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(Mostly) happier stuff.

On a lighter note, we had something like 5 inches of snow, and a level 2 snow emergency today. It's beautiful out! My energy level was okay today, and I was able to manage with my current mid-back pain to have some fun in the snow with my dog Macy and little Nate.

Wifey and I took Nate to a nearby park with a big hill, so he could ride his "snow boogie board," sled-style. I mentioned that I've never actually ridden on a sled, and the snow board is pretty long, so I rode down with Nate one time. It was scary, but fun.

Macy gets horribly carsick, so we don't take her in a car unless absolutely necessary. So I played with her in the backyard, and she was going crazy in the snow.

Oh, and we found out that Nate's now diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder, in addition to his Autism and Global Developmental Delay. And it's going to be over a year before he's at the top of the waitlist for ABA therapy at Children's Hospital. But... I mentioned all this to my therapist, and she told me that her practice has a therapist who specializes in children with autism and related disorders, who also has ABA training, does lots of play therapy, etc. She gave me that therapist's card. So wifey is going to call and see about that as an option for Nate, because that therapist has current openings, and it wouldn't interfere with Nate still receiving speech therapy etc through Children's.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the snow today:

I've actually lost track of how many times I've seen PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; it's over 10 times, but less than 15. I think this was maybe the 12th time I've seen it. I first saw it in 1995, when I was 14. I'm now 36. Every time I've seen it, it's been on the U.S. Tour, mostly the original staging of the U.S. Tour. The last two times have been the new staging, which I do not like as well, although I still do enjoy it. My least favorite change is the staging of "Music of the Night." It lacks the iconic pose during the lyrics: "Touch me; trust me," and the blindfold thing is honestly ridiculous.

My seat last night was in Row M of the orchestra, slightly off of center. Pretty good seat! I could see everyone's faces, and had a clear view of the whole stage. My sister, her husband, and my nephews also went, but they sat separately from me, partly because they bought their tickets before I did, but mostly because I usually insist on sitting alone, because you can get a better seat if you're willing to sit alone (most people want to sit with their family/friends/partner/etc). You'd be surprised the amazing single seats that are often scattered around a theater.

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So, that's my most recent PHANTOM experience, along with a bit of review of the cast. Now, I'm in my post-Phantom funk, not knowing when I'll next be able to see the show, and wishing I could see it again soon.
So, wifey's last rat The Brain died a couple of weeks ago :-( He was pretty old, and he seemed to have had a stroke, or something, based on his symptoms. We held him and comforted him a lot, and he eventually died in his sleep.

Well, Nate was really upset about The Brain dying. So, wifey decided to get Nate a guinea pig. She'd been considering it for awhile, and was planning on getting him one next year. But she went ahead and got it for him now, since he was so upset about The Brain's death.

She was only able to get one guinea pig, and they are very social, so we have to make sure the guinea pig gets lots of attention. Which isn't difficult to do at all! Wifey named the guinea pig Guinevere, aka Guinny. And she's so cute and fun! She's still pretty skittish, but she's starting to get used to being handled. She's pretty young, and was one of the smaller ones they had.

Here's a pic of me with Guinny:

And here's Nate with Guinny:



I keep having dreams/nightmares about college, or trying to go back to college, or being even more devastated than I am in real life about the fact that I dropped out of college due to my mental health shit and sexual trauma. This album came out right before my 25 day long hospital stay, right as I dropped out of college. I was listening to it nonstop, as I debated suicide versus checking myself into the hospital. I picked the hospital. It wasn’t my first nor last hospital stay. But it was my longest, and it was how I chose to drop out of college and to let my loans go into default, so now I can’t go back. My GPA was shitty due to so many dropped classes due to mental health shit, but I was still one of the top students in my Philosophy major. Even presented a paper at another college’s philosophy conference, a couple of months before I gave it all up because I was too crazy and stupid to think ahead. I regret so much.
Trick-or-treat night went okay.  We did several social stories with Nate in advance, and he started out pretty well, saying "trick or treat" and "thank you."  After about half an hour, though, he started getting overstimulated, and didn't do so well with talking to the people giving out candy.  People were mostly understanding, though (he was wearing his "Safety Alert: I have autism" bracelet).  It was rough when he would start tumbling through yards, throwing himself down, etc, though.  But we got through it.

