautiful little brown haired, green eyed boy, with an amazing personality. When the other kids were fighting, he was the one who stepped in – despite being only two or three years old, he was able to get everyone playing nicely again. Much more mature than I was for all of my 27 or so years, and training in this area. He was just good at it.

Funny, and social, and caring (“but the owls can’t eat the bunnies,” he told me when looking through an encyclopedia – I know, but the kids loved the books – “the bunnies would be too sad.”) and smart… that boy had a lot of potential. Even my son liked him, and my son didn’t like ‘little kids.’ My boy was four years older.

He had his forth birthday party, and I dropped off my son, and a nephew. They had a lot of fun. I might have stayed, but I knew his family. I had known them for two years. I stayed for his third birthday party, and left the boys for his forth. And it was fine.

The next week, as he was dropped off for daycare, I noticed a limp. It came through the day, but (though I supervised carefully) I hadn’t noticed him hurt it in any way. Day after day the limp got worse, and this energetic little boy started napping during our early morning time outside. He was so tired all the time.

He could have pulled the muscle riding the bike he got for his birthday. Maybe another (quite rough) boy in my daycare knocked him down. “Try keeping them apart,” I was told. But the solution wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t helping. He just kept getting worse.

And then I got the phone call. Leukemia, they told me. I filled up a whole sheet of paper listening to his grandma on the phone. I still have that paper.

He fought for two years, brave, beautiful child that he was. And as I was in Vancouver with my children, placed just a few months before, being told that all three had Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, this little boy passed away while playing crib with the nurse. “Fifteen two, fifteen four, and a pair is six,” I am told were his last words as he fell asleep. I was standing in the kitchen making supper for my third anniversary with my husband.

The first time I left my children with a babysitter (with anyone other than my husband and mom) since placement was for his funeral a few days later.

Tomorrow is my 13th wedding anniversary. It has been 10 years, and as I think about how strong this pain and these thoughts of death have been this weekend I realize… it is not for myself that I cry. These tears are for him.

 

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Autism: Whole Day Gone

Though of course I would rather not be sick, and not have to go at all, I was thankful to finally go in to see my doctor yesterday about my nausea. It has been progressing badly, and has come to the point where I am sick all the time. I don’t know what to eat. I don’t know what not to eat. I do know that I can’t not eat, because that would make me worse.

It is a very difficult position to be in, where it feels as if even healthy food is conspiring to make me ill. And what can be considered healthy food these days, anyway? I suppose that I could try to eat all organic, natural food. I am quite certain that, although many people may not be badly affected by it, GMO’s and pesticides and such are really bad for me. Only I can’t afford organic, and what is more, eating those foods doesn’t really stop me from getting sick anyway.

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I have come to the conclusion that this is far beyond me. I can’t fix it on my own, and I can’t leave it as it is. I am so sick. I know this isn’t caused from medications, as I am hardly on any right now – just the allergy pills I can’t go off (despite being two months past the time I can usually stop taking them), and the occasional Gravol for nausea (only when it is at its worst) and pain medication (again, only when it is at its worst.) It has to be something else.

Though I could go and list all the things this could be, I know that would only scare me and make it worse. So I will wait, and pray, and hope they find an answer for me.

It isn’t just the nausea, though – as if that weren’t enough. I am also struggling with pressure in my head, that is causing a tingling sensation in my face, that matches the feeling in my hands and feet. On top of that, my entire body aches, as if I have the flu – but I don’t. And then when I stand for long periods (5 minutes or so) that nausea turns into pain in my abdomen that doesn’t seem to let up for a long time after sitting.

Whatever it is, it isn’t good.

Even so it took months of trying to deal with this on my own before I finally agreed to go to the doctor – and then it was the third day of telling myself I had to go before I could actually bring myself to do it. It doesn’t help that when I am crashing, or not feeling well, it becomes really hard for me to leave the house. This week (as often happens) I was both.

Well, I finally went to the doctor. I went down with my husband on the way to work. My doctor is at the walk in clinic, and I was the second in line to see him (having shown up before they opened.) I was in, and out, and home in less than an hour. Not a big deal. And the thing is, I like my doctor. He seems like a good guy, who genuinely cares about people.

I wasn’t so sure about him at first, but that was because I was seeing another doctor in the clinic, who I really liked, and was suddenly told he wasn’t my doctor anymore. I had to see someone new. I don’t know if you’ve realized this, but I don’t do new well – so I kept going in and asking for my old doctor anyway, and he seemed happy enough to see me.

When, after a few years of considering it, I decided to ask about Autism, I thought it might be easier to see someone I didn’t know. So I went in, and asked for my new doctor. And maybe that is why I like him. Though they are always in a hurry, he sat down, and looked at me, and listened to everything I was saying. At the end, I could tell he believed me as he told me, “This doesn’t change who you are. You will still be the same person, but we are going to get you help.”

Ever since then, I have asked to see him, and I have always felt that he really listened to what I was saying, and most importantly that he believed me.

Well, that was it. He gave me papers for lab work, which required fasting, so I had to wait to go in. He said to come back in a week for the results, and then I drove home. Not a bad experience. Not a lot of time away from home. No strong stress (above the illness that brought me in there in the first place.) Yet though I got home before 10am, that was my entire day. I didn’t get anything else done, and from the hours of 10am to 5pm (when I had to leave to pick up my husband from work) the only things I remember doing were looking at my emails, and reading Facebook.

An entire day gone for the sake of a decent 10 minute appointment. And that is who I am.

 

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