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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Thinking Big: In Life and T.S.

My husband is gone on business this week. Typical of my mate, I have heard more from him in the past 12 hours than I often do when he’s actually working ten miles from the house. (He misses me and the kids to pieces. We are his lifeline, hence 7 calls a day when he’s traveling. He is one I.T. Managing Professional Odd Duck in my book. God bless him.)

“Check out this long line at L.A.X.,” he’ll write me. “It’s so cold. What’s the weather like in the Valley?”

I am not complaining. I am a yakker. I love the give and take. So for his amusement, I sent him a few things to read during his layover in Chicago. Yes, a lot of men might take this opportunity to tour a strip club or go out for some pizza. My husband? He sets himself up on a laptop, pays bills, and waits to hear from his wife. This is what he heard today. Brace yourself. It’s pretty exciting.

Hi Rex –

My office is a sty. You need to make more money so we can hire the Pottery Barn to come in and give me cubbies. Then again, I could clean up the floors. But I can’t clean floors because I can’t find them to clean them. I did, however, make a whopping $25.87 on Ebay! However….

…I ran out of First Class Mailing Envelopes. This means 1 of 2 things.

 1.  I order more envelopes. They should arrive in 2 weeks.

2.  I don’t order more and only use Priority from now on.

 I am going with #2.  Of course that also means that I have to buy stuff that is worth enough that it merits shipping Priority.  It means people must be willing to pay a bit more for shipping. Which means they must have more invested in the product which means they are not such cheap butts and then I don’t have to be a cheap butt myself and “gain” 2.00 in shipping for a million dollars worth of running around to the Post Office and back.

I have to invest in a stamp machine now, but with thinking big, it’ll payfor itself in six months.

I love Ebay!

Your wife.

Some of you may be thinking that I’m nuts to Ebay for a few hundred bucks a month when I have a book to write, a house to clean, reviews to write and kids to care for. Others might wonder why I’m bothering to tell you about my envelope scenario. Well, here’s why: It’s all about thinking big.

Like the envelopes, if you spend your time worrying about the small stuff in T.S. that you can’t change, you’re going to end up exhausting a lot of energy for no reason. Why not make thinking big your Priority? (Like that? Priority Mail, priorities in life?) In doing so, you won’t waste gas on dumb people who don’t get tics. You won’t lower your standards of life for your kid to make him or her fit in with knuckle dragging cheap butts. You can invest in the larger picture, save energy, and profit from the results.

Do I want to sell thrift store clothes for $400/month forever? No. I want to get some better product that eventually sells itself – passive income – so I can concentrate on my book and get back to magazine writing again. (Remember that? I used to have a column a long time ago. Sigh…) My stamp machine will allow me to once/week put my items on my front door and get back to making cash from what makes my heart sing.

Do I want to worry about Stink’s tics forever? No. I don’t. I want to concentrate on the amazing boy that he is. And really, I’ve had some pretty big break throughs here recently. (A big thank you to the beautiful Addie from my son’s old preschool who had us for lunch yesterday. I am once again reminded that surrounding myself with big thinkers makes my soul smile. And her children? LOVELY. Thank you.)

I will continue to share my thoughts with you as long as you’ll continue to make me a Priority. Tourettes, like Ebay, can seem cumbersome. But it’s also a really cool package when you stop and think about it. You never know what you’re gonna get, so try and make the most of it. What choice do we have?

* Photo of my husband’s line at LAX airport. And my office. Sigh… I have a ways to go in getting organized! Stay tuned!

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David Finch’s The Journal of Best Practices – An Asperger Marriage Review

As I sit down to type this post, five children are running wild in my back yard. Two are throwing dozens of colorful plastic balls over the net enclosure, while the other three bat them right back out. A few balls will likely land over the cement brick wall, resulting in tears, anger, and ultimately laughter as stories are made about Crazy Ed pulling “magic circles” out of his pool filter.

As the coffee hums, the cell phone rings, the house phone follows in suit, and dinner sits uncooked on top of my kitchen counter, I think of my husband: My very organized, methodical, practical husband.

