Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Electric Vehicle pros and cons

In May, after we got a really bad hail storm in Lakewood, I ended up buying a Nissan Leaf.  This is a 100% electric vehicle.  No gas.  No oil.  No rev or RPMs.  The only thing you put in this car is windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid and steering column fluid.  That's it.

This car is super fast and fun to drive.  My new favorite thing is to pull up next to a sports car at a red light and leave it in my dust when the light turns green.  If you think you have a car that can beat mine, let's set up a race!

I plug it in every other night or so, I can go 125-ish miles on one charge.  That's back and forth to work 2 days plus a few errands.  I recently calculated that the home electric bill went up about $15 a month.  People...that is less than a tank of gas was costing.  I'm saving over a hundred dollars a month in gas!

Because I have a good charger at home I don't have to rely on public charging stations very often.  When I do have to charge away from home there is usually some non-electric driving jerk who is parked in  the charging station parking space.  Those of us in the electric vehicle (EV) world refer to these people as ICE Holes.  Internal Combustible Engine, aka gas powered vehicles.  The charging infrastructure is growing but there are still limited places for us to charge our cars.  When we pull up to charge and there is a non EV parked there it is infuriating.

This happened to me yesterday and last week at the Whole Foods in Belmar.  There is a parking garage for the store and other businesses in the area.  The charging stations are close to where the office building doors are and the last two times some ICE Hole has been parked in one of those spaces.  Spaces that are clearly marked and painted bright green.  It's a parking garage!  There are hundreds of spaces, and in fact, the space directly across from the EV spot was empty!  Because the other charging spot was in use I had to get creative.

I drove around to the empty space and luckily the cable was long enough to reach my car so I could still plug in and charge.  Because this was the second time in two weeks I was furious.  Why are people so inconsiderate?  Would they park in a clearly marked handicapped spot?  Generally people are respectful and leave those spots for people who need them.

Last week the ICE Hole came out and got in her car and drove away as I was setting up to charge on the other side of the charging station.  I gave her a dirty look and that was it.

Now it's happened twice and I was pissed.  I stomped around.  I wanted to leave a nasty note.  I had no paper.  I rummaged through my purse and found the school supply list we used last weekend.  I ripped off a section and gave them a piece of my mind.

Then I stomped into Whole Foods to get my lunch.  I worried the whole time that the ICE Hole would key my car.  Would they know it was the EV across the way, the EV charging next to them, or someone totally different who just left the note and didn't charge.  Oh geez, what have I done?

I finished my lunch, went out to my car.  ICE Hole was gone.  My car was intact.  I had gained 8 miles in that 45 minute charging session.  All is well that ends well but next time, maybe I'll park directly behind the ICE Hole, pinning them in, and hook up the charger and leave.  See how they like that.

People, please don't park in the green EV spots unless you drive an EV.  Think about it this way, your car is on fumes, you pull into the gas station and there is an 18-wheeler at every pump, just parked, no driver in sight.  You wouldn't be able to fill up and you wouldn't be very happy about it.  Yesterday could have been an emergency, if I couldn't charge I may not have been able to get home.  Think twice before parking, if you wouldn't park in a blue space designated for ADA then don't park in a green space either.

If you are in the market for a new vehicle, I highly recommend going electric.  Lots of auto companies offer electric options so you can drive and compare.  Huge tax benefits, huge savings on gas and you get to drive a fun car.

Monday, July 24, 2017

My grandma is turning 100 years old this week.

Grandma Karrie was born in Kansas on July 28, 1917, right in the midst of WW1.  Her family was originally from Germany and at some point her father had done something iffy and they moved to the Volga region of Russia, now commonly known as Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2014.

Eventually her family made it to the United States and settled east of Greeley by way of Kansas.  When Grandma was young her mother died leaving her father with 8 kids.  So what did he do?  He went and married a woman with 8 kids of her own.  Of those 16 children, Grandma is the only one left.  I remember her telling stories about the family having to prepare meals twice each day because they didn't have enough pots, pans and dishes to feed everyone at once.

Grandma met her husband Jake and they got married and had 3 children of their own.  Betty, Jerry and Tommy.  They lived out on a farm and my dad used to tell stories about gathering the eggs and Uncle Jerry locking him in the hen house.  He also told stories about the mean turkey that would chase him around.

