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Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Night in the ER

   Yep, the entire night.  From 1PM on Saturday until 4:45 AM on Sunday.  No it wasn’t Tim who was being seen, nor was it me.  It was Larry.  After taking him to the Immediate Care Center and being told he needed to go to the hospital, we arrived and were checked into the ER pretty quickly, actually.   The wait was not long but there were only a handful of folks in the waiting room, so it was looking like a good day for us, but not for long.  Shortly after being triaged, 2 ambulances and a helicopter arrived with a group of people who had been in an auto accident.   So off to a bed he was shuffled to begin the waiting process. 
   We were there because he has been having digestive issues for weeks that he would not pay attention to, even at my prompting.  Now he was in pain, dehydrated, and very weak.  I know that having no insurance was the primary reason why he would not seek treatment; and being depressed was another huge part of it and some of it was just that he was being a typical man.  I don’t think he was thinking he was invincible.  I think he was giving up.  The past 18 months of little employment has take a terrible toll on him and it is now manifesting in his health.
   Some treatment was given and a couple of hours later xrays; and a few hours later another treatment; and around 1 am, a CT scan was done.  Around 4 am the Dr. came and told us the results and wrote the scrips and gave instructions to take home.  It was about 4:45 AM when he was released.  We arrived home around 5:15 AM and both collapsed into bed for the rest of the day.  We have no insurance, so we have no choice of where we go for treatment as far as hospitals are concerned.  There is only one place you can go and that is University. 
   Lets go back a lot of years to my childhood.  We were returning from a trip to the U of L dental school where my mother had taken me for a check up, when we drove past a big brick building that looked forlorn to me.  There was no air conditioning on this hot summer day, so the windows were open and there were people sitting on the window ledges overlooking the street.   The majority of them were negros.
  It gave me a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach and I asked my mother, “Mom, what is that?”  She then began to explain to me that it was the county hospital that took care of the poor.  I had seen hospitals before, but this one really scared me.  I had gone to St. Joseph’s when I was six to have my tonsils removed, but this place gave me the creeps.
   Over the years, the University of Louisville School of Medicine took it over and they have created a world renowned medical center that leads in research and treatments.  But the ER isn’t much different to me.  It still feels like that awful place I saw when I was a kid.  And they still cater to the poor, which now includes us.
   In the bed next to us, divided by a fabric curtain, we had 3 neighbors during our night’s stay.  Whatever HIPPA laws have done to protect a patient’s privacy, the fabric curtain and the nature of the person laying there has destroyed it.  The first was an elderly lady who was in need of dialysis.  She was quiet and promptly taken to a room.  Later a man was brought in and I suspect that he was in the advanced stages of kidney disease because he had fluid retained on his stomach and they had to intubate him to drain it off.  He was weak but he did not like the tube and he fought them for a while.  Eventually he accepted it and began to rest quietly until they found a room for him.    Then came number 3….  She was the young mother of at least one young child who had fallen down drunk and hit her head.  “Her children found her unconscious…” was what the EMT told the nurse.  Her mother had brought her there and dumped her.  The staff had no records to go by, no friend or relative to speak for her, and she was nearly incoherent.  When she spoke, her speech was so thick she was hardly understandable.  As the night progressed, she began to awaken slowly and as she did, she began to bellow at the staff when she wanted something.  They ignored her for the most part. She was constrained to keep her from moving because they wanted to be sure her neck wasn’t fractured in the fall. 
  I don’t know if she had some kind of speech impediment, but as the hours went by, if she was sobering up, her speech did not improve, neither did her choice of words.    She would not be still and continued bellowing relentlessly.  She would quieten for a minute or two when they checked in on her, but the quiet did not last long.  Larry had been given pain medication, so he slept through much of it, but I had to leave and go sit in the waiting room a couple of times just to get away from her.  As his pain meds wore off, he was beginning to get agitated. 
   On the one hand, I understand how families get frustrated and give up on members who are drug or alcohol dependent.  But on the other hand, the thought crossed my mind, “What if she weren’t drunk but was rather developmentally disabled?”  How callously the staff cared for her would have been a crime in such a situation, in my opinion.  She was difficult to understand and had no one there to speak for her.  Many families give up on their disabled members because it is very difficult to deal with, especially when the member seems to be intentionally doing the things that irritate.   Services are so hard to find and so hard to keep that disabled adults end up just like her, alone and hopeless.
   Society doesn’t want them.  They would rather they be put away so as not to be seen; out of sight, out of mind.  A huge percentage of homeless and addicted people are also mentally challenged in some way.  Somewhere along the way, they were given up on and/or they were allowed to make poor decisions concerning their care and the consequences overtook them.   I contemplate these things because I have a child who could become one of those statistics.  When we are gone, who will care?  Probably no one if we don’t find the care he needs before we are gone.  So far that search has been dismal. 

Saturday, May 29, 2010

....more to come..... How we discovered Asperger's Syndrome.....

