The “G” Word…

…and I don’t mean “gay” either. I mean another one, and one that might be the mystery as to why I am totally unresponsive to antidepressant medication despite fitting the description of clinical depression. A word that is, in the eyes of many alternative/naturopathic medicine practitioners as well as some MDs, “the root of much evil.” A word that almost took away the budding opportunity in front of me.

Gluten.

Given my medical history, a more than casual correlation between neurodivergence and gluten reactivity, and certain parallels I’ve drawn in a story similar to mine, here I am faced with a painful reality. I now realize there is a very real possibility that I am gluten reactive. Of course it’s not a certainty and won’t be unless I have a full diagnostic performed, but given my family history of autoimmune disease (my biological father having been diagnosed as Grave’s but possibly was something else, and my mother having some unknown but definite autoimmune disease) and what presents as clinical depression in myself, there is a consistency there that is impossible to overlook.

Obviously this is a real shakeup of my life story and one I had never considered before as I have absolutely no GI-related symptoms with consuming gluten (though maybe my chronic piles are aggravated by it?) and I obviously do consume a fair amount.

Which brings me to why I am just down in the dumps about it all and I’ve been crying sporadically throughout the day. You know I LOOOOOOVE beer and whisk(e)y. Beer is obvious as gluten is found in abundance in barley, wheat and oats (the first of which is a common ingredient in all beer and the latter two in many styles of beer), and though distilled, whisk(e)y is debatable and there is no consensus as to whether or not it contains gluten. I also love artisan pizza, especially from a local place here in Abilene.

As such, facing the possibility of being gluten reactive depresses the shit out of me. If it turns out I am gluten reactive, all of the above has to go away, lest I face a future where I have no quality of life and suicide/euthanasia would definitely be preferable. As depressing as the thought of having to go gluten free is, the alternative is even scarier and more depressing – loss of motor function, coordination, life bound to a wheelchair. I definitely don’t want to go there.

Given this information, I’ve decided I have no choice. I have to be screened for gluten reactivity. I have to know so I don’t inadvertently fuck myself up 10-20 years from now.

So why now, of all times? Well I’m now at a point where I am receptive to making changes if I have to. Up until now my thinking on these matters (including not only gluten but getting trashed every night, diabetes, etc.) was the same – I’m unwilling to change and give up enjoyment (read: escape from pain) in exchange for better health. My attitude was “if it kills me then so be it.” You know, the same excuse heavy cigarette smokers use to justify refusing to attempt to quit (I know I sound like a hypocrite using that analogy but cigars are indeed different in how the tobacco is cured and the product is made and consumed).

So am I or aren’t I gluten reactive? For now that remains an unknown and will until I can put the immediate fires that are in front of me out because god(dess) knows that will start a whole other set of fires. I’m already finding out what a major pain in the ass being gluten free is as I am having to prepare a gluten free feast for my Indianapolis 500 viewing party Sunday to accommodate two gluten reactive guests. It won’t kill me not to have gluten after all so I’m totally accommodating.

Alas, I guess I’ll cross that bridge if it is in my path. I just don’t know how I’ll deal. There will be a years-long grieving process if I have to cut gluten, but I know it won’t be the end of the world. Plus I have the best support system I could ask for if it does transpire that I have to.

In the meantime, I’ll just do some pre-grieving so maybe I’ll have less of that to do later, so excuse me while I go cry some more.

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A Look Back at Three Years of Blogging

So this popped up at 11:00 PM or so give or take last night. Has it already been three years of blogging? In the words of the great Roland Orzabal, “funny how…tiiiiiiiiiime fliiiiiiiiiies…”

Anyway, I have to say it’s been a wild ride since I started this blog three years ago. I honestly had little expectation other than this place being a personal diary of sorts and little or nothing else. I thought I might get a comment here and there but I wasn’t anticipating any real interaction or networking.

Well, I have to say I got way more than what I bargained for. Sure, I’ve had my share of PR nightmares, a couple of trolls (here’s looking at a certain assistant professor of biostatistics and a little local troll who I have an idea might be but I’ve not proven his/her identity yet) and this blog has gone through tough times along the way, but man has it been a crazy ride.

Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without my early followers. Rachel at Illuminated Literation, KirstWrites, Helen at SLS, Angie at King Ben’s Grandma, among others come to mind straight away. I love you all to pieces, especially for sticking by me during the major PR nightmare.

