Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Living with Congestive Heart Failure

Both of my parents passed away of Congestive Heart Failure, my mom almost three years ago and my dad almost four months ago. So, I guess you could say it runs in the family.   I never thought in a million years that I would be diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure, but I was. It will be ten years on November 21 of this year. It was interesting how I was diagnosed. I had routinely been giving blood at the local American Red Cross and the nurse noticed an irregular heartbeat when taking my pulse. She said, "has anyone ever told you that?" I was like, "no, I don't think so." Around this same time, I noticed that I was having shortness of breath, but attributed that to possibly walking too fast during my daily walks. I reached out to my regular doctor, told her my concerns and she ordered a stress test. It involves walking/running on a treadmill. When I had my appointment at the local hospital, they had to stop my stress test because I was breathing really, really hard. The technician stopped the test immediately, because of that. I started to get a little concerned, when they said, "hey, do you have time for a cardiac catherization?" I was like, "let me check with my husband, he's expecting me back home soon." Once I called my husband (he was watching the kids) and told him what was going on, he told me to go ahead and do the cardiac catherization since they had an open appointment. Okay, now I'm going to get a little graphic here. They put you flat on your back and put a catheter through your groin and up into the heart to see what the heck is going on. I was pretty chill, because I was positive they would just tell me I was stressed out (2011, up until that point was an extremely stressful year). After the cardiac catherization, I had to rest a bit. I will never forget what the cardiologist told me when he came in the room to tell me the results. He said, "Mrs. Blatnik, you have Congestive Heart Failure." Pardon me?? The next question immediately out of my mouth was, "so, what is the worst case scenario?" His matter-of-fact response was, "heart transplant." It was at about this point, I began to feel like I was in a really bad dream. Shortly, after the cardiologist left, my husband, Lauren and Dominic came into the room. I think they were all surprised that what was supposed to be a stress test, ending up with me lying in a hospital bed!! Shortly after my family visited and left, my blood pressure took a dangerous turn. I remember feeling a little dizzy and me pushing the button for the nurse, because I was thinking something odd was going on.  The next thing I know, a bunch of doctors and nurses ran into the room, trying to get my blood pressure stabilized. It was like 30/10 or something around there.  I think they gave me a medication to bring it back up (I don't remember) and I started to feel better and my blood pressure went back up. I was kept overnight in the hospital, because of that little episode and I went home the next day. All I kept thinking in my head was that I would need a heart transplant and/or be hooked up to an oxygen tank for the rest of my life, I was just 48 at the time. Luckily, the cardiologist has me on a "cocktail" of medications that keep everything in check. I make sure to NEVER miss the medications and I go yearly to the cardiologist. When I tell people that I have Congestive Heart Failure, typically a look of shock is next. Once I tell them it is managed mostly by medications, I see them relax.  I have an echocardiogram coming up on September 27. Since my dad's passing in December of 2020, I definitely have been thinking more about my own diagnosis of Congestive Heart Failure. What if that nurse hadn't noticed my irregular heartbeat that day in 2011 when I donated blood? She literally saved my life. I like to think she was my "guardian angel," because I only saw her that one time and never again. Neither of my parent's Congestive Heart Failure diagnoses came soon enough for them to be treated for it. I am very blessed that I was and I don't ever take a day for granted. 

Monday, March 1, 2021

Why The Pandemic Has Been the Best Time to Start a Business for My Son with Autism

