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Monthly Archives: November 2017

Autism: Hot Water

What was it I was trying to say?

An entire blog post to share that my husband had our hot water tank replaced, and I didn’t talk about that at all. So like me, I have to share all the small details to ensure that my story is 100% accurate with no room for misunderstanding (of course, it seems even with all that – or maybe because of all of that – I am frequently misunderstood anyway.)

So a post about my new hot water tank instead became a post about going swimming, and why (though I love it) I don’t do it very often.

We have lived in this house for 14 years (and nearly a month.) My husband bought it for us, with my input, when we were getting married. When we were looking for a house, houses were selling fast! This was the fall of 2003 just before prices jumped so much that we couldn’t have afforded to buy a house at all. We put our offer in for three other homes before we bought this one.

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One of the issues in choosing a house was that I was running a daycare at the time. There were many regulations to running a licensed in home daycare, and most of the houses we looked at might not have met the rules. I suppose it didn’t help that I knew that if I had to worry about everything my husband was doing in the daycare/house we wouldn’t have had a good marriage, so I was insisting we have separate space for living and childcare – and I never even considered that we could use the main floor for my business, and the lower level for our home… and the daycare had to have two exits, so… it took a lot of houses to find one that suited.

Okay, so this blog isn’t about my daycare either…

When we bought the house, it had a really nice, all one piece, bathtub. It looked very inviting, but I quickly found out our hot water tank wasn’t large enough or strong enough to get enough hot water for a bath (for adults anyway.) It was fine for little children, even when we had three having baths one after the other and another having a shower after that.

For myself, though, I could only get a couple of inches of water warm enough in the bottom of the tub before it was cold coming out of the tap. So for fourteen years I stuck to showers in this house. Great for getting clean and conserving water, but not great for soaking – and I have had a lot of issues with back pain, foot pain, and general aches… I could have used a bath.

But the tank had been replaced only a few years before we bought the house, and it seemed selfish to me to ask for a new hot water tank just so I could have a bath. No one else cared, and we thought we had enough hot water for everything else.

Turns out we didn’t have enough for our dishwasher either. We always got our dishwashers from the thrift store, so when the dishes weren’t getting clean enough, I just thought it was because they were second hand. Then another of a long line of machines we tried broke. There was no way I was going to pay hundreds of dollars for a new one that might only last a few years, so I started washing by hand. That is when I realized we didn’t have enough hot water for that, either.

Plus, the tank we had was nearly 20 years old, and we found out we would have to replace it anyway due to insurance reasons. So my husband agreed.

Now I am able to have a very hot bath – so hot I have to turn on the cold water about halfway through just so I don’t burn myself getting in.

And it is so nice.

I might not get the exercise that I would get from swimming, but it provides for all other benefits without all of the effort.

  • No leaving home.
  • No crowds.
  • No wet clothes to deal with after.
  • No chlorine (well not nearly so much anyway.)
  • No extra shower after.
  • No pre-booking transportation
  • Very little pre-planning.
  • Lots of calm!

Besides, I can get my exercise in other ways without having to go so far from home.

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Autism: Too Much Effort

I meant to go swimming almost weekly this year. I wanted to do the same last year. My therapist (who is no longer working with me – something about being short term only…) said she could get a free weekly pass to the community centre both last year (but I had no transportation) and this year (but she hasn’t talked to me since she offered.)

I wanted the free pass, but I didn’t get it. I could go for the Toonie swim, and did for three weeks straight in September/October, but I would be more likely to go with the pass.

Swimming is a good activity for me.

Though I am allergic to the chlorine and get rashes, and though I prefer to swim alone (I wouldn’t say the pool was crowded when I went, but there were people I had to swim around, and children who jumped in and splashed into my ears causing earaches) being in the water is calming enough that I am able to get through those things.

When I go swimming I:

  • get out of the house
  • do exercise
  • quickly become calm
  • feel good after
  • am happy
  • often sleep well after

All things my therapist told me I should be doing when she was talking with me.

But there are a lot of barriers to this activity for me.

First of all, I have to contact the Handy Dart bus service three days in advance to book my ride. I don’t know three days in advance if I am going to be functioning well enough to leave the home, so that makes this type of transportation pretty unpractical for me. I understand why they need that notice, but… it would be better if I lived on the bus route so I could take the ‘normal’ bus, or if I lived close enough to walk (as I did when I first moved to this town 17 years ago.)

