Between War and Peace

The stories we hear
Of war and peace
May cause us concern
Or relief
And yet
Reality
Is most often
Something inbetween


When orienting at the prospective new care home last Wednesday, a resident started talking unquietly about the war in Ukraine. She was quickly calmed by a staff, in as simple words as possible, suited to her intellectual capabilities.

That night, I heard an airplane or a helicopter fly by very low over my current home. I thought, perhaps influenced by the woman in the other home, that it was a jet fighter. “Are we going to war now?”, I asked the night staff when she responded to my call button. She put my mind at peace, saying someone had probably booked a night-time helicopter flight over Raalte. I took her story at face value and went to sleep.

The next morning, I found out that both of our stories are probably equally unlikely and reality was something inbetween: the helicopter had been called in a medical emergency to resuscitate a baby. Thankfully, the baby survived.


This post was written for Friday Writings, for which the optional theme this week is war and peace.

A Few Pretty Intense Days

Hi everyone. It’s been a few days since I wrote on my blog and I didn’t even check my feed reader yesterday at all. The last few days have been rather intense emotionally.

First, on Sunday, my husband picked me up at 8:30AM to drive to my sister and her family, who live across the country. Little Wolke, my baby niece, was, well, a baby. She didn’t really interact at all. Neither at first did Janneke, my older niece, who will be three in September. My sister did explain that “auntie Astrid’s eyes don’t work” so that’s why I can’t look at her, but she was still shy. Once my sister had taken the polymer clay bear I’d created for Janneke and let her undo the wrapping, she was a little more engaging. I did feel bad that, when she said the bear wanted a kiss, I told her not to (since I keep hearing mixed things about the safety of polymer clay in this respect). I did worry for a while that maybe Janneke was a bit too young for the bear, but my sister said she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore and my husband said she has to learn.

My brother-in-law kept my husband occupied with the same old stories and jokes he tells each time we see each other. Meanwhile, Janneke warmed up to me and started inviting me in to her play. Janneke had hip dysplasia, for which she needed surgery last September. She still remembers in a way or so I think, as all her dolls needed to go to the doctor and get fitted with a cast (or have the cast sawn off).

At one point, my sister did start talking about needing to get rid of her pregnancy pounds. I felt a little uncomfortable about that, as she’s quite thin and I am still overweight. Then she started telling me about her career plans.

Overall, I did notice that my sister only talked about herself (and her kids). This is okay with me, but it does remind me of my parents often telling professionals that I am only able to talk about myself. It makes me feel as though the reason I’m not allowed to talk about myself is not that it’s about myself, but the fact that I don’t live a “normal” life. In other words, the contents of what I tell my parents makes them uncomfortable more so than the fact that it’s about me. Either that or my sister is somehow a lot more reciprocal with my parents than with me.

I do think I like Janneke after all though. Last time I saw her was at my birthday almost a year ago. My sister prompted her to give me her present, but she said: “No auntie Astrid not nice.” I felt that was both cute and a tiny bit upsetting.

Thankfully, my husband was able to drop me off in Raalte again in the afternoon. I arrived here with half an hour to spare before we’d eat dinner, which was Chinese takeout.

Then yesterday, which was a bank holiday, I spent most of the morning in bed, because a temp worker was assigned my one-on-one shift and the two most recently employed staff, neither of whom I know well, were working the regular shift. The temp worker tried to get me to go out of bed at first, but she had no idea about the activities I normally do during the day and I didn’t have the energy to explain them to her. Overall, I felt really powerless and like I’d rather not have someone there at all. Thankfully, today we’re more or less back to normal.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 4, 2022)

Hi everyone on this warm but windy Saturday afternoon. It’s been a while since I joined #WeekendCoffeeShare, so I thought I’d participate once again. I’ve just had my afternoon coffee, but the other clients are still having theirs, so grab a cuppa if you want. I also have a delicious loose-leaf herbal tea that I swapped with my assigned staff for the lemon and mint flavored green tea that came in a box I’d acquired back in February when I had COVID. After all, back then the staff had taken the entire box to my room and only then realized that because of the risk of contamination, she couldn’t take it back to the kitchen. It contained four varieties of green tea: plain, lemon, orange and mint. I like plain and sometimes orange only, so now that I trust the box isn’t laden with viruses anymore, I gave the other two varieties to my staff. Anyway, the herbal tea contains cinnamon, lavender and I don’t know what else, but it’s truly lovely. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that this week was rather intense emotionally. On Monday, we welcomed a new resident to my care home. She’s quiet and doesn’t seem to need a lot of care, but the fact that she can walk independently and yet does have a profound intellectual disability, does create some of its own risks.