This month marks the one-year "anniversary" of Dominic being home full-time from school. When the Pandemic started, I guess I was VERY optimistic and thought it would only last a few weeks. Little did I know, that almost a year later, the Pandemic would still be raging on. It has been of a bit of a "learning curve" having Dominic here and my husband working from home (the hubby likes to call it a "preview" of what it will be like when he retires)!!  We have worked out a good system, so one of us is always home with Dominic. He can't be left alone because of his Complex Partial Epilepsy.  He has had six seizures since the Pandemic started, the most recent one was the beginning of January. Since we have had LOTS of extra time in our schedule, in June of 2020, we went from once-a-week private speech therapy to twice-a-week. It has been a pretty seamless transition from in-person to "virtual" learning with her. His private speech therapist has moved away from worksheets and started to concentrate heavily on "work/life skills." It was her suggestion to start to have Dominic bake for her and then she would pay him for his finished baked product. We really wanted him to make that connection. I started to wonder if we could bake for other people and make it into a "business." I started to comb the Internet for information and found that Michigan has something called a "Cottage Food Law." I did some research and then sat on the information for a while. It was several pages of Rules and Regulations (very overwhelming and intimidating at first). I began to think long-term and after finding a free on-line workshop on running a "Cottage Food" business and registering for it (the workshop wasn't until December), I decided to move forward. I already had tons of recipes at my disposal on my food blog, so I knew that I wouldn't need to be continually testing out new recipes! I then began to think that we probably should come up with a name and a logo. This is where an artist friend of mine, that I had used for classes for the disability ministry came into the picture. I asked him if he could start private art lessons with Dominic (even though Dominic had showed ZERO interest at previous art events with the disability ministry).  Dominic started his weekly private art lessons in August of 2020 and except for a few times, he has been going steadily every week! It has been AMAZING to watch his self-confidence grow!!  A few months into the lessons, I asked if Dominic could start designing a logo for the business. My artist friend agreed and we let Dominic make all the decisions about what it would look like, the colors, etc.  I even ordered a shirt with the logo on it for Dominic and one for his sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyways, we got our first order at the end of November and little by little, we started to get orders. In the second week of December, a few days after the on-line workshop about running a "Cottage Food Business," my dad (who lived back in Maryland) went into the hospital with what we all thought was a minor infection. It turned out he was in end-stage Congestive Heart Failure and my beloved dad passed away on December 17. I was devastated by his passing and it took me until a week or so into January before I felt like I could re-start the business.   

A few weeks ago, we filed the name "Baked Goods By Dominic" with the local county clerk's office  AND opened a bank account!!! Our family has had an outpouring of support and Dominic just delivered his 22nd order a few days ago. I have mentioned it before, but my maternal great-grandfather owned and operated a bakery in Butler, Missouri. He is the shorter gentleman standing at the far end of the counter. Pretty cool to have this picture, isn't it? 

I love that this baking business has started for several reasons. One is that I had stopped baking, because my life pre-Pandemic had gotten very, very busy. This Pandemic has forced me to slow down and resume my passion for baking!! The second reason is that Dominic is learning both "life" and "work" skills. One of his favorite things to do when we go on a delivery is to hold my phone and help me "navigate" with Google Maps. The third reason is that my ultimate goal for this business is for Dominic to have his own bakery (like my great-grandfather had), but employ ONLY those with special needs. It's a great (and realistic) goal to have, don't you think?!?!?!

Friday, December 4, 2020

Never Giving Up Hope

I have mentioned before that when we first received Dominic's diagnosis of Autism at age 2 1/2 , my first thought was him as an adult sorting paperclips into boxes. I thought he would never talk. I knew nothing at all about Autism. I did grow up with a neighbor named Tommy who had intellectual disabilities and he would visit our home frequently.  This was the 1970's when those with disabilities were separated in school and many parents were told to institutionalize their children. Looking back, Tommy's parents went against that thinking. They let him walk around the neighborhood unsupervised. I never asked Tommy if he had Autism, we accepted him the way he was.  Speaking of acceptance, it took me about two weeks to come to terms with Dominic's diagnosis of Autism. In my own opinion, I think that is very important to do because you really can't move forward until you have done that. After the diagnosis of Autism, Dominic subsequently received diagnoses of ADHD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Complex Partial Epilepsy. In a lot of ways, when Dominic received that diagnosis of Autism, I was actually relieved.  I found it much more stressful before we got the diagnosis. We knew something wasn't right, but didn't know what it was. Dominic turned 16 at the end of July and in a little over a year and half and he will be an adult.  Now that I have been on this Autism "journey" with Dominic for almost 14 years, I can say with complete transparency that he has surpassed many of the expectations that I had for him!! Dominic's speech is delayed and most likely always will be. When Dominic was able to say two or three word sentences, I felt like jumping up and down!!  This past Friday, Lauren asked Dominic what he wanted for Christmas. He responded back with, "Legos and puzzles." This was the very first time that he ever told us that!! Woohoo!!!! Given that he is almost 16 1/2 we have been waiting a LONG time to hear that!!!! When you have a child/adult with learning differences and speech delays, when they are able to tell you spontaneously, unscripted and unprompted what they want, you want to shout it from the rooftops! I belong to several Facebook pages that have to do with Autism. Earlier this week, on one of my favorite Facebook pages, I saw a post about a 4-year old boy that saw one of his favorite Disney characters and spoke for the first time. Another parent saw that post and said, "thanks for giving me hope!' Since I was so excited that Dominic had told us when he wanted for Christmas, I posted it on their Facebook page. A different mom wrote back to my post saying that she would give anything to hear what Dominic said to us and that her son is 16 as well. I wrote back to that mom and told her I was sending her a "virtual" hug and to never give up hope!!!! 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Doing the "Right" Thing

