Saturday, June 30, 2012

If At First...

Well, shit.

I almost made it an entire month, as planned. Mother Nature is a cruel, fickle bitch though, and our town was pummeled by a storm yesterday. The house still has no power, and I am writing this from my wife's parent's house.

MAYBE I could have posted yesterday from here, and yeah, I could have popped in a filler post, but the truth is that I've done that enough times that it seemed to me that destiny was that the streak be ended.

Ah, but all that means to me is that I will just have to shoot FOR JULY.

Could be worse. That photo could be of MY car.


Thursday, June 28, 2012


This isn't any fun at all.

The only time I want to see that number is on a test score. Otherwise? I'm...


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What Would YOU Do?!?

So you feel a little tired. A little run down on a super hot, overly humid summer afternoon.

You aren't taking any of the old meds you used to take that had, shall we say, stimulative qualities. And that's a GOOD thing. But you find that afternoon hump just a WEE bit tougher to get over, so you think to yourself...'Self, why not enjoy a nice, steaming cup of fresh Espresso from your handy dandy Nespresso machine?'

You haven't used it in a while, but it has only been a few weeks and so you turn it on and get the cup into its place, pop in a little nodule or whatever they call those little things, and wait for the light to stop blinking so that you can fire that hot water down the chute and create that much-needed pick-me-up.

When the water fires, it hesitates...sputters for a second. Very weird. And then, from out of this little hole where the Espresso generally flows, out fall two Earwigs into your tiny mug.

Earwigs, in case you don't know, are a fairly common household bug. They are EVERYWHERE this year, as are spiders the size of my foot, since the winter was the mildest it has been in decades.

These bugs come out of the machine and plop into the Espresso cup.They are alive, though not for long...that water is FUGGIN' HOT.

You stand there in, well, a state of disbelief. Wondering 'WTF' else in your world related to technology is going to give you something to cringe about. But then you have a decision to make.

You stare at these things that look...other-worldly and disgusting.

You can clean the hell out of the machine, you can run that packet through, some bleach, open up all the areas that you have access to, and really scrub it. But can you actually, after all that cleaning is done, fire up the machine and run it and have a cup of Espresso? Knowing what just came out?

I know one person who would be as skeeved as I was/am about it. She writes a great blog and hates germy shit a lot.

But could YOU do it?

I couldn't. And haven't been able to bring myself to use it, since the incident, which occurred last week. So I have to get a new machine or do I figure out how to get over it?



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Legging Out a Bunt Single

But the STREAK stays alive.

Hey, they ain't ALL gonna be triples, doubles or even clean singles. But at least I am getting on base, and that's the only stat that matters right now.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Little Things We Do To Get By

When I have a particularly difficult day, there are any number of things that I might do to relieve the pressure. I'm sure you all have these things. Tiny rituals that you keep in your pocket and bust out as needed.

I've found that many of mine change, well, have changed, since I became a Special Needs father.

See, family didn't always mean as much to me as it used to. I always cared about it, but I was never as invested in it as I am today. People who knew me 'then' and who know me 'now' can probably attest to that. So maybe, if you want to look for any silver lining at all in a disastrous turn of events that led to Bennett's tumor/surgery/multiple disabilities, then you might look at that.

Being able to appreciate that which I used to take for granted is not a bad thing, certainly. It keeps me motivated to keep going forward and not backward, keeps me from going over the edge of the abyss from time to time when things get to be their bleakest.

How does that relate to those thing in your pocket? To those things that you reserve in the 'Break Glass if Needed' category? Because, and this probably sounds totally crazy, but a simple thing that I do in order to cope is that whenever I have a particularly hard day with all this...upheaval, is that I make a new Desktop for my computer.

Why do this?

Because then, when I sit down at the machine, I have a reminder of those things that matter. It's as simple as that really. Spending as much time flying solo as I do during the day working from home and being Bennett's primary mode of transport, I find that it helps to stay...I don't know...connected.

Most of the desktops in this post are from days gone by.

That one at the very top? I made that around 30 minutes ago.

All because I threw something across the room in frustration, and went to 'my room' to get a grip on my emotions and to think about why I let myself get to the boiling point. The act of building the Desktop, of finding photos of the three most integral human beings in my life? It's therapeutic.

I'm always curious to know if other people do little things like that when they need an extra push from the dark back into something light. I know many people pray, and I have as well, though it is far from me these days. But what other things might people in our position, or even those with other struggles in their life, do to stay centered and 'somwhat' balanced.

I wonder...