For starters, there would be no children over on school night (my son still has a bit of homework to do.)

For seconds, how much longer am I going to trade services – taking Miss L home a few days a week in exchange for acupuncture? Wouldn’t less chaos be equally as effective in calming down Stink’s tics?

For thirds, why are two of the neighborhood boys here and why are two more kids playing basketball in our driveway? “Don’t they have a home?” he might wonder aloud, to which I’d respond, “Yes, but it’s nice having life in our home. We have to be flexible.”

Depending on my mood, I might be furious with my logical mate. While he means no harm by his comment, I might view it as insensitive. When he married me, I was a vintage wearing/cat eyed sporting/card-carrying WGA TV comedy writer. He wasn’t saying, “I Do” to Ms. Homemaker U.S.A.. These days, the only thing funny is my sense of domesticity – and believe me – we’re not always laughing.

On some days, I might blow his comments off. “That’s just Rex,” I might chide, too happy with my writing gigs or $12.75 Ebay windfall to really ruminate on his remark.

On other days, perhaps after nights of 5 hours sleep and dealing with Stink’s tic upswing, I might feel sad. “Why can’t he just get that life isn’t as easy to compartmentalize as the file folders on his work computer?”

But these days, I often think something else. What if he’s not being a selfish male? What if he just can’t help it?

David Finch’s wife knows a bit about this question. She was fed up with her rigid husband who threw baby tantrums over anything from dishes not being done correctly to having to deal with any change in their schedule that came with children. After five years of marriage, they were no longer friends and teetering on divorce.

Kristen, who Finch describes with endearing affection and admiration throughout his novel, sat him down one night and had him answer questions via an online diagnostic test. “Do people think you are aloof and distant?” (check) “Do you have certain routines you must follow… Do you tend to shut down or have a meltdown when stressed or overwhelmed?” (check and check again, and later, check check check….)

Finch scored 155 out of 200, and then responded with what can only be seen as outrageous aplomb. “I have Aspbergers? I have autism?! I mean… holy shit, right?”

Unlike a lot of folk who might ignore these results, Finch got an official diagnosis from a doctor. Instead of freaking out, he felt relief. He finally realized that his need for control was not entirely his fault: he was wired that way. But perhaps even more astounding than his acceptance of this irreversible condition was his determination to transform his marriage in spite of it.

The result? A New York Times bestselling book. He titled it, The Journal of Best Practices: A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Be a Better Husband.

Published by Simon and Schuster, Finch spares no details in walking us through his transformation. Using a detailed list of observations he’d written to himself, Finch came up with a set of best practices to elevate him from the dog house to beloved man of the house.

Some such rules included taking over kid chores without complaining, taking everyone’s clothes out of the dryer (not just the socks he needed) and not ruining he and his wife’s vacation because of a forgotten dental syringe. (He did eventually find one, but only because his wife was kind enough to stop at a supply store with him. He won brownie points for making due until then.)

Aspergers can take on many functions, but the hallmark of this disorder is monumental self-focus. Another way of saying this is that the person does not, inherently, possess empathy.

As a creative person who feels everything from a wacky gleam in my mom’s eye to the way a dissected frog might feel before being diced in two by a seventh grader, I used to think lack of empathy meant lack of feelings. But when I look at some of my own husband’s responses to life situations (sobbing in the driveway when my daughter was being whisked off to emergency for a chest cough, or breaking down over the birth Stink) I realize now how wrong I was. It’s not that folk with Aspergers don’t feel – they just can’t always put themselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how they feel.

On a logical level (and Aspies are nothing but logical) how can one get mad at someone if they aren’t being anal retentive on purpose? What if they are just wired that way, like our kids, who can’t help but tic? They are genetically built to do so. (Not to brag, but a long time friend once commented that I did, indeed, get that stick half pulled out my husband’s ass. I’m a rock star, I know.)

Understanding on a cerebral level is a far cry from acceptance on a soulful one. Marriage to someone like this can be taxing to say the least. One wouldn’t be human if they didn’t find it maddening. A spouse can feel cheated. “Isn’t a relationship about give and take?” many neurotypical mates might balk. Finch’s response is yes, and so is mine.

