Tag Archive | Asperger Syndrome

Strong Mothers Raise Strong Women

Today is Mother’s Day. 

I find myself, once again, honored as a mother and feeling like the complete opposite. 

This day is different. It is different for mothers that have both living and dead children. It is different for mothers that never got to hold their children. It is different for mothers that never got to hear their baby cry. It is different for mothers that have never experienced the loss of a child. It is different for mothers that have strained relationships with their children. It is different for mothers that are patiently, or impatiently, expecting their first child. It is different for me. How often does it occur? For a mother of an infant that passed to be so close to the miracle of new life on this special day, but having all joy just out of reach? 
Every year, I find a way to honor my mother (usually through a Facebook post). This year, I am finding it hard to celebrate the day in any way. I have one baby in heaven and one in my belly, but my heart and my arms still feel more empty than I can say. I guess that this post is my way of honoring my mother on this special day. She is, after all, the reason I am stronger than people know. She is the reason I am able to still live a full life, the reason I am able to write this. 

Most don’t know that I have a sister that never got a chance to live. My little sister was very sick and was stillborn. My mother knows the very specific pain it is to bury a child. I have watched her over the years on different occasions and seen the pain that is always there, just under the surface. I have read the journal she kept when she was initially going through the loss. I have seen the love and sorrow in her eyes as she has spoken about her little Gerry Margaret. After I lost Marc, I had the honor of looking at the scrapbook she made for my little sister. It includes the one and only picture of that sweet, beautiful baby. Though she went through that, she is an amazing and strong woman. Watching her and how she deals with her pain has made me a stronger woman. Watching how she made the best of her trauma has made me a stronger woman. Watching the faith that she displays has made me a stronger woman. Watching her is proof that even after a loss as great as a child, life can still be bearable and even full of joy! 

She has five living daughters that love her enormously and one that is looking down on her from heaven. She has one grandson that she is waiting to meet and one that is looking down on her from heaven.

My mother is strong.
But she didn’t get there on her own. She had someone to watch and learn from too.

Most don’t know that I have two uncles whose lives were over much too soon. Most don’t know that I have two uncles that never got a chance to live. My grandma gave birth to very healthy twin boys. She took them home and cared for them and loved them until SIDS claimed them at only six months of age. My grandma also had a set of twin boys that was stillborn. My grandma knows the very specific pain it is to bury a child. By the time I knew about Pat and Mike, it had been long enough since the loss for me not to be able to detect the pain and sorrow (not to mention the fact that I was not as adept at reading it as I am now). I know she still mourns the loss of her beautiful boys. She knows the immense pain it is and she has done her best to support my mother, my aunt, and I through our losses. She supported her daughter Eileen through the loss of a son when he was in an accident at nineteen years of age. And, truly, I have been amazed watching the grace and poise with which my aunt handles everything that is thrown her way. She has made the very best of everything since that day and she expels generosity and love instead of bitterness and hate. In a way, my grandma’s experience makes her the perfect support, having such personal first-hand experience with this singular kind of loss. I can’t imagine the unique agony it has been for her to lose her infant sons, watch her daughter suffer a stillbirth, watch another daughter lose an adult son, and watch her granddaughter lose an infant son, her great-grandson. Her unyielding faith has made us stronger women. Her loving support has made us stronger women. She is proof that even after a loss as great as four children, life can still be bearable and even full of joy!

She has seven living children that love her enormously and four that are looking down on her from heaven. She has twenty-one living grandchildren and three that are looking down on her from heaven. She has seventeen living great-grandchildren, two that she is waiting to meet, and three that are looking down on her from heaven.

My grandmother is strong.

My Aunt Eileen is strong.
Without these women, I don’t know where I would be. They are who I look to when I need an example of strength and love and compassion. I love them more dearly than most anything. I know, because of them, that life has been, is, and will be beautiful. I know, because of them, that I can get through anything that comes my way. I know, because of them, that I am strong. 

Strong mothers raise strong daughters.

