Saturday, November 10, 2012

Victorious Landmarks

I have so many victories to report... especially things I am grateful for. For starters, my book 'Love, Life, and God' was not one of the winners of that non-fiction writing contest, however, I remain in full control of HOW it is written and when it will be available for sale. Thus, I am extremely grateful. I succeeded in creating a beautiful website with HostBaby: (www.reneealtersatmosphere.com). I performed on October 13 at the Herb & Art Festival with confidence... as if I've been performing my entire life. I even remembered all the words to the songs I performed in addition to remembering the chords I'm supposed to strum while I sing them. I have settled into my beautiful apartment & have made friends with all my neighbors. I continue to accomplish the daily tasks of living (on my own) despite days of extreme pain. I put my electric power chair up for sale, feeling confident that I won't be needing it again. It now sits in my apartment waiting for the right person to come along who wants to buy it. Every time I look at it, I am grateful that I do not need it anymore. Pain Specialists of Austin opened a new clinic in one of my neighboring cities. Now I can start getting trigger point injections again... just in time for the cold weather which is blowing in. I am grateful that I have arthritis & Fibromyalgia instead of Lupus & MS which was initially suspected by my doctors. EMPI, the company I got my TENS from, have additional items available: a carrying case for the TENS, the belt that holds it, & a lower back strap that includes 4 fabric electrodes... just in time for the cold weather that is blowing in. The woman who takes my orders at EMPI every month has become one of my friends... and I found out she wears a TENS, also, on her lower back just like I do. I decided to do a presentation on the topic of "HOW TO WRITE & SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK FOR PRACTICALLY NOTHING" after I met a number of people who told me they wanted to write a book, too, BUT... so I will start to give classes on how to do all the things I've learned how to do during my down time of which I have lots. I will be able to earn some extra money to pay for the additional medical expenses I will incur to control the pain that lives in my body. I will feel empowered in addition to feeling like I have meaning & purpose in my life... a necessity so I can push myself through pain. I got the x-ray results back from films that were taken 2 weeks ago for Pain Specialists of Austin. I really hoped I'd see improvement... but the situation has gotten worse. But I won't think about it much. I refuse. For now, I will create--create--create. Then as I grow older, weaker, & less able, I will still be able to do 2 of my favorite things: write & talk to people. I'll have things they will want to purchase from me: my books & my music. I'll feel like I have something worthwhile to leave behind for my future grandchildren. My first will be arriving early January. A girl. She will be living 1,500 miles away. However, social media will enable me to see what her mother will post on facebook... photos & videos. Maybe I will even be able to travel & meet her in person. Maybe, they will travel to see me...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Life is Truly Full of Miracles!

It's been unBELIEVEABLE! I just wrote my 2nd book titled "LOVE, LIFE, AND GOD: Getting Past the Pain". So I am not going to write the whole book in this blog. It is currently getting proofread. Louise Hay Publishing company (I subscribe to their newsletters) notified me of a contest for non-fiction/memoirs. Your manuscript had to be more than 50,000 words. It was time to write my 2nd book so for 2 weeks straight, I worked on it, pulling in information I had posted in this blog, inserting content from numerous essays I had already written, and typed up lots of great stuff I had written in letters to my mother (which I retrieved during my last visit). I didn't know if I could get to 50,000 words, but I made it to 60,000 words!

A brief summary goes as follows:
December 2011, I realized I needed to get back on some estrogen. When I did, the never-ending hot flashes alternating with chills cleared up.

January 2012, my doctor convinced me to try a generic of Remeron, a completely different class of anti-depressant. In about 1-1/2 weeks, I began to pull out of depression. It felt amazing to go from feeling detached and disconnected to remembering who I was and then some.