The door to the home now needs to be locked for her safety. She can’t work keys, so the key remains in the lock during the day for me to open it. (At night, it’s been out for years already for my safety.) This does create some inner turmoil in me, both because of the lack of clarity (either the door is locked or it is not, in my mind) and because of my feelings about the presumption of competence for me. I mean, I am an elopement risk too and some recent events in which I’ve been quite a possible danger to myself while running away, do make me feel weird. On the other hand, I really don’t want to go back to my time on the locked psych unit.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that, on Wednesday, my assigned home staff captured one of my child alters on video while playing with one of the new resident’s sensory toys. She later asked my permission to forward the video to the other staff and the behavior specialist. I at first said yes, then felt a little anxious but eventually decided to give my permission after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I did finish all the presents for my sister and nieces on time for my visit to the family tomorrow. Besides the earrings I created for my sister and the mobile for little Wolke (that’s the baby’s name), I created a polymer clay bear for Janneke, my older niece.

Deciding when exactly we wanted to visit, was a bit of a hassle, since I’d forgotten my sister and her children of course need to sleep during the afternoon and I had more or less filled in for my husband that a morning visit wouldn’t be possible because of the long drive. Finally though, we agreed that we’d be at my sister’s by 11AM tomorrow and have lunch there. My husband insisted on picking me up here in Raalte tomorrow. Now that I think of it, I realize that it makes perfect sense, since he, unlike me, is a morning person. Oh well.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I went clothes shopping this morning with my staff. I bought three pants and two shirts and immediately wanted to put most of my old pants in a bag for the charity shop, because they’re way too wide. I didn’t in the end though, because I want to give it some more thought.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d report that I’m now under 69kg, yay! I have now lost exactly 3kg since starting my healthier living journey back in January. Of course, that’s not much, but it’s better to go slow and keep losing than to go fast and then gain all the weight back because you’re tired of the healthy lifestyle after a while.

How have you been?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 25, 2022)

Hi everyone. How is it the last Wednesday of May already? I seriously can’t believe it. Anyway, I’m joining in with the Wednesday HoddgePodge again. Here goes.

1. It’s National Wine Day (May 25)…do you like wine? Red or white? Dry or sweet? Do you have a favorite? Have you ever been to California wine country? Or any other wine region? What’s a dish you make that calls for wine?
I can’t stand wine! One day, when one of our staff was retiring and had a little leaving party at my care home, somehow we had white and red wine (don’t ask me how we got it, as normally we aren’t allowed alcohol in the care home). Some staff convinced me to try a little of the white wine. I took a sip and blurted out: “Ew, this is gross.” Then they gave me the red wine. When I took another sip, I yelled: “Yuck, this is even worse!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to any wine region. Not consciously at least and I don’t care to go there either.

2. What’s something you’ve whined about lately?
The staffing shortage in health care and particularly my care home. Literally half the team left within the past year or so and, this past Monday, the manager informed me that they may need to get temp workers to do my one-on-one shifts too rather than just the general shifts. I know rationally that the manager can’t help the staffing shortage, but emotionally, well, I feel rather overloaded.

3. Last time you were “wined and dined”? Tell us about it.
I honestly can’t remember. My husband and I haven’t been eating out since before COVID, I guess.

4. Three cheers for_____________________.
Care workers, of course. I know the workload is crazy. I can be a pain in the butt at times, but I do appreciate their work.

5. This will be the last Hodgepodge in the month of May. Somehow next Wednesday the calendar rolls into June. Before we go though, sum up your May in twelve words or less.
Eventful, an emotional rollercoaster ride.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been busy with preparations for visiting my sister and her family so I can see my new niece. She was born last Thursday. As regular readers of this blog know, I created a sort of mobile for my baby niece. Here is the picture (I’m holding it in my hand because I had nothing to hang it onto).

I wanted to gift my sister something for her birthday (which was on May 13) too and saw she wanted a membership to a positive parenting website. I am positively surprised (no pun intended) that she’s interested in that approach, as it’s vastly different from our parents’. I didn’t end up buying the membership for her, but hope she does keep this mindset.

I also am happy to share that the handheld drill and drill bits I wanted for drilling holes in my polymer clay pieces for jumprings finally arrived. I had ordered them last Wednesday and the website said handling and shipping would take up to three business days. Apparently they took three business days before they started collecting my order. I need to drill the holes so that I can attach jumprings to pieces in order to make earrings. Since the gift I did buy for my sister, is a pair of earrings, I intend on making her another pair out of polymer clay just for fun.

I also intend on making one more unicorn, because my older niece also deserves a little present when her baby sister and mother both get something.

Gratitude List (May 20, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m feeling all sorts of things today. To focus my attention on the positives, I am doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful my husband and I went barbecueing on Saturday. It was delicious!

2. I am grateful my hearing is still fine. I had a hearing test on Monday and am so happy it showed I can still hear pretty well.

3. I am grateful for clean water. Upon inspection, legionella was found in one of our water pipes. Again, for the second time in a year. I am grateful the cleaning crew was able to destroy the bacterium.

4. I am grateful for an opportunity to go swimming. Because the crew had to come out to clear our waterworks of legionella bacteria, we had to leave the home from 10AM till 4PM Tuesday. The other clients could stay at day activities, but I normally get my day activities in the home. We did set up my computer in an empty room at another home, but I really wanted to be gone. My staff offered to take me swimming. It was great fun!