While this Pandemic in some ways has been good (like doing our daily walks), I have definitely noticed Dominic becoming more agitated at things that typically wouldn't have bothered him so much, pre-Pandemic. It has got to be SO hard to be a teenager with limited language and be in puberty. Everyone goes through puberty, whether you are typically-developing or not. When Lauren was a teenager, she would go to her room, shut the door and get some alone time. Dominic doesn't do that during the day. He only uses his room to sleep. We have worked really hard with the private speech therapist on how to manage his emotions. He used to go in our living room and hit the bay windows with the palms of his hands. Definitely not the best way to express how he is feeling. Slowly, he transitioned from hitting the wall to throwing a pillow on the ground. Last night, our evening was going well until he looked at his "schedule" from school. Dominic's teacher is awesome. She puts a daily schedule on-line for the entire week. It is very detailed with the times of all of his classes and the subjects. I print it out on Monday mornings and attach it to a clipboard. As he completes each class, we check it off. It also lists homework. Well, out of the blue, after we had eaten dinner, he picked up the clipboard, took a look at Tuesday's schedule and noticed that he hadn't done the homework. I told him we could do it the next day. He wanted me to cross it off, even though he hadn't done it yet. I told him doing that would be "cheating." Dominic didn't like that explanation too much and he ran over to one of the decorative posts in our family room and yanked it hard. I raised my voice and told him not to do that and to go to his room to cool off. He ran upstairs and immediately came back down. I told him that he could get his school computer back out and do it. He kept shaking his head and continued to tell me no. He then threw a pillow on the ground.  This side of Dominic is a side most people don't see. The hubby had been observing the ongoing interchange between Dominic and I and finally said, "why don't you just stop talking about it?" I told him that Dominic was the one that kept talking about it and that he wanted me to cross off the homework even though he hadn't done it. I guess that would have been the easiest thing to do, but honesty is one of those traits that I strongly believe in. Both Dominic and I were standing our "ground."  By this time, Dominic was REALLY frustrated. His face was red and he was doing a lot of grumbling. After another few minutes went by, he went over and took his computer out of the case and turned it on. I said, "do you want to do your homework now, so you can cross it off your schedule?" He told me he did.  As he completed each assignment, we crossed it off. After he finished, he logged the computer back off and put it back in the case. I think Dominic had mentally exhausted himself, so he went to bed early.  I felt that it was extremely important I didn't give in and let him think that type of behavior is okay, because it's not. It was mentally exhausting for me too (I was hoping he didn't have an Epileptic seizure, which are sometimes brought on by stress), but I am really glad I stood my "ground." I knew in the end that Dominic would do the right thing and he did!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Why It's Important for Dominic to "Pay it Forward"

About two years ago, Dominic's private speech therapist starting teaching him the process of when you do chores, you get an allowance. You then save up that money and buy something that you really want. In Dominic's case, it has been Legos.  If you have a child/adult that likes Legos, you know how expensive they are! Sometimes, it has taken Dominic three months to save up enough money (he gets $5.00/week).  About a month or so ago, I took a look around our house and I felt like we were living in a Lego factory. They were literally everywhere!! I couldn't walk anywhere in our family room without stepping on one. If you have ever stepped on a Lego piece with the arch of your foot, you know that doesn't feel too good! I knew that we needed to take a break for a while from buying them.  Dominic's private speech therapist gave us the option of taking part of his allowance to our local bank and have him deposit it into his bank account, but I want Dominic to get the full experience of filling out the deposit slip and waiting his turn in line to see the bank teller.  At our bank, you have to make an appointment to go into the lobby. Dominic could make his deposit at the drive-thru, but it isn't quite the same as doing it in person. A few weeks ago on a Saturday, I started the discussion with Dominic about how we are lucky to have food on the table and a roof over our heads. I explained to him that not everyone has that.  I then asked him if he would be willing to donate part of his allowance once a month to church. Without hesitation, he said yes. I had him grab the glass jar that we keep his money in that he has earned from his allowance. I told him that he could decide anywhere from $5.00 to $15.00 to give to church. He picked $15.00. Dominic keeps a ledger in a notebook of what date he gets his allowance and the amount, so he always has a running "tally" of how much he has. We subtracted the $15.00 from the grand total.  I then found an envelope, wrote a note, tucked it into the envelope and put the $15.00 in it.  As many are with Autism, Dominic is very visual. He watched every single part of the process. We typically go to the 5:00 p.m. Mass at our church. I made sure I had the envelope in my purse and when we got inside, I had him put the envelope in the offering box mounted on the wall.

