Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Slowly Rebooting in 286 Mode

The lumbar radiculopathy, which sounds too much like "ridiculously" for me, hasn't faded completely. My left leg still cramps, tingles, and hurts with sharp pains. My mind remains cloudy, too, even as I stop taking painkillers for the back pain and a recent surgery.

Efforts to reboot and get back on track intellectually, physically, and emotionally are off to a slow, grinding start. It reminds me of an old 80286 PC, the infamously confused Intel CPU that wasn't sure what it was meant to be. And this was before the "SX" fiascos, which wedded 32-bit CPU cores with 16-bit connections. The 80286 was supposed to be able to multitask, but design flaws resulted in a first-generation that was useless to operating system vendors.

My back, my knees, my ankles are each making noises like those old computers.

If I haven't already lost you as a reader, the basic problem is that my mind cannot focus on one task for long without exhaustion and multitasking seems impossible. I'm in 286 mode.

The old 80286 and early 386 machines came with slow, loud hard drives. The floppy drives would also start on power-up, the heads moving along their rails with squeaks and whirrs. The noises were slightly reassuring, since the machine was at least starting. Then again, the grinding could go very wrong, too.

I am trying to reboot before 2017. Let us hope that happens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Love (and Sex): Blog Topics People Want

Visitors have asked why the blog doesn't deal more with personal issues like romance, marriage, children. There's not much to "teach" other people. My advice to autistics is to stop trying to please everyone else and find your own social network. In that social network, you might (or might not) find friendships and love.

If you don't have friends, you definitely won't find love. I am a believer in friendships helping us cope with life.

Before I removed the Q&A section on the blog site, the majority of questions I received were about relationships / dating. Basically, "How can my son / daughter have a 'normal' social life and find love?"

I tired of the question because 1) there is no one answer and 2) many of the autistics corresponding with me hated the pressure to find "love" and didn't want parental help with romance!

Though I have a short ebook available on the topic of relationships, I lost enthusiasm for the project because so many questions were about sex and love. There are plenty of online and in-print guides to the technical aspects of sex and any guide to love will be flawed.

I do plan to update the relationship guide during 2017, but with more on social skills and more autism-specific research citations.

But, parents, please remember what you want and need is not what your child might want or need. It is not "empathy" if all you are doing is overlaying your emotional system onto other people.

Dating isn't easy for anyone. There are no simple answers to how people meet (work, school, social clubs, online) and fewer answers on how to date successfully. As for love... forcing it is probably the only wrong solution out there.

What should a blog or podcast address? I'm not sure. But, apparently if I want traffic and sponsors, sex sells. It might get more views, but would I be helping anyone?

Use the Facebook Page if you want to suggest topics and ask questions.

https://www.facebook.com/autisticme/

Also, a reminder that plans for a podcast will take additional resources. Please consider sponsoring The Autistic Me if you'd like more blogging and a podcast.

https://www.paypal.me/poetcsw

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Keeping Sane and Tuning Out (a Bit)

A friend wrote that she feels more and more depressed each day, following news and politics on social media. 

My advice? Stop it. 

Getting away from social media can be the best thing for someone with an impulse to follow and comment on... everything. And I do mean everything. It's like a compulsion for this friend and for many others. 

Let things go. 

Having been stuck at home and in bed for a month, I can attest that social media is depressing. Take a break from it if you need to. There's nothing wrong with realizing that online life isn't real life and that it can be overwhelming. 

I fear some friends just cannot turn away from social media, even for a day or two. Try it. Maybe you'll discover it helps. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Physical Therapy that Wasn't

Trying to reboot as 2017 begins, I attempted physical therapy for my pinched spinal nerve. The therapy appointment lasted only 30 minutes as I discovered the horror that is electrical stimulation and heat on an inflamed spinal cord.

Diagnosed with radiculopathy, a pinched and inflamed nerve root in my lumbar column, the treatment is physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and time. My therapy schedule was to be every other day for six weeks.

The first session began with the therapist measuring range of motion and asking the basic questions.

How long have I been in pain? Since birth.
No, how long has it been bad? Since birth.

Doctors can dismiss it and people assume I'm okay because I walk about and work, but I am always in severe pain. My lower back, shoulder, neck, hips… they all ache. The brachial-plexus injury at birth, the years in a back brace, and somehow doctors still don't believe what isn't in an x-ray or MRI. I hurt. A lot.

The therapist placed two patches with stimulators on my lower back. He said to let him know when I could feel the tingle. Then, I was supposed to recline on a bed. That didn't work. It hurt a lot, like my leg being pulled out of my hip socket. He decided to have me sit. Sitting for more than a few minutes starts to hurt, too, but I agreed.

It wasn't long before I was gripping my knees with white knuckles. The pain in my lower back increased dramatically. I felt sick. I started coughing, feeling nauseous. Nobody responded when I called for assistance. Nobody was around.

I removed the patches myself and walked to the front of the clinic. I said I was leaving.

I texted my wife to come pick me up, because there was no way I could drive the two miles back to our house.

The therapist met me in the lobby and offered several cups of cold water. I was shaking and sweating, feeling like I was about to pass out. This was not a good experience.

And so, the reboot for the new year isn't quite off to the start I had hoped.

People often assume my short temper and rushing about are from autism. Chronic pain is much harder to manage and deal with than people realize. As with migraines, which often follow the back, neck, and shoulder pain, there is no good "management" for pain that doesn't impair my mind. When the pain is reduced, I sleep. Pain leaves you exhausted, unable to tolerate the least of annoyances. When that pain recedes, sleep is almost instantaneous.

Many of the autistics I've met or interviewed have other chronic conditions. When you are uncomfortable, you are not going to be charming. Much of the time, I simply want to escape pain. I'm not socially skilled, but when my pain is at its worst, I really don't want to deal with interactions.

Physical therapy will have to wait. For now, time is the best treatment for my back issues.