The sugary drinks have been winding down the last few weeks and now I find more reason to give it up for Good

As promised, I am going to write that follow up on the detrimental effects on Soda that have affected me for many years. In fact, many of those years I was in denial about quitting pop although several family and friends as well as medical professionals said it wasn’t good for me. I continuously ignored their advice, and drank a lot of it anyway.

When I was living with my parents, my dad hasn’t drank any Soda in 72 years of his life and my mom who would go for a glass now and then would have to hide it from me because I would drink it in spite of it being hers, sometimes after she drank from the bottle. I know that is disgusting. I never knew how truly addicted I was to the Soda.

Soda was eminent when growing up. My extended family always had it in their fridges. Many times it was caffeine free, sometimes not. Being younger and on Ritalin in my early years, I didn’t want anything to eat or drink for that matter. It didn’t really start in excess until I went away after High School to vocational rehabilitation school. There was no one watching or judging me and what I consumed. The facility was barrier free and was connected under one roof, meaning accessing vending machines was no difficulty. There was a bank of them very close to my dorm wing available around the clock. Also at the school was a canteen that offers hot food and yet another bank of drinks for consumption. I constantly visited these places, especially after I began to have social security benefits, because I didn’t have to pay rent, just a cable bill and some other things, so money was no object at the time. Regardless, in the year I stayed there, my weight blossomed from 256 to 280.

When I graduated, I came back home and joined a local gym, but with no real guidance and lack of proper diet, I never lost any weight. I continued to drink the soda in excess. My soda of choice when I first moved back was Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi. I loved it, I would usually buy a two liter bottle that would be short lived in my parents refrigerator. We had went to an amusement park later on and we visited the gift shop where it was the end of the season and merchandise was reduced. My mom bought a large blue plastic tumbler with a handle for 50 cents. From that time 12 years ago until I recently gave up pop. I would take that cup and fill it up with soda as far as I could possibly fill it without spilling it. My parents complained, sometimes excessively, but I acted like a jerk and did what I wanted anyway.

Also around that time, I joined the local TOPS chapter, yet still unwilling to make a full change, I would attempt at times to quit, but would relapse. One of the van drivers has for about five or six years would stop every morning at a local convince store so I could fill up on the sauce and this was later mixed with food that wasn’t healthy by any means.

Later I would have a change in transportation that I would no longer be able to get sodas in the morning, but the addiction continued. Everywhere I would go i would be looking for a vending machine so I could get my fix on sugar and caffeine. I kept ignoring the advice and guidance of my parents and others as I thought they were treating me like a child. However, I now realize this simply wasn’t the case, they were trying to look out for my best interest.

One of the days I remember my soda addiction got the best of me was April 21, 2017. I, along with my parents and co-workers made the journey to a hotel where I was awarded the Leadership in Recovery award by the local managed care organization for efforts in my mental health recovery. I knew were the soda spots were in the hotel and I wasn’t social that day alot. I just wanted my fix.

When the pomp and circumstance ended for the day and I was at my parents house. I requested for my mom to take me to the local store. She knew why and adamantly said no. For about twenty minutes I continued to ask again and again, and again and again the answer was NO! I ended that half hour screaming and yelling some pretty inappropriate stuff that someone who had a mother that would do anything in the best interest of her child should had no baseboard right doing. I realized how silly, yet so addicted to this stuff I was. And while my mom would then prohibit me from bringing it in the house from that point on, I had the van driver I currently have and he would stop pretty regularly for me to get my fix. It would be almost another two years before I would give the sauce up for good.

The next year I would have many changes as some of them are outlined here in this blog and some will be discussed later

While I got my learner’s permit early in 2018. One of the biggest hurdles of 2018 was that I began living independently, thus not being under the control of my parents. I began making rules like no Soda and the house. That lasted two days, if that.

Nonetheless, I became addicted more than ever to soda and at massive quantities. While I never took an exact inventory, I do recall instances of buying four liters at time on top of 44 or even 52 fluid ounces of diet Coke zero was my choice. This would be sometimes added with a half gallon of sweet tea.

Also I started learning how to drive at the end of 2018 and I do have to admit it was difficult to judge and stay focused. However over three weeks ago I passed my exam. It wasn’t until one week later at that TOPS meeting that I learned what was actually in diet soda. After drinking over 5 liters of soda within a 24 hours prior (conservative estimate) I gave up the pop, somewhat.

Now I can’t say I am perfect, but what I can assure you that I no longer drink any Diet soda. I have had two regular sodas and a ginger ale this past week. This is only because I was having sweet tea for about two weeks and I’ve gradually cut that back, using water, etc. There are so many affects of sugars. I’ll get into that and relating that with autism in another post.

As of right now, other than the few occasions I had a social soda, I have been free from Soda for 21 days at TOPS meeting tonight. As of today, I plan to go to mainly water as its effects are nothing but positive. I hope it works out for me. Stay tuned.

Before Learning to Drive, A Learner’s Permit was required, a struggle best describes it

I wanted to write another blog post to follow up on my first report on getting my driver’s license last week. I thought I would be worth explaining the struggle to get the permit alone, as it was a difficult task and as I was excited to just have a driver’s license. This is because I was writing a newsletter article for the entity that I recieve employment services through. I will share that once it is published mid-February.

