Oatmeal

Hi readers, how are you? I’ve truly been very active lately. Today I initially didn’t feel that motivated to do much of anything, but I eventually managed to read a good amount. I also walked for 30 minutes, albeit divided between a 10-minute walk together with another client and a 20-minute walk with just the staff. And now I’m looking through my drafts folder to start a blog post for today.

Last week, lots of ideas were floating through my mind. I couldn’t actually follow through on most completely independently, so I discussed some with my day activities staff. I wanted to do a cooking activity again. For some reason, I got thinking about trying out oatmeal recipes. So I went about and googled some simple oatmeal recipes. I cannot seem to find the one I used right now.

What I Used


  • 4 cups almond milk.

  • 2 large bananas.

  • 2 cups oatmeal (it’s just sold as oatmeal here, not rolled oats or anything).

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

  • Tiny pinch of salt (I didn’t think I’d like that, but it was in the recipe).

I had the staff mash the bananas with a fork. Then we threw all ingredients in a saucepan and brought it to a boil. Then turned the heat down and had it cook for a few minutes. I stirred constantly, so that the oats wouldn’t get crusty. After we removed the oatmeal from the stove, we added granola as a topping. That wasn’t in the recipe I used, but I thought I’d like it and we had lots of granola left over anyway.

My sister used to eat oatmeal for breakfast when she was little. I never quite liked it, but this was truly delicious! It was also very filling. I ate it for lunch and didn’t need anything else to feel full.

The staff gave some of the oatmeal without the topping to some clients who normally eat mashed bread porridge and they loved it too.

Next time, I’m going to try to make some overnight oats. I’m not going to let it sit in the fridge for an entire night, but most recipes I checked said two hours is generally enough.

Do you like oatmeal or other porridge?

Gratitude List (May 2, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I did a gratitude post. Right now I’m feeling a little frustrated with the fact that I am blind. I want to participate to the fullest in the social media thing, but it seems images are often required and I can’t do them. Other blind people apparently can, but I can’t. Anyway, to cheer myself up, I’m taking part in Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here’s what I’ve been grateful for lately.

1. The beautiful weather last week. Okay, it’s been raining a lot this week, but last week-end, it was sunny and warm. I loved it!

2. Being able to take regular walks in spite of the bad weather this week. Somehow, my staff and I managed to find time inbetween rainstorms to go for some walks. Yesterday and today, I even took some late evening walks after most of the other clients were in bed.

3. Making plans for more activities I can do with my day activity staff. On Monday, we will be trying out a basic oatmeal recipe with banana. I remember my sister ate oatmeal for breakfast when she was little and I didn’t like it. I hope I like it with the banana added. I’ve also looked into overnight oats recipes. I definitely like that.

4. The orange puff pastry we ate with our coffee for King’s day on Monday.

5. Getting crunchy muesli for breakfast. It took the staff some time before we found the right one, the one with four kinds of nuts and crunchy muesli, not granola. Yes, I’m picky like that.

6. My teddy bear getting washed. I thought it’d gotten a hole in its fur, but it turned out to be just dirty. After I finish this blog post, I’m going to cuddle up with it in my bed.

7. My computer. I’m really enjoying using it. I know, I’ve had it for ten months already, but up till this week almost always chose my phone to do most things on. I’m now actually loving writing this post in good ol’ Notepad.

8. Having finished the #AtoZChallenge. I’m definitely proud of myself for actually getting it all done.

9. Keeping my writing mojo now that the challenge is over with. I don’t know for how long I’ll be motivated to keep writing, but we’ll see.

10. Being more alert in general. Okay, I think I may be a little overalert, but then again that’s a lot better than being tired and depressed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

Weighted Blankets: Sensory Activities for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my 23rd post in the #AtoZChallenge. For the letter W, I choose to write about weighted blankets and other sensory equipment that can help you take good care of you.

I don’t own a wweighted blanket myself. At my old day activities, a staff member made one for use in the sensory room though. It wasn’t ideal, as the weighted compartments wouldn’t stay in place. I loved it though.

I remember clearly how I discovered the good deep pressure can do for me. I was at the first day center I went to after leaving the psych hospital in 2017 and the staff were talking deep pressure as it related to another client. I was at the time already struggling seriously at this day center and at a point where I was looking for another place, but the staff were still trying to be helpful. I asked them whether I could try some weighted products. They handed me a weighted turtoise soft toy. From then on, I’d often have it in my lap during mealtimes and when I was stressed.