It also means that I have to leave home. Even when I have access to a vehicle that I could use whenever I want, I struggle so much to leave the house most days that it really isn’t worth the insurance or maintenance costs. It worked when my Mom was here, but not when I am alone (my son likes to leave the house much less than I do.)

Then I have to get changed into my swim suit and get in the water – the thought of which makes me cringe until I actually get in the water.

Afterwards it is awkward to change because I am wet, and I have to take a longish shower to get the chlorine off so I am not itchy for the next few days. Even so I can still smell chlorine (I guess it gets in my nose) for a day or two after.

And then I have to get home again – also which needs to be booked.

Then, too, I didn’t mention that although swimming calms me, the thought of all these steps brings me to panic up until the moment I get in the water.

So I would love to go swimming, but it seems there is just too much standing in the way of me actually following through with the activity – much like many other things in my life. It just takes too much to get there.

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Autism: Letting Go

It isn’t that the entire day was hard, but…

I woke up at 4am as I have been doing far too often lately. Since it is typically after 12am that I finally fall asleep (that takes a couple of hours itself) it is very unfortunate that, less than 4 hours later, I am awake and unable to get back to sleep. It certainly isn’t that I am not tired. In fact, I can’t even get up – I just lie in bed for the next three hours trying unsuccessfully to fall back to sleep.

Needless to say, I have been very tired, and not functioning very well.

There was some cleaning to do – laundry especially. Ever since the city workers came by and blasted out our storm sewers while I had laundry going, it has been prone to flooding. I don’t know if they are connected, but that is the load it started with. The clothes get cleaned fine, but when the washer is spinning, piles of fur and debris (much more than what is reasonable from what went into the wash) pour out with the water into the sink.

If I am not there to catch it, the water floods over the sink to cover the laundry room floor, hallway, and the bathroom beside (where it pours down the drain by the shower.) Such a mess! This has been happening for at least a couple of months now.

Since I have to watch the washer as I do laundry, I stayed downstairs to sort through boxes of food storage containers. I have no idea why we have so many – but they had been sitting in boxes in storage for over a year now, and we don’t really have storage space in our home.

That was exhausting, but I mostly got through it. I put our Christmas tree outside (so the animals wouldn’t eat it) for the thrift store – I was the only one who cared since our kids were moved, and we really haven’t the space for it (we will use a small tabletop one instead.) I left the rest down in the hallway, though I am sure it will annoy my son who rents the space from us since he has a very curious cat.

In the afternoon I spent several hours sorting toys into bags to give away. This was a very painful activity for me. Though our (foster) kids have been gone for over 8 years, and I haven’t even babysat in 7, and have been considering giving these toys away for at least 6 years, it was still exceptionally hard for me.

But I have felt a strong (near constant) prompting over the past few weeks to do this. Because it hurts, I kept blocking the prompting out, saying I wasn’t ready (I would probably never be ready if left to myself, to be honest) and the push kept getting stronger.

So I got the toys sorted and waiting in the upstairs hallway – but as I said, it hurt… a lot!

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So many hopes, dreams, memories, and losses tied up in those toys – and to give them away!!! But they should be played with, and…

I can’t have children, and I can’t go back – both of which frequently cause me a lot of pain in themselves. I am being asked to let go, and though it really does hurt, I know it is the right thing to do.

It was Misty (my newest addition – Chihuahua) who was most concerned as I sat crying, surrounded by piles of toys my children used to play with – though Clara and Molly looked to see what was wrong, too. Sweet girls! I am so very thankful for them, and it is only because of them I was able to answer this call to let go, but…

This is hard!

 

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Autism: Life Speed

I have been reading a book that was recommended by a friend. Though I am only about 1/3rd of the way through, and have no idea where it is going, it has brought me to think a lot.

In the book a man is given an unknown substance which causes his body to slow down. To really slow down. Something like four years passing feels like hours to him, and he is unable to register much of what is happening in the world around him.

When he began to slow down, people sounded like they were talking too fast, and their words were all strung together. People or objects would move around him in a blur. As it progressed, he couldn’t hear the words at all, and much would happen without him knowing it.

