Tuesday, April 20, 2010


"Cut's like a Knife..."

Wow.  I'm an idiot.

What happens when a fresh new blade'd utility knife meets the soft skin of hand?

Around 5:30 pm this afternoon I picked up my mail.  In my mail I finally received the last part I need to complete my bike for the season.  It's a coil and key relocation bracket.  It moves the coil and key to the left side of the bike.  Along with the bracket assembly I also needed to do a wire tuck.  This means moving all the wiring from under my frame to the bottom of my tank.  I first removed my tank, freshly painted, off my bike and set it away from the bike on a piece of carpet in my garage.  I then needed to take off a plastic housing bracket that holds all the existing wiring and wiring harness.  This plastic housing is attached to the bike with a few bolts and many tight zip ties.  The bolts came off very easy.  The zip ties however, were a battle.  I couldn't get a wire cutter or a set of pliers threw the zip ties because they were so tight.  So I thought..and I thought...and I decided I would try a utility knife.  It worked perfectly.  I cut about 19 zip ties rather easily, then came the final zip tie.  This final zip tie was the the one that was holding the housing on.  Once I get through this one then I'm golden and then I can get the wire tuck done and I can get the new brackets assembled.

I managed to saw through the final zip tie, and I also managed to slice the left side of my hand wide open as well.  It felt like I just nicked my hand, when I looked down it looked look I just unzipped a red hoodie. I was in complete shock and I was leaking everywhere.  Amazingly I didn't get a drop of blood on my bike.  I immediately grabbed my hand a pinched my cut with some pressure.  I ran to the door, which was shut and started kicking it, trying to get Kristin's attention.  I didn't want to let go of my hand because I was afraid that I would bleed even worse.  Kristin eventually heard me and we rushed off to the emergency.

I ran into the ER and a few guys in line let me go straight to the nurse.  I forget the nurse's name, I apologize, I know you're reading this and I want to thank-you again for your help.  She wrapped me up and led me to one of the rooms where Dr. Buck took over.  What a gem.  Besides the needle's he pierced me with, he was very gentle and he didn't make me cry.  I wanted to take some pic's but I realized that I didn't have my phone on me.  Who doesn't want a pic of a cool cut?  Dr. Buck got up for a second and I realized he had an Iphone on him, I asked if it was okay for him to take a few different pics as he worked on it.  He was more then happy to do so, I think he was even gonna send a few to his brother to have a look.  After the pics and the stitching I was off and back home in a few hours.  I was expecting to wait all night to get in but they told me I was the most action they had seen in a few days.  I was very relieved that they got me in as quick as they did.  Thanks again to Dr. Buck and the nurse.

Even with one hand I got some pics.

Here's the best part:

The weapon.

Fresh new Blade.

The mess I made while kicking the door.

Bloody Nixon.

 The plastic housing w/zip ties that I was cutting.

Bloody Mess.

All cleaned up.

'Zip tied'

Cup holders?

Motor-sickle season has finally arrived.  We usually stop for beers after the ride...but there's always options to carry one within arms reach...

Not for me...

I don't mind the 'D' cup holders though...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ride to the 'Dip

The weather has finally improved in the Southern Alberta area to get out and ride.  I met up with my buddy Cody and his Dad John Schooten, along with our local HD mechanic Eric and two of his buddies.  Cody rides an '09 Softail Rocker and his Dad John rides a Heritage Softail.  Eric just recently purchased a brand new Road King that you can hear for miles.  It's a very nice bike and is a good change from his last bike, a Nightrod.  Must be tough working at the local HD shop...they all get a new bike each year.  The other two guys we were with rode an '09 Night Train and another Heritage Softail.

It was beautiful day, no wind and lots of sunshine.  We made a stop out in Picture Butte, AB at the local ice cream shop, 'The Frosty Dip'.  After the night I had on Saturday, I was happy to stop for ice cream rather then for beers.

We continued on Hwy 25 North towards Iron Springs then headed South on the 845 towards Coaldale.  It was nice to see all the power lines all back up after the storm we had last week.  I know that some of the people in the Iron Springs and Turin area just got power back today.  Funny how in a matter of days we went from 2 feet of snow and freezing temps to +20 degrees celsius and sunshine.  Only in Southern Alberta.  Once we arrived in Coaldale we took the jail road west back into Lethbridge.  The day ended at a pub with a few beers.  It was a great day and I'm hoping next weekend brings us the same weather.

These Seizures Are Going To Give Me A Stroke

Reiss creating a masterpiece for "Make Your Own Pizza Night" this past Friday evening....

Because I am a slacker blogger and have not bothered to write anything in nearly two weeks, "Which seizures?" you might ask.

