Relieving Stress Part I

As a single mom of three kids ages 14, 10 and 7 as well as a Grad Student and Pre-Nursing Student (among many other things) I deal with stress.

When things recently came to a head I knew there were things I had to do. Stress is known to affect your health, cause memory problems and alter your behavior. If it continues, stress can and has killed people. I still have a lot of life to live so changing my behavior had to start immediately.

Identify your stressors-What causes you stress?

Take some time for yourself. Even if it is taking a walk by yourself for a few minutes a day to clear your mind, Do it.

Write things down in a journal and when you do, be sure to write at least five positive things down. Positive thoughts will help you gradually change your attitude. It doesn’t happen overnight. Within one to two weeks of daily work you will see a difference! Let that be the last thing you do before bedtime. If you can, write at least one positive thing down in the morning and then try to reflect on it. Creating a positive attitude takes time and reprogramming your brain will take effort on your part. Start out small and add to it.

Talk to someone who is positive and has an optimistic attitude. You want someone uplifting who is great listener but can also give you some constructive criticism if need be.

If you feel you are beyond the basics of relieving stress, seek professional help even if it is your pastor or other clergy. If a group is available consider trying that. Make an effort to not hold things in.

My PDD-NOS Child

It hasn’t been too long ago that my oldest son Caleb was finally diagnosed with something that made sense. A year and a half ago we were given the diagnosis of PDD-NOS, high functioning Autism. PDD-NOS stands for Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.

Basically, Caleb is borderline Autistic. If one were to hang out a few days to a week with him you might otherwise disagree. He is the sweetest, loving, caring boy at times. Other times no one wants to be around him or deal with him. You “ruin” his day and he’ll ruin yours.

I am learning to build a routine with Caleb because if I don’t then some days are like hell for me. If he asks me to wake him up with one of his stuffed puppy dogs then I need to do that. I have to make sure he has his backpack, shoes and glasses or at least remind him a few times to get them as he walks out the door. On the days he needs to carry his blanket I have to help him.

If someone else has to pick him up I have to make sure he knows or he gets upset.

For at least the last two years I have had to deal with Caleb’s incessant spitting. When I say incessant I mean it is everywhere. The carpet by the couch turned black and got stiff, spitting outside our apartment door, on the steps, sidewalk and even in my Jeep. Spit on the bathroom floor, kitchen, at my best friends house.

We have done everything suggested to us by his therapist from putting  a rug by the couch, putting plastic down to giving him his own trash can to spit in. I recently spent four hours cleaning the floor board of my Jeep and painting it because where he sits was so bad it was rusting (I removed the carpet two years ago, partly because of this).

He has even gotten in trouble at school for spitting. Caleb says it is because germs get into his mouth. It’s annoying and gross and at times I feel helpless about it. Other days he rarely spits so I haven’t pinned down why some days are worse than others although he is very sensitive to smells . That can cause him to spit more especially if he doesn’t like the way someone smells or how food smells.

One thing I am working on is understanding his sensory issues and hopefully with that we can decrease the whole spitting issue.

A Friend with Narcissistic Personality

Early in the Spring of this year my best friend approached me about reading a section of the book he had downloaded on his Kindle. He asked me to read it and then comment on who I thought it described. I read beyond what he had asked me to because I was so intrigued and at the same time I felt some questions had been answered.

My response was that reading the section on Narcissistic Personality Disorder described her to a T. In fact, I continued to do research online, purchasing books and reviewing forums. The more I read the more I was intrigued and at the same time, sad.

This person that I thought I knew for the last six years was someone who is incapable of ever being a true friend. Things were explained so much yet still trying to deal with her has been an absolute challenge. Currently I am reading the book Narcissism: Denial of the True Self by Alexander Lowen, M. D. it has been by far, the best book I have read on Narcissism and the most helpful.

I have been questioned about the “diagnosis”  of my close friend until I start to explain things. About a year and a half ago we gave her the nickname the “queen” because she always wants to be in control of things. When her husband started to stand up for himself and say no or in fact just ignore it then she started to whine, pout or argue.

He has asked her numerous times to stop spending money. In 2008 she opened up two credit cards and within two years she maxed both of them out , $32K worth of debt which at the end of 2010 she had to file for bankruptcy which resulted in him losing his long time credit card he had for over 20 years with perfect credit that was now gone.

Her attitude after the bankruptcy was that she could get another credit card because she wiped out her debt. Well, when she tried applying for one because I had applied and been granted a small one to rebuild my credit, she was declined.

