machineTHE CRUNCHER

TRIGGER WARNING: descriptives of medical problems

The facility who did my test follows the “Planetree” philosophy, which means: mindful of a person’s mind, body and spirit. As you’re waiting for your name to be called, there are ‘soothing’ colors, comfortable furnishings, free coffee bar and a water feature. There are snacks in a basket for the taking and free water bottles. The sculptures and art are pretty nice too.

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You get results by phone the very same day. If needed: There is a private wig consultation and fitting program at the hospital and (also for those who’ve received the diagnosis), free tickets to local theaters, concerts and supporting events.

I have never walked through the “meditation garden,” which is available nearby, but I’ve glimpsed it through the big windows and it looks very nice although me personally, I like meditation to be private. Some hospitals have labyrinths like this one in Oxnard California, although mine doesn’t. I adore labyrinths.

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The facility where I get my mammograms, offers spiritual services, Reiki, aromatherapy, soft touch massage, therapy dog visitation, and guided imagery meditation. I have never checked the boxes for any of these amenities, I just want to be quickly in and out. Interestingly, they put HGTV on the TV in the waiting room and in the changing room waiting area. Is this TV show… a standard women’s choice? 🙂

They are progressive in trying to make the experience of mammogram pleasant, which of course, it is not. This mammogram was no exception. It hurts, you are pulled, positioned, and clamped down, and then told to hold your breath and you always wonder if the machine has a release function in case the power goes out, because you are trapped; and it hurts. I was saying recently that if men had to receive screening for testicular cancer the same way women received screening for breast cancer, well, many men would go unscreened. I’ve had at least ten mammograms over the years by now, maybe more, I’ve lost count. My biggest complaint this year was that I smelled cigarette smoke on the machine (from the previous patient?) BUT- You never expect this will happen; because they don’t tell you this. It’s not in the literature:

The day after the test (which was clear of any anomalies, thankfully) I was ready to forget about it till next year’s exam when I was washing up and getting ready to go to my yearly well-check physical. The soap was burning!

My doctor looked and said, “You weren’t kidding, your skin is torn open. Make sure you put Neosporin on that.”

When I got home, I saw the bright red tears where my skin had split, like crescent moons below each one. My skin is thin, it’s an autoimmune thing, I don’t blame the technician at all for pulling too much, in fact if I just rest my elbows on a table more than five minutes, they tear open and bleed. I’m not up to scaring anyone off mammograms, I want to stress the importance of them, actually, and I have a high pain tolerance, but I would’ve liked to know what to expect. Research on mammograms and torn skin reveals that a product called “Bella Blankets” are available and next year I am going to request them ahead of time. They don’t affect the x-ray results. I did not pull away from the machine too soon before the clamp was released, nor did I stick to the plate. So in my case maybe they won’t help, but I think women should know they are an option and I am going to try them next year!

I’m seeing a new rheumatologist soon, as well as a cardiologist because of my DVT scare and hospital stay in December. I work remotely from home on my laptop, no desk for me. I could never work at a desk, my skin is so sensitive that sitting in certain chairs and my tail bone skin is split and hurting…TMI! For work, I cocoon myself in pillows in my comfy place and have my laptop on a plastic board on my lap…

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I don’t take any meds stronger right now than heart burn medication, but I have nonetheless been having some weird dreams and I’ve no idea what accounts for them. The other night I dreamed four teeth fell out while Delta Burke from the old show “Designing Women” was chasing me and boy did she have an evil look in her eyes. (( I like Delta!! )) Then the next night I dreamed I kept glimpsing a red ghost. You know the little girl with the umbrella on the Morton salt container? Well, she was red in my dream, a definite silhouette of her and her umbrella and she was running around scaring me, materializing and then running away. These dreams were more terrifying at the time, than they seem to me now in retrospect!

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So…..It is a goal of mine to reorganize and energize my living space, because overall I am very excited about my future, trips abroad being planned, and events in line that are good for my soul. One of the things I did was to put some of my collage/puzzle piece “paintings” on my bedroom shelf. Why not? I rarely display my own art. I removed the bubble wrap and put some on the shelf and now I see them every day. Seeing them every day, I realize now what they “meant” when I created them. Isn’t that funny? Sure, I had a ‘sense’ what they ‘meant,’ but it’s clearer now.

These were some of my earliest collage creations and although art is always my therapeutic outlet, I didn’t realize at the time, what I was ‘working out’ in my head. I apologize for the bad quality of these photos.

Here they are: (The colors are more vibrant in person).

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Note the dark-haired middle aged woman with her hand in her hair, exasperated? She’s barely noticeable in the bottom right corner. The middle aged woman in the bottom corner is exasperated, see her hand in her hair? She knows old age is looming over her and it is going to happen. She is consumed by the thought and is not ‘being’ in her reality of middle age.

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You barely notice this, but in this artwork, there is the bottom half of a young child standing on this youthful woman’s back. See her dark green dress, flesh colored legs and black shoes?

When I was making these, it was a reminder to self to be in the moment. The young woman here, lying down is in the prime of her life. Her expression does not appreciate that. She is consumed with the primary colors of carefree youth bearing down on her and the weight of this child, of who she was, standing literally on her back. I think what strikes me is that the youthful woman and the middle aged woman are so consumed with the past (the child standing on her back) and consumed with the future (the old woman looming over her) that they are not in the moment BEING right where they are. I’m planning an “old age” collage that truly depicts what I’ve learned here-

a woman happy just Where. She. Is.

Einstein compared life to a bicycle-

Stay balanced and keep moving forward.

I think it’s silly, all these idioms- I mean ”life” can be like a ceiling too (sometimes you’re painted into a corner but you’ve got to remember you play an important role-sheltering everyone from the elements). Life can be compared to anything, it is truly connected to all we do-with lessons all around if we look and think. Life is like ________? Here a couple examples:

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From those two random idioms, See what I mean? I think back to when my late husband was dying and he was afraid. He asked my older son to kill him, pills or something, anything. My son ignored him and just kept walking through the room. I know it’s hard to be present but in the end my husband was present, in the moment, it was the BEST choice. Focusing on his end (the future) or his past (The person he was before being paralyzed) he had to be in a mindset of “right now is what is mattering”, and he stuck it got to see enjoy his Red Sox win that year. Small things.

I want to finish out this weird blog post by saying that if you’ve got a young neurodiverse artist in your midst, encourage them to draw, paint, or sketch a woman in history past or present who inspires them. I for one look forward to seeing what the children come up with!

In honor of Women’s History Month, Art of Autism is having a contest and there are SEVERAL prizes of art supplies, and since the deadline is approaching, send me something soon! I do love love love children’s art and the chance for winning a prize is high. All submissions will be on Art of Autism online throughout the month of March, so March forward! Contact me with submissions, as I said, I really look forward to seeing them. PODSartofautism@gmail.com

Before I forget, I just started reading Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, which must’ve fallen under my radar. Not sure how to feel about it. To anyone who’s read it, without giving up spoilers….thoughts to share about your experience with the book?

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Kim’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Under-Banana-Moon-Living-Aspergers/dp/150572886X

Bella Blankets: http://blog.beekley.com/bella-blankets-and-tissue-acquisition-in-mammography

Skin tears and mammography: http://blog.beekley.com/skin-tears-in-mammography-happen%E2%80%A6but-do-they-have-to

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