Monday, September 30, 2013

The lion may lie down with the lamb, but I lie down with the laundry

Today feels somehow confessional to me, so I will spill some more about being somewhat nuts.  It may also apply to the grief stricken, recovering addict, or other types of crazy but somehow I just associate it with my PTSD/anxiety/depression and being tired.  I don't have the energy I used to have and I don't know when it may come back but when it does I certainly hope it will include laundry doing.

I sleep with my clothes. My clean clothes. And my kids' clean clothes, because I can't stand to put them away, apparently.  This is a side benefit of becoming single, whether by death or divorce, when your bed is suddenly bigger than it was, you can just pile up the clothes that are supposed to get put away, and voila! no more empty bed syndrome. A goodly pile of clothes will weigh down your comforter so you can't use it all, just like sharing the bed with someone full sized does!  No snoring, no body odor, no mansand on your sheet, and no pesky hours spent trying to stuff your drawers and closets with last week's fashions. If you keep the pile small then you can have a pint sized child in or on that side of the bed for snuggles and book time and still not have to tackle that chore. Yes, you can use my idea! You're welcome!

This household tip brought to you courtesy of product sponsor "I Can't Believe it's A Laundry Basket!"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A rant about "mild pedophilia"

I tried very hard not to write about this but apparently I will have writer's block until I do.

Of course I love to look at my NPR app on my iPad, and this week saw a story on evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who mentions in his new autobiography having been subject to "mild pedophilia" in school.  This popped up a few times in my Twitter feed over the previous week also, I assume, because it stood out for its nonsensicality. It is an oxymoron to me, and I can't work out how the interwebs didn't light up in universal disgust.  My folks, language snobs from way back, would gently mock those who said "half dead" "a little pregnant" or "genuine imitation." Also, since I know a little about the harm done by pedophiles, I have a strong desire to scream about "mild pedophilia" because even if Dawkins didn't defend it per se, a whole bunch of people defended it while defending him, and I am really angry about it all.

No one should sexualize a child. No one.  It isn't mild to do so, no matter what.  Sure kids engage in self exploration, sure they play doctor or whatever with each other, but sexual contact intended to result in sexual gratification of the adult or child is simply wrong.  I am glad if Dawkins wasn't traumatized by his experience, but I hate that he describes it as "mild" pedophilia. Pedophilia cannot be mild, ever, full stop, and you don't have to be a conservative to say so.  When I went strolling about the internet to see what other people thought, my head exploded (metaphorically).  How can there be so many people who would justify this type of behavior that falls short of rape and say that it is how conservatives and the religious right condemn normal behavior? Who are these people?  A lot of anonymous commenters said things like children need to learn sexual behavior and people in traditional societies masturbate children to calm them and that is not seen as abusive, and only in today's modern society do we create the trauma by telling children they were traumatized.

All these commenters say that Dawkins was not defending mild pedophilia the first time, or when he explained his remarks later in an interview with The Times.  Here are the quotes of that interview I found:
Today we read, almost daily, of adults whose childhood was blighted by an uncle perhaps, or even a parent, who would day after day, week after week, year after year, sexually abuse a vulnerable child. The child would often have no escape, would not be believed if he/she told the other parent, or told a teacher. In many cases it is only now, when the abused children have reached adulthood, that these stories are coming out. To make light of their stories, even after all these years, might in some cases re-awaken the trauma of not being believed at the time when it was all happening, and when being believed would have meant so much to the child . . .
I cannot know for certain that my companions’ experiences with the same teacher were are brief as mine, and theirs may have been recurrent where mine was not. That’s why I said only “I don’t think he did any of us lasting damage”. We discussed it among ourselves on many occasions, especially after his suicide, and there was indeed general agreement that his gassing himself was far more upsetting than his sexual depredations had been. If I am wrong about any particular individual; if any of my companions really was traumatised by the abuse long after it happened; if, perhaps it happened many times and amounted to more than the single disagreeable but brief fondling that I endured, I apologise.
Something is so very, very wrong that the man doesn't notice the likely connection between this pedophile's actions and his suicide.  That teacher knew it was wrong. Who knows what path led from his touching and assaulting unknown numbers of his students, but when he took his life and "upset" his students he made it clear that he knew he was wrong, and who are we to say his molesting wasn't as wrong as some other things are, and not such a big deal?  It need not be deeply traumatizing to be wrong, it is enough that that one teacher may have fondled so many boys who didn't tell, who didn't get help, and who then went on to "initiate" other boys that way and thereby doom so many other kids to being victims.  The code of silence begins with each victim, and each failure to recognize the harm done, and the minimization of saying "well, it didn't hurt me much" degrades the care we owe to every other child who that perpetrator's actions ultimately affect.

