What Happens When Mom Gets Sick?

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What happens when Mom gets sick? Same thing as everyday. She gets up and takes care of the same things she always does. There are no sick days or breaks. There is only the normal routine but doing it feeling terrible.

But what happens when it’s more than just sick? What happens when you really need to be out for the count?

I recently broke a tooth. It had a crack and I knew that it was going to go someday, but I chose to ignore it. Not just because I am Mom, but because I am terrified of Dentists. I don’t just mean kind of nervous. I mean full blown shaking and hyperventilating, with crying and throwing up kind of terrified. I don’t know why exactly. Something in my childhood probably. I have blanked out every visit to the dentist I’ve ever had. I used to be able to handle going. I was scared but not too bad. Then as the years progressed it’s gotten worse. Last time I went, I had to take a Valium before going and one again while I was there. But this time, it was the worst.

I went in to have them see what was going on with my tooth. I almost ran out of the waiting room. When I did get back to the actual room, I started to shake. I made it almost through the X-ray before starting to cry and hyperventilate. I never made it to the actual examination. I freaked out completely and they told me they would have to sedate me to do anything. That involved a “trial run” of the sedation because I react strangely to drugs.

For most people this wouldn’t be a big thing. They just get a family member to help and all is good. I, however, have a complicated life. First of all the only family that is around here is my kids. Granted my daughter is 17 and she could help me but I didn’t want to put the whole thing on her shoulders. Not only watching me but having to take care of her autistic brother at the same time.  My husband would be the logical choice. I would have to make the appointment for when he was going to be home,  but he works away from home for 6 weeks at a time. That kind of made it hard to schedule.

Eventually, I got the appointment and we went in for the work. I was praying for them to do the work if the sedation worked so I didn’t have to wait another six weeks for the next appointment. Thank God they did. My face is sore but the work is done. I’m not really sure what they did. I guess I have a crown, whatever that means. (Like I said I blank out any dentist appointments. )

Good thing my husband was there. I was at the dentist from 7 am until 2:30 pm then went home and slept until 5:30 pm. How could I have done it without him? By the evening, everyone’s tempers were getting short because my son was being difficult. He didn’t understand why mom wasn’t there. Mom is the one constant in his life. Mom is never gone or sick. He wasn’t completely awful, but he didn’t handle it well either.

No one really realized how important Mom is until Mom goes down. I’m not saying that Dad isn’t important because he is. I’m just saying that families rely heavily on Mom always being there and always being functional. It is hard on everyone when Mom goes down. SO go and hug your mom and tell her you appreciate her then give her a day off. You will all be better for it. Kind of like an emergency preparedness drill.

Unexpected DIY: Repairing a Fallen Coat Rack

No one likes that moment when the walls come tumbling down, or in this case the coat rack.  We came home from school and were hanging up our coats when all of a sudden PHOOMP! The coat rack detaches from the wall and accelerates into gravity’s clutches. img_8893

Nothing like a pile of wet coats on the floor and holes ripped in the wall. Of course my Autistic son had to be the one that was standing there when it went down. So I spent the rest of the day trying to calm him down because he thought it was his fault and it started a meltdown.

Well, that was fun.

I sat there in between my son’s bouts of lashing out and apologizing trying to figure out what would be the best way to fix this problem. The holes were a bit big. The current coat rack was just a board that wasn’t long enough to  span the space from stud to stud behind the wall.  Just putting it back up wasn’t an option. img_8895

After a couple of days the poor hamster turning my brain wheel got an idea. Longer board, totally new design and mounting. I scavenged my basement where the spare bits of boards from other projects cowered in the corner and found a 1×6 that looked hardy. I cut it to length and then decided to paint it because I didn’t have any stain that matched the cupboards.
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My little brain hamster was really smart on this one. He thought I should make it match the boarder in the kitchen.

It took a while to get all the painting done. I did the bottom coat with some left-over paint from the walls and then I cut out a stencil pattern.  I used craft paint to fill in the stencil. img_8899

Admittedly I didn’t do a good as job painting  as I should have, but by this time I was getting fed up with the whole mess. It had been a couple of days getting it fixed and my son had been upset about it the whole time.img_8900

The circus of getting it up on the wall was a bit frustrating. The cordless drill I was using kept stripping out the heads on the screws. I tried adjusting the clutch but it didn’t seem to make a difference.

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I managed to get it up and it should stay this time. It’s held up by six  2 inch screws in the studs. img_8902

I have to say it doesn’t look to bad and my son is no longer upset. So all is well and good in the world.

Being a Callous Autism Parent

My son is Autistic. That means a lot of things. It means he has trouble processing his environment. It means that he has trouble speaking and using words. It means that he can become easily fixated on particular thoughts or actions. It means that he is often unable to make the right choices. It means that he feels his emotions so intensely that they often overwhelm him. It means that he often has out bursts that are dangerous to himself and others.

I don’t mean to say that he is dangerous, just that he is sometimes not in control. Sometimes it’s because of processing problem like over stimulation, but sometimes it’s because he isn’t getting his way. I know this. That doesn’t make him a bad kid, just a normal kid in High Definition.  Most kids get upset about not getting their way and they may throw a tantrum or ten but they eventually can be reasoned with and they learn.

That isn’t always the case with my son. Often he can become fixated on what he wants and there is no reasoning with him. You can’t use logic. His eyes glaze over and there is nobody home in there. Just the driving thought that he wants something. If you can nip it in the bud before he reaches that stage, you’re good. If not, well then, best just to stay out of range and try to mitigate the damage.