Some of the stories I remember him telling were about how much fun Grandma and Grandpa Jake used to have with their friends.  Grandma would laugh so hard telling stories from the past that tears would be rolling down her cheeks.

Mostly the stories I remember are about how tough Grandma was.  Growing up with 15 siblings isn't easy and there were always chores and work to be done.  Even when she was married the hard work didn't end.  She'd go out and kill a chicken for lunch to feed the workers on the farm.  During WW2 there were German prisoners of war held near Greeley.  Those POWs would work the nearby farms and people like my Grandma and her neighbors would cook enormous amounts of food to keep them fed.  Many of those POWs stayed around after the war and married some of the young women they met working on those farms.

When Grandpa Jake got sick they sold the farm and moved to town where Grandma nursed her husband until his death.

I don't know a lot about what happened after that but at some point she met Hank, who we called Poppie.  Grandma worked retail at the downtown Fashion Bar and then later at the Weld County Health Department.

Grandma and Poppie lived in various houses around Greeley but the one I remember most was south of Toddy's.  It had an apple tree and grandma was always making pies and apple sauce and apple butter with the apples from the tree.  Pretty much most Sundays we would end up at Grandma and Poppie's house for pie (she made peach too!).  Other times she would let us know that on Sunday she would be making "blina" which were these really thick, yeasty pancakes and were delicious.  It was a revolving door on Sunday mornings, Aunt Betty would be there with Renae and Amy, we would show up and my other cousins Tanya, Jeff and Jimmy would sometimes come over as well.

Grandma was the best cook.  She hosted many Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and she and Aunt Betty and my dad would fight over the liver and other organs from the turkey--yuck.

We lost Aunt Betty and we lost Poppie.  Grandma moved to her current home and has lived there ever since.

One hundred years is a long life.  There have been 18 presidents since she was born.  She lived through two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam and the Gulf War.  Women weren't allowed to vote when she was born.  Civil rights happened.  We had a black president.  Gay and lesbian people can get married.  Can you imagine?

The biggest thing is that technology has passed my Grandma by.  She never had a cell phone or a tablet or a computer.  She didn't have a DVR.  She didn't need those things, she lived an entire lifetime without needing them.  If she needed a recipe it was in the recipe box.  If she wanted to talk to someone she used the phone on the wall.  If she needed something at the store she drove there and bought it.

My grandma outlived two husbands and two of her three children.  She didn't always have an easy life but she has 7 grandchildren, 11 great grandchildren and one great great granddaughter who have brought her a lot of joy.  On Sunday we will all gather to celebrate 100 years of Caroline (Heberlein) Shearer and I hope it is the best day of her very long life.  Love you, Grandma!

PS:  She won't read this, remember, she doesn't have technology!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Brain Training: Twelve sessions in

Tommy completed his 12th session on Friday.  When we started this process they said we would start to see results in 10-12 sessions.  I'm not sure if the tics have decreased or not.  To me it seems like they are as present as ever.  Most of his tics are bilateral, meaning he moves both arms at the same time.  I have noticed that sometimes he only moves one arm.  Maybe that's forward progress, I don't know.

He has moved from playing games with his brain to watching movies.  Big deal, right?  Well, if his brain doesn't do what it is supposed to, the movie goes blurry and he has to slow his brain down in order for it to come back into focus.

I read a fictional book this week that hit close to home called The Perfect Son.  It was about the parents of an only child with Tourette's Syndrome.  His name was Harry and he was 17.

The mom was primarily in charge of the treatments, the visits to the psychologist, the psychiatrist, the therapist, and all of the activities he did, like vocal training.  The dad was very focused on his job and really had no idea what his son went through on a daily basis.  The mom had a heart attack and the family dynamic shifted and the dad had to be more involved in Harry's life.

The thing that struck me most was that Harry had a best friend named Max.  They had been friends for years.  Max was his best friend, his brother, his protector.  When anyone messed with Harry, Max was there for him.  When Harry's mom was sick, Max was there for him in an instant.  I know this book is fiction, but it made me think, WHY can't Tommy have a friend like Max?  He needs that, more than you can imagine.  This journey would be so much easier for him if he had a friend like that that he could always count on.

He HAS friends, but these kids are 11-12 years old.  They get frustrated with Tommy, he has impulse issues and says things before he thinks.  He gets angry easily.  He misjudges social cues.  These are all things tied to TS and kids don't get it and they distance themselves.