Think Long, Think Wrong

Once I began the recovery journey, have pondered over the last decade about obtaining a driver’s license. The same entity that I receive job supports through also provided driving instruction. In fact, I knew the gentleman assigned to the post, as he worked with me in my youth as my casemanager. I even got more stoked when a close acquantice through the agency got his license. When he got his, I was more stoked, to the point I would get the physical form requred for the permit filled out my my practiconier. However, soon after he graduated, I would learn that due to fiscal austerity the program would be discontinued in my area and if I wanted to pursue this, I would have to seek other options.

I knew that studying for my permit wouldn’t be hard, as I obsessed on traffic signs as  young child. It would just be learning manuvers, laws and other pertinent information, like teen driver and DUI laws, etc. Here in Pennsylvania, a Android App made this easier and I began in earnest for this, practicing occasionally.

Better Late than Never

As time went on I realized that taking the knowledge test became a necessity. Therefore, I had a close friend escort me to the local DMV. The DMV can be a very diffucult venue with someone on the spectrum, as in my area, it was undersized, crowded and overstimulating. Nonetheless, my wait was short and a proceeded to the proper destination when my number was called upon.

As I was seated, I had all necessary paperwork, all that would neeed to be administered would be a simple eye examination. Simple, I thought, because I was at the eye doctor less than a week prior, I would have no trouble. I was wrong! When I looked in the device, which was ancient, I read what was seen, and the proctor stated that I was blind in one eye. He then stated that I would have to have my eye doctor fill out a form for me to proceed and if I met the state law for vision requirements, I could take my knowledge test. He said that it would be up to them.

I was shocked, maybe because like many other individuals on the spectrum, I took this seriously. As I told my friend she was shocked, and would drive me home.  She instructed me to cover each eye and read road signs, etc. Could there be faulty equiment? I was very doubtful and was regresing some Meanwhile,  I went back to the eye doctor and had the state form filled out. But, I would be hesitant on going back to that DMV anyway.

Another County, Another World

As time neared, I had to muster the courage to visit a DMV, and as such, I had a week left on the physical form. So on Easter Saturday, my mom would escort me to the DMV in a neighboring county, as we are within a half hour drive of either and it was close to my sister’s house. I went early in the morning, being a Saturday, the center is usually attended by teens . As I went in a driver’s instructor said good luck and I went in, the first one for the day,

I handed all my paperwork to the proctor and she said because I had the form filled out by the eye doctor, she would not need to provide the eye examination and that I could take the knowledge test. She directs me to the computer, I put on the headphones and begin, I take  my time and narrow the answers, and answer the questions, of which when submitted return a correct response. In Pennsylvania, 15 out of the 18 randomly selected questions is required for approval. After answering the fifteenth question, I am directed to visit the proctor, where she tells me that I earned my learner’s permit and directs me to write a payment for the four year license, a standard in Pennsylvania

After I leave the center, I go to my sister’s house where she took this photo in her kitchen. Sadly,  I was not wearing the best of clothes, as I was wearing a thrift-shop shirt representing a neighboring school district that was a little snug. None the less, she makes the following photo. I later sharded it on my autism page that same day.

learner's permi

I have a permit, now I don’t want to learn.

With the permit, I had a year to take my exam. There was the option to extend it, however in psychotherapy, this was not a option. My mother offered to assist me in paying for lessons, but the buck stopped at her teaching her as she had difficulty in teaching my sister. The search began. One day, I was in a local convenence store where I seen a ad for a specialized driving school. I went home and did my research, the website, Facebook and Google reviews, etc. The number I knew was a cell phone exchange and I was hesitant in calling. Nonetheless, I mustered up the courage to call, the dreaded voicemail. I immedately hung up.

Not a few minutes later, he calls back. I explain my interest in taking driver’s lessons. He asks me a few simple questions, like how old I am, and have I ever drove a car. He then proceeds to ask if I have any disabilites. I feel open enough to elude to him that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. He then asks if I have a job. I state yes. He now instructs me to call my local Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) as they will assist me in paying for the lessons as it is a step to independence.  I call OVR the next day and they instruct me to go online to fill out a referral, of which my job support staff assist me in completing.

A few weeks go by and I hear no response from the OVR district office. Family and friends direct me to call the local office. and I did. The operator linked me to the assigned counselor and we talk for a bit and a meeting is needed to re-open my case. This would be the third time for such activity. I had attended their post secondary school over 14 years ago and the last time was nine years ago whwn the job supports assisted me in getting stuff I needed for my job when I needed it.

I go to the local field office on a Thursday and fill out the required forms to open my case. The counselor is overly friendly, I share my prior experiences with OVR and she states how the agency has chaged for the better. We close by her giving me a folder with informatioon.  The next steps are to develop an goal plan then proceed with a goal completion in January 2019,

It Gets Even Better

Four days later, I get a call from who would now be my apartment manager stating their was a opening here and would I like to move in beginning in August. I graciously accepted and would spend over a month, prepping and moving in.  (I will write articles o this later.) Within that transition, I did not change my contact information with OVR and the counselor called my house. Nonetheless, I called her right back and we set up a time to go over the goal plan, still keeping the same school I want and the target goal date of January 2019.

The next month, I get a purchase order from OVR in the mail and my instructor calls the next day. You could say the rest is history. We began instruction the following week. Again, read my prior post my learning to drive.