If I was the world’s most articulate writer, I think I would still miserably fail to communicate to you the world of chaos that I grew up in. I didn’t have any control over my environment. We would often try to go somewhere and end up going nowhere at all. At times, I felt like I had no control over myself, my emotions. I certainly had no control over whether or not my autistic brother Matt decided to inflict pain on my body. What may have been even worse was seeing Matt inflict pain upon others; friends, family members, or complete strangers. That may have been harder then being hurt myself. It was hard to place hatred upon my brother when he didn’t seem to have any control either.
I decided that I needed control and structure in my life. I became a control freak. I was not going to allow anything or anyone to control my life. I certainly was not going to allow addiction or vices of any sort control me. But then a couple of weeks ago, I realized I was wrong. I was allowing control to control my life. Then I realized that everything I am afraid of has to do with a lack of control.
I thought I was afraid of heights. Being on an airplane freaks me out. But I don’t mind looking out the window. It is the hours of turbulence, grasping the sides on the seat in panic that got me to seek help. I felt trapped in a tight area. A person that I didn’t know had control of my life. You say that flying is safe compared to driving. Yes, I agree, that is why I was terrified of driving too. Several years back I was afraid of driving, especially over bridges and on highways. It got so bad that at one point any driving on the highway would bring about a panic attack. It wasn’t long before I realized that my biggest fear is total lack of control. There was nowhere I could pull over on a bridge or a busy highway. The big concrete partitions locked me in. Trapped. I refused to stop driving. It has been almost 2 years since I panicked while driving. I was driving through construction. There was nowhere to pull over. I started to sweat profusely. I opened all the windows. The music from the radio unnerved me. The tunnel vision started, darkness creeping in until I thought I would pass out. I slowed down, driving erratically. My heart beating fast. I always pulled off the highway at the next exit feeling like a total failure bracing myself to face it again, feeling exhausted. I refused to let fear control me.
I think the secret to figuring me out is making me feel like I have control. My husband is very good with giving me a false sense of control. I am ok with that. I keep my days very structured, any average stalker could figure that out. Once again I need to find equilibrium. In response to total chaos, I allowed the pendulum to swing too far in the opposite direction. I need to let go….
I’m back on the streets again. This has been my first time out on the road since the marathon. I pounded out 12 miles, with a majority of the run experiencing knee pain. It started acting up around mile 3. The same pain I experienced at the marathon, just not as intense. I really hope it goes away. I don’t want this new companion. I have found that my mind is stronger than my body. This is not a good place to be. I need balance between my mind and body. I fear injury. My mind smells the fear coming off my body and it reeks!
It was a pretty uneventful run, except I almost got hit by a car. One of the closest calls yet. I knew I should have worn the honk if your going to hit me shirt! I didn’t even have time to flip the guy off. I have never done that before, but this guy came a mere couple of inches from taking my life. I did throw my arms up in anger as he sped by me. Good grief, it was not like I was running in the middle of the road. Thankfully this happened at the end of my run so it gave me the extra adrenaline rush I needed to limp on home.
What are my future goals? I would like to start doing triathlons and do a half iron by 45. I would like to run another marathon, but I am not going to sign up until I start training to see how it goes. What do I have to gain? I already have the sticker on the back of my car. What do I have to lose? Hopefully not my ability to run to have a couple more medals. Is it worth it? Only time will tell…
It has been 3 months today since we met. Others who have been with you said our relationship might not last as long. I am still as in love with you as I was when we first met. I think you like me too. I still want to be with you every day. I shared with you my dreams of running a marathon. You didn’t run away. I shared with you some very difficult times from my childhood. I didn’t run away. I can’t wait to talk with you and tell you about my day. I’m sorry it seems one sided, I do all of the talking and you do all of the listening. I haven’t run out of things to say, sometimes I just don’t know where to start. Being a shy, private, and pensive person all my life you have somehow pried open the lock on my diary. You now hold the key that has been hidden behind a dusty corner of my mind for a decade or two.
You see, I’ve been with another like you that left me black and blue. Yes, it’s true. My left hand really was to blame. It slid the ink that stained me. Poor penmanship, my mother would say. She made me write for hours out of science books to improve myself for you when I was a little girl. Even though my teacher said that copying out of a book was wrong. It’s a shame that you can’t see my beautiful calligraphy.
I really hope that our relationship lasts a long time. Maybe it helps that we have a relationship that few people know about. It adds a little spice to my life. I have wanted someone like you my whole life. I’m so glad that I found you after all these years. I still have a few more secrets to share. Sshhhh….