So, I will be okay today. I will happily accept all the wishes of “Happy Mother’s Day” that come my way, even though it hurts just a bit. Today is bearable. Maybe tomorrow will be full of joy!

Happy Mother’s Day. 

Making It,

Allie

Marc @2 days.

Mateo, still cooking. 

Fainting

On top of having Asperger Syndrome, I also have something called Vasovagal. Health Central explains it like this:

“Vasovagal syncope is the common faint that may be experienced by normal persons with no evidence of heart disease.

The vagus nerve is the nerve of the muscle in the throat and the larynx, and is the nerve that slows the rate of the heartbeat and supplies the parasympathetic nerves to the lungs, the stomach, the esophagus, and other abdominal organs.

Arasympathetic means the nerves pertaining to the autonomic nervous system; the system which is concerned with control of involuntary bodily functions.

Stimulating the parasympathetic nerves generally produces vasodilation of the part supplied; in general, it slows the heart rate, decreases the blood pressure; contracts the pupils; causes copious secretion of the saliva; and increases gastrointestinal activity.

Stimulation of the vagus causes slowing of the heart rate and, if sufficient, can cause fainting or even cardiac arrest. Usually, when this happens, the heart’s ventricles start beating on their own despite continued vagal stimulation.

In the moment-to-moment regulation of heart rate at rest, the vagal influence is dominant and, particularly in athletes with low resting heart rates, this ‘vagal tone’ can be considerable.

Vasovagal syncope is frequently recurrent and tends to take place during emotional stress (especially in a warm, crowded room), after an injurious, shocking accident, and during pain. Mild blood loss, poor physical condition, prolonged bed rest, anemia, fever, organic heart disease, and fasting are other factors which increase the possibility of fainting in susceptible individuals.” *

In other words, I faint. Whether it’s cause by stress, heat, blood, needles, spiders, etc. I faint. I’ve lived with it long enough to know the warning signs when I see them and to prevent a fainting incident from happening. Sometimes, however, I can’t prevent it.

It started when I was five. I had just gotten my Kindergarten shots, and I was standing next to my mom while she was doing paperwork or something. The next moment, I just fell flat on the floor. I woke up, and I was fine a few minutes later. It was the first time I had fainted.

When I was ten. I had just moved from Washington to California, and it stressed me out. Added onto that, I was trying to change my earings in my first piercing. I asked my grandpa for help and fainted into his plate of eggs. I couldn’t see anything. Everything was black. I felt my dad pick me up and hold me in his arms while he sat down on the couch. I heard the voices of my family faintly. It was almost like an out-of-body experience. I woke up, and I was fine a few minutes later.

When I was fourteen, I had just finished being inspected for NJROTC during zero-period. I was stressing about what kind of score I got. Was my uniform good enough? Had I answered their questions correctly? I started feeling lightheaded, so I asked permission to adjust. I shook my arms and legs to hopefully get my blood flowing back to my head. After I did that, it was back at ease. And I fainted. I woke up and people were around me, asking me where I was and what day it was. I answered their questions and sat down for a while before calling my mom, crying. I stayed home from school that day. It’s scary to faint.

When I was eighteen, I got my third ear piercing. The piercing on my right ear was a little high, so it had to be re-pierced. I saw the earing being taken out, and I think that’s what did it for me. As the piercing gun was prepared, I lay my head in my lap to rest it. I fainted while I was there, but didn’t notice until people were talking to me, asking me if I was alright. I said that I was fine, and my ear was pierced again. After that, I fainted again, this time leaning forward and into the arms of my little sister. I woke up, drank a little coffee, explained why I had fainted to the semi-freaked out people around me, and I was fine.