 Dominic has watched me for years filling out a check and putting it in an envelope, taking it to church and putting it in the collection basket.   According to Kiplinger.com, there are three ways to instill enduring financial values in children, "teach them how to save, teach them how to spend and them how to give."  Dominic turned 16 at the end of July. He has his Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting a little less than two weeks from today. At last year's IEP, we started the discussion of Dominic working on his vocational skills with the ultimate goal of getting a job, so I know we will be resuming that conversation this year. The skills that Dominic has learned from getting an allowance will apply to when he starts earning his own money at a job. The hubby and I will make sure that he continues to donate once a month to church. We feel it is extremely important for Dominic to "pay it forward." Dominic has been working very hard since the end of July baking and cooking different foods. This afternoon, it was Apple Crumb Muffins. Every time I mention to my husband that what he is eating is something Dominic made, he says, "he has a future in the restaurant industry!" The muffins were the eighth thing Dominic has made since I started keeping a "journal" of what he has made (another great idea from his private speech therapist). I think they look pretty yummy, don't you? If you are wondering why Dominic's grin was so wide, it was because I told him he could have TWO muffins!!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

An "Anniversary" Worth Celebrating

Yesterday was a HUGE milestone. Do you want to know what it was?!?!?! Well, I will tell you! It was five years almost to the day that Dominic has been going to his barber, Vince. Dominic was 11 when he went to Vince for the first time.

He just turned 16 in July. Vince has watched Dominic grow from a boy into a man.

In case you were wondering, both Vince and Dominic had on their respective masks during the haircut. They removed it briefly for the picture! So, for those of you without sensory sensitivities, getting a haircut can be challenging because of the bright lights; the noise of the hairdryers, people and the clippers; having someone touching their head and lastly, the smell of chemicals. For most of us, those things wouldn't bother us or we block it out. For those with Autism or sensory sensitivities, it can be very difficult.  Before Michigan lifted the restrictions for getting a haircut, I asked Dominic a bunch of times if he wanted me to cut his hair. It was always a resounding NO.  I think he remembers all the years I cut his hair where it literally looked like I put a bowl on his head and cut.  It was never a thought in my head of going to a different barbershop after the restrictions were lifted. When my husband and Dominic walk through the doors of the barbershop they are treated like family. Throughout these five years, Dominic has formed a trust with Vince.  That is so incredibly important for someone on the Autism Spectrum. Dominic is very intuitive and he knows if someone feels uncomfortable around him. From day one, Vince has treated Dominic with respect, patience and compassion. Vince carries on a conversation with Dominic and even if Dominic doesn't respond back, Vince just keeps right on clipping. If you find a barber that is as wonderful as Vince, consider yourself very lucky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We sure do!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Going Outside the "Comfort Zone"

Before this Pandemic took over, Dominic was pretty "set" in his ways. Trying anything new and out of his "comfort zone" was not anything at all on his radar screen. As are many on the Autism Spectrum, changes in Dominic's routine are not always easily accepted. Since we are living in a different world now, I have used this time with Dominic to not only work on his social skills, but to also try new things.  When the opportunity to sign Dominic up for a "virtual" music camp in June arose, I really had no expectations that he would be engaged and participate. We had tried this particular camp in-person and it was too overwhelming for him and I never signed him up for it again. Much to my surprise, he LOVED it!! The camp had just the right mix of breaks and participation. Based on that positive reaction, I signed him up for another camp similar to the one he did in June. The "Showcase" is this coming Wednesday night and Dominic will be singing, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.  Dominic has been in the choir at school for several years, but there has been more than one time he hasn't sung, like not at all. I am hopeful when he does go back to school in-person, he will have gained the confidence to sing every time he is on stage! Since just about every activity has moved on-line, when I saw on Facebook that the Food Network along with some other sponsors were offering free cooking classes, I signed Dominic up for three. He made Chicken Barbeque "Pizza," with Rachael Ray; Chicken Parm with Angel Hair Pasta with Andrew Zimmern and yesterday, he decorated a cake with Buddy Valastro