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Short and Sweet

Though as far as what I'm told, neither of them got their Dad's short gene. They are both fairly tall percentage-wise.

Keeping it tight on the weekend, as we have some stuff to do, but haven't updated with new photos in quite a while and figured I'd toss a couple up here and load the rest into Facebook when we have the chance.

Isn't that the cutest veal you've ever seen? ;)


Friday, June 22, 2012

Tell Us How You REALLY Feel

A local Cleveland meteorologist doing the forecast after the Miami Heat win Game 5 of the NBA Finals last night. That is too funny. But hey, I admire the guy's passion.

I'm super conflicted about Lebron James. I have some thoughts, a lot of them, that I need to sort out. Not even sure I want to do it here. Or should.

Hell, some people in Cleveland have an automatic bias against me because I am a Ravens fan. When I go to the Clinic with Bennett and wear my hat I have to use caution about when and where I wear it. Now if I start to say anything positive about LeBron I might get more comments like yesterday's. And Sweet Odin's Wolf, I sure don't need THAT!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Round and Round

OK, so the CT Scan results are in.

I'm not dying. Is it wrong to almost wish that I was? Forget I said that. Bottome line is this. Here is the official read. My secum is lower on the right than on the left, probably because of my appendectomy. It is putting pressure on my bladder and is in an odd location. The doctor says that it could be a source of pain in my abdomen but it is not likely.

Can someone please just kill me now and get this over with?

OK, so here is what I know. I am having pain in my abdomen, my pelvis, my hips, my back, tingling and numbness and hot lava in my arms and legs, but mostly legs. My BALLS (there, I said it), hurt from time to time and they retract. When I bend over, my right abdomen hurts.

I believe and have always believed I have a two-pronged problem here. One related to the abdomen/pelvis/hips. One related to the discs and nerves in my back. Problem is that I think I am the only one on this planet who thinks so.

I've had two tests, and MRI and a CT. In the MRI it was shown that I had:

A) A slight, though not major, disc herniation.
B) The same disc degeneration that I have had since 2004-2005.
C) Bulge in the herniated disc pushing against that alien looking large white nervy thing that goes up and down your spine.
D) Signs of arthritis in my lower back. Hereditary. Can't be avoided. Well, the good news is by the time my back REALLY starts to fail they will have perfected the disc replacement surgery instead of fusing vertebrae.

The Ortho who read that MRI said it didn't appear serious enough to be causing the level of pain I am describing. And yet, I am in a serious level of pain.

Had a CT Scan. It is showing some odd abnormality in the right side, and I have described some symptoms of pain in my right side. And lest ye not forget that way back when the Physical Therapist did say that my right pelvic bone is angled outward and my right leg has really awkward and limited mobility and the bulk of my lower back pain is mostly focused on the right side.

AND YET because the scan, I suppose, was not overtly showing some major Alien Chestburster in there, whatever that abnormality is I suppose is not enough to be causing me the level of pain I am describing.

And yet, with this situation as well I am in a serious level of pain. So much so for both circumstances that I, who have been trying to get OFF medications and am off of several I was on months ago have been taking a LOT of Vicodin for the last couple of months.

So the real question is...NOW what?

Is it truly just all in my head?

I do not know. I only know that it is maddening and frustrating. I fucking HATE this. It is like being attacked by an assailant that takes a swing at me and by the time I am able to turn around and hit back, the sumbitch is gone. So I am more angry and looking for something to pound.

Speaking of medication, that Lamictal that I am taking now? One side effect that you can have is insomnia'll never believe it. LOWER BACK PAIN. And both have started to happen. The insomnia is SHIT. especially when I almost NEVER have trouble sleeping. And the back pain has just been ratcheted up a notch.

But again...probably all in my head. I'm convinced now that I am simply insane and none of you actually exist. You are all just AI in a really crappy video game I am stuck playing over and over.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Swing And a Miss

Lest anyone think that this has turned into a Fox Sports blog, I just haven't got anything in the tank today, so I am pretty sure, right from the get-go, that this one is going to be a strikeout.

So why bother writing it?

Because I said I would. I foolishly made the commitment to write a blog a day for the month of June. And for some reason I cannot explain, I feel like now that I have rounded the corner on the halfway mark I HAVE TO COMPLETE THE TASK.

Some are gonna be good.

And some?

Well, crickets will be heard chirping in the background. Like they are now. Even if I try to show one of the things I was working on today, part of a massive amount of photographs I have to re-do. Here's a random sampling of some of them.

See? What'd I tell you.