My blog is as much for you all as it is for me, for without you none of this would have been possible. I hope you’ve learned something about tattoo culture, life on the spectrum, or any of the products I regularly review. I know a lot of you seemed to enjoy my terrible singing when I posted it, for reasons I don’t yet understand (oh man, I know someone is about to say something about what I just said!).

Anyway, that’s all great, but I can’t write this post and not make a special shout out to a special someone. Someone who I crossed paths with for the first time in December 2016, right in the middle of the shitstorm. Though she was on the opposite side of the argument, she took up for me. We must have annoyed the shit out of each other at times, but she stuck by me through it all. Though we didn’t agree, we had our commonalities and developed a deep friendship straight away.

Little did I know at the time I had just found my long-lost (non-blood related) twin sister. The writing was on the wall, but the recent events are the pudding and the proof is in the pudding. It was more than just placing two cats in a loving and deserving home (one of which we are convinced really was just going back home in a new body). It’s about finding the right person to show me my true value, regardless of what the world of the FAA might think. It’s the special bond we share that goes beyond the comprehension of even myself sometimes.

Never in a million years did I think anything like this would come of my blog, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why else would I be looking at dropping everything leaving the place I’ve lived since 1999 (with only short breaks in between), not just to pursue self employment, but to be able to hang out whenever we want?

Thank you, Laina. Thank you for everything and more. Words cannot express how truly grateful I am. I don’t know how I could possibly repay you in this life.

Just…thanks.

PS: My left shoulder is still a bit sore. ;-P Damn you!!! (LOL J/K!!!)

The Scratched Out Face…

So it’s been but a day since I’ve had my new tattoo. For those who missed the post, here it is:

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The question I’ve gotten from a few people is who is that person in the picture frame? Whose face is marked out of that picture? Some have speculated it’s an ex-lover, an ex-friend or something of the sort. Truth be told when Jade first drew it up I didn’t quite know either (note: this was an element in the original concept drawing she did with the hourglass and scroll, but it didn’t fit on my left side). I just knew it spoke to me in some way and asked her to add the element back in for this piece. Well today, in my daily BSing and virtual cuddling with my beloved neuro-sister Laina, I figured it out.

So who is this person? I can’t speak for Jade and her vision in the original drawing. That said, as I’m the one wearing the tattoo, it’s up to me to define, so here’s your answer: that person is *ME*.

Now hold on a second, why would I scratch my own face out? It’s easy really: I’m not the same person I was a few years ago. Hell, I’m not the same person I was two months ago. In that light, the scratched out face represents the old me. The me who dealt with my pain in very unhealthy ways (of which I will not go into detail here). The old me who was judgmental of others. The old me who hated the mere concept of neurodiversity and got so angry with my fellow autism spectrumites who said “I don’t want a cure.” The old me who thought I was sick, broken, and a freak of nature. The old me who thought I was doomed for failure from the day I was born.

In short: the picture represents the me I don’t ever want to revert back to.

I’ll keep that picture as a reminder of where I’ve been and where I don’t want to return. The picture stays there on my desk (or, in this case, in my dermis) reminding me not to look into the past, but to the future instead.

Moving forward is not about forgetting my past. It’s about processing it and moving on from it. It’s about becoming the truly best version of me I can be. Placement wise, it’s almost in direct line with my semicolon – my very first tattoo as a symbol that I’m still here. Whether or not that was a conscious thing for Jade when she stenciled it on I don’t know, but to me it ties that in. After all, my first tattoo is what set all this in motion anyway – launching this blog, which led to me crossing paths with so many of you, and for Laina and I to eventually meet in person. My ink journey started my transformation, but that was only the beginning. My trip to San Antonio at the end of March was a bigger step – being in the presence of the person I now believe is my “twin soul” who helped me realize my own worth as I am.

I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me, but it’s nothing I can’t handle. Nothing worth it is easy after all, now is it? Alas, this is the start of better things ahead.

And that, my friends, is the story behind the scratched out face.

Weighted Blanket – The (Shocking) Results

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So I said I would report back in approximately two weeks in regards to my weighted blanket and how well it’s working for me, but I’m writing this post after just six days because the results are truly shocking and instantaneous.