Typically, when we decorate a cake, I only let Dominic do the "sprinkles." I have learned these past several months, to loosen the tight control I have on Dominic. That grip was real tight at the beginning of the Pandemic because he had three seizures within the first month. Since he has been seizure free for over three months, little-by-little, I am making progress and loosening that tight control. A huge lesson that I have learned having Dominic with me during this time of the Pandemic is that he has to learn to adapt to this world, the world isn't going to adapt for him. Speaking of going outside Dominic's "comfort zone," I asked an artist friend of mine if he would be willing to give Dominic private art lessons. Those start this coming Wednesday.  I will keep you updated!!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A Sibling's Point of View

There was a news story a while back that you may have missed and I feel that it is still important to talk about. It was about a very popular YouTuber named Myka Stauffer.  I had never heard of her until my daughter, Lauren, forwarded me an article about her. Myka Stauffer and her husband had adopted a son from China, who was named Huxley. After finding out he had Autism and other disabilities, they decided that he should be placed with a different family. The Stauffer's already have four biological children. Evidently, some of Myka Stauffer's followers were asking what happened to Huxley since he wasn't in any of the videos she was posting. About a month ago, Myka Stauffer and her husband made a video explaining where Huxley had went. There was a lot of negative fall out from the video including tons of judgment. Everyone seemed to have an opinion. Very few supported her decision to return him.  What I learned from one of my best friends is that you shouldn't judge others unless you are walking in their shoes. Many were concerned about Huxley and the effects of all of this on him. I read a lot of the comments and I don't think I saw any about how having an adopted brother and then not having him in the family would affect the four biological children. That was Lauren's number one concern about the whole situation, given that she has a younger brother with Autism, named Dominic. As a mom, I could only see it from my perspective. Besides having an older sister (Lauren), Dominic also has a stepbrother who is 36 and married.  My stepson has never lived with us full time and when we moved to Michigan in 2001, he was a senior in high school, so he stayed back with his mom in Maryland. We talk to my stepson and his wife each week, so Dominic is able to stay connected to them. Lauren was eight years old when Dominic was born. When the Myka Stauffer story came out, Lauren was like, "what about the other kids?" "They will be wondering where their brother went." During the time of the Pandemic, Lauren stayed with us for close to three months. Dominic started reading the "Magic Tree House" books to her. When she went back to her apartment, I was trying to figure out how the closeness could continue. That's where Skype comes in!!

Even though Lauren has a full-time job, she makes time in her day for Dominic to read to her.  He reads a chapter to her at a time and they are now on their fourth book!!!! Lauren has always thought of Dominic being her brother first and having Autism second. Isn't the way it's supposed to be?

Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Trip to the Post Office

So, we did it. This afternoon, for the first time since the Pandemic started, I took Dominic to a public place, our local post office. We needed to mail something by Priority Mail as well as buy some stamps. Before we went, I had put it on his daily schedule and showed him the Social Story for using a face mask. The only other time we had tried to get him to wear a mask was a handful of weeks back and he took it off after 30 seconds, so I was VERY apprehensive about him keeping it on the entire time we were at the post office.  Before deciding to take him, I talked about it all morning with the hubby and Lauren. Even though I am on two medications for my Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I still, once in a great while, get that old familiar feeling in the pit of my stomach, that unpleasant pre-worrying feeling. Anyways, I asked Dominic if he wanted to take the Social Story with us in the car on our way to the post office and he said no. Once we pulled into the parking lot, I put on my mask and told Dominic that he had to put his on and keep it on the entire time we were inside the post office. I had to help him put it on, but once it was on, he didn't try and take it off.  The hardest thing for Dominic to do with the mask on was trying to figure out how to pick his nose (no, I am not kidding)!! LOL. Once inside the building, I had to grab a Priority Mail label and start filling it out. I fished around in my purse and I couldn't find my pen. I knew I had one in my purse, because I checked before we left our house. I had literally worked myself into such a bundle of nerves, that once I calmed myself down, I found it. Luckily, we didn't have to wait at all. During this whole time, Dominic was cool as a cucumber and not once did he try and take the mask off while we were conducting our business at the counter. The transaction with the postal clerk took less than five minutes and then we left the building. I told Dominic that once we were back outside, he could take off the mask. He handled the whole outing like a pro. I, on the other hand, was stressed out the entire time. Dominic having three seizures at the beginning of this Pandemic, really messed with my head. I have been TERRIFIED of taking him to any public place. I knew at some point, he had to get out.  Believe me, this isn't the first time my anxiety has prevented Dominic from doing something. I am continually working on it. All I can do is just keep going forward and giving Dominic that independence he deserves!! Wish me luck!! 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Random Acts of Kindness During this Quarantine