What Finch succeeded out so brilliantly, both in real life as well as on the written page, is realizing while he might not be able to understand his wife’s needs on an intuitive level, he can respond in a practiced way that honors her because he loves her.

It’s the same with my marriage, and perhaps yours. Aspbergers or not, all relationships have issues that can’t be wrapped up in a shiny happy bow.  Like a tic, you never know what’s going to pop up out of the blue. We simply need to respond well – and sometimes that takes practice.

“Rex does not have Aspergers!” some friends or family might say. “He’s just being an extreme male!” That is quite possible. But like my son’s Tourettes, I can’t change what is. Either my mate is just very very very set (we’re talking “footprints that have dried for ten years in cement” set) in doing things a certain way or he has Aspergers. Unless he’s diagnosed, I’ll never know. I can only change how I respond to it. Like Finch’s wife, I hope I’m doing so with love, honor, humor, gentle pushings toward change and a whole lot of grace. I can only hope my husband continues to work toward understanding me the way Finch did his wife. I might not get a best selling book out of Rex, but it would be a lovely new chapter for us.

Until then, for those of you who are also dealing with Aspergers with your spouses or perhaps your sons or daughters (it’s often a co-morbid condition with T.S.) please take hope from Finch’s book. It is not the end of the world. It’s simply a different way of thinking. Life isn’t always easy, but it can be challenging, interesting and, as Finch’s writing attests to, hilarious.

As I wait for my husband to return from a 12 hour work day, my son is complaining about leaky liquid coming from his arse. I have seven children waiting to eat tacos. I have 2 articles due and I’m PMSing like a crazy person. If my hubby can come home to all that, I can accept some of his quirks. He loves me. I love him. Like Kristen, I’m in this marriage for the long haul. With Finch’s book, I’m joyful to know that it’s possible to have less survival and more thriving. I wish the same for all of you, both in T.S., marriage and all of life’s challenges.

More on Finch’s book can be found at his websitehttp://www.davidfinchwriter.com/

Also, special thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending me this book and allowing me to sing its praises. Here’s a fun promo of what turned out to be one of the most insightful books I’ve read this year.

Gluten Free Living/Vitamins/More Revelations!

A new reader asked me to point her toward some of my more concise posts on diet and T.S.. (Me? Concise? Is that possible?)

It got me thinking that I should really add a tab on diet/nutrition to this site. Until, then, though, I’ll leave her and you with a link from my old website.

Gluten Free/Caesin Free Living and Tourettes

http://www.lifehappins.com/2/post/2011/09/10-ways-to-go-gluten-free.html

This is a great book on T.S, diet, etc.

http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Treatments-Tics-Tourettes-Patient/dp/1556437471/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331674008&sr=8-1

Here’s info on how to test for food allergies

http://www.lifehappins.com/2/post/2008/11/the-abcs-of-igg-testingfood-allergies-and-tics.html

My Revelation

Stink’s Tarzan is still with us. I’m trying really hard to love it. Perhaps instead of viewing it as the squatter that constantly interrupts my son’s speech, I will view it instead as a quirky visitor who adds spice to our days. If only Tarzan would cook and clean toilets I might consider permanent adoption.

While I will never stop looking for ways to eliminate this sucker (stricter diet? more acupuncture? less Wii? better vitamins? drug options?) I had a super big epiphany today about me.

I was sitting in Bible Study, and we were asked to talk about a time when we simply could not forgive someone – no matter how much we were called to do it for our faith.

“Who would like to share?” our 82 year old kick-butt leader asked us. (I seriously want to be Rosemary one day. She hikes, wears Ugg boots, and is a nurse working as a lactation consultant. She had a shower at her home last weekend for one of our knocked up sisters in Christ. She called it “Better Than Sex” cake. Moving on.)

No one wanted to share their stories of un-forgiveness and anger. I don’t believe it’s because they were all so pious. It’s hard to talk about the ugly side of ourselves. Lucky for my leader, I have no shame.

