Thursday, December 6, 2018

Notes inspired by doing Word-Finds


Sometimes words not listed as options appear. (Sometimes you will find your answers when you least expect to in unexpected ways.)

If you can’t find a word from the first letter to the last, try looking from last to first or from one of the middle options. (Sometimes the solution to a problem is found when you look at it at another angle.)

Everything changes including moods. (I must become OK with the crazy fluctuations in my moods vs. expecting consistency. Nothing in this world is constant. Change is a fact of life... regardless of how difficult it is for me to accept.)

All the answers can eventually be found… sometimes you have to look away for a while and then look back again. (Self-explanatory.)

Sometimes what you think is a word turns out to be something else--a different word entirely. (Question your assumptions.)

When you stop trying so hard to find a word and put the book down or look away, the answer appears when you look at it again. (If something seems hard, put it down for a while, and give your brain a rest. Then look into it again.)

When you’re tired, it’s much more difficult to find what you’re looking for. (It's impossible for me to do anything when I'm tired... including Word-Finds.)

Some letters are easier to find than others. (Some solutions are easier to find than others.)

Do you do Word-Find puzzles? Can you think of something else besides what I've listed here?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Preface of Love, Life, & God: Getting Past the Pain

On February 15, 2012, (I was 56), I met a man I will refer to as Wayne, as he wishes to remain anonymous. We were both looking for an available check-out line at the grocery store. When he commented that the situation was as bad as being stuck in traffic on the Mopac and the 35, I knew he was talking about Austin, where I had lived back in 1997. I swung around with a sense of excitement, and asked: “you were in Austin?” He replied that he had been working there. I had to know where. He said a recording studio. BINGO. I retained him in lengthy conversation which continued in the lobby and out in the parking lot. He had someplace else he needed to go, so we exchanged phone numbers. Later I texted something in the line of “did I tell you I write songs?” He ended up coming to where I lived to see the guitar I had and listened to a couple of my songs. It turned out that he had played in several bands and had lots of experience in the music industry as a songwriter, musician, and a sound engineer. It was a life-changing event for me.

You see, at the time I met him, I was just starting to recover from falling into what one of my Facebook friends referred to as “THE BLACK HOLE”—a state of severe depression which included feeling completely hopeless and abandoned. My self-esteem had shattered. Memories of past traumatic events had re-surfaced and I had been feeling an odd sense of detachment and amnesia. All of this started about six months after doing a very dangerous thing. In July 2010, after being told “YOU‘RE ASLEEP—IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP,” I stopped taking the 11 medications I had been prescribed by my doctors cold turkey. I did it at home, alone. The withdrawal was wicked and lasted about six days.

When it was over, I experienced one of the most exciting time periods of my life, after receiving my ‘life instructions,’ which included writing… books, songs, poetry, etc. Barely six months later, I began to experience ‘crashes,’ PTSD, anxiety attacks and depression because I really DID need to stay on a few of those medications. But I’ll tell you more about that later. I knew I needed psychological counseling. However, because I was on Medicare, the free clinic here in town declined me. At the clinic that DID accept Medicare, the sizable co-pays were more than what I could afford and I wouldn’t have money for gas to get there and back. I wasn’t willing to add financial debt to the stress I was already dealing with.

My son still lived in California and was to get married on March 25, (2012). I felt too emotionally, mentally, and physically messed up to go. Then I flat out told God (and I don’t know why sometimes I get what I tell him I need and other times I don’t) “IF YOU WANT ME TO GO, SEND SOMEONE TO HELP ME AND GIVE ME A REASON TO COME BACK!!!!”

That’s when Wayne showed up. At first, I was a bit shocked. Did God just send someone to help me? One of the first days he visited, I was about to go for a walk so I invited him to join me. During that walk, he pulled up a pant leg to show me the tattoo of a Scorpion. My first reaction to seeing it was that we were destined to meet because that Scorpion is my astrological sign. It was also his deceased father’s. It was as though he had shown up as a guide to direct me back onto the life path I had been given just after I went through the withdrawal.

Wayne remained in my life until the following year, helping me to remember who I was before I developed that strange sense of amnesia. He raved about my poetry, songwriting, and talent, helping me to gain a renewed sense of courage to step forward into life again as though emerging from a state of hibernation. He continuously told me both verbally and in texts things such as: “you’re a beautiful soul,” “you’re caring, considerate,” “you’re a positive energy,” “you’re a decent honest person,” “you’re extremely talented,” “you’re sweet and thoughtful,” “you have an awesome, unique sense of humor,” “you always have interesting things to talk about,” and after he read my book, Appearances: A Journey of Self-Discovery, he told me that “the poetry is outstanding, precious, and phenomenal.” I believed him. He helped me to get stronger in many different ways AND he gave me a lot of reasons to come back.

Metaphorically, Wayne planted flowers I didn’t know existed in the mental/emotional garden I thought I had already cultivated. I was also able to get closure on the last 16 years of my life to enter into a new one. And it was time to write this book, Part II of my life story.