As we continue through navigating our new "normal," one thing in particular has stood out to me as far as parenting Dominic goes. No one can make it alone through this. I'm sure you have heard the saying, "it takes a village to raise a child."  Never has that been more true than doing these unusual times we are currently living in. After I had Lauren, I had two miscarriages. When I got pregnant with Dominic, I was worried every single day that I would have another miscarriage. I think I knew deep down from the time he was born that something wasn't quite right. When he was diagnosed with Autism at age 2 1/2, it surprised me, but not really. As the diagnoses started stacking up, ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 3 and then Complex Partial Epilepsy five years ago, I knew that we needed additional support. Say what you will about Facebook (I know not everyone likes it), but for those parenting children and adults with disabilities (such as our family) it's very much a "lifeline." Isolation was HUGE for our family in those early days of Dominic's diagnosis of Autism. During that time, our daughter was having significant health issues and we were taking care of my husband's parents back in Cleveland. It literally was all I could do to function each day. I guess you could say, "I was going through the motions." When everything settled down a bit, I then starting looking for my "village." It's not like you can go stand on your rooftop and say, "hey, I need support here!" I wish it was that easy, but it isn't. When I started posting on Facebook years ago about important milestones Dominic reached, my on-line "village" would comment and/or like my post. During this Quarantine, Dominic (and our family) have been the recipients of many "random acts of kindness." At the beginning of the Quarantine, a neighbor down the street gave Dominic a puzzle because he knows from my Facebook posts that Dominic loves puzzles.  Five days ago, another neighbor (who just happens to be Dominic's old music teacher) brought down five Magic Tree House books that her daughter picked out special to let him borrow because she saw on my Facebook page that Dominic was reading them:

This past Monday, I met up with one of my closest and dearest friends in a high school parking lot (so we could social distance) and she gave me six puzzles, three of which Dominic has already done and yesterday afternoon, Dominic's special friend, Madelyn brought over four puzzles.

Wow, I'll tell you, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the generosity of my "village!" Thank you from the bottom of my heart, and please know this, it is very much appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

How a Daily Walk Has Helped Me Through this Quarantine as Someone with Generalized Anxiety Disorder

I used to make a daily walk a priority. As I had gotten more and more busy over these past few years, I would find every excuse I could to not walk. I'm too tired, I'm too out of shape, I have a heart condition, etc. My husband tried to encourage me, but I ended up taking offense at his not so "gentle" suggestions. He stopped after a while.  Up until the past four weeks of this Quarantine, I would come to the end of the day and realize I hadn't set foot outside of our house at all! Not even to get the mail from our mailbox.  Yikes.  Lauren has been temporarily living with us and she kept asking me to go for a walk. I kept telling her no, until I decided that for my mental health, I really needed to get out of the house at a minimum, once a day. I am so incredibly thankful to her and her persistence, because we are now on week 4 of our family "walks!!" The first week or two, I had to come home and lie down after our walk because I was exhausted.  I have slowly built my stamina up and don't need to do that so much anymore. Dominic's private speech therapist has built his speech therapy into our walks. He has to find three things he sees on our walks and write them down in a spiral notebook.  During his weekly Zoom sessions with her on Saturday mornings, he is able to have a conversation with her about what he saw on our daily walks. Pretty cool, huh? For consistency and routine purposes, we aim to go at the same time, 11:30 a.m. Lauren asked me recently if I was going to continue my walks even after the Quarantine is over. I told her YES!!!

Living with Congestive Heart Failure

Both of my parents passed away of Congestive Heart Failure , my mom almost three years ago and my dad almost four months ago. So, I guess yo...