I hear chocolate covered crickets aren't very tasty.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Gods of Thunder


Like I said in a comment reply to Justine, who writes Metamorphosis, when I was trying to figure out why in the world I want to see Lebron James fail so much when I am a fairly new convert to the NBA, the reason I started to watch basketball with more intensity this year, the reason I decided to become a FAN, is basically because of Bennett.

He was the tipping point.

I was searching for a Number 2 to the NFL as far as sports go. Needed something to fill the offseason from football, because it is just TOO long to go without sports.

No way could I go back to baseball. I've just been too betrayed by it, the Orioles owner is still a douchbag and frankly the sport itself just is too damn slow. Though I could write an entire blog about steroids and how they affected my love of the game.

It was between this and a couple of other sports, but Bennett LOVES basketball. To watch it I mean. We sit together and he imitates me and my reactions.

His favorite? A sound I make when someone makes a good defensive play (must be the Raven in my blood) but I make a sound that is sort of like 'Whoa-HO-Hoh!' Now he has taken to imitate that quite a bit.

Today at school they told me that they were looking for something on the TV to settle him down. He's a bit out of sorts from what may be a urinary tract infection so he is taking some antibiotics even though he tested negative for the infection. We don't want to take the chance since he can't TELL us how he really feels so we have to play a guessing game.

Nothing was really working until they stumbled on some Michael Jordan special on a sports channel, and he was all in. By the time he greeted me at the door, it was not hello, it was 'Whoa-HO-Hoh!'

I've made the right choice.


Monday, June 18, 2012

No News is Just That...NO NEWS

Nothing from the doctor's office on the CT Scan.

I even called them and left a message on the Nurse's line. Asked for ANY news on it, and I even used the magic word.


I'll tell you this, that is just not good form. Sorry, I said it. But you don't leave a dude hanging like this. I don't care what the outcome is, but would it kill someone in the office to just drop me a line and say 'We are having it looked at by someone.' or 'The doc is really backed up and he hasn't been able to get to it.' or 'We had a dog come into the office and accidentally eat our copy and so we ordered another.'


But to not bother with anything?

My opinion? Wrong.

I think I'm pissed.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's Revolution, Baby!

I'm not 100% sure, but I think I just got a stiffy.

Yeah, now I'm sure.

October 30th CANNOT get here soon enough. Then you'll never see me again. ;)


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Daturday Adventures

A brief excursion to ToysRUs for no reason other than to spend time with Carter. And no, sadly, this is not my local TRU store.


Looked around at some stuff, all the while fending off 'Can I get this?' and 'Can I get that?', with a smile, since that is what I was there for. But since he had a spending limit it was good to be able to make him read the prices and figure a lot of that out on his own.

In the end he settled on this:

Not a bad haul for a 'No Reason' buy. I just hadn't seen the kid in a while and set the limit at 20, and besides, he doesn't have any kind of current allowance earning potential with school out, so I am coming out ahead to be honest with you.

A bit off-topic, but I gotta say...if the trailers and the merchandise are ANY indication, I am going to despise the new Amazing Spider-Man movie. Looks to me like they have taken my favorite Marvel character and turned it into what will be my least-favorite Marvel movie. EVER. Even worse than this.

Oh well, what are ya gonna do?.

Late lunch with Carter and then some chit-chat and now back home. It was a more of a chatty Daturday than usual, with no real 'event' to get in the way, since he was gone most of the week.

Liked it. Nuff Said.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Lest Anybody Freaketh

The only reason there has been a rather lengthy delay today in the posting of a blog entry is because I have had Bennett all day. Today was an off day, a RARE off day, at the SBSA center that provides his ABA therapy treatment.

Though they do have a full week off in July and another in August, that is it for the summer. No other summer time off as far as I know.  And today obviously.

Not a terrible day, to be honest. He just requires constant attention and almost 100% focus. Like a King. I took him to the park for a while, and we BOTH had reactions to the sun. Friggin' Lamictal.

I also beaned myself in the head right into the monkey bars, and must have been dazed because I then backed into a pole with the car in the parking lot. I was a bit fuzzy driving home. Dolt.

Still...he enjoyed it. Loves to slide and swing that one.

And nope, I haven't heard a thing about the CT Scan from yesterday, in case anyone cares.

Carter came back last night, but I didn't get to see much of him. His cousin Jack came with him, so I haven't had much of a chance to hang with Carter. This weekend perhaps. I missed him.

Speaking of missing, I also missed the last 1/2 of the third quarter and the entire fourth quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals last night, which Bennett was enjoying WITH me, because of my shitty HD DVR receiver from DirecTV. Today they finally agreed to replace it.