Later, once already at my previous day center, I got a weighted unicorn soft toy for Christmas. It was probably originally intended as a door stopper that keeps a door from accidentally banging shut. This one is filled with sand rather than pebbles and it is not wide enough to cover my entire lap. However, it’s cool.

Other sensory products can help with stress relief too. I have a wobbly pad (not sure that’s the correct word) to sit on. I also have a fitness ball that I generally just sit or lie on.

A few months ago, I discovered fidget toys. I think the hype about them a few years ago was exaggerated, but they do help some.

There are tons of other sensory products that can help you calm down or relieve stress. I’m pretty sure I haven’t discovered all that is available.

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 31, 2020) #WDIIA

Okay, I assume Linda intended #WDIIA to be a daily feature and not only did I skip last Wednesday and Thursday, but I skipped the week-end and yesterday too. I’m still making use of the feature while it exists, as though I don’t exactly have to remind myself what day it is each day, a reminder every now and again can’t hurt.

I slept in till 9:15AM this morning. This isn’t unusual for a week-end and my staff said it was okay despite it not being a week-end. After all, day activities are still provided at the home.

I seem to have lost my exercise mojo a bit. Though I did walk three times today, I took “only” 8.5K steps and don’t feel motivated to go on the elliptical to reach the 10K mark. I haven’t been on the elliptical since Saturday. My sister did compliment me on having beat her husband on Fitbit last week though.

At least I haven’t lost my blogging mojo as of yet. Like I said yesterday, I don’t usually schedule posts in advance but I did tomorrow’s post for the #AtoZChallenge. I feel pretty motivated to write.

Someone from the adaptive tech company, or I assume their carrier service, came to collect my Braille display today. It has a few broken cells. I originally intended on waiting for it to be fixed till this COVID-19 crisis is over, but then last week the company sent out an E-mail detailing their continued service during the crisis. They don’t repair tech in the customer’s home anymore, but they still do collect and return. They also provided me with a replacement Braille display while they’re fixing mine. I doubt it can be reliably fixed though, as this was the second time some cells broke and I’ve only had it for nine months.

This evening, the prime minister held another press conference regarding the coronavirus crisis and its management. Schools are out till April 28 at least and the “intelligent” lockdown will remain in effect. This means, I assume, that the day center will remain closed until April 28 at least too. I don’t mind, as I actually rather like it this way. The staff noticed this too and they might find a way for me to retreat into my room if needed once the day center reopens.

How has your day been?

What Day Is It Anyway? (March 23, 2020) #WDIIA

Well, this thing called What Day Is It Anyway? (#WDIIA) is presumably a daily feature during the COVID-19 crisis. However, I won’t promise I’ll make it a daily feature. I’d like to participate when I can though, as I must admit I lose track of the days too.

Today is Monday, March 23. I awoke at 8:29AM according to my Fitbit activity tracker. I got showered, brushed my teeth and got dressed. I then had nice yoghurt with crunchy muesli with nuts for breakfast. I bought it with the staff on Saturday.

Then I went back to my room for a bit, until it was time to have coffee in the living room, which is our day room now that the day center is closed. The day activities staff are still figuring out how to best help all clients in the seven homes that are part of the facility.

I went for two walks during the day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Then after dinner I went on the elliptical. Then finally while prime minister Rutte was delivering a press conference on the COVID-19 situation, I took another long walk. I reached nearly 12000 steps today.

As such, I didn’t hear myself what the prime minister had to say. I later heard on the news that people found gathering in even small groups can be fined up to €400 per person. It’s up to each city’s mayor though to take appropriate safety measures. Shops can (and probably should) have strict limitations on the number of people entering at a time. All events and festivals have been canceled until June 1. The prime minister will give out further details about school closures next week. But the good news is… no complete lockdown for now! Though the prime minister did say that people should really go outside alone if they’re outside at all, I doubt I’ll be fined for taking walks outdoors with just one staff. I hope not at least, as walks are true stress-relievers for me in normal times already and this time is definitely more stressful than normal.

Then again, I’m not sure I’m affected more by this situation than most others, or maybe even less. I am constantly on edge, but that’s my normal. That’s what living life with (C-)PTSD and BPD traits is like everyday. My distress level simply is never at a one and this time is no exception. Though obviously the lack of routine is distressing, I must honestly say it’s really more the usual things that cause me overwhelm.

Gratitude List (March 20, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday and that means the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linkup is open again. I haven’t participated in a while, but in these weird times, we need gratitude more than ever. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for lately.