5. I am grateful for a day in which I walked more than 10K steps. Tuesday was a truly amazing day with respect to physical activity.

6. I am grateful that, after the legionella was destroyed, the home didn’t smell of chlor or whatever they used to clear the waterworks.

7. I am grateful for warm weather. Not today, but the rest of the week, we had daytime temperatures of roughly 25°C.

8. I am grateful my husband’s truck’s trailer got fixed. It had been having problems with its brakes that could’ve led to it catching fire for weeks. Thankfully, each time, my husband stopped driving just in time. Last Wednesday, he texted me that it’s a miracle and the thing had been fixed.

9. I am grateful for crafty inspiration once again. I have truly been loving creating some things in polymer clay again. Unfortunately, because I used the day center’s oven today to try if that’d work better than the large care home one, it burned my project. It was just a small test case though.

10. I am grateful my sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl yesterday. She chose the name I dislike as the baby’s first name and, for the middle name, chose the name I like but spelled in a way I like a little less. I’ll get used to it though.

What are you grateful for?

Not Their Baby Anymore

Tomorrow is my 34th birthday. My parents came for a visit today. My mother, for the first time in so many years, didn’t openly reminisce about the time I was a baby. In fact, she seemed rather relaxed.

I was born three months prematurely. My due date would’ve been September 29, 1986 instead of June 27. Most if not all of my multiple disabilities are the direct result of my premature birth. I mean, it’s controversial to say this about autism, as most people in the autistic community claim it’s purely genetic. I have some genetic risk factors too, in that both my father and paternal grandfather are/were of the broader autistic phenotype. We can never be sure though how much my genetics contributed and how much the brain bleed and subsequent hydrocephalus I suffered did. In any case, my blindness and mild cerebral palsy are both due to my premature birth. My blindness is caused by an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity and my CP is due to the aforementioned brain bleed.

As much as I sometimes seek to discuss my early childhood with my parents, I’m happy neither brought up the topic this year. They were in some rather brutal ways confronted with my current life. After all, due to the COVID-19 measures, I couldn’t be at my husband’s home when they visited. This was one of the first times my parents actually visited me in a care facility. When I was in the psychiatric hospital, either they’d visit me at my student apartment or later at my and my husband’s home. I think there were a few years, probably 2010 and 2011, when I had neither, but they always managed to take me out to some restaurant or something then. They were probably confronted with care facilities a few more times, but not in the past eight or so years.

A fellow resident tried to hug my mother when she came in. She didn’t comment. She did ask at some point whether my fellow clients can talk and I honestly replied that most can’t. When I told her there are clients in other homes I can talk to, she did ask why I didn’t live there then. I just said I didn’t have the right care profile for those homes or there was no available room.

Honestly, I’m totally relieved that my parents didnt’criticize me. I know they don’t agree with my being in a care facility. Still, they probably realized I’m not their little baby anymore.

Written for Fandango’s One-Word Challenge (#FOWC): baby.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 15, 2019)

Hi everyone, how are you? Let’s catch up over a cup of coffee or once again green tea in my case. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was full of ups and some downs, though the downs weren’t as low as I’d expected. As regular readers of this blog know, I will be moving to the care facility in Raalte in eight days. My staff, my husband and I have been doing some preparation in regards to my leaving my current day activities and going to start up in Raalte.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally told my mother I’ll be going to the care facility. I sugarcoated it a little, saying I’d be staying at my care agency in Raalte during the week and going home to my husband on week-ends. As a result, at first she wasn’t sure I’d be actually sleeping at the care facility. After a little “but I thought you were doing so well” and all, she wished me good luck at the place.

I am not 100% sure how to feel about it. In a way, this seemingly supportive attitude contradicts my memories from years before and that is hard to adapt to. However, I’m trying to be grateful for her support. I haven’t talked to my father or sister about it yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my sister gave birth to a baby girl, Janneke Sietske, last Tuesday. She is named Janneke after my sister’s and my grandma who died last year and Sietske after one of my brother-in-law’s grandmothers. Janneke had some health issues early on and we haven’t been able to visit yet. We’re planning on visiting her next week though.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that today, my husband and I made some small banana soaps for the staff at day activities. I’ll give them to them on Friday, when I have my leave-taking party.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my last appoitnment with my nurse practitioner went okay. He has referred me to the mental health agency in Raalte. I haven’t seen the referral letter, but he said he’d written about my trauma but that, for now, here and now work is most appropriate for me. I did try to get it through that ultimately, I do want to process my trauma. I’m not sure that will happen, as most likely I can’t get trauma therapy without at least a C-PTSD diagnosis if not DID/OSDD. Precisely getting my trauma-related issues assessed is a huge trigger for me.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I finally finished The Fault in Our Stars, which I started reading already three weeks ago. I will hopefully be able to finish at least one more book before the end of the month.

What’s been up with you lately?