Wow, I completely overlooked this last November so I am picking it up now.  In the year 2000, I happened to see an ad previewing a 20/20 program that was going to air that evening and it struck my fancy because it was dealing with parents and kids with differences.  Tim was 16 at the time.  We had gone through several diagnoses but had not really felt that any of them were exact.  I mentioned it to Larry that evening and we watched it together.  It was like hearing our life's story with our son.  The topic of the show was Asperger's Syndrome.   We knew when we saw it that this might be what was going on.
   A couple of weeks later we saw his doctor and asked her if she was familiar with AS.  She replied that she had heard of it but she wanted to do some study before making a decision.  At the next visit she told us that she thought we had hit the nail on the head and that was when he was first diagnosed with it.
     Now finding a name for it did not do much except it gave us a better understanding
of his behaviors and it also gave us information that we could pass on to other people as we navigate life with an AS son.  We know a little better how to advocate for him in many situations.  It lessens our frustrations just a little.
   The difficult thing about AS for us is that he is high enough functioning that folks do not see it in the way he looks or when he is behaving typically.  He has a normal IQ and his vocabulary has always been off the charts, so when he behaves in atypical ways, inaccurate judgements are made about his character and our parenting.  If anyone spoke with him for more than a few minutes, they would see something was askew, but most people don't usually take time to get to know him.  He has convinced many a listener about some real whoppers about himself.  He once told a student at IUS that he had been an army sniper and they contacted the campus security who came and gave him the shake down.  Fortunately, Dad wasn't far away and he explained the AS to them.  (Go ahead, laugh, we do now.)
   So, that wasn't the real beginning of our AS walk because we have been living with it for 25 and 1/2 years at this point.  We just learned about what it was when he was 16.  He too has learned to communicate about AS with people but he still goes off on some wild tangents and says things that get him into trouble.  AS is an autism spectrum disorder and many people mistakenly think that autism kids do not speak.  He was  using sentences when he was 18 months old and he has never stopped!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Week Without Dad

How eventful a week can be with an Asperger's child is entirely unpredictable but when something changes, like Dad is working out of town for a week, life goes a little haywire.
   This week was a weird one.  For the most part it was normal but in some ways, it was quieter than most.   There was only one or two events that required my intervention.  Then Dad came home on Thursday.  With seemingly sincere pleas, promising to be quiet and not make any waves, I was convinced to take him to the airport with me to pick Dad up.  Bad decision.  As soon as they saw each other, the storm began to brew.  My happiness that Dad was home went out the window with the air conditioning in the truck.  So much for homecomings.
   Dad now has a telecommuting job that allows him to work at home most of the time with intermittent travel to the site once a month or so.  This is a new venture for us and it is going to require much organization and new boundaries for our Aspie.  Being a boundary buster by nature, this is not going to be easy.  He will argue his case convincingly and we will have to stand our ground and tell him no.   Maybe I should say I will have to tell him no.  Dad will probably scream it to him.
   So today was Dad's first day at home after beginning this job on Monday onsite in North Carolina.  Our Aspie came to the house around noon, which is what we have asked him to do, not come before noon.  But his presence and talkativeness was too much for Dad so I took him  back to his place.  When we arrived, a young man came running through the parking lot, cutting in front of our truck, heading toward the highway beyond the next building.  Then came a young lady running after him yelling that she wanted us to drive her to catch him, he had stolen her keys.
   I am glad I was there because the first thing our Aspie wanted to do was chase after him on his bicycle, but I suggested she call the police and that he let them handle it.  Tim is a protective type, somewhat like the guy in the movie "Blind Side", and he would have done it.  Thankfully she called the police and Tim stayed put.
   This young woman looked to be late 20's or so.  I stayed long enough to make sure she was calmed down and thinking clearly.  She rattled off the story of her pregnant sister who has a restraining order against this guy but he would not leave her alone...  Kinda felt like a Judge Judy show there for a while!  Some friends came and comforted her and I thought the situation was diffused enough to move on.  Before I left I asked Tim to stay out of the situation  because it was potentially dangerous and let the police take care of it.  He agreed that it was dangerous and reminded me once more that he had told me his complex was ghetto.  Yes, it is.  But I hope as long as he minds his own business, he will be ok, for now.  A new location may be in order in the future.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Organizationally Challenged

Today we met with a case worker, a rep from the agency who coordinates services, and the man who works with our son.  The issue we are trying to resolve is helping him to organize his time and stay on a schedule.  Going where he is supposed to go, being at home when the worker comes, and not changing the schedule daily.
  Larry and I spent yesterday afternoon helping him clean his apartment.  It had become a terrible mess because he has not stayed with the schedule.  Hopefully, with a regular schedule, these things will be taken care of  We will see...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Some of Tim's Photography

Tim's life dream is to be a professional photographer.  His Asperger's traits have hindered him greatly in pursuing this dream and although he faces difficulties on a daily basis, he never gives up!  I dare say most neurotypical people would not have lasted so long!  Not able to work or attend college, he has pursued this dream by taking adult education classes, online self study, and research.
   I guess my dream for him is that there would be someone who would take him under wing, as an apprentice and give him guidance that might prove to have a fulfilling outcome where he could at least supplement his income with his love of the trade.

Tim's Facebook Page:
Tim's Railroad Photos:

Week for Kids With Disabilities

I posted this on my facebook page on Sunday.  I don't especially like the wayit is worded, but the message is clear:

It reads;  People need to understand that children with special needs don't have an illness, so there is no cure & it's not contagious. They only want what we all want, to be accepted. Most of you probably won't copy and paste this. Will you do it and leave it on your status for at least an hour? It's Special Education week, and ...this is in honor of all the kids who need a little extra help & understanding.

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About Me

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Hi, I am Teri West, a wife, retired home schooling mom, 2nd year breast cancer survivor, crafter, musician, and primitive artist living and working in Kentuckiana, (the Louisville, KY and S. Indiana area). My family heritage is in the hills of Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio. I grew up in Louisville, Ky and attended Eastern KY University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, graduating with degrees from both in education. I married in 1979 and have three grown children, one a degreed artist, one a techie/artist, and an autistic one, a photographic artist. Hubby is a techie. I work out of my home creating primitive items for friends, family, and you. My loves are American folk music, primitive crafting, and American folk art which all emanate from my devotion to my faith, family and friends. I belong to the Louisville Dulcimer Society and I play mountain dulcimer, guitar, violin, native flute, tin whistle, bowed psaltry, and ukelele as well.