1. Relatively tasty dinners. Here at the care facility, we get our dinners from a meal delivery company. Last week or the week before, I complained that we got boiled potatoes like four times a week and that I’d like rice, pasta or the like more often. Thankfully they customize the meals for each resident, so it’s not like if I want pasta, everyone gets pasta. I think my assigned staff told the company. In any case, I’ve had pretty varied meals lately. On Saturday, we got tuna macaroni and I loved it!

2. The sensory room. The real one at the day center and the makeshift one at the home. The day center was still open on Monday and Tuesday, so I was able to use the snoezelen® room then. On Thursday, some of the staff created a makeshift sensory room in the currently empty bedroom at our home.

3. Walking. Yay, we’re not in complete lockdown (yet)! I’ve been grateful for walks often before, but in these weird times, I get to appreciate it even more. I managed to get over 9000 steps everyday this week so far except for today (and I’m not going to make it today either).

4. Getting day activities at the home. I was a little scared that, once the day center closed, we’d get no activities at all. Thankfully, that’s not true. I brought some games from the day center to the home with me and we have enough staff to do activities with us.

5. Going on the elliptical. I went on Tuesday, thinking I wouldn’t be able to use it for three weeks after that. However, two staff members transferred the elliptical to the empty room in our home, so that it’s now a combined sensory and gym room. I went on it for like 20 minutes yesterday.

6. Modern technology. I’m so glad this pandemic is happening now that we have the Internet and smartphones and the like. Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to connect to my husband, my family or the wider community at all. I’m so happy this thing does connect us all in a weird kind of way.

7. Meditation. I use an app called Insight Timer on my phone for meditating, but I hadn’t used it in a while. Then I checked it out and saw they have a whole section devoted to overcoming fear in these weird times. I loved listening to some guided meditations.

8. A phone appt with my CPN from mental health. We had a pretty good session. We actually did get started on some cognitive behavior therapy like we were planning on. She’s also going to get me signed up for the eHealth module with the agency.

9. My husband. Yesterday I was suddenly overcome with fear that I’d never see my husband again or that he’d want to divorce me due to our inability to be together in this crisis. My husband reassured me that I won’t lose him. He’s so lovely!

10. My health. I almost forgot that this thing is about a viral disease that takes actual lives. I so far haven’t had symptoms of COVID-19, but I’m confident that when (yes, it’s most likely a “when”) I do get the disease, I’ll survive.

What have you been grateful for lately?

COVID-19 Again

I was rather late dedicating a specific post to COVID-19. As such, you might think that not much has changed. However, then you’d be wrong. I guess our government was late with the infection spread prevention measures too. Then again, we didn’t have cases of the virus here in the Netherlands until some two or three weeks ago I think. I may be mistaken, as I hardly ever watch the news.

As such, I did not hear the prime minister’s two press conferences, one last week Thursday and one on Sunday. I did not hear his address to the public on Monday either. I did not watch the Lower House debate yesterday, in which the public health minister apparently fainted. I wonder how they did the debate, given that gatherings are now prohibited.

I did hear some about the news from my family and staff though. My sister called on Sunday, wanting to catch up. She works in a restaurant, so she’s out of work now. Thankfully, her husband works in an office job, so he can work from home.

My mother called on Monday. My parents are both retired, so they don’t have to worry about unemployment. However, my mother is 64 and my father is 71, so I do worry about their health should they catch the virus.

My husband’s work is still going on for now. He works as a truck driver in what is apparently a vital part of transport.

Like I mentioned on Monday, the day center I go to closed yesterday. The day center staff are now coming out to our homes to provide us with activities. I took some of my stuff from the day center with me to the home on Tuesday. Some staff even transferred my elliptical to the home.

Thankfully here, going outside for walks is not yet prohibited. I hope it won’t ever be. I’ve been going for walks with staff twice to three times a day each day now. I don’t need to worry about not getting my physical exercise for now.

I haven’t been in a grocery store yet since the measures took effect, since my facility orders groceries online. However, my husband said yesterday that the grocery store was completely out of regular bread, but it still carried lots of raisin bread.

I do feel that we live in a rather interesting time. It feels very odd, but in a way it feels comforting knowing that we have the Internet now.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, Merry Monday!

Today is a pretty good day. Of course, I did experience some anxiety while at day activities, but it was manageable. One of the reasons I was anxious was the fact that a new client was supposed to come to our home today. This woman isn’t going to attend my day activities group, but somehow this got me thinking of what if things change at my group and I get less care. Ultimately, the client’s move in was deferred for now for reasons unrelated to me.

I took a walk in the morning. In the afternoon, I went on the elliptical for twenty minutes. I struggle to make myself exercise, but I can tell it’s definitely helping to lift my mood. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my stats on my Fitbit activity tracker. Today, I managed to get 59 active minutes and get 250+ steps an hour for six out of nine hours between 9AM and 6PM. I took a short walk in the evening too.