A couple of weeks back I started the cure series and, quite frankly, now I want to end it. We all know that right now there is no cure for autism, just better ways to manage it. I want to talk a little about what we thought may have caused it, mainly in the time frame of the 1980’s.
The first possible cause was that my dad is a Vietnam vet. He remembers drinking the succulent sweet water laced with Agent Orange. My mom thought that the exposure to this toxic chemical may have caused autism in a first born son. Some sort of chemical induced gene mutation. Or because my dad’s family worked with heavy metals and painted cars with no ventilation back in the day. I remember for a period of time having to bathe daily for a half in hour in apple cider vinegar to rid the body of toxins. My brothers and I bathed at my grandma’s house because my parents never finished the upstairs bathroom in the house they built 40 years ago. They attempted to remodel the unfinished bathroom which left it unusable for the past 15 years. This was a topic of argument between my mom and Luke last time he was home, but I digress.
When I was a teen, I blamed God while my mom felt blamed by God. Maybe she was being punished for something she did wrong or maybe something she didn’t do right. Maybe God was punishing her for being human or imperfect. I know that my mom struggled with this.
Then in the 1990’s came the vaccine scare. My mom jumped on this bandwagon pretty quick. At this time, I was starting my own family. I decided that it was worth a shot at being careful with vaccinations. The theory did have a lot of face validity. I structured my own vaccination schedule that included slowly vaccinating my children after they passed the age of autism’s typical onset. I thought that even if there was a minuscule chance that this causes autism that I would do everything I could to prevent it. After living with an autistic sibling, I would do practically anything to possibly prevent it as a parent.
The only other logical piece in the autistic puzzle was genetics. Fragile X had been ruled out. Looking at my mom’s large family with 8 total siblings and around 30 of their children, everyone would fall into a normal/average category. No disabilities or mental health issues. It is crazy how sane they are. When looking at my dad’s maternal side, they are all relatively sane too. My dad’s paternal side is filled with eccentrics. But out of 4 siblings, my dad is the only offspring. When the last sibling of that family died, we cleaned out the family house by putting a lot of stuff into my grandma’s newly vacant house. In the process of cleaning out my grandma’s house 6 years later, my brother stumbled upon an empty sample box of the antipsychotic med Haldol. Not a big deal, Matt was on that for his autism. Then my brother pointed out the expiration date on the box. The meds expired long before Matt started taking them. Hmmmm, another psychotic family member? Just another piece of the puzzle that doesn’t seem to fit anywhere.
There is no cure for autism, just puzzle pieces that came from a lot of other mismatched and jumbled puzzle boxes. I really relate to my dad’s eccentric side of the family. Yes, sometimes I question my own sanity. That does mean I’m sane, right?!? I’ve always thought that normal was boring. Who in their right mind wants to paint a picture only using the same shade of blue?
Next week my son will be starting high school for the first time. As part of the orientation tonight, parents are strongly encouraged to write a letter to their child to read upon graduation. I wanted to share my letter with you:
To my only son as you graduate,
I remember the day you were born. Your little cowlicks promised wild curls that would be untamable. You were a mama’s boy, I thought for awhile that you would never grow up, never want to leave. We would sit for hours reading stories of monkeys stealing caps, the adventures of toad and frog, or about the puddle ducks and Peter Rabbit. Then one day we put the kids books away.
Remember when you used to suck your fingers? We tried everything to get you to stop. We tried putting a mitten on your hand at night and the spicy varnish which you exclaimed to like spicy foods. Then one day, you decided that you were too old to suck your fingers and stopped on your own.
Then you got older still. You told your dad and I that you no longer believe the things that we believe. You said you needed to figure things out on your own. Even though we worried, we knew that you needed to find your own way in life. I sometimes fear that the road you walk will be rocky, but sometimes even the “Rocky Road” can be sweet. Once you find your place, I know that you will stand up for what you believe even if you are standing alone. That stubbornness and conviction is something I’ve always admired in you.
Earlier this week, you told me that you really didn’t want to be with me anymore, that you wanted to hang out with your friends. For a minute, I wanted that little boy back. As much as I want to hold you tight, I know that I have to start untying the strings that have you fastened to my heart. I have to start letting you go. I hope and pray that you find the right path to start your journey on. No matter what happens, your dad and I will always love you.