“I have someone I can’t forgive,” I said. “Tarzan!”

I explained how, no matter how much I tried, I simply could not accept that annoying sound. I admitted that I’ve come a long way from getting totally nutty about it, but it still bothers me. I want it to swing on outta there.

“I am not 100% defeated, but I’m not 100% at peace when my son tics. I want to love Tarzan as he is part of my child. But I don’t. I hate him. (pause) With all my heart. (Pause) I don’t forgive him. (Pause) But I want to.”

People nodded and said they would pray for me – which is totally awesome. I do believe it’s God’s grace that is strong when I am weak.

Then a beautiful Barbie of a woman – call her Jodie – chimed in. In a venue where she could have left me with happy platitudes, she cut right to the core: “I don’t think you’ve accepted the tics because it’s not really about the tics. It’s really about you. When you are able to accept everything about you and love yourself the way Jesus 100% loves you, the tics will lose their power.”

Well, there’s that.

What I Love About Stink – Nurturing the Positives

Sally GK made a comment in my last post that really struck me. She wrote, “The most important message I read in your writings is that your son accepts his tics. My 17-year-old daughter who has quiet tics, still cannot not allow herself to tic in front of others. I’m trying all the tricks to end tics for her more than me. My heart breaks for her because she doesn’t much like that side of herself. Stink seems fairly well-adjusted. Be thankful. That’s one less issue you have to address.”

She’s right. Sometimes I get so caught up in what I don’t like – not just with tics but lots of areas of my life – that I forget to count my blessings for who Stink is outside of a few tics.

Stink is fun to be with.

He has a best friend who emails him daily to have a play date. (Who doesn’t love chess?)

Stink is loyal.

He still has a sweet buddy from kindergarten who he hangs out with at least once every other week. Just last weekend they had a sleepover, giving Mama and Papa a lovely night out.

Stink is confident.

For Valentines Day, he bought the same girl above a stuffed animal from his allowance. He insisted we drive it to her house. I was a bit hesitant. I thought to myself, “Oh, no. Kids are changing. What if she gets embarrassed? They aren’t 7 anymore.” We showed up at her house and she opened the door, a beautiful blonde third grade girl in tow. Stink says, “Z, this is for you! For Valentines Day! Check out the puppy carrier I made for it.” (That would be an extra small Joanne’s Fabric plastic bag.)

Z hugged it to her chest and squealed, “Oh, Stink, I love it!” He responded, “Great! But I gotta go now. See you.”

She proceeded to carry it around all the next day at school, telling everyone who asked, “This is from Stink!” (Silly Mommy. What do I know?)

Stink is kind.

Whether it’s to his best dog friend who visits every Saturday night with Topanga T, her hubby, and another bulldog…

….or a five-year old kinder boy who he met at my Friday Whine and Wine with the girls.Stink loves school

…and rarely complains about his homework, especially if his friend Miss L is doing it with him. (Miss L plans on marrying Stink’s chess buddy above. We’ll see how that goes.)

Stink loves to read

….about as much as he adores his beloved Wii.

Stink is silly, creative and always making me laugh.

But perhaps what I love most is that Stink loves his sister.

He treats her so well. He thinks she is fabulous. After sharing a room with him all these years and being his organized, patient, ying to his wack a doo yang, I can’t blame him. I pretty much adore her, too.

With this list of positives, I’m going to make my super stars clean their rooms. We have a pretty old house without a ton of shelf space. I’ve been hesitant to drop tons of cash on shelving when really, in the end, how much stuff do kids need anyway? Let’s just get it all off the floor and I’ll re-evaluate later.

Hope all of you have a great night. Hug those tickers today! What are some of the positives you focus on?

A Revelation!

As you know, Stink is Tarzaning about every twenty seconds. It’s interrupting his speech. (Of course, it doesn’t bother him in the least. He still talks like a mad man. Either he’s clueless about it or is just content enough about it he doesn’t give a hoot. I am going with both options.)