Would Dawkins be able to view this the same way if it had happened to his own child? If he could, then the Selfish Gene he writes of must be dominant in his family, and I am sorry no one could nurture it to less prominence in his psyche, but I surely don't want him as my neighbor, kids' teacher, or professor. I want to be around people for whom children deserve to be protected from intentional harmful actions regardless of the level of harm intended or inflicted.  Introducing a young person to sexuality is just plain wrong.  Sexualizing a child, acting without consent and without that child being capable of understanding their feelings is not ever mild, it is always and forever a moral wrong. I have never been called conservative but I want to stand up now, for all past and future victims and say, an adult who touches a child and intends sexual gratification or either party is wrong, and not mildly. Pedophilia is not mild at all.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bouncing to beat CP

What do you think, did intervention work on this stroke survivor? Do you see hemiplegia or a little girl having fun? Yeah, I thought so too.  (heart swelling)

I've been meaning to write about this for ages but got far too busy with whining about my head.  However, after suggesting it to someone I figured it was time to share. We started going to this bounce place more than two years ago with the Angel of PT,  Michael Workman, creator of the Bamboo Brace, and our PT spirit guide. Actually it terrified me back when Hannah was a new walker and quite unsteady, but I was assured she needed a place where she could safely fall down, and he was right. Not only did it give her a safe fall, but it gave her a whole lot more, especially one more place where she could do what all the other kids were doing, and just have fun.

When we stopped going with our PT, after aging out of Early Intervention, we just kept going for fun. Especially during the day, during open bounce, when bigger kids were in school, Hannah could bounce on the trampoline floor, and crawl on the floor, and climb the ladder of the inflatable slide using her affected arm to assist her in climbing up, and mostly she just had a great time without knowledge that I considered it therapeutic intervention.

Between divine intervention, Early Intervention, and me taking a lot of time to do stuff like this with Hannah on a regular basis, she just is not all that impaired.  Sure her leg and arm are still smaller in mass and less effective than her unaffected side, but she can do way, way, way more than she can't, and she is mainstreamed at school.  We are hitting occupational therapy the hardest now, and I don't know what we'll be doing to get those gains, but flailing her arms while she jumps seems to have strengthened her shoulder and upper arm enough that she doesn't flex her wrist and currently doesn't need that brace anymore.  I'd like to see her not favor that hand but she does a lot of two handed play, because her upper body is strong enough to move the arm naturally, so that weaker hand is not relegated to waiting all the time.

The Bamboo Brace was the beginning of this, but the bouncing kept it going, we think. We bounce at Jump Around Utah in Salt Lake City.  The owner sometimes laughs when we come in for half an hour before closing, just to get a little gross/fine motor skills work in on the fly, but every time we drop in we are glad we did.  Somehow, we have arrived at a time and place where I can come in with the kids I have with me and just sit down and look at the internet while they play independently. Yep, my child with CP plays independently and successfully in a rough play environment.  Did I picture myself saying that three years ago?  No.

Bouncing is for everybody.  My family and kids' friends can go for a playdate/babysitting event and work up a sweat while getting the ya-yas out.  A friend whose twin boy was eight months behind his sister in learning to walk made huge advancements when his big sister started bouncing with him on their trampoline, so I feel bouncing is indeed universally beneficial to build strength and balance but especially for those of us whose kids are otherwise limited in activities they would naturally do, I can't think of anything better. When my PT explained it to me, he described these benefits: fast movement on a soft surface builds muscle strength, challenges and therefore builds balance, develops the vestibular system which is important for our kiddos with impaired sensation so they better learn where their bodies are in space and relative to other stuff, and learning how to fall.  And, as you saw in Hannah's video, how to bounce back up.