I feel like I got hit by a truck! I think I figured out what happened to me at the marathon on Saturday. I may have injured my IT band. After I hydrated myself, the cramping should have gone away. Instead, the pain is starting to go away now. A running friend said that the pain I experienced in my left leg may have been me unconsciously overcompensating for my rolled right ankle injury a couple weeks back. It makes sense to me. I also felt incredible pain rising from a sitting position. It is getting better, so I hope next week when I start running again everything will be healed up.
Sunday I helped clean out my grandma’s house. I refused to help out the week before the marathon. First, it is so dusty I feel like I smoked a couple packs of cigarettes after leaving. Second, I could imagine myself tripping over my feet and falling down the steps with an armful of junk. I know, I have always had an active imagination.
Then yesterday was my crown on the tooth that doesn’t numb. Incidentally, I ran into an acquaintance yesterday morning while taking my kids in for physicals. We started talking and the conversation moved to dentists and my appointment in the afternoon for a crown. She said that the strangest thing happens to her when she has crowns, her teeth don’t numb. She gave me great advice that even google couldn’t give me. I felt my prayers were answered running into her. Another strange “coincidence”. My panic lessened a little.
Yesterday I drugged myself up and had my daughter take me in to get my crown. I asked the dentist to give me a deeper shot as suggested by my friend, but my nerves were still shot. The deep shot really hurt. I could feel it deep into my marrow. The anti-anxiety sedative did little to calm my nerves, but I didn’t feel a thing! It was uncomfortable though, my mouth is swollen and bruised today. It was hard to eat or drink anything without sensitivity or tenderness. I got home from my appointment and slept. Then I slept the whole night through, the first time in 3 weeks. I am still very run down today. I feel like I ran a marathon and had my teeth rearranged. But I look like my husband beats me. I hope tomorrow is a better day.
I didn’t share this with you earlier, tomorrow I am getting my first crown. I guess this wouldn’t really be a big deal with the exception that I am getting it done on a tooth that 2 dentists have failed to ever numb. That’s right, I felt them drilling on this tooth every single time. Dental pain is the worst. I thought it was a fluke thing until my daughter had the same thing happen to her on the same tooth. God forbid, is it genetic? Even getting my teeth cleaned strikes a chord of panic within me. So, not only was I feeling horrified about my first marathon yesterday but I am horrified about my first crown tomorrow. My dentist said that he will be able to numb me, but I think he is a lying sadist.
It reminds me of when I was a young girl of about 4 or 5. I got a little piece of gravel stuck in my eye. My mom had to take me to the ER. I laid down on the table. The doctors told me to hold still and open my eye. Instead, I lashed out and fought them. They told me they would strap me down if I didn’t cooperate. They brought what looked like an ironing board out and strapped me down to it. One doctor forced my eye open, the other came at me with a tweezers while I screamed and cried. It was horrifying. When it was all over, they said I was a good little girl and they gave me a sucker. But I really wasn’t a good little girl, was I? They did have to strap me down after all.
So, after tomorrow I can tell you what is worse…..giving birth? Running a marathon? Or an hour and a half of dental pain?
I just put the 26.2 sticker on the back of my car! Let me start this off by saying that my first marathon was nothing like I expected. I really feel bad. Right now I feel like the expectant mother who prematurely claims that “her child” will always behave and never cry, then gets hit by the 2×4 of reality.
I figured that since I completed the half in a little more than 2 hours that I should be able to complete the full in a little over four. Seems logical, right?? The first 18 miles were going according to this plan. I got to the 18 mile mark right around 3 hours. Things were going pretty good. Then things went from good to okay to terrible in the matter of a mile. My left leg locked up. I experienced cramps that felt like someone hit me in the knee with a crowbar and my ankle felt sprained. I was in excruciating pain. The Gu that was promised at mile 10 arrived at mile 15. I was a wreck. At this point, I was limping along. People were kind and asked if I needed help. All of the training I spent on this for this! Never once did I cramp up like this on long runs. I was heartbroken. It took me almost 3 hours to finish the last 8 miles.