A long time ago she would tell me she wishes she could be like me. I never understood that comment until I started reading about Narcissism.  Then that worried me. I noticed all of the time, in fact every time I ever had a conversation with her husband she would always pipe in as if she was him and knew the stuff he knew or did. It is very annoying. Well, I learned through research that is how a Narcissistic person is. They act like the person whom they are attached to. And not only has that attachment been her husband, now it is also me.

Years ago before I even knew the two of them, both were involved in affairs. From listening to both sides, she was the one who explored first, but if you listen to her tell you the stories she blames him. She blames him because he didn’t tell her before he had his affair so he was the bad one while she continued to be with this person and that person. What she was doing was fine and what he was doing was wrong?

Lately I have had to deal with what I consider a serious issue with her. At least four times in the last six months she has shown up unannounced at my apartment. No phone calls, texts, emails, nothing. Yesterdays incident I predicted. The others I had not and they had taken me back. The first time she did it her husband had come along and realized I had a strange look on my face. When I explained to him I had no idea they were coming over and he had asked me if she had called, text or anything and I answered no, he was just as shocked as me.

Often she will do quirky things. One day she’ll be your “best” friend and the next day or two or three you won’t hear from her. Some days if we are all going together for a ride in the mountains, to go hiking, on a picnic or to an event she’ll let me sit up in the front seat of the vehicle. Other days I have to ask.

The craziest issue by far has to be who likes ME and who doesn’t. I have been told as has her husband, that I am not liked by his parents or hers. Interesting because:

Quite often his mother will ask how I and my kids are doing, whenever I go over there she usually gives me little trinkets and toys to give to my kids and recently she asked if I could come over and fix her computer, which she paid me for. Her mom will ask how I and my kids are doing too. In January of this year her father passed away. My youngest son, which her mother adores went with me on the 3 hour trip to Middle TN. Her mother hugged me and my son and thanked us for coming. Afterwards we were invited over to her house and eventually invited to go eat with them at Cracker Barrel. I am pretty sure if someone didn’t like me they wouldn’t be so nice!

There have been so many times conversations with her have caused wedges between me and people we know. Since discovering she has a narcissistic personality I am learning to not take everything she says with a grain of salt. It’s not always easy because there are times she does tell the truth you just never know what is being twisted until you talk to the other party.

I am sure some would question me being friends with someone who has a narcissistic personality. I don’t “unfriend” someone easily. This person has done a lot for me and my family, yet every thing I have read tells me it is not genuine and that hurts. It is sad enough that from everything I have studied about Narcissistic Personality Disorder there is no cure, medicine or treatment that helps. The biggest issue I have found is that the person with NPD has to acknowledge they have problems. Knowing my friend for almost seven years now, I know she won’t admit to that. Everyone in her mind has problems, but she does not.



The Autism Road

Being the parent of an Autistic child has been a challenge. But being a single parent of an Autistic child can at times be doubly hard. The journey with my son along the Autism road had been a rough one early on. Most of his teachers and the specialists that worked with him from Headstart Pre-K through the second grade were mostly adamant he was ADHD.

I wasn’t buying that and I was at times treated as if I were being defiant or in denial about the situation.

Actually, what triggered the doubt was that my son had not been officially tested, but also that a behavior specialist that observed him for a week in his first grade classroom flat out told me she didn’t believe he had ADHD. She noted that Caleb was showing signs of sensory problems. And as I did research online that made sense.

However, when I made the move 100 miles away from home with my son we were once again faced with the issue of the school staff insisting my son has ADHD because he was hyper at times and couldn’t focus. So I took him to a pediatrician who in turn gave me four pieces of paper with hundreds of questions with boxes to choose answers that fit my son. After spending 30 minutes going over it the doctor quickly reviewed it and diagnosed him with ADHD. He was promptly put on Vyvanse which I was told would take about two weeks to start working.

Terrible, terrible move on my part!

In the beginning the medicine did show some promise. My son’s behavior had shown some improvement and his grades were better. That was short lived though.

Within two months of starting Vyvanse it felt as if all hell had broken loose. The behavior was starting to go backwards, he would NOT sleep and he refused to take a bath. I had been told as far as the sleeping issue goes that the first two weeks on the medication would be sleepless, but this was two months after starting it. Also, the bath issue was extremely unusual for my son. He had always asked to take multiple baths during a lot of days just because he liked playing in them. I literally had to lift him up into the tub and wash him myself because he would be kicking and screaming as if he were terrified.

After graduating from college and moving back home I took my son to his regular pediatrician. When I told her what had been going on she immediately told me that Vyvanse doesn’t work. We were then referred to a center that specialized in testing children for behavioral and developmental issues.

