Archive for the ‘Your health and well-being’ Category

April is Autism Awareness Month.  From time to time I see a post on Facebook that states “every day is Autism Awareness Day at our house.”  I can relate to that.  Every day IS Autism Awareness Day at our home.  Has been for the past twenty years. Our son was three years old when someone first said “autism” to me.  It wasn’t until he was six that he received his diagnosis.  In part, I believe, because we moved when he was four years old from a rather progressive area to another state without the resources of our previous city.  And, in part, because our son wasn’t that delayed at the time.

Autism has a way of sneaking up on you sometimes.  One day, your child is talking and playing; the next he’s making verbal gibberish and his hearing appears to be selective.  It happened fast.  It was, and still is, baffling, and scary. As our son has grown, the battles have been different with each stage of his development.  Challenges in behavior can appear and disappear without a trace of a clue as to how they got there or where they went.  Sometimes bad behaviors can last years, other times weeks or even just days.  Many times, behaviors that you thought were long gone, reappear just long enough to scare the hell out of you, making you think you’re going back down that rocky road again, only to have them recede back into the shadows as abruptly as they surfaced.

I’m not going to sugar coat things and tell you it’s easy.  It’s not.  Every day can seem like a test of our courage, our strength, our dedication to our son.  But then there are the good days. There is nothing more rewarding than the good days.  Fortunately for us, we have many good days.  We have worked hard for many years.  We have been blessed to have fought and won many battles, to be able to enjoy the fascinating person that our son has always been in spite of the struggles.  A woman I know once told me that I make autism look glamorous.  She meant it as a compliment, but her statement still leaves me dumbfounded.  There is nothing glamorous about autism – not even on the very best day.  I think she was referring to my attitude and how we as a family handle the pressures of daily life with autism.

In actuality, credit belongs to our son. Imagine, if you can, the things that he is bombarded with every day.  His senses make him hyper-aware so he is acutely sensitive to all the sights, sounds, smells and textures of everything around him.  I believe being overwhelmed is physically painful for him, yet he pushes through trips to the grocery store, outings with family and friends, dinners at crowded and noisy restaurants.  There are days when it all proves too much for him, just as we have days when the pressures of life seem too much for us, but he still tries.  He still uses every bit of tolerance he can muster to complete the task, the trip, whatever challenge is in front of him.  That’s more than I can say about many if the neurotypical people I know.  He is amazing!

My son has always been one of my heroes.  He stretches me.  When I simply don’t think I can do any more, when I feel like I cannot possibly rise to the occasion yet another time, I look at him and all he has over come, all while not being able to utter one word of complaint.  From somewhere deep inside, comes the will to try harder, to carry on.  For his example of courage and for his leadership, I am thankful. When times get tough, when my heart hurts and my body aches from trying to keep up with the physical demands of autism, when my mind is fuzzy from lack of sleep and there just aren’t enough hours in the day, because of his example, I press on. We may not win every battle but in the end, our hope is to win the war.

Love truly does conquer all.

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“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

I believe this quote with all my heart.  The sad truth is, most people do not want to get involved.  They have their reasons.  Some of them justified.  From experience I can tell you it is exhausting.  It is complicated sometimes.  Messy.  It can be heart-breaking and stressful.  But it hurts us all when good people refuse, or simply become indifferent, to standing up for what is right. 
 
We are surrounded with examples of suffering caused by those who refuse to do what is right.  Children abused and neglected.  The elderly and people with disabilities suffering all types of unimaginable mistreatment.  Animals considered disposable.  Allowed to reproduce without concern for the over population of unwanted pets.  People are hungry.  People are sad.  Many people live in fear.  Pain is everywhere.  Not only for those enduring it, but for those who are trying to help.  Trying to make a difference.
 
The questions I pose are these:  Why are so many people reluctant to get involved?  Why?  Maybe it’s because so many people feel helpless.  Perhaps they feel they do not have the power to change anything.  Perhaps they fear repercussions from getting involved in what society deems as someone else’s business.  But what about the long term effects of turning a blind eye?  Does one really become comfortably numb as the Pink Floyd song says?  And if so, doesn’t that in itself cause another kind of pain? 
 