Why I have to pay for shipping is totally beyond my comprehension.

DAMN YOU, NFL Sunday Ticket. DirecTV has me by my occasionally retracted...well, you get the point.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

See Tee

Here I sit, in a waiting room, anxious as Hell.

After four months or so, I am having a CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis to try to get some answers regarding the medical mystery I have been living with.

I remember telling you all that it was once suggested to me by my wife that this pain could be all in my head. Psycho-somatic. A reasonable suggestion given my history.

As I sit here, my heart racing so fast that the iPad is shaking as if I am keeping beat to a song, I almost hope it is. I did not anticipate being this nervous.

But to be honest, I cannot remember a time in a medical facility when I was this scared.

Well I can, I just don't like thinking of those days.

I will say this...the shit they make you drink? NASTY.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Dogs of War

It's been weird the last few days.

Carter has been gone with Jen's parents camping since Sunday afternoon, shortly after the Two-Face Incident. Talk about separation. THAT'S separation. He won't be back until Thursday.

Bennett's demeanor has obviously been a lot calmer because of it. He still tantrums. The boy does not like to be told no. It's really that simple. When it comes right down to it, all the research I have done says this. Find the trigger points and try to change them or try to make behavioral changes based on what you observe.

I've been observing. Lots of observing. He gets pissed when he is denied shit.

Don't we ALL?

But for him, his brain just doesn't seem to be able to process the denial in a way other people do. I don't know how correctable it is, but in order to move forward I certainly have to believe that it is. And I say that based on evidence provided by Carter's absence. As much as I have missed Carter, Bennett has been subjected to less denial at home, so the behavior has diminished.

What is he not being denied right now?

A relationship with his brother.

It's Catch-22. When Carter is around, he wants to be close to Carter. LOVES him. Little brother looks up to big brother and wants to be around him. Big brother is annoyed. They behave like a couple of wolves sometimes, both sort of nipping at each other, as any brothers might do, but the shrapnel from the Disability Grenade makes the outcome of their exchanges go down paths that are not normal.

Bennett reacts negatively to Carter when Carter doesn't do some things in a way that Bennett wants. Another totally expected reaction. But the relationship morphs because in response to being denied these things, by being 'dissed' by his older brother, Bennett forces his older brother to reckon with him by being violent.

Carter MUST react. He CAN'T ignore.

Carter can't dismiss Bennett if Bennett is in his grill, hitting him or running after him with INTENT TO HARM. It's a somewhat learned cycle, though. AND one that feeds and perpetuates itself. Those few times when Carter can get past feeling like Bennett is a loose cannon (which he is) and showers him with attention, Bennett is satiated and will ease up. But Carter can't maintain it all the time, AND he should not have to.

And that is because Bennett cannot be encouraged to engage in socially inappropriate behavior or be shown that he is in total control of any relationship, because THAT would also be something that he can't learn is OK. And I know that he would learn this if allowed to.

At SBSA they don't just let him walk up and put his hands on other kids. But for a while we had been allowing it here with family members because to deny Bennett that would force an 'issue'. I had to explain to everybody involved in Bennett's care-giving that it teaches Bennett the wrong information to allow it under any circumstance. He has to be taught that any contact that is uninvited is unacceptable, period. Otherwise he will not learn to not hit. It's a simple equation, but it has to START with no uninvited contact at all.

It can be very maddening.

Especially since I don't even know if I am on the right path. I am guessing here on some of it, based on things I have observed and read and learned from BT's at school and things that SEEM logical. However, I have often found that whenever I speak to some ABA people I discover that I can be way off base in my thinking, especially in the area of negative reinforcement. Something I happen to think is valid but most ABA purists tend to think is not.

But again, I am not even 100% convinced of anything these days. I am going through this day by day and trying to go with whatever works.

I THINK I am sure of one thing. Bennett gets frustrated by things that have everything to do with his lack of ability to 'join in'. I'm about 96% convinced of it. He's just normal enough to barely fit in, and a lot of people mistake him for a 'Norm', but he's disabled enough to not be able to. It's got to be a shitty place for him to exist in. I wonder just how aware of it he actually is. I think more than we often give him credit for, but I can't know for sure, at least not yet.

This morning it occurred to me that it really bothers Bennett when I laugh at something on the radio on our way to SBSA. When I do, he imitates me and then scowls and gets mad. This morning I started to speak to him about it, though I am not sure he understood me at all, as I am often when I talk to him about anything, but I am still in that place within myself where I try speaking to him as if he can understand me.