Two months later he started testing which would go on for three months before a diagnosis would be given.

In March of 2011 we received the diagnosis of high functioning Autism, PDD-NOS; Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. It felt as if a million bricks had been lifted off my back! I wasn’t happy that my son has a developmental disorder, but I was relieved that there was finally a definitive answer to all that had been going on and now we could focus on the future.

Since that time my son has been receiving occupational therapy, was fitted for glasses and sees two specialists who focus on helping him learn social skills, one at his school and one through the therapy center he goes to bi-monthly.

Even though I have seen some improvement in his behavior, he still has his days. We still go through so much since everyday is never predictable. One day he may be the best behaved child while another day I want to just crawl into my bed and hide under the covers.

The biggest and greatest challenge for now is advocating and teaching friends and family about Autism as well as how my son functions. Some people still want to treat him as if he were a normal child when in fact he is a special child. They don’t understand that what you typically do to a normal child doesn’t exactly work with him. Once I explain the situation with some examples it is as if a light bulb goes off. It is hard for others who are not around him frequently and usually he ends up getting on their last nerve. One thing I was taught right away after his diagnosis is that you cannot change him. I have to learn to work with him instead. That has been a challenge!

One very important thing that has to be remembered is that he does very well when there is consistency. If he knows we are going somewhere after school or I am going to cook one of his favorite meals there is a much higher rate of cooperation from him. If he asks me to do something such as wake him up with a specific puppy dog he tends to respond better. Learning what makes him tick is the key to making things better for the both of us. I make not like it all the time, if I want my sanity to stay though I have to relinquish the feeling of complete control and work with him the best I can.

Welding Safety

Welding Safety

I grew up around a welding shop. My grandfather was a welder and so was my father. A lot of welding safety has just been second nature for me. However, I have recently picked up welding as a hobby myself and I have noticed that munch of the welding safety advice in the books is overly complicated.

So here are some simple tips for staying safe while enjoying making stuff with steel. This list is by no means exhaustive. I am sure there are many different ways you can get hurt while welding but these basic steps will keep you from the most common hazards.

The most obvious hazard of welding is the light from the arc. Not only is the arc flash hazardous to the operator but to those in the area. A welding hood is the common protection. The shade of the lens needs to be around a 10 so that the welder can see the weld puddle and still be protected from the light. I use a 9 on my MIG welder. Higher amperage arcs may need darker lenses.

The light contains a lot of UV radiation so skin protection is needed as well. The welding hood should cover the face and neck. UV resistant clothes need to be worn over the chest and arms. I have a small tanned V on my chest from forgetting to button the top button on my welding shirt. One last note on UV radiation – it is hard on cotton fabric. Be warned that your favorite pair of jeans can easily be reduced to shreds by UV radiation even if you avoid burning a hole in them.

The second most obvious hazard is the heat. Hot molten metal tends to fly out in all directions from the weld. Long leather gloves are the most common way to protect the hands and wrists. The parts will also be hot just after welding so the leather gloves help in handling the hot parts. Just remember that the heat will deteriorate the gloves over time so don’t handle hot parts more than necessary.

Foot protection is helpful as well. Cloth shoes and laces can catch fire due to molten metal falling on them. High top boots are recommended to keep hot blobs off your ankles.

Hot work also adds the danger of starting a fire. Fire protection needs to be considered for all welding and burning. See for more info.

One less obvious hazard is handling compressed gas bottles on a MIG welder. While the gas is inert and non flammable, it still has a lot of stored energy that can be hazardous if the cylinder is dropped and the valve is damaged. If discharged in a confined space the Argon or CO2 can displace the oxygen in the air. So, make sure cylinders are properly secured in use and in transit. Make sure the cap is in place anytime the cylinder is moved.

Be aware of hazards that can be created during the welding process as well. When welding on a vessel like a drum or a tank, make sure the inside space has been purged of any flammable liquids or gases than could have been trapped inside. When welding on a vehicle, check the area near or behind the welding area. Ensure that fuel or brake lines will not be damaged by the heat.

One less common but very painful hazard occurs when welding zinc coated or galvanized metals. Know as metal poisoning, breathing the vaporized zinc will cause a severe headache. The old-time remedy is to drink milk on the theory that the calcium will displace the zinc in the body tissues. The condition can be prevented by having adequate ventilation when welding or by using respiratory protection.

Welding provides a great escape for the worries of the day, as it required total focus for me to make and maintain a quality bead. Following basic safety precautions will ensure that welding is done safely and enjoyably.