The first night after I got my blanket I had to be up at 5:00 AM for my Friday half-day in office (note: my current office schedule is currently full-day Monday, half-day Friday and home otherwise) so I didn’t dare take a chance at a sleepless night and downed my usual 50mg diphenhydramine liquid gel, but since then I have not taken one. Have I needed it? Absolutely NOT.

I have slept just as well with my weighted blanket as I ever did on diphenhydramine, and without the night sweats and next-morning grogginess. Luckily the blanket breathes and radiates body heat away from you so it won’t overheat you (this was my big concern as I sleep hot – I’m a Pitta by nature; the “Davy” Dukes serve another purpose than just vanity after all) and the effects it has are immediately calming and quiet my IndyCar-paced mind almost immediately. I drift off to sleep quicker than it would take diphenhydramine to kick in, and naturally.

Now, do I sleep perfectly? Of course not. As has been my sleep pattern for years (even before diphenhydramine), I sleep for 3-4 hours and wake around 2 AM +/- 10 minutes like clockwork, stay awake for a brief period, then nod back off for another 3 hours give or take. It’s what I’ve always done since I was a kid and I don’t expect that pattern to ever change. Alas, being able to achieve my natural sleep pattern again after years of not being able to sleep for shit is absolutely incredible.

Of course, I can’t help but wonder how much of the change is due to my sister from another mister (is that even a term?) virtual cuddling me to sleep every night (a ritual we recently started). Maybe something to figure in, but I imagine it isn’t a huge player. I still appreciate her kindness in that realm though. I will say even she noticed an instant change in how quickly I nod off at night though, so it’s probably a small factor at absolute most.

Now, all that’s fine and good, but how does it actually feel draped over you? I’m sure that’s the question you all are wondering. Does it actually feel heavy or like a lot of weight is pressing down on you? The answer is NO. It does not weigh you down really. It’s a gentle weight – almost like you’re wearing a hug all night. It’s just enough weight/pressure for the secure and calming effect but nowhere near enough to feel like you’re being crushed or suffocated (that is, assuming you get the correct weight for your size – 10% of your body weight plus one pound or half a kg, whichever system you use). To me, it’s just enough for the feeling of “security” without being too much.

Are there some for whom the weighted blanket wouldn’t be a good option? I imagine so, especially if you tend to shift positions frequently. Note that weighted blankets are not meant to fill the size of the bed. They are meant to distribute gentle yet constant pressure over the body. As such, a twin size is the right size for one person, regardless of the size of your bed. Frequent shifting around might cause the blanket to not cover your body entirely at some point. Another is if you just don’t like sleeping with a blanket in general – this will not solve that issue. Other than that, I don’t see many drawbacks to it.

Anyway, I write this to say I’m amazed at how well it’s worked for me. I swore I would have to gradually wean/taper off of the diphenhydramine but that has not been the case. Even though conventional medicine has yet to embrace the concept, we know how that industry operates – if it ain’t pharmaceuticals it’s shit in their eyes. Anyway, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out Weight on Me weighted blankets at https://myweightedblanket.com/ to browse their various prints, styles and materials to find your perfect blanket. Shipping usually takes a few weeks, but trust me when I say the wait is well worth it to get the blanket custom tailored to your specific needs.

I truly am shocked. In a string of devastating blows, I’ve found something that actually works for me. Of course, I have my dear neuro-sister Laina to thank for this – she’s the one who recommended it to me. Thank you so very much, good doctor.

My Blanket Has Arrived!

Remember how I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I was pulling the trigger on a weighted blanket? Well it’s arrived!

Well there it is. Cool pattern huh? Matches my four pairs of space themed meggings beautifully.

Anyway, I’ll report back in a couple of weeks after I’ve slept under it for awhile but man, I crawled under it a few minutes ago and man it was instantly calming – my heart rate and BP dropped considerably as soon as I crawled under it.

So far I am impressed but the sleep test still remains. Hopefully it works as intended!

The Hopeless(ly Deprived) Power Cuddler

Would you make fun of me if I told you I still sleep cuddled up with a teddy bear at night? Yes, you say? Well go ahead and make fun of me because it’s true and I don’t deny it. Yes, I know sleeping with a teddy bear is so 1st grade, but when you have an autistic brain that runs 230 MPH at all times (you know, as fast as an IndyCar runs on the straightaways of Indianapolis Motor Speedway), getting to sleep is hard enough without being even more anxious so you do what you damn well have to in order to make it easier to fall asleep and stay that way.