I believe we can make a difference.  Each of us.  Everyone has the power to effect change in their own way.  Many people have said to me, “You can’t change the world.”  You know, I don’t believe that.  Maybe I cannot change the whole, entire world but I can constantly work on changing myself for the better and helping to change the world of those around me.  In turn, when their world is changed, perhaps they will continue to grow and go out and change the world of those around them.  Isn’t that a beautiful thought?  Much less overwhelming than trying to focus on all that is wrong in the world.  When we see a need, nothing can bless us more than striving for a resolution.  Your contribution doesn’t have to be huge.  The smallest effort can make the biggest difference.  Sometimes, just a smile, a kind word of encouragement, a soft touch, can change someone’s outlook.  We all just want to be loved.  To have our existence validated.
 
Throughout history much of the progress of mankind has been made by those who were not the most powerful but by those who were the most passionate.  It’s not always money or status that effects change.  Great things come from humble hearts willing to simply do the right thing.  Take for instance Clara Barton.  From her passion for providing care to wounded soldiers during the civil war, the American Red Cross was founded.  Or what about Rosa Parks?  She had a strong sense of justice and equality and forever changed the face of the civil rights movement by quietly, yet firmly, refused to leave her seat on that bus.  Look at the men, women and children that come forward and see their physical and sexual abusers prosecuted each year.  They find strength to do what is right and resolve to see a horrible situation through to the end.  Most likely preventing further victimization of others.  These people stood up for what they believed and in varying degrees changed the world. 
 

We can change the world too.  One person, one animal, one smile or kind word at a time.  Help someone learn to read, be a voice for someone who cannot speak, right a wrong in helping someone seek justice.  There is so much that we can help and heal if only we will take the time to do what’s right.  I know it’s not always easy but I believe it’s our duty.

One does evil enough when one does nothing good.  ~German Proverb

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Yesterday was Christmas.  For me, it was the best Christmas I can remember in a very long time.  Certainly since my children were babies.  We did things a little differently this year.  Our focus was more on “real” Christmas than on “commercial” Christmas.  We didn’t run around spending a bunch of money on gifts for people we don’t even see throughout the year.  We didn’t buy a bunch of gifts for each other.  We didn’t stress out trying to get to a bunch of Christmas get togethers.  It was an authentic Christmas.

A big part of this being such a great Christmas was the lack of drama where my stepchildren are concerned.  There is a court date pending that in part addresses the ex-wife’s continual interference and manipulation of visitation.  So for the first time I can remember, there hasn’t been any jockeying on her part to screw with the court-ordered visitation schedule over the Holidays.  Amazing how much better it is when she manages to play by the rules.  It is unfortunate however, that it takes having an active complaint to force her into compliance.  Fortunately, there are not many more years of this foolishness in front of us.

My favorite part of Christmas this year was being able to visit my daughter in prison on Christmas Eve.  Maybe that sounds strange.  Would I prefer my daughter be home at Christmas, celebrating with us at home?  Of course I would.  But it’s not time for that yet.  She still has work to do.  And for her to be successful out in what is referred to as “the free world” there are no shortcuts.

I enjoy my visits with my daughter.  Not just spending time with her, but learning about and getting to know some of the other women in prison.  There are so many stories.  Some happy, some sad, but all very, very real.  Faces put to problems.  People facing great adversity.  I respect them for that.  Many of the people I have met that are in prison are more honest, much more humble and sincere, than a lot of the people I know on the outside.  Often I wonder how it is that some people get caught at a crime and harshly sentenced while others commit crimes for years yet escape ever being brought to justice.  Many times I think about this long after I have left the concrete walls and razor wire that contain them.

Christmas is such a great time for personal reflection.  A time to take inventory in ourselves.  For me it’s a time to think about how I have spent the past year and how I am going to grow in the coming year.  Have I been the best person I can be?  Where have I fallen short?  How can I do better?  My hope is that I can use my voice, my talents, whatever resources I am given, to make the world a better place.  To continue to stand up for what’s right and to keep pushing for change.  To hold on to faith, to hope, and to love.

Here’s hoping you had a very Merry Christmas!  Much love to you.

