Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Numbers eight and nine

8. Looking After Your Autistic Self  by Niamh Garvey

9. Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults by Luke Beardon

Sunday, February 18, 2024


So, I have had a long dearth of reading for several years now. I've skimmed books, even maybe finished a few, but nothing impressive. I find my attention has been very short--probably a consequence of my ADHD and scrolling through the internet. So this year, I've decided I want to get into it again, as I have been a librarian who no longer reads. On Goodreads, I've joined the 2024 Reading Challenge in an attempt to read more. I set a reasonable goal, of 36 books, to try for.

I am happy to report I'm ahead of schedule, having read seven books so far this year. They're all non-fiction (I'm going to shoot for both fiction and non-fiction, print/e-books, and audiobooks. We'll see how it goes.)

Here's what I have read so far:

  1. Shoulder Treatment: Guide To Recover From Shoulder Surgery: Typical Shoulder Surgery Recovery Timeline by Jaime Knecht
  2. An Adult with an Autism Diagnosis: A Guide for the Newly Diagnosed by Gillan Drew
  3. Very Late Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome by Philip Wylie
  4. The Shoulder Patients' Handbook: The Rotator Cuff Tear Guide by Paul B. Roache
  5. How to Recover from Shoulder Surgery: Safe, Effective Recovery: A Physiotherapist Shares 40 Years Experience Rehabilitating Shoulders by Bruce Paulik
  6. The Ultimate Guide for Shoulder Surgery Recovery: Your Complete Guide to Recovery, Tips, Strategies, Diet and Essential Must-haves to Speed Up Shoulder Surgery Recovery Time by Morgan Gray
  7. Shoulder Surgery Recovery: Over 100 Tips and Strategies to Make it Much Easier by Anne Talmage Cooksey
Currently reading:
  1. Looking After Your Autistic Self  by Niamh Garvey
  2. Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults by Luke Beardon
  3. Pandora's Jar: Women in the Greek Myths by Natalie Haynes
  4. Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna (audiobook) by Edith Sheffer
  5. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Thursday, February 15, 2024

This explains so much

So recently someone I know had me read an article he'd been looking at due to a friend we have in common who has high-functioning autism, formerly called Asperger's Syndrome, He'd originally wanted to understand the friend better, but when he read the article, and the symptoms, he decided it might be good for me to read, too, without his comments or indications, but just to read. I didn't really know much about autism, or Asperger's, but once I read the article it was clear that there was a chance it applied to me, which was a surprise. I did seek to be assessed, but the one centre that diagnoses in the area has a five-year waiting list and gives priority to students of that university (Eastern State University, in a nearby city). The two universities in our city do not appear to do this. They did suggest local resources, but the only therapist on it that did assessements charges a lot of money and I just didn't care for the vibe of her website.

I reached out to a Facebook on neurodivergency and was pointed to a website called Embrace Autism, run by a psychologist and another person who is an autist, which contains the same validated tests used to diagnose. The website has the scoring built in, and while it does not provide an official diagnosis by any means, I took six of the tests, five of which are validated by research and are used professionally, and I came out as autistic on all of them, which kind of surprised me, and one, on emotional quotient, indicated much less awareness of appropriate emotions and empathy than I expected. One of the tests asks questions regarding your childhood vs. now, and it was stronger as a child but still clearly within the area of being autistic as an adult. I am pretty highly functional by the test results, and before the diagnosis of Asperger's went away to be included as part of Autism Spectrum Disorder, I would have been considered a person with it. I am more functional than our friend, for example. But this explains a lot of the issues I had a s a child, and one of the tests measured masking and assimilation as an adult in trying to seem more 'normal'.

So I've been reading a couple of books on self-care for those with autism. And I recognise several aspects of the MRI issues today to be directly related to sensory integration problems (found in autism, though it can be a separate issue as well).

In addition to the tests, the website has a lot of resources for people who want to learn about autism or who have it. I'd really recommend it. And the main book I'm reading right now is Looking After Your Autistic Self: A Personalised Self-Care Approach to Managing Your Sensory and Emotional Wellbeing by Niamh Garvey (ISBN-13: 978-1839975608).

Anyway, for what's it worth, it does really make a lot of my life more understandable, and it would explain a lot of my sensory integration and anxiety issues. I just wish I could get assessed officially.