Anyway, childish personal anecdote aside, time to get a bit serious here. The title of this post describes me to a tee. As I’ve eluded to in prior blog posts, I thoroughly love physical touch. I thrive on it. I’m a hugger, a kisser, a hand-holder, you name it. I’m what my “twin soul” affectionately calls a “power cuddler” – no holding back, all of the aforementioned stuff, playing with each other’s hair, ears, rubbing various (non-intimate) body parts up against one another, all up in your business, whatever. It’s just absolutely sublime to me.

I’m sure to someone on the outside looking in it appears to be totally smutty. To the bystander it might look a little like foreplay, but I assure you I completely separate cuddling from romance, sexual behavior or anything. I never understood why the neurotypical world associates these acts solely with sexual attraction. Love comes in many forms after all, not just romantic. If I cuddle up to you, it’s not anything creepy or sexual. It’s because in some way we share a close common bond (whatever that might entail) and it’s merely an outward expression of that bond, regardless of what type it is or who you are – I’ll “power cuddle” with people of any sex/gender, orientation, whatever.

Now, the descriptor in this post is “hopelessly deprived” for a reason – it seems very few people see this kind of thing as something to be shared between people who are otherwise just friends or family and as such I really don’t have anyone around here to engage in power cuddling with. I, of course, respect others’ boundaries and won’t just go up to and randomly put an arm around someone and pull them into close body contact with me. That’s not acceptable behavior in any way, shape or form. I get that. I also get that some people have various traumas in their past that would make such action conjure up memories of painful or traumatic experiences. I also get that. Alas, where all this does put me is in a place that is not conducive to my mental health – I get more anxious, snappy, irritable, depressed, etc. when I’m lacking that.

Living in a world that frowns upon physical affection, being one who loves it is tough. If only everyone else (and especially neurotypicals) understood the power of a good cuddle. It releases endorphins, dopamine, among other “feel good” hormones. It relieves stress, has a calming effect (especially on someone like me), among other things. In a lot of ways I feel sorry for people who frown upon it. Our lives are so much richer when we openly express our love for each other (again, whatever form that love might be in).

If we learned how to hug, kiss, cuddle, hold hands, etc. each other with no strings attached and completely divorced it from romance, think of how much kinder of a world we’d live in. Maybe we wouldn’t have so much hate, pent up rage, school shootings, among other bullshit that’s the reality of life in the modern world. Baby boomers and older love to complain about social media being the reason for it, but I question the validity of their claims. We were detached long before the invention of Facebook.

Alas, I’ve only met one other person on this planet who sees things the way I do, and seeing as how that person is hundreds of miles away, the best I can do is “virtual cuddling” this person whenever possible and just longing for the real thing. It’s better than nothing for sure, but every time we virtual cuddle, god I can’t help but wish it was the real deal. Hopefully someday soon the universe will bring us closer together, but until then, I remain the hopelessly deprived power cuddler.

Tear, sniffle, tear, sniffle, repeat ad nauseam…

Jumping on the Weighted Blanket Bandwagon

If it is one thing I have trouble with just about more than anything else it’s sleeping. I can’t sleep for love or money. I’ve lived off of diphenhydramine pills for about the last 2 years or so to help conk me out. I just can’t quiet my anxious, depressed, autistic mind enough to ever fall asleep on my own and it fucking sucks.

Trying to avoid the long-term effects of habitual diphenhydramine use, I got desperate for another option and preferably a non-pharmaceutical one. Taking sleeping pills for an extended period of time can’t possibly be healthy long-term.

Of course, one thing I can’t ever sleep without is a blanket. Even in the dog days of summer I have to have a blanket (I just keep my house cool at night). In light of that, and with the success that Laina said she had with her weighted blanket, I thought there might be something to it. I crawled under hers for a few minutes while visiting and it was so soothing.

So yeah, here we go. I went over to Weight on Me to order my own weighted blanket just to see if it helps. They have all sorts of fun colors and styles to choose from to suit your personal taste. It’ll be a couple of weeks until I take delivery (very rarely do they have pre-made blankets) but again, anything to help me sleep at night I’m willing to try. I’m sick of dragging come midday everyday.

So I guess we shall see. One of two things will happen. Either this will help me sleep or it’ll be a waste of $200. The jury is out but again, I’m willing to try anything at this point. We shall see I guess.