In the afternoon, I also played a card game similar to Uno with my assigned day activities staff. I won all three games. When my husband and I were in the early stages of getting to know each other, we played this game a lot. Then we forgot about it or did other things. My day activities staff bought a deck of cards for me a few months back and I’ve played games a few times.

I read some Wikipedia entries this evening. Read up on the coronavirus outbreak. The coronavirus in some ways both scares and fascinates me. I mean, I heard there’s at least one confirmed case in the nearby town my husband and I visited on Saturday now. I’m not afraid of getting seriously ill if I catch the virus myself, but all the measures to prevent spreading of the disease do scare me. As far as I know, my care facility doesn’t have a plan on what to do if there’s an outbreak here. I do worry about lots of staff falling ill if there is. Back when the Mexican flu pandemic happened in 2009, I resided in the psych hospital. It didn’t hit the hospital, but if it had and lots of staff would fall ill, management and clinicians would’ve been expected to work on the wards.

As a side note, my iPhone’s spell checker still doesn’t recognize the word “coronavirus”. I think that’s funny.

Today I Feel…

Today I feel pretty awful. Several of my day activities staff were off sick, so I got assigned a relatively new staff. This was hard enough. To make matters worse, I was pretty badly overloaded all day. I did try to relax in the sensory room, but really couldn’t find my calm.

In the evening, I started a Dutch blog again. It’s been the umpteenth time that I started one and I’m not feeling too optimistic about how long I’ll be able to keep it up. Then again, I did finally find a way to link to it from this blog, so that I don’t have to keep switching primary sites each time I comment on a Dutch blogger for them to see it. Of course other bloggers seeing your content shouldn’t be the point of blogging. At least, it wasn’t my point when I first started blogging. I didn’t care about my stats. But that was over thirteen years ago. Now, of course I do care.

I saw a post by a Dutch disability blogger. That blogger in fact inspired me to start a Dutch blog again. She was discussing the notion of “mild” forms of impairments. I generally hate that notion, even though I still often fall into the trap of judging people, including myself, by it.

For example, I am diagnosed with level 1 autism spectrum disorder and probably level 1 cerebral palsy too. Only my blindness can be seen as “severe”. Even so, it’s of course the combined effect of these disabilities that causes me to need the support I need. Thankfully, the long-term care fudning agency got that in my case eventually. It doesn’t get it in some other cases.

Like, a friend of mine shared a newspaper article a few weeks ago about an elderly man who was profoundly hearing impaired, nearly blind and hardly able to walk but still too “mild” for nursing home funding. This man ended up taking his own life. I was incredibly saddened by this and at the same time, it made me feel guilty. I’m trying to turn this guilt into gratitude though.

This post was partly inspired by the first prompt in a 10-day writing challenge I participate in. The prompt was “Today”.

Whale Sounds #SoCS

When I started day activities at the first center I went to when being kicked out of the mental hospital in 2017, I experienced snoezelen® for the first time. Snoezelen® is a type of sensory experience at day activities for people with intellectual disability. The idea is that the entire sensory environment can be tailored to suit the client’s needs. In that room, there was a waterbed. I lay on it listening to a CD called something like Whales of the Pacific. The waterbed had speakers inside of it too, so that it vibrated along with the music.

I grew to love love love that CD. When I left for another day center, I tried to get ahold of this CD but found out it was no longer available in stores. My staff at the old center tried to copy it for me, but that didn’t work. At the next center, they didn’t really have relaxing music I liked, so I usually just lay on the waterbed without listening to music. Their waterbed didn’t have speakers in it either anyway.

Now at my current day center, I have come to enjoy relaxing music again. I particularly like a CD called Songbird Symphony. It has music and bird sounds on it. I was able to find the album on Spotify too, so that I can listen to it while lying in my own bed or while relaxing in my recliner too.

As for whale sounds, I discovered an album on Spotify of whale sounds with music by a group called Robbins Island Music Group. They also release other types of relaxing and focus-oriented music, but I like the whale sounds the best.

Interestingly, I still really don’t like whale sounds without music. I love whale sounds, birdsong and the like, but there has to be a musical component to it too.

Looking back, I remember asking my psychologist at the mental hospital whether snoezelen® would be a suitable activity for me. She didn’t think it would be, as she claimed this is only suited to people with intellectual disability. Well, I love lying on the waterbed, Songbird Symphony surrounding me. I don’t care that I’m apparently too intelligent for it.

I’m joining in with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “animal sounds”.