This is not a sponsored post.  I would do a sponsored post, for the right people, but this is just a shout out to some very real folks and places that made our battle with stroke and cerebral palsy a battle we could fight.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ain't that a KICK in the head!

Never let it be said that I don't, on occasion, make you laugh. At me.

I have posted before about my hair.  My ahem, gray, hair. Guess what? I have more gray than ever, thanks to the drubbing of 2013, in fact, one temple comes in positively silver.  I like gray hair on other people, actually, my husband (for all his many faults, today we will refer to him as my husband) was very much a silver fox, and foxy.  I like gray on others, but not on me.  If my kids were teenagers I wouldn't be sensitive about it and probably wouldn't bother with coloring my roots, but since my kids are wee I continue to color so I don't get mistaken for their grandmother.  Since I color, I like to brighten my own color which runs brown with red highlights, and make my own flowing tresses pop, and so since I made a very real redhead I generally try to match her as best I can.  My husband banned me from doing my own hair color at home, and really, that is OK since I wasn't very good.  But going in for a hair appointment means getting up and going in and this year, my hair has not been top priority for me.  I had roots a good inch and a half long a few months ago, but I finally got in and fixed it up.  When I went last time my stylist friend was excited to show me Red Hair Root Paint! that I could use when my roots got long and I needed a tide me over.  Of course I bought it, and today, since I was trying to look like I bathe regularly, I put on makeup, fluffled my hair and sprayed it on. Lo, and behold, my selfie, which makes it appear a wee red devil put a boot mark on my forehead.  And this is after I removed the thickest paint from my part.  Yeah . . .

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Grace In Small Things, Now More Than Ever

I used to post on Grace in Small Things with some regularity, and then totally got out of the habit when sometime after my mom's strokes and my colossal butt breaking fall on the ice my substance abuse turned into substance dependence and bit by bit I stopped feeling all that much gratitude. Certainly I was grateful to get clean but still there were so many things to not be grateful for that gratitude didn't rise to the top of my emotional pool very often lately, but today it did, and I posted this at GiST. Take that, gloom.

You are lovely people, you know that? Sitting around feeling, sharing, and receiving gratitude and joy! I did miss you . . . I came back to my blog a few weeks ago, and felt too angsty to get back to thinking about things I am grateful for . . . but of course I should because it makes me feel better. Schmutzie's Instagram email today inspired me, so here goes . . .
1. I didn't die while addicted to pain pills, and now I am clean and won't ever flirt with such a thing again.  Big YAY there, obviously.
2. My husband may be dead from suicide but I am not, and I have children who are most decidedly alive, and playing heartily in a very lively fashion.
3. Life has potential for MORE good things to come my way, and today I remember that.
4. Mistakes, depression, anxiety, and PTSD may be a part of my life but need not be a way of life.
5. This totally improved my perspective today. Yay!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Psychology Today

A roller coaster is in my psyche! I started out tired and somewhat gloomy, got a small lift at Jazzercise, back down when I had to do a marginally official task of picking up license plates from the car dealer, back to house where I almost tacked the beginning of a nearly insurmountable paper/bills/mail sort and almost cheered up, only to go to therapy where I ended up dropping back into a psychological pit.

I imagine the good news is that the yawning gulf of despair is not a permanent condition for me, and I only flirt with wholly jumping in, or getting chased in by intrusive memories and flashbacks. I suspect it is good to not have depression that never relents, but it sure would be nice to have no depression at all.  I have known a few folks with major depression, and frankly, they are not doing all that well, if they are still alive.  What would it have looked like for me if I had gotten treatment sooner, I wonder. But with my husband's activities and suicide I don't think I had a hope to avoid PTSD this year.