Well, there was the seizure Reiss had last June that we thought certain was triggered by an antibiotic he was on at the time. Long story...He had started an antibiotic, had a seizure within twenty-four hours of the first dose, so we ceased the dosing and began looking around online for information regarding the antibiotic. Come to find out - and this was confirmed by a real live doc, not just online information - that particular antibiotic has a high seizure incident rate in the general population.

For those who are not aware, autistic children have a thirty percent (actually, I've seen varying estimates on this but for the sake of this post, I'll go with the percentage I've seen most often) higher chance of having a first-time seizure than a typical child. So why, oh why, would a doctor prescribe a medication that already has a high seizure rate in neurotypical people to a child with autism?

That is not what this post is about though, so I will go ahead and move on now. Oh wait, no, I won't. Not before mentioning that we no longer see that doctor.

And then there was the second seizure. Fast forward to this past Monday and Reiss had another seizure. This one did not come on nearly as quickly as the first one. With the first one, Reiss went from zoning out to being unconscious in a matter of ten minutes or less. With this one, he began zoning out and it was so mild that I wasn't even certain he was having a seizure. Many of his symptoms - strange noises with his tongue (only in the beginning), belly gurgling, eyes and head going off to one side, limp body - were the same both times, but the duration of the individual seizures varied greatly. This seizure went on for around forty-five minutes before our doctor ordered us to administer the anti-seizure medication.

Through all of this particular seizure, I was particularly calm to a point that it even surprised me. So the title of this blog post isn't entirely accurate but who knows maybe I was frantic on the inside.....I did catch my hand shaking at one point, but otherwise, I think my unconscious mind was sending messages to my conscious mind telling it to keep things in order.

Reiss's first seizure meant a trip to the hospital and an overnight stay. After first arriving at the hospital and a little ways into the hospital staff treating Reiss with Valium, an antibiotic, and something else that I cannot recall at the moment, James and I got treated to an interesting interaction between two of the hospital employees. They were arguing over the correct dosage amount and one was accusing the other of administering too high a dosage.

Um...hello???? Our son is convulsing on the table (which, by the way, he only began doing after they began pumping him full of God knows what) and I am sitting there a crying, blithering idiot mess of a mom. Do you really think arguing over the dose amount is something you should do in front of a parent who thinks their child may die right in front of their very eyes?? And to give said parent more fuel for the fire of her insanity in that maybe you aided in her child's death by overdosing?

Obviously, Reiss did not die but one can see where I would hesitate to take him to the hospital in the event another seizure should occur, which it did, or I would not be writing this right now. Needless to say, I was a bit reluctant to call an ambulance this time.

And guess what???

Reiss took almost two days to fully recover from his seizure and all the medications he was pumped full of last time during his care with "professionals."

His recovery time for this seizure?

Two hours. Two hours after I injected the Diastat suppository in him, Reiss was up and running around - more actively than I would have preferred, as a matter of fact. Monday evening, he seemed a little tired but Tuesday morning he was back to his usual hundred-miles-a-minute self.

I know some people will call it a coincidence that Reiss recovered so much more quickly with this seizure and they can be wrong if they want to be are welcome to their opinions. However, I truly believe Reiss recovered so soon afterward because he did not receive all the medications this time that he did last June.

It is times like these that I actually wish my family's life could be under a little microscope for doctors to observe. To see that more medications do not necessarily mean better medical care. That the body can help itself with less intervention. But that won't happen as long as there are pharmaceutical reps making themselves permanent fixtures in doctors' waiting rooms and......

Blah, blah, blah....I'm officially rambling and the pharmaceutical argument is not one I plan to revisit today.

Reiss is fine. All week long, he has played just like nothing extraordinarily out-of-the-ordinary happened earlier this week. He is back to challenging James and me when we tell him to do something and seeing what he can get away with and bossing Milla around and arguing with her and taking toys from her and crying when she instigates something herself. He made it through one full week this week with no #2 accidents in his pants. Yesterday, we visited a bounce place as a reward. He helped make pancakes yesterday on Pancake Saturday, just as he has done every single Saturday for almost four years now. This afternoon, as I did make-ahead prep work of cutting veggies and mixing sauce ingredients for our dinner, Reiss made certain I was aware - by telling me no less than thirty times - that he does not like Orange Chicken (that he apparently has forgotten that he eats the heck out of every single time we have it for dinner). As I write this, Reiss is "helping" change flood lights outside by holding the ladder for James. Hopefully, "holding the ladder" does not mean tipping the ladder and a dreaded visit to the hospital.

Yes, things are back to normal. Life is good.............

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Snowed in...