It just got me to thinking about how I have said on several occasions that the world moves too fast for me. I can’t keep up, and am easily burnt out by what is nowhere near the typical pace of people in the world around me.

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Obviously my challenge isn’t nearly as severe as the man in the story, but…

On what feels like an exceptionally busy day to me I might do 2-3 loads of laundry, vacuum and wash the floors on one level of my house (and not even all of that since one room is storage and one room has carpet that doesn’t get washed so frequently) and clean 1.5 bathrooms – and really, since I generally wash the shower when I am in there the night before, I really only clean 2 half bathrooms.

I will rinse the dishes and load them in the dishwasher, feed, take outside, and maybe walk my dogs (they won’t go out if the weather is bad.) Visit one person for 2 hours, and possibly make supper for my family, which I do 3 days a week.

That is an exceptionally busy day, and even writing it seems overwhelming to me.

I can handle a day like this maybe once every other week, and even then I often struggle to push myself through it. Afterwards I will crash for days.

The book got me to wondering if perhaps some people (like me) actually do experience the world at a different speed – and maybe that is why we are incapable of keeping up (though people who don’t understand this consider us lazy, and are certain that if we put in the effort we would not only be able to keep up, but get used to it – so not true, for me.)

The truth is that life moves too fast for me.

  • The grass grows too fast.
  • The years pass too fast.
  • The night is over too fast.
  • The house needs cleaned too often.
  • The renovations need done too often.
  • Food needs to be bought and consumed too frequently.
  • Life is just… too much – all of the time!

I am never ready for what is coming. Though I don’t work anymore, I am still overwhelmed most of the time – and when I did work, even part time, I was completely burnt out right from the beginning.

 

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Autism: Horrible Stinky Food

My husband made hamburgers for himself in the toaster for supper. I did notice he was going to do that, but he doesn’t like me to comment on these things, and… what was I supposed to do?

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On the nights that he cooks, I frequently have to wait until supper is finished for him and my son before I can start to make my own – and that in itself is very hard on my system. That isn’t his fault – I just can’t function well with anyone around, including my husband. I do okay with my son there, but my son has been there since he was a baby, and that is not true of anyone else in my life – which is maybe why my son is the only one who doesn’t have such an effect on me.

Oh – I guess I should mention that I am the only one in my house who doesn’t eat meat. I also have a lot… a LOT!!! of sensory issues around food, so what people typically eat (in Canada – but I imagine many foreign foods would be bad for me, too) is not only something I can’t eat, but something that causes me a lot of struggle when other people eat these foods around me.

Hamburgers are one of those foods.

If they are cooked on the barbeque, and the doors are closed, it isn’t so bad. The smell goes away pretty fast, and I can cover my nose while I wait.

Inside, however, is very different.

It stunk up the house so bad I couldn’t block it out with three layers of blankets. My husband, seeing my distress, sprayed room freshener (which made it worse) burned candles, and opened the windows. It still took more than 1.5 hours before I could take the blankets away from my nose.

Molly, (one of my Chihuahuas) stressed out by my struggle, barked at my husband (which she doesn’t do) until I brought her to me and calmed her down.

My functioning, reduced to nothing since I was unable to eat my supper due to my husband’s choice of his (and I begin crashing when my meals or snacks even are even a few minutes late – and this was getting close to 2 hours) left me unable to find food even when the smell had cleared, and my husband had cleaned the kitchen.

Knowing it was nearly time to get my girls ready for bed, and I had to do something, I walked into the kitchen – but I ended up rocking on the floor unable to think. Clara (one of my dogs) and Ditch (one of my cats) came to help comfort me.

I couldn’t deal with my needs, but they needed me, so I got up and got them through their bedtime routine.

I ended up eating a granola bar (which hurt my tongue) two pieces of dried mango, and the tea that my husband brought to me. It wasn’t nearly enough. Not nearly. But it was close to 10pm, and was too late for me to eat – besides, I still couldn’t think of food.

For me, it isn’t true that I “will eat when (I’m) hungry enough.” The truth is, the hungrier I am, the harder it is for me to eat. Even foods that usually work for me are rejected (in my thoughts as well as my mouth, throat, and stomach) when I am too hungry. Foods that are often okay for me frequently cause a very bad reaction if I eat them in those moments.