To my surprise, the kids in my neighborhood didn't take all the candy and teal pumpkin treats I left out while I was away.  It looked like kids actually followed the "please take 1 or 2" sign I had posted, unlike in my old neighborhood, where like 2 kids would take everything.

Shortly after getting home from trick-or-treating, my throat started hurting, and I started running a fever.  I spent the next 2 days in bed coughing, feverish, and with a really sore throat.

By Friday, I was feeling better, which was good, because I'd promised my sister I'd go with her to this shitty rock concert.  It was a couple of bands I'd never heard of, some side-project by the guy from Buckcherry, and the band Hinder headlining (minus their original singer).  My sister was going, because her mother-in-law runs a concert production company, and was bringing them all to town, to a local bar.  My sister wanted me to go with her, so she'd have someone to laugh with about the whole thing (we'd had long-running jokes about Hinder).  She said she'd pay for my admission, as long as I bought my drinks.

When we got there, I got comped in with her, so she didn't actually have to pay for me.  Instead, she paid for a couple of my drinks (yummy bar Long Islands!).  One of her friends from work and the friend's brother-in-law also went.  The brother-in-law was very withdrawn, and apparently had been struggling a lot mentally recently :-(  But I had fun hanging out with my sister and her friend.  We all had several drinks, lots of laughs, and even started dancing around and singing along.  We got to stand in a separate VIP area, because we knew the staff of the people who'd brought the bands to town.  So, that helped a lot with my social anxiety, being away from the crowd.

The concert was actually a little better than we'd expected.  One of the unknown bands was mostly decent (Lovesick Radio), and Hinder was pretty entertaining.  They covered "Champagne Supernova," which actually fit the new lead singer's voice much better than the actual Hinder songs, LMAO.

After all the time spent talking over loud music, and singing along with the few songs I knew, when I was already a bit hoarse and congested...  Well, let's just say severe laryngitis took hold.  I spent Saturday and Sunday almost completely unable to talk.  I also started running a fever again, and my congestion got worse, along with a pretty bad cough.  My whole household had been sick with something similar, but I was a bit sicker than everyone else had been (probably due to my chronic autoimmune issues).  Sunday, my wifey took me to an urgent care.  They said it's viral, so I don't need antibiotics.  But I have to make sure I'm staying hydrated, and have to take capmist for the congestion and cough, as well as using an inhaler, because the doctor said she could hear a little congestion in my lungs.

I'm getting better again, though.  I'm still very hoarse, but my voice is much stronger than it was.  The congestion is a lot less, too.  I'm still coughing a lot, though, especially at night, which has been interrupting my sleep.

So, that's life this past week.  
Wifey and I started a parenting class called PPP (Positive Parenting Program), geared toward parents and other primary caregivers who are raising a child who has autism.  We've only been to one session so far, but I was able to realize a couple of things about myself already.  For one, I think I tend to sometimes not expect enough from Nate.  For example, I don't give him a chance to dress himself, even though he can somewhat do it with minimal help.  Instead, I tend to just do all the work dressing him myself, with the mindset "He's special needs; he can't do it."  This isn't just due to his autism, but also due to his global developmental delay.  But, the fact is, he can dress himself with help.  He doesn't need me to do all the work for him.