A Spring storm hit us hard here in Lethbridge. This might be the first time that I've ever cut my lawn and shoveled my driveway in the same week.  It's supposed to be warm and sunny and floody by the weekend - I hope I can get out on the bike soon...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

White Coke Bottle Grips

I finally got my throttle sleeve that I ordered from Joker Machine in the mail yesterday.  I've had some white grips sitting around for over a year now and I've always wanted to put them on, even before I decided to go with the green and white colors.  The grips cost me about $20 and the throttle sleeve was $40.  It wasn't an expensive add-on at all and it was a very easy job to do.  I had some troubles with the throttle cables but once I loosened them up they popped right in the new sleeve assembly.  After slidding the grips on I realized that they are very soft and will most likely wear very easy - so I've already ordered another pair, and I'm sure I'll be replacing them sometimes in July. 

I'm still waiting on a coil and key relocation bracket.  Once I get that I can then do my wire tuck and clean up the wire housing and cables that sit underneath the front part of my tank directly over the front of the engine.  Other then that it's ready to ride for the Summer - we just need this fackin' wind to relax a bit.

These pics were taken with my Crackberry, my batteries on my Nikon died on me and I couldnt wait to post some pics...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kicking Myself

While we are enjoying the results and benefits of the last three weeks of Reiss receiving ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy, at the same time, I am kicking myself every day for having not fought more intensely for him to receive such therapy since learning about it more than a year ago.

When I first discovered ABA therapy, I did what I now look back on and think of as a very casual, half-hearted effort to seek ABA therapy as part of our treatment plan for Reiss' autism. After coming up with basically no resources for ABA in our area, I gave up. A few months later, once again, something apparently sparked my interest in seeking out ABA services for Reiss but the only results I came up with at that time were Lovaas and ABA centers that are a one-hour one-way trip from our home.

I didn't want the hassle of being responsible for submitting our own insurance claims that came with Lovaas services and driving a one-hour drive to a center and sitting for four to eight hours while Reiss received therapy was simply out of the question. Laziness has nothing to do with my reluctance to file our own insurance claims. No, my hesitancy stems more from past experiences with insurance companies and how they frequently try to pass the financial responsibility on to the consumer rather than own up to their entire purpose for providing insurance - paying the claims.

Making a one-hour drive to a center was not even something I would have considered doing. It's not that I would not do just about anything to improve Reiss's autism symptoms, but rather, many factors combined to make considering such a trek on a daily basis totally unfeasible. First, I also have Milla to think about. Making such a trek daily when she was barely a year old would have been like packing up our lives every single day so that we could go and sit all day in the parents' area of the center waiting for Reiss to come out. How would that even be fair to a one-year-old? And that's not even considering the factor of inconvenience. Second, Indiana is not the greatest place to be during the winter months. It's not unusual for what is usually a five- or ten-minute drive during warmer months to transform into an hour-long expedition out into the tundra during the winter months. So imagine what an hour-long drive under normal driving conditions translates to in blizzard-like conditions. Not fun. Not to mention, stressful, and somewhat dangerous.

During all this, there was also the question of "How in the world are we going to pay for this?" When your child receives an autism diagnosis, no one hands you a nice little manual on how to proceed after you leave the doctor's office. Most of this stuff you learn by trial and error, talking to other parents of autistic children that you meet along this journey, and by spending countless hours doing your own homework - and God knows that's necessary since no doctor out there is losing sleep over my child or spending his time advocating for him.

Anyway, so it's no surprise that I learned about ABA and then went for months wondering how all the families in these success stories I was reading about could afford ABA for their child(ren). No one ever bothered to mention anything to me about autism mandates or the fact that - regardless of my loathing Indiana winters - my family lives in quite possibly one of the best states in the United States when it comes to having a child with autism and the mandate that entitles my child to insurance coverage for autism treatments.

Depending on the source one consults, a full-time ABA program for a child can cost upwards to $100,000 per year. Yes, that's per year - approximately two times the total median individual (as opposed to a family) income for a resident of the United States and approximately three times the annual cap of $36,000 that many states provide for in their own autism mandates. Luckily, as I later found out, Indiana is not only lucky enough to have an autism mandate, but we also currently do not have any dollar amount caps on the benefits a child can receive annually. At $100K per year (and that's quite a lot more than the average I am finding), or even $36,000 per year for autism treatments alone, it begs the question of why the insurance companies themselves are not calling on politicians to demand funding for further research into autism and its causes....but that's a whole 'nother rant.

It wasn't until early this year when I declared myself to be on a renewed mission of seeking out the best possible routes of treatment for Reiss that I really began paying attention to what the autism mandate meant for us. When I researched it further and learned that basically the mandate states our insurance plan cannot deny ABA services to Reiss, it was like we had won a small victory that I had never really fought very hard to achieve. It was a victory, nonetheless, and when the former director of one of the centers I had previously contacted gave me a call to tell me she and her husband were opening a center on our side of town, I was ecstatic. Little did she know that in the following days the introductions she made possible between myself and another former employee of the same center where she was employed would result in our family getting started with ABA by means of an in-home program, much sooner than her own center was opened.