So I went to bed feeling hungry and weak. I woke up the next morning (having only made it through the night by medicating myself) feeling hungry, nauseous, and weak. In fact, though I did eat that day, it still took me until after I had eaten supper and dessert – a full 24 hours after the issue began – before my body was regulated and felt okay again.

It is really hard on both me and those who live with me when normal things that they do has such a bad effect on me – and what am I supposed to do with that?

 

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Autism: Slipping, Sliding, Panicking

Speaking of snow…

As long as I was able to stay inside, and was comfortable sure that my husband was still at work, I was content and even feeling thankful for the weather that day.

But then it was time to make supper, and the anxiety grew. Suddenly my mind became fixated on the fear that my husband would not make it home on those bad roads. It didn’t help that one of the main characters in the show I have been watching died in a car accident (though it wasn’t snowing there.)

What would I do?

How would I live?

Who would I have to call?

How would I manage?

There are many things that my husband takes care of that would be a real struggle for me, and…

I am a worrier, and the roads were very bad. I was watching the cars sliding around on the relatively flat road outside of my window – and the way home from my husband’s work is full of steep hills and twisty roads, and…

I am not one of those people who believes that bad things can’t happen to me. Of course they can, and they do, and… just because this hasn’t happened to me before doesn’t mean it won’t happen to me now.

So the minutes ticked by, and my anxiety grew.

He did come home (this time) but then we had plans to go out that night. I looked at the roads, and thought maybe we would cancel. Better to stay home and be safe than to leave my girls, get killed in an accident, and have them never understand why I didn’t return to them, right???

My husband wanted to go, though. We were going to the local theatre to see the play, “Romeo and Juliet.” This was the only night we could go as it was a pay what you can night, and the regular price was just too expensive for us.

So we went.

We did slide around the road several times, and I was panicking all the way there and back. As I tend to, I kept trying to pray quietly – but my husband, perhaps trying to take my mind off of it??? kept talking and cutting me off (though he didn’t know that of course.) Maybe he thought that continuous talking would be calming for me, but instead it made it worse. I really needed silence so I could hear myself pray.

Anyway, we made it home safe – and the show was really good, so… “All’s well that ends well,” as they say.

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Autism: Winter

Contrary to what seems ‘normal’ in society, I don’t often like to talk about the weather. It seems unimportant and pointless for the most part. But it snowed the other day, and…

First it was really light. My friend, who had planned to come over for a visit that day, cancelled. There wasn’t much snow here at the time, but where she lives (maybe about 10 minutes away from my house, or a little more) is in a bit of a snow belt. They didn’t want to chance the drive.

I had woken up early that morning – as I had been doing since the time change in early November. And when I say ‘early’ I don’t mean an hour or so. For about a week I was waking up every morning between 3:30 and 5am, and was not able to get back to sleep – not good when it was after midnight before I finally fell asleep. I wouldn’t get out of bed until 7am, but still…

Anyway, since I was up early, and since I was expecting company, I started cleaning early. By the time the visit was cancelled, I had most everything done, and was feeling good about the state of my home.

The snow picked up after that, and pretty soon, the entire world outside my window was covered in white. The roads quickly got bad, and I could see the cars sliding around as they were trying to drive (very slowly) up the street. I couldn’t take ‘my girls’ for their walk because without sidewalks, and with the vehicles sliding around as they were, it was just too dangerous to be out on the road.

With all of these changes to my expectations of how the day would go due to the weather, I could have been… deregulated, is the word I want to use here. It could have ruined my entire day. It wasn’t even a choice or an effort not to struggle however.

I was sitting in my (quite clean) living room, with my girls contentedly lying in their bed beside me, and was looking out of my window at the world of white outside, and I felt thankful to be in that moment. No disappointment. No feelings of being overwhelmed, or hurt, or irritated, or… I was happy.

I am not happy all that often. I struggle a lot with anxiety and depression, irritation, sensory issues, pain over the world… but that afternoon I felt really good.

When I went on the internet, I was presented with a question: “Does anyone honestly even like winter?”

And in that moment, my answer was, “Yes!”

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