Well, this has been quite an eventful few weeks. I was keeping up on this blog I started, and was enjoying writing it. Then came Saturday, September 20th:
Some of you probably know by now, but I suffered my second heart attack that Saturday afternoon. Two more stents, 5 days in the hospital, and one hell of a scare. That introduced a whole new spectrum of concerns, ideas and plans into our world. Not that the first heart attack didn’t have the same effect, but that was 7 years ago. The girls were younger, Dayna was easier to handle and Sean wasn’t part of the family yet. Now, with all of the hurdles we have been going through with Dayna, I was faced with a reality I wasn’t prepared for. I had to really start thinking about things, from jobs to where we live, from insurance to retirement. If I already had concerns about how we were going to take care of Dayna for many years to come, now I had to think about how it would be done if I were no longer around. If we were already financially drained and forced to live on one income, how would Deb work around that if she were alone? If savings and retirement were minimal, how would the family survive when I can’t get life insurance?
Financial planning is just one of the things I’ve been thinking a lot about the past few weeks. I will have a lot to write about over the next couple of months. Another big topic lately…..stress. I’ve talked a lot about the stress that we deal with at home, but I haven’t talked much about how I deal with that stress as its happening. Let’s be real, there’s not much to write about how I deal with stressful situations. Truth is its more about how I DON’T deal with it well at all! The past few months have been chock full of stressful situations. One thing that became evident with the heart attack was that my inability to handle things at times no doubt increased my chances of it happening again. I can do things to reduce some stress, but other things I cannot change. When you live in a situation like ours, there are stressful situations that you just can’t escape. Last week for instance will be the subject of a blog I hope to have done in the next couple of days. We have had a horrible time with Dayna going to school recently. It’s not completely new, but the level of her fighting us was. The blog entry will focus the ‘sounds’ of autism, as I made recordings of our experiences last week. But reality was that at 6:30am in the morning on multiple days there was screaming, kicking, punching and crying. This from a 14 year old that has some real strength. Dayna is as big if not bigger than Deb, and I was supposed to be ‘taking it easy’. This was no joke, Dayna was fighting us hard and we were losing the battle. We had to give in, and she was home from school for 3 days. I made a video of Deb trying to dress Dayna, the screaming involved and the fighting with Deb getting kicked. It was not pretty and not even something to be shared here. But we did send it to her school and to her doctor. The doctor’s response included the description of our family as being in ‘crisis mode’, and the suggestion that a possible in-patient placement for Dayna to control her behaviors may be needed. To put this all back in perspective, this was happening two weeks after my heart attack. No matter how often I am told I should be taking it easy and working to recover, autism cannot be turned off. Life goes on. As far as how to deal with the stress…well, I’m trying some new meds!
The point of this blog entry? It’s a quick entry to let everyone know I’m still here. That the experience has given me a lot to think about, and a lot to write about. I feel great, I’m on a new diet and I’m looking forward to coming back stronger than before. I didn’t want anyone to think I had stopped writing. I write from the heart as I come across issues I think people would be interested in knowing about, and for a couple of weeks my mind was focused on what had happened with my own health instead. I’m looking forward to getting back to it. I don’t write this to give advice. I don’t write it to solicit advice. I write it because it’s therapeutic to me to give everyone an inside look into what happens with one family as we deal with a child with autism. It’s now time to get back into therapy!