This morning, at the age of twenty, I fainted again. Granted, I do have a lot on my mind and a lot going on, but nothing big enough to trigger fainting. I was in the shower. I thought about how hungry I was. I was really hungry. I thought about how hot the shower was. It was pretty hot. I was going to hurry up and get out and get dressed. Just as I was about to rinse the shampoo out of my hair, I started feeling lightheaded. I held onto the rail that holds the shower curtain, and rinsed the shampoo out. I was just finished with that and about to sit down right then and there to wait for the lightheaded feeling to go away when I fainted. I fell half out of the shower, and hit my face on the floor. I woke up with my nose bleeding, so I grabbed some toilet paper and started cleaning up the blood quickly. My roommate yelled through the door, asking if I was ok. I said that I was fine. I just sat there, toilet paper to my nose, leaning over the side of the tub, and waiting until it was safe to get up. I fainted again while I was half laying/half sitting there. Then I woke up again. I cleaned up all the blood, sat on the side of the tub as I dried myself off, and then walked to my bed and got dressed. By the time I was about to head to the cafeteria for breakfast, I was fine. I did end up with a scratch on my nose, and my face hurts. But I’m fine.

To anyone else, something like this might be extremely concerning, but I’m more used to fainting than most people. I’m actually surprised that it didn’t happen sooner, like maybe closer to the time that I moved to San Jose. Admittedly, I’m still a little freaked out by it. Fainting isn’t fun, but I’m fine.

I view my Vasovagal sort of like I do my Asperger Syndrome. It’s something that I live with. It’s something that I’ll live with for the rest of my life. And I need to make adjustments in my life to lessen the effects it has, but it’s not something that’s going to control my life. When I feel it coming on, when I feel I am going to faint, I have to sit down and wait until the feeling goes away. When I feel a meltdown coming on, I have to separate myself and self-stim and calm myself down until the feeling goes away. Adjustments have to be made, but it’s not impossible to live without incidents. I hope it’s a long time before I faint again. I hope it’s a long time before I have another meltdown.

Whoa,
Allie.

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*http://www.healthcentral.com/encyclopedia/408/754.html

Life Without a Leg

The youth pastor at my church has an 8 year old boy. He doesn’t have both of his arms and legs. He only has about half of his left arm and leg. My grandma is blind. The world labels these two with the word “disabled.” Asperger Syndrome is technically a disability. The “normal” people of this world will tell them that they can’t do things; that they will never live a normal life.  These two people that are in my life prove the world wrong. They live normally. They are an inspiration to me as someone that has Asperger Syndrome.

The pastor’s kid wears a prosthetic leg. When I tell my friends about him, they say things like, “Poor little kid” or “How terrible.” My reaction is always to tell them, “Don’t feel sorry for him. Don’t treat him differently. That little boy runs around terrorizing people like every other little boy at church. He’s played soccer. He even takes his leg off and chases people around to hit them with it.” He recently did a 5K run with his parents. They did not run the entire way, of course, but it wasn’t easy. The youth pastor’s kid decided after a while that he no longer wanted to do this run. He wanted to quit. He used every excuse he could conjure up to get out of finishing this run. He tried to tell his dad that his leg hurt and he wanted to be carried the rest of the way. His dad observed him to make sure that he was telling the truth, and figured out pretty quickly that he had been lying. Their family, grudgingly, finished the run. His parents will not allow anyone to tell him that he can’t do something because he is “disabled.” He is a bright little kid. He plays rough with his cousins. He believes that he is invincible. He is whole. Because he doesn’t look physically complete doesn’t mean that he needs your pity.

My grandma was born blind. She was in “special” classes growing up. She married my grandpa and had 7 kids with him. She raised 5 boys and 2 girls. She and my grandpa run their own business. Most people that know her have no clue that she’s blind. Compared to what I can see, she see’s in blurred shapes. Or at least that’s how my mom explains it. That woman, however, has picked out some of the most beautiful clothing and jewelry I’ve ever seen. She recognizes me as soon as I walk in the door. She is completely amazing. She believes that she doesn’t have a disability. I believe her. She is invincible.

There are things that won’t come easily. There are things that I may never be able to understand. I will feel like I want to give up because it seems impossible. I will not, however, allow the fact that AS is a disability to hinder my life. I will do my best to not use AS as an excuse to quit or be lazy. My life will be full. I wont give up on learning how to better socialize. I will not give up. Yes, technically, I have a disability. No, I will not let that hold me back in life. You shouldn’t either.

 

Keep Moving,

Allie.