But what I asked him was if it made him mad because he didn't understand what the men were saying and why was Daddy laughing and he did he feel bad that he couldn't join in? He was smiling.

Now you have to be careful here. And I have to be careful with how I say this, but we often assign emotional or even higher levels of thinking in situations where we simply DESIRE there to be some kind of feeling or thought. We project what we feel or think somewhere it doesn't really exist.

People do this most often with their pets. They believe their dogs, for example, have higher levels of reasoning than they actually do. I have to be cautious if I say that I think Bennett was smiling because he UNDERSTOOD me. He may very well have just been smiling because I was SPEAKING TO HIM DIRECTLY and not LISTENING TO THE RADIO instead of communicating with him, or trying to engage with him. Therein lies what can often be compared to Hell's Pizza slice.

Now, I don't mean to compare Bennett to a dog, but in a lot of ways the communication barrier that exists between us often makes it feel as if we are members of two entirely different species.

That's not a judgment of my son, just a statement of fact at how difficult it is to build a bridge from my brain to his.

As far as bridges go, I can say this. Sometimes, all it takes, even on nights like last night where it looked as if the scales were going to tip towards Meltdownville, sometimes all it takes to build bridges is not necessarily communicating with Bennett, but just PARTICIPATING with him.

It requires, not unlike what I explained above with Carter, time and effort and something mutual that we can enjoy together.

So while the early part of the afternoon back from SBSA was sketchy, while I was trying to do some cleaning, do SOME work (which is almost a joke now as Bennett is taking so much time it is hard to manage my small efforts to generate cash for the family), get some stuff together for him to eat and so forth. During this time, he was a beast. He was defiant, with definite purpose, getting into everything he was not supposed to...all for attention.

Sounds fairly normal. doesn't it? He just doesn't understand limitations or boundaries, which is why it gets dangerous. Doesn't KNOW, or even remember after getting scalded, that the hot water tap is HOT, so I have to shut it off, doesn't know what sharp is, or that heavy objects hurled across the room can hurt people or break other objects. He doesn't have a full grasp of consequence.

Later, when Jen focused on him for some play time then I for a bath, and then he and I settled down for the Heat @ Thunder Game 1 of the NBA Finals, he was having a good time.

A great time actually.

Full focus. 100% engagement. It is just hard to maintain the intensity all the time, every moment with a boy that has a really hard time doing anything on his own these days. That's the hard part.

But more on THAT, and the NBA and Game 1 and everything else, next time. Why shoot the entire clip today when I have to keep up a pace for daily posting? See? Old dogs can learn new tricks too.


PS: Dogs are great, but we do NOT need one. It isn't something that we even want in our lives, at all. Can't handle the extra responsibility or annual expense or burden of care-giving the dog will require. Dogs are super cool, don't get me wrong, but it is not in cards for us right now. Just throwing that bone out there. ;)

Oh and one more thing...all the pictures? From a VERY cool website I stumbled on called, worth checking out. I don't normally credit sources (I suck) but they have some awesome photos.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Play Date

Amidst a sea of seemingly bleak posts, and granted, deservedly so as we have hit a very rough patch, one way of showing that there is in fact some diversity, that Life Ain't All Bad, one need only look at the difference between the two phone calls that transpired today.

One, involving setting up a meeting of a legal nature which was a complete bummer for me and although perhaps in the end it could be a good thing I have to admit that the act of making the call was one of the more difficult things I have had to do in a really, really, long time.

The other phone call was much more pleasant, the act of being able to speak to an old friend about his birthday, with which he celebrates the milestone of reaching his 45th year.

One of his gifts this year is an X-Box 360, and I was able to contribute a Gift Card to help with his online membership to the X-Box Live Community of Geekness. So while we used to spend some time when we were young pre-teens playing Dark Tower, nerding it up on a Saturday night, now we can shoot the hell out of each other in HALO or other such nonsense, while our wives busily fill out divorce papers since we will clearly be neglecting our familial responsibilities.

Well, we'll have to be sure we don't do that.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Weather Report

Partly cloudy skies. A slight bit of precipitation.

No meteor showers that I could find. Had to postpone my vacation plans.

I'll get through this just like everything else, but the concern is very much appreciated.

Yesterday I was just venting. A bit dramatically.

I'll try to be a bit less Michael Baysian in the future. ;)


A Beautiful Blank Page

Christmas is over. That sound you hear is my sigh of relief. The tree is not actually down, as the opening image suggests. That was a tem...