Do I feel guilty for facilitating Reiss's in-home ABA program with a different individual than the person who was trying to get us onboard as clients in their own facility? No, not really because we may still end up sending Reiss to the center once it opens so that he can continue having social interactions on a regular basis.

Long story long, that is how we arrived where we are today. Reiss is doing an in-home ABA program for around 22 hours per week and we are in Week 4. After school is out for the summer, Reiss will bump up to forty hours per week. If you are not familiar with ABA, this probably sounds like a grueling schedule to keep, especially for a child who isn't even five years old. However, ABA therapy is very play-oriented in its teaching techniques. Reiss generally runs three to five "programs" and then gets a free period in which he can choose the activity he wishes to do for the duration of his break until the next set of programs.

The results we have seen so far are amazing.

We are experiencing many less tantrums.

Now, unlike before ABA, Reiss sometimes gets water or something on his shirt and there is no meltdown. Sometimes, in these instances, my husband and I find ourselves looking at one another while both of us are thinking, "Okay, where is the tantrum? Is it coming and is just delayed?" But it never comes and we are shocked and amazed.

Car rides are actually enjoyable - something I have never - post children -been able to say prior to now. Reiss and Milla sit. And they are often quiet. No screaming. No stressing me out to a point where a three minute car ride is like enduring a non-medicated root canal. And at the risk of jinxing myself, I will even go so far to say they often watch DVD's while in the car, as in, they actually pay attention to them.

And discipline....oh, where do I begin? Prior to ABA, nothing and I really mean nothing has ever proven effective with Reiss for any given amount of time. Timeouts were the worst. Sending him to his room was like a reward. Reward systems meant nothing to him. Positive reinforcement was like a permission slip to follow his good deeds with an undesirable behavior. If parents of typical children thinks it's difficult trying to discipline a child, they have no clue what it's like for many parents of autistic children. These children simply think and process things differently - and that's not my opinion, it's a fact.

Reiss is writing and drawing and - I don't even know how to word this to give it the magnitude it deserves - recognizing written words. I would venture to say he is reading. Reading by rote memory recognition of words used repeatedly in visuals with his ABA programs, but reading, all the same.

The most amazing thing though, is that Reiss is actually initiating conversations - no, wait, I mean meaningful conversations with people. He is asking people their names, their middle names, last names, birth dates. Before ABA, Reiss barely noticed the existence of other people around him, much less engage in conversational speech with them.

With ABA, I feel like we have our sanity back. Literally.

Finally arriving where we have has been quite a lesson in researching our options and digging for that information that no one is going to spoon-feed us. The whole process has left me wondering why we didn't get ABA for Reiss much sooner - at any cost or inconvenience or whatever. But I know the answer to that - I just didn't put up enough of a fight.

And while the ABA is costing us an arm and a leg, even with insurance coverage, that sanity isn't something one can put a pricetag on.

I can just see the commercial for ABA....

Autism: Your child's ability to develop "normally" out the window.
Effects autism has on a family: Feelings of isolation and lack of others who understand and can relate.
Treatments for autism: More money than any average person makes in a year.
ABA: Too darn much.
Getting one's sanity back after ABA: Priceless.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are you wearing BLUE today?

If you are wearing blue today, your choice of attire may have been determined by one of a few things:
  1. You are a basketball fan and are rooting for one of your favorite teams in the NCAA Final Four by wearing their colors.
  2. You work at Best Buy and your "choice" was not a choice at all for you.
  3. You are a smurf, and again, have no choice but to wear blue.
  4. It is the color that popped out and said "Wear me!" this morning when you dragged yourself into the closet from the shower.
  5. You are wearing blue for World Autism Awareness Day.
Or, possibly, you are simply wearing blue for another reason. Even if you are not wearing blue, I'd like to bring to the attention of anyone reading who is not already aware that April is Autism Awareness Month and today, April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. In honor of today, many people are wearing blue, although, I have also heard of wearing purple on this day as well.

If you read this blog very often at all or if you know me, you know Autism Speaks is not at the top of my list of favorite charities doing work for autism and if you know me even better, you know why that is the case. But having said that, I would like to share a site sponsored by Autism Speaks called Light It Up Blue. Check it out - I think you will agree, the photos are spectacular and some are downright inspiring, even if many of the goals of Autism Speaks are different than my own.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Biltwell Spring Seat

Biltwell does more then just helmets...

Along with my struts and all my helmets, I can now add the seat to my biltwell collection.

I added some bigger 4" springs under the seat as well.  It rides like a Caddy...

I also exchanged my black RSD fork brace with my buddy DJ for a chrome one.  DJ rides an Harley Iron and the black brace looked better on his bike.  The chrome adds a nice contrast on my bike.