Right around mile 18, I ran into a girl a lot younger than me who was in a similar predicament. We helped each other have the courage to finish. I pulled her across an intersection both of us waddling, laughing hysterically about how foolish we must look. Hand in hand, she pulled me across the finish line. I still cannot bend my left leg without a considerable amount of pain. But will I do this again? Of course, I have to redeem myself…
My bags are packed and I am almost ready to go. I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. It has been a couple of weeks since I got a good nights sleep. I am rather exhausted. I’m sure that you have all heard that having a newborn, infant, or toddler will give you chronic sleep deprivation. Maybe you have experienced that yourself. Waking up in the middle of the night, up at the crack of dawn. Then your children hit the middle childhood years and you can finally sleep again. The perfect ages, between 5 and 10. They still want to be with you and you don’t have to lug around the stupid diaper bag. Then your kids enter their teen years and you are sleep deprived again. This time you are up late at night waiting for kids to come home or you can’t sleep because they are loud. Car seat toddlers become car drivers overnight. Then your crazy middle aged female hormones give you insomnia and you wake up at the crack of dawn. That is where I am now. I was the first one in bed last night at 10. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up. Plus my teenage son usually goes to bed right around the time I get up in the morning. He isn’t the quietest. It doesn’t help that I can hear a pin drop while sleeping. I tried, believe me.
I didn’t tell you this earlier in the week. One of my daughter’s friends got in a car wreck this week. Her friend let some guy that she liked grab her car keys and race off in her car with her and a group of friends, but not before stashing his hash pipe under the seat. He drove quite recklessly and ended up totaling her car leaving everyone a few inches from death’s door. And this is the reason, my friends, that parents of teens don’t sleep well at night. I am happy that my driving daughter is more responsible than that, but she is not the only driver on the road. Yikes!
The weather conditions look perfect for the marathon tomorrow. I was excited to see that my hotel has a full breakfast until I called and found out it starts the same time as the marathon. Hmmmm… So I am packing some bananas, avocados, and string cheese for the morning. I am hoping that is adequate. My acid reflux has been nasty this week, so I hope that I can keep it under control. The last 10k I ran left me in a moderate level of pain the whole race. I don’t want this. I want to eat enough to keep up my endurance without having any stomach issues. I also want to drink enough to stay hydrated without having to pee at every mile. That will be a thin line.
I spent the week wearing every running shirt I own to give me courage. This morning I plucked my eyebrows, shaved, and put a couple of blue streaks in my hair. Not near my eyes, because I worried that sweat would drip blue into my eyes and make me look like a Smurf. I cut my toenails, hopefully not for the last time. I washed and packed my outrunning my demons shirt. Compression socks? Packed. Extra running songs? Downloaded. Running watch charged? Check. Extra ear buds? Check. I am ready to go. The conditions are ideal to have a good time. And a good time is what I’ll have because I love the sport.
I also want to thank everyone for your support. It means a lot. Also a special thanks to my husband. Thank you for supporting me taking extra time off of work to run. You always told me I needed a hobby. Thanks for the push into running and thanks for supporting my blogging. Both have been very therapeutic and have taken up gobs of my time. Until tomorrow, my friends….this is my last pre-marathon blog. Oh my!
I have been running 6 years now and racing for one. I signed up for my first half marathon and first marathon in January. No, it was not a part of a New Year’s resolution. To tell you the truth, I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think that I should try to be a better person every day of the year, not just a couple of weeks after a night of drunken debauchery. If you kept your New Year’s resolution this year, good for you. I can’t say that I know of anyone who has.
I would have to say that I earned most of my grit in childhood. Every single time my autistic brother slugged, hit, or scratched me I told myself that the physical pain, bruises, or scars would make me stronger. I followed that mantra back then and I follow it now. The physical pain has made me stronger, gave me the endurance not to quit the race.
I finished my first half in 2 hours and five minutes. It was a very humid day, so even though I was not able to finish in my goal time of less than 2 hours I was ok with that. I am hoping to finish the marathon between 4 and 4 1/2 hours. Less than 4 hours will be unrealistic. Between 4 1/2 and 5 hours would still be ok. I will be sad if I can’t do it in 5 hours. We’ll see.
Will I buy marathon photos? No way! Every race photo I’ve seen of myself makes it look like I am dying. Not a pretty picture. If you look great in those pictures, you are not trying hard enough. I often hear nonrunners say that they don’t want to run because we look so miserable. So I try to smile and wave back at the people that are friendly on the road so more people want to join the sport. Neighbors and acquaintances have asked why I am out on the streets so much. Now why does that make running sound so dirty?
I wish my kids were hard core runners, instead my dog is. He cries like a baby when he can’t run. He is almost 8 and kept limping around after running with my husband. We put our dog on joint pills and it has been really working good. Almost too well, in fact. The first day he dug a hole to China. Then he escaped our yard and dug another hole in attempt to release our neighbors caged rabbits. Good thing they caught him before he succeeded. I think that I could use some of those pills! Wow, we don’t need an aged puppy running around.
Other than that, I have been fluctuating from excitement to terror. If running a marathon is anything like childbirth, at least it doesn’t last as long.