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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to take time for yourself

This is always a tough one...taking time for yourself.  Whether you are a parent of healthy children, or a parent of children with special needs or, in my case, a parent of children with mental illness, or an adult who is a caregiver for a parent.

Taking time for yourself is key to staying healthy yourself.  Sometimes it can be the most difficult thing if you have no family members or friends who can be your back-up when you want to take some time for yourself.  Whether it's an evening out with your significant other, or with friends, a day to spoil yourself at the spa, or even just an hour of "you" time, it can be incredibly difficult to find that time.

Other than finding that time, you may feel guilty for taking that time.  Even though it may be difficult to not feel guilty, you have to understand that you need that time to re-energize yourself to be able to be a good parent or caregiver.

It's really sad that in most communities there is no respite care, that is someone who can provide you with a respite from taking care of your family member.  There are so many people that are in a position where they are a caregiver for an ill parent, or parent of a special needs child or someone with a family member with a mental illness.  One would think there would be, or SHOULD BE a respite care network where people in that position can trade off an evening to give someone else some much needed time for themselves.

I have a bit of a commute each day.  About an hour to an hour and a half each way, depending on traffic and weather conditions.  I use this time as my time for myself.  Sometimes I'm just pre-compressing before I get home.  Kind of a de-compressing in advance for what I expect when I get home.  Kind of a brain-storming session in my head to figure out how deal with what I am coming home to, depending on how the children are doing with their illness.  Other times, I will stick my bluetooth in my ear and phone a friend.  Sometimes it's a friendly chat, catching up on things, other times it can be vent session where I'm really hoping my friend can make a suggestion or two, other times, it's their vent session.  Lol!

My other time for myself is Sunday mornings, if I can get up early enough, I will watch Sunday Morning on and enjoy a cup of coffee before everyone else wakes up.  Occasionally one of my kids will walk in on my special Sunday Morning and I will shoo them back to bed, or let them stay if they promise to watch the show and not all.  Lol! 

Lola's Diner ©2008-2012

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prepping for he's completely different this year...

It just is.  This year, for the first time I have to be conscious of my son's Gluten allergy.  I'm going to have to get very creative with my menu in order to accommodate his allergy.

Traditional stuffing (or dressing, if you prefer) is out.  Yes, I could spend a fortune on Gluten Free bread and make my usual stuffing, but at $4 a loaf, it's just not in my budget.  I was thinking rice stuffing, but it's just not the same.  Sure, I could make a small batch of Gluten Free stuffing, but I know for a fact my son will sneak the regular version.  Even still, a small batch will require at least 4 loaves of Gluten Free bread (those loaves are damn small.)

Homemade Mac & Cheese (Paula Deene's recipe, YUM!)  Here again, I can buy Gluten Free pasta, but I will have to put the regular version under lock and key.  (If you think I'm joking, I'm not.  He's already learned what happens when he eats Gluten, and he just doesn't seem to care right now.)

Green Bean Casserole is probably out.  It could be doable, make a cream of soup using a Gluten Free flour and bread and fry some onions in Gluten Free breading.  It just sounds like sooo much work.

Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie could be done.  I'm thinking white corn tortilla's layered for the pastry dough.  I've also seen a recipe where you throw the white corn tortilla in a food processor and chop it up fine and use it with the other traditional ingredients for pastry dough.  I'm thinking layering them would be much easier and could work.

Popovers were a big hit one year.  I could make them with Gluten Free flour.

Turkey - issue there.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts - issue there.
Mashed potatoes - issues there.
Sweet potatoes - issues there.
Veggie tray - issues there.

It could be done.

Hopefully we will get out of work early on Wednesday (what wishful thinking....I will be slammed with work).  But it would help to get a head start on Wednesday.

So what is your Thanksgiving Menu?  Anything different this year?

Do you have any Gluten Free recipes to share?


Lola's Diner ©2008-2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Advice for newly diagnosed mental health patients and their families

It usually comes out of the blue, sometimes without warning.  Maybe you notice a peculiar behavior your loved one has exhibited a few days before the first episode.  Typically the first episode is referred to is a psychotic break.  It's a break with reality.  Your loved one may be behaving strangely, seemingly not paying attention to you, or completely engrossed in what looks to you like just a corner of the wall.  They are hallucinating, seeing things that aren't there.  They may seem to talk to themselves, but in reality, they are hearing voices and having a conversation with those voices that no one can hear but them.  They may not want to do things they enjoy like watching television or listening to music.  This is because they may be seeing things on a television show that aren't there.  Music, they may believe has a coded message and when they listen to it, they intently try to decode the message.  In the car they may avoid looking out the window because they don't want to see license plates because they have to decode them.  They may rage, become inappropriately, intensely angry.  They may become very depressed.  They may become catatonic, eyes glazed over.  They may have poverty of speech, talk very very little or stop talking at all.  Your loved one may attempt suicide, or hurt someone else.

All of these things can be scary to the family, and to the loved one.  Their hallucinations may be terrifying, like scarier than the scariest movie they've ever seen.

It can be incredibly heartbreaking when your loved one exhibits these symptoms at an age as young as 14.

Three things you must do:
Communicate with the doctors, nurses and staff on the unit where your loved one is hospitalized.  If you don't understand the medications you are asked to approve, ask questions.  What does this medication do?  What are the side effects of this medication?  Can any of the side effects become permanent?  If they blow you off (yes, they are very overworked), persist.  This is your loved one and you need answers and the doctors, nurses and staff are the best ones to get them from.  They observe your loved one 24/7, and will see all the symptoms and notice any side effects.  Try to gain a good rapport with the Floor Nurse, she sees everything!  He or she may be the one who spends the most time with your loved one, especially if your loved one is having a hard time with their illness or adjusting to being on a hospital mental health unit.

Research online, in the library.  Find out everything you can about the illness your loved one has been diagnosed with.  Research the medications that your loved one has been prescribed.  Participate in any forums on the websites you view.  Read what the other people have contributed.  This can be an overwhelming experience, but you may find success stories that will give you hope.

Contact NAMI - National Alliance On Mental Illness.
NAMI has local chapter all over the country that have Support Groups, Discussion Groups.  Ask to speak to your Local NAMI's Director and explain to them your loved one's situation.  Be prepared to give their diagnosis and list of medications.  Ask the Director any questions you have, ask them how you can best advocate for your loved one.  Ask them when the next Support Groups meeting is and where they meet.

Find your Local NAMI.
After your loved one is discharged, depending on their age, have them sign a Medical Power of Attorney designating a family member or good friend to make medical decisions on their behalf when they become ill.  This trusted person then has the authority to approve medications and authorizes the hospital to share information with you about your loved one's condition.

Lola's Diner ©2008-2012
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