His teacher yesterday, upon answering my question of “How is Stink behaving in class?” gave a big smile and a thumbs up, followed by her hand fluttering against her neck. Stink was putting up his chair, so she didn’t want to make a big deal about it.

“Yeah, he’s ticking more,” I quietly mouthed back, tacking on a big thumbs up at the end as if this information was right along the lines of “He needs a permission slip” or “Tomorrow is Twin Day.”

Walking out of the room, I continued to smile broadly, as if as if I didn’t feel daggers of hurt and disappointment every time those nasty little noises reared their ugly head. As if I didn’t feel overwhelmed in emotion every time someone acknowledged the white elephant in the room.

And then, to my huge delight,  I smiled even broader – because it dawned on me: “She is right! Stink is ticking more! And it’s not my fault, because that’s what tickers do!”

Now this might sound odd, and a bit of a weird revelation, but maybe you’re like me. Maybe you have waged a valiant war to suppress those nasty tics. Perhaps you are proud of when someone meets your kid and, upon hearing he or she has T.S., they gasp, “Really! I had no idea at all!”

Perhaps you have done all in your power to keep your child healthy via food, supplements or maybe meds so that people “will not notice he or she is different from the other kids” but then they tic a bit anyway. Then, perhaps, you feel defeated.

I was like that. I’m still like that at times. Ask any of my friends, family or dear hubby: Tarzan is driving me bonkers! But it dawned on me, standing there in front of his teacher, that while the noises annoy me, I don’t feel responsible for them anymore. I don’t feel sad about it. I don’t feel like I somehow failed because he is in a waxing period. I have reached the acceptance part of “he has T.S.” And it feels good.

For me, having done the diet, gone off the diet, done the acupuncture, gone off some of the acupuncture, done the supplements, cut back on the supplements, I know what I know and this is what I know:

* The gluten free/caesin free diet makes a difference

* The supplements make a difference

* The acupuncture makes a difference

But none of the above is a cure-all. He’s still going to tic sometimes. But it doesn’t mean that what we are doing is a failure. I believe, in the bottom of my heart, his symptoms would be much worse if we didn’t do anything at all.

That, my friends, is a huge relief.

Just wanted to share.

I also wanted to ask for prayers for patience with this Tarzan tic. It’s just… un-nerving. But hey, it’ll pass. It always does. I’m grateful it’s just his selfish mommy that is annoyed, and not him.

In closing, am I disappointing any of you who have come to this site hoping to have me give you the surefire cure for fixing T.S.? I will never stop finding ways to help my kid – and yours – but until I find that magic bullet (and I do, in my heart of hearts, believe there is something more we can do for all our kids) I will continue to….

Accept the tics I cannot change

Change the ones I can

And find the wisdom to know the difference

It’s writing day! So I’m off to Topanga! Do something nice for yourself, you hear?

* Photo found at Allposters.com

Bee Mine – Fishing For A Different Post

I interrupt my normally scheduled tic talk to share with you one of the most disastrous dinners in the history of time.

If you’d like to partake of such an adventure – and I highly recommend you do as there will be so much screaming you will have no chance to obsess over head nods, Tarzans or eye rolls – then here’s exactly what you need to do.

Directions For a Perfectly Disastrous Dinner

Trout with no head or tail but lots of bones

Salad with no dressing

1 Large Wasp buzzing around your chandelier light bulb

To make things especially interesting, cover said light bulb with a mustard yellow Tupperware bowl from 1970.

Listen for gentle giant son bemoaning poor little bee’s fate throughout entire meal which, two times, has to be put back in the oven because 550 degrees is apparently not enough to cook a foil wrapped river fish.

After fish is finally done, listen to kids tell you how they don’t like the fish or the salad.

Listen to your own voice tell them, “Sorry. This is not a diner.”

Listen to the devil on your shoulder scream at you that, “No, a diner would at least cook the fish, dork face.”

Watch husband almost break his neck surfing two chairs that have chair pads falling out the back.

Listen to bee, who we thought was deceased, start to moan and curse like a sailor who missed the naked lady dance review.