I don't like a couple of other parents/parental figures in the group, though.  There's a mom and grandma pair, and they just seem so stuck up.  I shouldn't judge, because sometimes people assume I am stuck up, when I'm actually just clinically socially anxious and introverted.  But, I don't know.  I just got a funny feeling from those two.   Plus, the mom made a big deal how her biggest goal is to stop her son from stimming.  Fuck that.  I have read and listened to actual autistic adults, and they say it's very deterimental for them to not be allowed to stim.  Wifey and I both feel that Nate should be allowed to stim, because it helps him self-regulate, and helps him express himself.  Sure, there are some forms of stimming that are not safe, and so we try to encourage safe stims.  For example, it's not okay for him to bite himself or to head-butt people.  But if he wants to stand in one place and spin, or to flap his hands, or to practice echolalia, we see no problem with those things.  There's another person in the group I don't like, a grandma.  She has custody of her autistic grandson. But she constantly specifies that her grandson has "a genetic disorder which causes autistic behavior," as if the rest of our kids are just unruly, and only her child has a good reason for his behaviors.  She also gave a shady side-eye to the woman sitting next to her, saying: "I don't use food as a reward," after the woman mentioned a "reward box" that she has for her kid to pick out of (FYI: Autism therapists actually have recommended to us that we use small pieces of candy to help motivate Nate sometimes, and it does help, so the reward box mom is probably following professional advice, too).

I took my dog and one of my cats to a local animal charity's vet clinic.  Volunteer vets from Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital show up to help pets who are from low-income or homeless families.  I've already been getting supplemental pet food from their pet food pantry.  I qualify because I'm on SSI due to disabilty.  The vet was awesome!  Josephine the tortoise-shell kitty got her annual shots, tested negative for FIV and FeLV, and flea meds.  Macy the dog tested negative for heartworm, and got flea meds and heartworm prevention.  She has to go back next week for her annual shots, because her stomach had been bothering her, so she's on a course of acid reducers and diarrhea meds (and a slight change to her diet).  I'll be taking my other cats (Lydia the black cat and Willow the calico/tabby) in soon for their shots and flea meds, too.  I'm incredibly grateful for this resource!  I have a credit card for emergency vet expenses, and I was planning to use it to gradually get all my pets current with shots (my cats don't go outside, but my dog does).  But I ended up maxing it out when Pandora was dying of feline lymphoma over the Summer.  I'm making payments on it, but it's going to take awhile to get it back up to full capacity.

Wifey, ambigu-sweetie, Nate, and I went to GameStop yesterday.  Ambigu-sweetie got the new Final Fantasy game (FFXV).  Wifey didn't want anything, because she's busy playing Kingdom Hearts.  One of the cashiers gave Nate a free Ninjago Lego figurine, because Nate kept trying to find a Lego toy, which was very nice of the cashier.  Wifey got Nate a Pokeball with a Pikachu figurine, because Nate has occasionally been playing Pokemon Go with me, and PIkachu is his favorite Pokemon.  He doesn't get that toy until Christmas, though.  His birthday is next month, but we've already got him plenty of birthday gifts!  Then, I found a copy of Hello Kitty Seasons for the Wii.  I've wanted that game for at least a couple of years, but it was always too expensive.  My understanding is that it's a sims type of game, but with Hello Kitty characters, mini-games, and changes in seasonal decor throughout the game.  I collect Hello Kitty stuff, and love sims types of games.  Well, GameStop had it for 7 dollars yesterday!!!  I showed it to wifey and ambigu-sweetie, but it's technically ambigu-sweetie's credit card, so...  He got it for me as an early Christmas present.  I can't wait to play it!
I've definitely had a very busy and fun Halloween season.  Wifey and I took Nate to all kinds of special events, many of which were sensory-friendly or were sponsored by the local autism society.  I think we've been to about 6 different Harvest festivals, Halloween events, and trunk-or-treats.  I have pictures from some of these events, plus from some fun times at home.

This is Nate and me on a hayride at an autism-friendly harvest festival at a really cool place out in the middle of nowhere called Leeds Farm.  He had lots of fun, and I really love this picture of the two of us!

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Still not quite okay.

I really need to get back on my meds.

It's far too easy for me to feel suicidal again.


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