Middle school starts in August.  I really hope that Tommy walks into school and meets his Max. "Max" doesn't need to be perfect.  He doesn't need to be a jock, or a musical star, or the smartest or most handsome kid in school.  He just needs to be a friend that Tommy can count on through thick and thin.  Underneath the TS Tommy has a lot to offer.  He's funny and smart and "Max", if you are out there, Tommy is waiting for you.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The latest in all things People Hater

I've lost track but I think we have done 7 brain training sessions.  I had a nightmare the other night that whatever they are doing to him worked in reverse and made the Tourette's Syndrome worse and they didn't know why.  I think this stems from the fact that after every session his tics are REALLY bad.  They were really bad yesterday and even worse last night.

Tommy's struggle this summer is that his friends aren't really available during the day.  Most of them are in a summer program and the two boys up the street went out of the country until September.  Tommy didn't want to do a summer program, so he's basically doing nothing.  The first week has not been easy.

Last night he was playing with a friend and I'm not sure what happened but all hell broke loose and he came home super upset.  When the kids are messing with him (not in a mean way) he takes it wrong and flips out.  His impulse control is non-existent, and those of you who know him understand that he can get really LOUD. 

He got home and was upset and the tics were so bad it's like he was having a seizure.  I pretty much melted down while I was talking with his mom...too much going on right now and I'm feeling overwhelmed.  Adrian is working his butt off burning the candle at both ends and we are stressed.  I feel guilty because I won't be home the next 2 nights and worry about Tommy.  I feel like I'm on one of those things at the park that spins super fast and I can't get off and I want to throw up!

I guess the point of this blog is that Tourette's Syndrome just doesn't effect the person afflicted, the whole family deals with it and it is not easy. 

Since it is Tourette Syndrome awareness month until June 15, here are some facts for you:

  • One in 100 people, mostly males, have Tourette's. 
  • There is no cure for TS.  Yes, people can learn to control it, but it's very difficult.  Think about your nose itching and you can't scratch it.  The more it itches the more agitated you become, but you can't reach it, you can't make it stop.  That is what it's like to hold in a tic, it can be physically painful.
  • About 25% of children with TS will outgrow it.
  • There is no medication specifically to treat TS.  There are drugs for things like high blood pressure, heart conditions, migraines, etc. that have good results in children with tics.  For Tommy, many of these worked for awhile, but then they just stop.
  • Tourette Syndrome is not just verbal tics.  Lucky for us, Tommy's tics aren't verbal.  If you ever come across someone who is making noises like throat clearing, screeching, etc. it is possible that they have TS.  Be kind, don't stare.
We are looking forward to the next couple of weeks.  Between 10 and 12 treatments we hope to start seeing positive results from the brain training, in the form of reduced anxiety and reduced tics.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Brain Training Update

We are a few weeks into brain training and Tommy has done 4 sessions.  The protocol changed and they will be focusing on the left part of his brain instead of the frontal lobe:

The last 3 sessions his leeds have been lie the photo.  He plays lots of different games using his brain, like skateboarding, boating, and carnival midway games.  I usually go into the room with him, but after looking at the screen I feel oogy, like I've been hypnotized or something!

The drive home is killing me.  We have gotten into bad traffic every single time, averaging about an hour to get home.  It's exhausting for both of us.  Immediately after treatment his tics are pretty bad, but then he falls asleep:

Poor kiddo.  Then he's super cranky for the rest of the night.  Fun times.  We are 4 treatments in and should start to see results at 10-12 treatments. 

Starting next Friday we will start going at 8am.  Tommy is not happy with the time, but on Wednesdays I can take him and then head to the office and Adrian can pick him up.  That way we get it out of the way, and I don't have to fight traffic in the evenings.