Watch daughter cower in anticipation under rainbow poncho while boy grabs syrup and Fiesta ware dinner plate to “Help the poor little bee get its energy back once it’s out of the light.”

Watch same little boy scream like a little girl and run out the house when the sweet little bee makes a nose dive for his head.

Same little boy sobs while annoyed handsome husband catches bee in water glass.

Perverse little Mommy? She just laughs and laughs and laughs. She needed this horrible, horrific, uncooked, non-alcohol induced meal. It was just the buzz she was waiting for.

UCLA, Meds and Tarzan – Oh my!

My apologies in taking a while to follow up on this blog. I started slipping into a black hole had a lot on my mind after last week’s big UCLA follow-up.

To keep it simple, here’s the high lights, which led to my low lights, but now I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, so let’s roll it on out, shall we?

* Doc thinks Stink is a super well adjusted

* Doc doesn’t think meds are needed for tics – which doc finds mild to moderate (thank you, Tarzan, go bloody die… yup, it’s back worse than before now, if that is possible?)

* Doc says that since Stink is well-adjusted socially and doing well academically, there’s no need to medicate. (Apparently “Warbling Drives Mama Batshit” does not a prescription for Clonodine make)

* Doc sees a bit of obsession going on with Stink’s Mario talk (really? so glad I’m paying the big bucks to figure that out)

* We have the option of having Stink tested for free at UCLA for an actual diagnosis of something other than T.S. – Be it ADHD, High Functioning Aspergers or whatnot

* If Stink qualifies for Aspergers, he can start an 8 week trial through UCLA where they will put him on Intuiv and monitor his blood pressure/reaction on a weekly basis

* Of course, this is a blind trial, so Stink might just get a placebo which means we’re driving in 2 hour traffic each way for a sugar pill which is kind of not really on my gluten free/caesin free/food dye free/eat everything that tastes like ass diet

* And then there’s the issue of Stink’s blood pressure often being being 85/55. With Intuiv’s side affects being to lower blood pressure, I’m taking a chance that Stink will faint, black out, or perhaps just not get up easily in the morning. The idea of not playing the Wii is appealing, but mind altlering drugs is not really the route I want to go if given a choice

Big Beefs In No Particular Order  (Organic big beef if possible, please)

1 . I am not against meds if they are needed. I take some for anxiety myself

2. I am not in denial about my kid’s issues, hence my cooperation with the I.E.P., taking him to a counselor last year, seeking out a UCLA specialist

This all said, let me go with #3 now…

3. I don’t feel, in my gut, we have done everything we need to do to avoid meds. He was doing fine before we went down to one acupuncture session/week. He was also doing better before we started in on the Wii and that damned Mario.

There is sooooooooo much research out there about dopamine flooding our kids brains. This dopamine can cause tics. It can cause the the executive function portion of their brain to get fuzzy. They lose impulse control. They show signs of ADHD. They obsess over games. Before I get my kid labeled as a high functioning autistic kid (and no problem if that’s the case)… and before I get him diagnosed as ADHD… why not take out the one thing that is triggering all this stuff in him as well as add back in acupuncture?

I really, in my heart of hearts, don’t think he has this Aspergers. I think he has tendencies toward obsession and the electronics needs to go.

Tell me, readership, would you take away the Wii before going down drug highway or do I just have my head up my butt? I really want to know. I really do.

Who out there is completely electronic free and why?

Here’s a book I’m reading now: Failure to Connect: How Computers Affect Our Childrens Minds And What We Can Do About It.

I’ll let you know how it goes next week.

Meanwhile, check back in a day or so for my review of David Finch’s best selling book The Journal of Best Practices:  A Memoir of Marriage, Asperger Syndrome, and One Man’s Quest to Become a Better Husband .

I’ve emailed back and forth with this amazing writer several times. He was diagnosed when he was 30. He went from having a marriage in the toilet to the union he always wanted. Finch did the best with the cards he was dealt. Don’t we all want that for our kids? To know, truly, what is going on and do the best we can?

Talk to you soon.