February 2012, I was still physically weak and emotionally challenged. My son was to get married on March 25 ... out in California ... and I just didn't think I could make the trip (on AMTRAK). I declared to GOD, that "IF YOU WANT ME TO GO, SEND SOMEONE TO HELP ME AND GIVE ME A REASON TO COME BACK!" Just after I made this declaration, I met a man at HEB who was looking for an available cashier just like I was. Because he just happened to comment that the lines were as bad as being stuck on the Mopac and the 35, I swung around to say "You were in Austin!" Yes he was. When I asked if he was working there, he replied yes he was. When I asked WHERE, he replied "a recording studio". To make a whole book's worth short, he ended up coming to the house, and listening to a couple of my songs. I got stronger and excited about getting all of them recorded. I even started to write new songs. He has truly been a gift in my life, and it is turning out that I have been a gift in his. I was able to get stronger physically, emotionally, and mentally, I was able to go to my son's wedding, and I had a LOT of reasons to come back! I even found a new chiropractor who has done wonders for this poor back of mine!

May 2012, I moved out of the HEB house and into my own awesome apartment. The lady who moved out of it didn't need any of her furnishings except her bedroom stuff. I bought everything (including shower curtains, wall decs, dish set) for under $300!!!!

Now, in addition to completing my 2nd book, I have begun recording my songs. This man is giving his all in helping me learn about the process, coaching me every step of the way. I have been posting my progress on my personal facebook page. So go take a peek!!!! I am simply blown away and in awe at all that has been happening in my life! I will be creating a webpage and getting 3 songs professionally recorded to upload as MP3's. On October 13, I will be giving my first solo public performance in front of a large crowd. (I met someone else at HEB who suggested I volunteer at the Chamber of Commerce office which is how I ended up getting on the list of entertainment for the Herb Fest).

In July 2010, I did stop all the meds cold turkey... and after the withdrawal, I "woke up" and received life instructions from GOD ... and that HE/SHE did not give me talents to keep in a box. Then I ended up in a BLACK HOLE when the euphoria wore off ... depressed & disconnected. I abandoned all my projects and gave up. I had no idea that I would be sent someone (yes, GOD sent me someone) to get me back on that track again. So you can see ... I have been walking around with a silly grin on my face because DREAMS ARE COMING TRUE!!! I've been through hell and back ... all that just for a book? Oh, well!

Blessed be ... this will probably be my last post on this blog for awhile. You'll have to look at my facebook page for updates ... and I will have links on it to my other pages as well.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missing In Action

I've been gone for awhile.... missing in action.

The hottest heat wave arrived in Texas (and most everywhere) this last July. I felt helpless the night the roof a/c of the motor home groaned to a halt at 10pm. The week before, I visited a 70 year old lady on one of her good days, who had a very severe case of FMS. At 2am the night the a/c died, she texted me that I could come over to her house if I had trouble with my a/c. I thought maybe she was psychic. The following morning, a window a/c was propped up into the window by the dinette, and I prayed it would work sufficiently. By 11am, the temperature had climbed to 90 inside and I had to get out of there. I drove to that lady's house that day and every day for the next 2 months, returning to home base around 8:30pm. Most nights it was still 90 when I got home. I was relieved that the 2 kittens had gone back to the farm to live (couldn't sleep with their night activity in small quarters).

On the up side, I had an air conditioned place to hang out during the day while temperatures soared over 100 degrees. On the down side, the lady was sick and in pain all but two of those days. She hibernated in her bedroom and swallowed numerous pills of every kind to deal with her afflictions. I became terrified of ending up like her by the time I was 70. On top of that, I had nothing to do while I was there except lay down on her sofa (for comfort), read, or watch her large screen TV.  I got very little exercise or human interaction. As the days went by, I sunk deeper and deeper into what I learned is 'THE BLACK HOLE'. Read any information about anxiety and depression... I had most of the symptoms. As each day went by, I dreaded returning to that house. I also began to dread going back to the motor home. Her husband (15 years younger than her and a disabled vet who hibernated in HIS room) asked if I would be interested in moving in with them. I politely declined, horrified of what my life would be like if I did. I desperately wanted to pack what would fit in my car and return to California... stay with my older sister or my mother. Their doors are closed due to difficult transitional situations they are both dealing with. In my despair, I detached from them and grieved about not having a home to go back to.