Not much of an update, sorry!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Brain Mapping and Brain Training, Session One

Last Saturday Tommy had his brain mapped.  Here he is getting comfy before they strap on the cap to read his brain:
I was worried because his tics were really bad that day and sure enough, as soon as they put the cap on he started having tics:

Things settled down and they were able to get a good reading.  He spent about 20 minutes with his eyes open and then another 20 minutes with his eyes closed.  When they read the data they take out all of the tics and eye blinks and other movements so that they have straight brain wave data.  He also had to take a test on the computer.
They read the data and mapped his brain and we went back yesterday for his first brain training session.  It turns out that the part of his brain that needs help is along the frontal lobe and on the left side of his brain.  They got the electrodes hooked up to his head:

There were 4 electrodes plus one on each ear.  He played a series of games and the technician led him through them, I think there were 6 or 7 in all.   There was a boat game and a series of Carnival Midway games:

When he did what he was supposed to, the blocks would get knocked over, or the balloons would pop, or the clown's face would fall off.  It was pretty interesting to watch.  After about 45 minutes we were finished.  His next sessions are Wednesday and Friday and we'll go twice a week for the next 10 weeks or so
On the way home he was tired and cranky and his tics were bad.  He didn't have them while he was playing the game but would have them in between.  The cranky/tiredness was from using a part of his brain that he doesn't use a lot, it was basically a work out for him.
We are also keeping a journal of his tics over the course of this treatment to see if and when they diminish.  Once they start to go away we can start weaning him off the medicine.
Fingers crossed that this works!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Moving forward

It's been a rough year for our family.  We lost my dad last June.  After that, our son, Tommy, had in increase in tics from his Tourette's Syndrome.  We tried different medicines and got him somewhat under control.

In December my husband had a change in career and we lost our insurance.  Tommy's tics ebbed and flowed.  The stress in our household from all of the personal and professional changes was very difficult for the grownups, and an eleven year old boy who picks up on a lot.

The new year brought new changes.  A new job for the hubby and a whole new schedule for him.  Tommy continued to struggle with the TS (Tourette's Syndrome) and it was causing problems for him in school.  It's hard to learn when you can't focus.  It's hard to be at school when kids are mean.  It's hard to learn when people are not understanding.  We hired a math tutor (we parents suck at fractions) and tried to help Tommy stay on track.

We found a new awesome doctor and have been changing up his meds.  Mostly the changes didn't work, or caused reverse behavior from what we expected.  There really is no medicine to treat TS.  There are lots of drugs out there for other things, that help kids with tics.  They range from blood pressure medicine (made him too tired), to black label drugs.  You have seen the commercials...If you took DRUGX and suffered blah blah, call 1-800-BAD-DRUG now.  He took migraine medicine and the latest one is for kids with seizures. 

He's also taking medicine for anxiety, because if the anxiety is out of control, the tics go out of control.  He had the worst side effect from the first anti-anxiety medicine and we quickly changed that drug.

The next drug she mentioned to control the tics is Haldol and there is NO WAY IN HELL I am giving that to our 11-year old son.  It scares the ever living crap out of me.  I've sort of been stumbling along since then, worrying about what comes next.  Especially since Tommy starts middle school next year.  A new school, a bunch of new kids, anxiety out the wazoo.  I'm a wreck and should maybe take the Haldol myself.

Things were feeling very bleak...until Tuesday.  My mom called and to make a long story short, a former co-worker of hers runs a neuro-therapy business. and she has had some great successes with kids who have ADD, ADHD, Aspbergers, Dyslexia, Anxiety and she has also helped a child with TS.

Tuesday evening Tommy told me his tics were so bad and wasn't there something else we could try.  I told him about this new place and that I was going to look into it.  I went there on Wednesday and it seems amazing.  I've done further Internet research and read stories about it helping kids with TS.  I feel hope that I haven't felt in a long time.

Tommy and I are going there on Saturday for his brain mapping and testing and then he'll start next week, each Wednesday and Friday, to retrain his brain.  This is a big commitment for our family.  Tommy has to do his part, hubby needs to get him to my office on Wednesdays so I can take him up the mountain to Evergreen, and on Fridays (thank goodness I don't work on Fridays) I'll take him again for treatment.  I keep telling myself if medicine can't help him, then surely science will.

We should start seeing results 5-6 weeks in, but it will likely take 10 weeks.  It's pricey, but we are lucky to have family members who are helping.

I know my blog has been a source of entertainment, and then it became a black hole for months.  I'm going to use it over the coming weeks to talk about Tommy and his progress.  I can only think that we are going through this so that we can maybe help someone else someday.  Our family has experienced the downside of social media over the past several months.  There are some seriously vicious people out there.  I hope this treatment works because I'd like to reverse that karma and use social media to spread the word about neuro-therapy and how it can help kids like Tommy.

So if you are interested, stay tuned...and when we can get things turned around, I promise my old, fun blog will be back.