I don't like MRIs, and this is why

 Today it took everything I could to finish my annual liver MRI/Elastography. [My mom died of non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver/fatty liver disease, and I have a fairly mild case of the same disease that we're monitoring and trying to improve.] I'd gotten a Valium to take a little before it to take the edge off of my anxiety because I'm claustrophobic. Because of that, I took the bus to UK rather than drive, since I couldn't drive back. Usually, I'd ask someone for a ride, but I'd asked them if I could go home by bus instead, and they said that would probably be okay.

I meant to wake up early, take a shower, and go in without too much trouble. I overslept, giving me twenty minutes to throw clothes on and brush my teeth in order to catch the bus. I couldn't even put my contacts in, which is okay because when I'm in an MRI machine I don't want to see it, and while I usually close my eyes, a fuzzy machine is better than a clear one. I didn't take my anxiety or allergy medicine, which became an issue. By the time I got there on the bus, my mouth was so dry I could barely talk because I couldn't have any liquid or food for four hours prior.

I got taken back to get into the gown and  I did have to get other patients to help me tie and untie the gown since I can't raise my arm or put it back without pain, and the tech had left me to undress and later, dress.

But then it came time to do the test. The techs were so good. I told them about my injury and they positioned me so that I'd be comfortable on that side, or at least as much as possible. I never felt any different from the Valium I'd taken as directed before. I'd had an MRI last month on another part of the body and there was a sort of floating-head sort of thing that lasted just long enough to get through the test. This time, nothing. To get the abdomen, you have to go really far into the machine, as the centre of the body has to be in the middle of the machine. I've been stuffy the last few days (no Covid, but a really light cold) and I'd woken up with no congestion, so I thought I'd pretty much gotten over it.

If you've never had an abdominal MRI focusing on the liver, a voice tells you when to breathe normally and when you should exhale and inhale then hold your breath. I found that in the tight space, lying down, my congestion built up and I could barely breathe through my nose. By the end, I was having to breathe through my mouth only and barely kept from hyperventilating. They have changed the protocol so the test is much longer. I wound up counting numbers to distract me and get through it.  You particularly need to hold your breath when the paddle hits against your abdomen for the elastography, which measures the pliancy of the liver. It got harder and harder to do, and the period of holding my breath was about at my limit with the breathing issues.

They asked me how I was doing because I think they knew I was breathing hard (I coughed at one point) and I asked how much time we had left, and it was about five minutes, some of the longest minutes I've experienced. By that time, I was in a state of moderate panic, although I did finish it. I'd arrived at 8:30 AM, probably started the test about 9 AM or shortly thereafter, and got out at 10:40. I immediately bought some water and then realised I had to get down from Chandler to Kentucky Clinic for my follow up in just a few minutes. When I'd made the appointment a year ago, they'd been on different days, but they had to change the appointment a couple of months ago and had put it on the same day. I'd been dubious that the results would be read in time, and that was true.  My time with the PA was spent talking about my health in general, but she'll have to get the results to me later through the portal. We will change to another drug next year. I then had to go back to Chandler on the shuttle to get my insulin from the pharmacy, then caught the city bus to the transit centre. I brought some paperwork my PCP had signed to allow me to get a disability ID so I'd pay less for bus passes and fares, since I'm coming up on a time when I can't drive and will have to go into work on the bus for four weeks. So I got the ID and pass and then caught the bus home.

By the time I got home I was exhausted by the noise, the lights, the people, and all the other stimuli on the bus, at the hospital and clinic, and mostly the MRI. I came home, changed clothes, and immediately went to bed with some soft music on, and slept for three hours before venturing out of my room.

I am so glad this is a once-a-year thing, and that I took off from work due to taking the Valium. But it was a difficult day. :(

[Update: I got the results through UK's portal. The images were fine, but the elastography did not give usable information. So the whole thing was a wash. :( The physician assistant gave me three options:

  1. Repeat the MRI/Elastography in a year.
  2. Repeat the Elastography itself 
  3. Take a biopsy of the liver to see the amount of fibrosis.

I decided on the first. I'm not sure how the elastography without MRI works. I've had an ultrasound elastography and it had me in a much worse condition, giving erroneous results. And as far as the biopsy...no.]