In September, I started searching diligently for other possible living situations, browsing craigslist. The motor home was fun for awhile. I had survived the winter wearing sweaters, hats, scarves & gloves to bed because my 'house' wasn't insulated. Even with electric heaters running, it was COLD. I kicked myself for trading in my paid for van for a newer car with a 6 year commitment of payments. In this part of Texas I could have afforded a decent apartment without them (car payments). I was isolated where I was living, gas prices were up and it was 20 miles round trip to anywhere (except her house). I checked out one nice house to see if I could rent a room, but it, too, was in an isolated area.

On craigslist, a post from a disabled woman looking to rent a room caught my eye. Didn't have a room for her... yet. I also looked down at my checkbook and declared I needed a new place to live SOON before I had to reorder checks. Within 24 hours I learned that one of the landlord's houses had been vacated and would be available for rent... the one in town next to the grocery store. I had been in it a year before and wondered at that time if I'd ever live in it.

I contacted the woman via craigslist (email) and told her about the house. When I went to look at it, I was horrified by its condition. I bolted back to the motor home in a major tizzy.  Summer was not over and neither was the heat wave. The only thing going for this house was recently installed central heat/air and weatherized windows/doors. It was old. It was filthy. Supporting boards under it were broken so the floors were wavy and tiles were cracked. Inside must have had 15 coats of paint and was about to get another one. The bathroom was unfinished. The landlord told me I could live there rent free (pay for the utilities) while I cleaned it up and painted it. ME?

I slept on the floor on a mat in the midst of 'construction' because it was air conditioned... unless I went to that other lady's house again. I endured many anxiety attacks which continued long after he finally agreed to do most of the cleaning/painting. Linda (from craigslist) arrived a week early, before her room could be painted. She was relieved to have a place to go. While she is perfectly OK with the condition of this house (she had endured worse), I had to try really hard to focus on what was good about living here... including no lease and no security deposit which freed both Linda and I to transfer to places we were on waiting lists for. I ended up moving most of my belongings one carload at a time, making about one trip a week. I discovered that the motor home was infested with mice, who chewed up some shoes and other belongings. Once the kittens were gone, I guess they felt safe enough to move in.

In an attempt to be positive, I declared this place to be a half-way house... half way between where I was living before and where I would live next. My brother, Jon, passed away the day after Thanksgiving which gave me a real reason to grieve.

Then two weeks ago, I received a call from a 55+ Active Senior Apartments I looked into last July which I heard about from a lady who arranged day trips for seniors. I was told a new complex was being completed and they wanted to know if I'd be interested in applying for it. I drove out there with a friend to see it, and filled out the application... I'd have to start all over again in a new city but I finally feel like I have something to hope for again.... I'm on the waiting list...

Meanwhile, if I have anything going for me, it is a streak of stubbornness. If I couldn't get counseling, I would have to study up and learn how to get myself out of the rut of depression I fell into. I am also learning that certain people are prone to depression (like me) and I have to learn to spot the warning signs. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is supposed to help people deal with Arthritis and other chronic afflictions, which are often complicated by depression (feeling powerless), but I don't have the kind of insurance that pays for it.  I managed to get to the library and started reading up on depression, depression self-help, psychology, Yoga, etc. Although one of the many counselors I sought out only took cash patients, he loaned me a couple of books I could read. I started back on Premarin (estrogen) which stopped the never-ending waves of hot flashes that plaqued me all night long as well as the day time. I also started up on 1/2 of the smallest available dose of an anti-depressant called Remeron (its generic). I've been on it a week with no side affects.... and maybe its working.

I've been reading 'Yoga and the Quest for the True Self' by Stephen Cope most of today. Interestingly, COPE is what this book is helping me to do.

Today, in the midst of thunder storms (literally), muscle contractions and pain, (I tried to go without the TENS for most of the day)  I felt a sense of hope again. So I climbed into this blog, which I haven't touched since June and created this post. I've already moved 42 times ... maybe I'll start packing now for the next one.

I got through today, I can get through tomorrow.