There are many times when my son will hit, bite, scratch, kick, spit, choke, throw things, and bang his head.  He isn’t mean. He just has trouble dealing with his emotions. After the meltdown is over he is very apologetic almost to the same obsessed level as the outburst was.

Recently I got a call from the school. My son was having a rough day. He didn’t want to come in from recess. Well what child does? Unfortunately my son took then ending of recess rather badly and he had a meltdown. His disappointment was so intense that he couldn’t deal with it. He started banging his head. He managed to bash his nose on the window frame of the low stimulus room where he goes to calm down.

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His nose swelled and he ended up with a large welt on the bridge of his nose. The school was concerned and rightly so. They called me to see if I wanted to come look at his nose. After learning the details and talking with his teacher I decided to wait and see.

Does that make me a callous parent? No just practical.

I’ve been living the autistic life for eleven years now and I’ve learned a thing or two. I know that at any moment of any day a meltdown might happen. I’ve been kicked in the face, head-butted, pinched, scratched, punched in the ribs, bit, and choked. My neck used to have permanent gouges down each side that made me look like a tiger had attacked me. Does that make me scared of my child? No. Does that make me jumpy or reactionary? No. I’ve seen a lot of bruises, cuts and blood. Does that make me complacent? No.

It means that I’ve been there and done that. I know when it’s time to act and time to wait.  I know that above all structure and carefully planned reactions are the best.

I know that if I go running to the school after a meltdown, it’s only going to make things worse. It won’t change his behavior and it will very likely undermine the authority of the teachers. It will only justify what he’s done in his mind. He has to learn that that kind of behavior will not get him what he wants.

Do I think this was a tantrum? Partially. He didn’t get his way and he reacted. However, the difference is that he feels the emotions differently and he has no way to control them once they hit a certain point. Hence the headbanging. Studies have learned that there is a reason for headbanging.  In really weird way, it is how the child can get control back. It has to do with stimulation and chemicals. You can learn about it here.

I know this makes me sound callous, but I’m really not. I just know that this is my normal life. I don’t want it to be this way, but it is. I love my son dearly and it breaks my heart every time he hurts himself or anyone else. I feel terrible that others have to bear the brunt of his meltdowns. I’d rather it was me and not his teachers that had to deal with the pain. I wish that he would never have to be hurt, but that just isn’t in the cards for us.

The autistic life is hard. It takes its toll on everyone, but it hasn’t made me a callous parent. It just means that I’ve built up callouses on my hide. It’s given me a tougher and stronger skin to protect my heart. A heart that will always love my son no matter what may come our way.

 

 



Read the Warning Label, Dumb Ass

I have a set of beautiful lamps. They glow softly in the evening making my living room quite homey. img_8876

Not long ago one of them started acting up. It would flicker and go out then come back on when some one shook the floor (namely my son jumping around). My husband took a look at it and found the bulb had a loose filament.  He replaced the bulb and all was well. Until a few days ago.  I leaned over to turn on the lamp when I got up and sparks flew out at my face. Not the best thing when you’re not awake and haven’t had any coffee yet.

I checked the bulb and found there was a lovely burnt hole in the side of it. That’s scary!bulb

I checked the lamp fearing that there was something more wrong, possibly a short or something but then I saw the warning label.

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Apparently the lamp is only rated for 25 Watt bulbs and the one we used was a 40 Watt. So lesson learned. Read the warning label and use the proper bulb or get sparks in the face.

Ice Fishing with the 5th Grade

The 5th grade class recently went on a field trip to learn about ice fishing. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks department were in charge of the trip and we went out to Bynum reservoir. There were a lot of buses there from other schools. We had our lunch and then the kids played in the snow until they were ready for us on the ice. It was about 26 degrees but the sky was mostly sunny and there was no wind. All in all a beautiful day.

The kids got a crash course in ice fishing and safety. The MFW keep the fish that are caught for the science classes to dissect later in the year. They calculated that they needed 981 fish this year for  all the school but so far had only caught about 50. So the kids were eager to help catch as many as they could.

Then we headed out onto the ice. It was about a half mile walk out to where the holes had been drilled. The kids spread out and found a hole each. The ice was about 16 inches thick but it was a little disconcerting looking down through the hole and seeing where the ice ended and knowing that we were sitting on nothing but frozen water. There were plenty of volunteers and MFW officers to help the kids.img_8859

My son, his aide, and I trucked around to different holes trying our luck. You have to understand that my son being autistic doesn’t have much of an attention span, so we ended up spending about a minute maybe two at each hole before moving on. img_8857

At one point my son walked past a fish that someone had caught. It was laying on the ice waiting for the MFW to come and get it. As he passed it moved. He jumped and ran away screaming, but we got him back and showed him the fish. After that he got excited and wanted to hold it. We explained all about the parts of a fish. Then they told him that if he kissed the fish he would have good luck fishing the rest of his life.
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Now before you get all weirded out, it is actually a fishing tradition up here. At first, he was confused and skeptical about kissing this fish but after the bus driver explained he was game and gave it a big smacking kiss!

After about an hour of fishing unsuccessfully, most of the kids were getting bored. Some of the boys started plowing through the snow on their knees and found a fish frozen just under the surface of the ice. So that kept them going for a while. My son decided that he needed to make snow angels.img_8865 And his aide joined in. img_8863

 We had some trouble getting back to the bus. My son didn’t want to leave and it turned into a wrestling match on the ice, but finally the MFW came along with their ATV and gave us a ride on the little trailer they were pulling. The kids didn’t catch very many fish, but they had fun. All in all it was a good day.