 

1 Corinthians 13:13   Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

 

I haven’t written much lately.  Not on my blog.  Not on any other sites.  Honestly, I haven’t done much of anything lately.  Lately being the past 6 to 8 weeks or so.  In spite of several trips to a couple of different doctors, I haven’t felt well in quite a while.  That’s crazy, isn’t it?  With everything I have going on in my life, I don’t have time to be feeling bad.

It started over a year ago.  a dull, aching pain on my right side.  I mentioned it to my doctor at the time.  He deemed it “muscular” and sent me off with pain medicine and muscle relaxers.  It came and went from time to time and when it flared up I would try to take it easy for a couple of days thinking I had once again “pulled something” in there.

Shortly after the beginning of last year, I switched my Primary Care Physician.  At my yearly physical, I mentioned the pain that I had been having.  Explaining in detail how it varies and on the bad days can spread around my side, up my back and into my shoulder.  She thought perhaps I had a cracked rib so she ordered x-rays, but since that was also the location of my liver she wanted blood drawn too.  Both were done on that day.  I made a follow-up appointment to get the results.  No cracked rib; liver is fine.  Maybe I had pulled a muscle.

A few more months pass.  I have the pain off and on in varying degrees of severity.  It gets pretty aggravating one afternoon, so I take my self over to the convenient care clinic, asking them to check and see if I have a kidney infection.  I am told to go to the emergency room.  This to me is absolutely ridiculous!  Emergency room visits are reserved for blood, broken bones, heart attacks and such in my opinion.  I called around and found another walk-in clinic that would see me.  They did a urine analysis and told me kidneys were fine.  Asking the doctor what the problem may be, I was told that perhaps I was constipated and I should go home and drink Miralax for the next seven days.  I didn’t know what to think.  Maybe I was just really over-tired and this was just a “normal” ache and pain.  Maybe I was imagining it all.  After all, it’s now three doctors who tell me everything is fine.

About two months ago the pain became constant; sometimes just a slight ache, other times, more intense and throbbing.  I started talking to my husband about whether I should go back to my Primary Care Physician, or find a new doctor.  My Primary Care Physician had all my medical records and knows me pretty well.  It’s always a pain to start over with someone else when it comes to doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.  Back and forth in my mind I went, weighing pro’s and con’s, as the pain worsened almost daily.

Finally, three weeks today, on a particularly pain-filled day, I decided to go back to the doctor who was Primary Care Physician when I first moved to the area.  I had always loved him, but hated his billing department who could never get anything straight.  Taking a chance that nothing had changed, my theory was I needed to be healthy even if that meant I would suffer the aggravation of billing hell!  He saw me that afternoon and told me he believed all this trouble was coming from my gallbladder.  Gallbladder???  Could it be THAT easy?  Why had NONE of the other doctors thought about my gallbladder?  This doctor told me the symptoms I described were “classic” symptoms pointing to a problem with the gallbladder.  He scheduled me first for an ultrasound, telling me that even if the ultrasound showed no sign of stones or inflammation, that didn’t mean it wasn’t my gallbladder.  He assured me we would get to the bottom of this.

The following week I had the ultrasound.  It showed my gallbladder to be “unremarkable.”  The doctor’s office immediately scheduled me for a HIDA scan.  The HIDA scan would measure the actual functioning of the gallbladder.  A week ago yesterday I found out that the HIDA scan showed my gallbladder was functioning at only 4%.  This would definitely be what was causing the pain and making me feel so sick all the time.  I met the surgeon on Friday, and this past Monday, I had surgery.  Surgery took longer than anticipated as my gallbladder was twice the size it should have been.

Here’s the crazy part – even the day after surgery, when I was still very sore, I felt better than I have in a long time.  I am so thankful to finally have the solution to the pain and sickness.  So thankful to now be on the mend.

There are a couple of important lessons I have taken away from this experience.  First, I know to trust my interpretation of what is going on in my body.  I need to trust my instincts.  I should have either pushed my PCP harder, or switched doctors long before I got in the situation where the pain was severe on a daily basis.  Two, doctors are human.  Just like in every other profession, there are good doctors, bad doctors, and a lot of in between.  If a doctor isn’t listening to you, move on.  It’s your health and well-being we’re talking about here.

So here’s to our health!  Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!