PTSD is kicking my butt, literally, but some days I think I am improving.  I had no idea what PTSD was like until I had it.  I didn't know what it would be like to sometimes feel that the only part of me that has substance is my eyes looking out and that my body is insubstantial below my chin, or the opposite sensations I can get that my feet are magnetized to the ground and can't be relied on to move up or forward. The most similar feeling I've had that might make sense to someone else is when my foot twists inside a slide style sandal and I find the shoe is sideways but still on my foot and not surprisingly, I am on the verge of falling.  Another mom I know who lost her son unexpectedly and also was diagnosed with PTSD asked me if I ever felt that the world around me was made of tissue paper.  It sounds so silly to envy someone else's wacky body sensations but not being able to trust the world around me sounds somehow better than not being able to trust my body.

Today I feel better than other days, my body has only betrayed me with arm numbness and anxiety. Hooray! And today I feel my sobriety is not in question, because I went to my rehab facility and facilitated a relapse prevention group. If you want to keep it, you have to give it away, and so I did, and I feel stronger.  I almost remember actual joy, and then I remember the rest.  But 10 steps forward and 2 steps back is still 8 forward.  Basic math always wins, right? The hardest to learn was the least complicated.  Thank you, Indigo Girls. Thank you sobriety.  Thank you, God.  Thank you, interwebs, for being my therapist.

Monday, September 9, 2013

posting my way through anxiety without mind numbing drugs - bite me, MCADD

Argghh, just a simple little cold/flu, the ubiquitous second week of the school year bug in all its minor chord glory, is here to rattle my cage in my new single mom state. I have decided that Hannah ate enough, is large enough, that the fact that she threw up does not mean we need to race off to the Children's Hospital in the middle of the night, getting a blood draw, IV and having her catheterized to check all relevant levels of stuff that matters in the world of metabolic disorders.

This is one of those places where my late husband was in some ways helpful, in that he didn't get so wound up with worry and count approximate food vs. vomit ratios, and yet, I always knew that if we separated I couldn't count on him to get Hannah to the hospital should she actually need to go, and I could lose her to his lack of worry.  And still I hated having to worry so hard about her since I had to worry for the both of us.  The three times I have taken her in to the hospital with vomiting and illness were all times where her test results showed she was just beginning to experience a metabolic process that could indeed be serious and ultimately fatal should she not get her glucose into a normal range.  I know at those times I did exactly right to take her in, and get a glucose IV that would load her up and keep her going until her appetite returned as the virus ran its course. But what about the times we  just rode it out and treated her like a normal child who has a brief illness? Am I risking her life when I don't take her in?  I know from the patient education we have received that she doesn't always need intervention and the best person to gauge that is her caregiver but I don't really trust myself to get it right, even though history has proven I do. And so anxiety kicks my butt, every single time her little regular virus with a high fever comes calling.  Every. Single. Time.

Last night I kept her in my too large bed, felt the heat waves coming off her body, and gave her sips of flat Sprite, apple juice, and water in between hurling into my stock pot that I kept at the foot of my bed. But it always seemed that every sign showed she was not in distress beyond expected levels for vomiting and fever, and if I could get her to keep high calorie fluids down by morning we could make it through.  And we did.  I imagine she will not go to school tomorrow either, and hope we both get more sleep tonight, and today I have one more example to tell my PTSD addled, anxiety riddled mind that I actually am up to the job of mothering this child. And that may sound more credible tomorrow.

Friday, September 6, 2013

K, camping is hard, right?

It was a lovely, family oriented holiday weekend, but it has taken the whole week to recover. Because I was painting a wee picture I chose not to apply sunscreen when the sun finally came out, as I preferred not to get my hands all gummed up with goo that might smear the watercolor pencil. As I result, I love my painting but my face got so burned that my eyes puffed up, one more so than the other and leaving my right cheek extending forward enough to show up in my vision in a manner akin to an extra nose. So I look wacky in the way that I feel inside! Yay, me!

The vista looked like this from our camp.  I didn't include the large number of sheep who paraded back and forth through the valley multiple times a day, guided by medium sized dogs we decided must have been Not So Great Pyrenees since they looked Pyreneesey but were not great in size.

Looking down on the sheep reminded me that people who don't approve of low cost grazing on public lands sometimes call them land maggots, but I enjoyed their chorus of simple conversation.  Hannah said, "I would like to go to the sheeps, please" and was disappointed that the sheeps didn't want her to examine them. It was lovely, relaxing, time out of time, but oh my goodness I AM TIRED.