This book is available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audible.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Holiday Reminiscing

With Thanksgiving around the corner, followed by Christmas, I am reminiscing about childhood memories… and some adult ones, too. As poor as I thought I was (surviving on Social Security Disability on my own), I now know I was still wealthier than a huge percentage of the population on the planet. After all, I always had a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes and shoes to wear, and at least a sofa or pad to sleep on. Where I was the poorest was in my faith that circumstances would ever get better. It took keeping a gratitude journal over the last few years to see all the ways my life WAS getting better.

Growing up, with six of us children (all blood siblings), we usually got one large Chanukah/Christmas present to be shared by all. I remember one year getting lincoln logs, another year tinker toys, and another year blocks. In the meantime, the neighbors across the street set out a display of deer (reindeer) on their front lawn each year. Now I live in a place where LIVE BREATHING deer walk around.

Mom had many talents, one of those painting nature in realistic detail. Somehow, the neighbor found out and asked Mom to repaint the facial features of her deer. The neighbor then offered to pay Mom, but Mom refused to take the money. Perhaps it was a matter of pride and unwillingness to admit that we could have used it. And that year, Santa Claus came. I will never forget waking up one morning to find wrapped gifts for each of us. I don’t remember what everyone else got, but I got my very own white-haired life-size baby doll and took my new motherhood seriously.

I was able to learn how to play the viola in school because someone had donated an instrument I could borrow. Music remains an important part of my life.

I didn’t work for the first few years after my son was born, partly due to chronic fatigue after being in bed for six months during the pregnancy due to complications, partly because there was no way I was leaving my son, my world, with a complete stranger to take care of. Besides, after the cost of childcare, especially for a baby in diapers, I wouldn’t have much to live on even if I did work.

Along the way, I somehow found out about food banks, where unbeknownst to me, I was getting just about every type of food that was making my health condition worse than it already was (hot dogs, bread, huge blocks of cheese, pasta). I also somehow found out about a non-profit organization called ‘Parent Help,’ a resource for single parents. It was nice (and yet not so nice) to find out there were many other single parents besides me. Sometimes, I was graciously surprised when I received an unexpected gift card from someone who was more affluent than I was… and still appreciate receiving them to this day.

I had a few good years of making enough income (once I returned to work) to do well, get what my son and I needed, and live on our own in nice apartments vs. renting rooms. Dreams of marrying someone who would provide the financial support never came to pass. As intelligent as I was, due to childhood ‘programming,’ I was blind when it came to red flags, choosing many of the ‘wrong’ partners who manipulated me into supporting them instead of them supporting me and my son… or at the least, contribution to household expenses.

Anyway, on the road to surviving, I found many non-profits along with the volunteers who ran them… volunteers with the passion and energy to help others. At the time, my self-esteem was too low to do anything other than show up to accept whatever services they offered. However, psychological support was not one of them, something I could have benefited in from the very beginning… especially in the field of positive psychology.

Today, I would still accept the generosity of food banks, community holiday meals, etc., however, I’ve made my health a priority… something I learned to do as I learned how to love myself. (What would someone who loves themselves do? Nourish my cells.) I feel much better than in years past when I ate just to satiate hunger vs. nourish my cells.

Now that I have learned there is very little offered in a feast that actually supports health, I prefer not to participate (unless I bring my own plate or dish to contribute to a potluck). Occasionally, when I do… telling myself just this once, it will be OK… it never is. My body knows the difference. I prayed over that turkey and candied yam that was on my plate before I ate it on Wednesday… and afterward, felt like I had food poisoning… intestinal cramps, headache, muscle pain, and more.

I can’t bear to watch others eat what they eat… the sweets made with sugar (or artificial sugar), corn syrup, etc. I prefer a fresh piece of non-pesticide sprayed fruit. I can’t bear to watch others eat ham and turkey that was processed from animals grown in crowded horrific conditions, injected with hormones to grow quickly, doused with antibiotics to cut down on disease… disease because they live in their own feces. I can’t bear to see healthy vegetables made into salads with mayonnaise made with canola oil and eggs from chickens that were also raised in crowded, diseased pens, and fed GMO corn and soy. I can’t bear to watch others eat bread I know has been made with wheat that was doused with Roundup and processed with the neurotoxin bromine. (I’m ‘educated’ now.)

I would like to be in a position to help others less fortunate than me, but my body needs all the energy I have to take care of myself. What I learn from taking care of myself, especially in the way of mental health and nutrition, could grow into helping others, so I am open to the possibility of this happening. We’ll see. I’ve discovered that education in topics I have been learning increase my sense of value in what I have to offer others.

I see more news about all the volunteers who help out where there are wildfires and floods than helping those who are less fortunate in my own neighborhood, city, state, and country. Why does there have to be a major disaster for this to happen? Donations of clothes and food aren’t enough when you are mentally and emotionally bankrupt. Those who have lived that way for too long, don’t know of any other way to be. Fear, as well as loss of hope, can annihilate the soul. The more resilient ones will recover quickly.

This year, the main question on my mind was, “How can I pay the generosity I’ve received forward?”

Perhaps I can teach my granddaughter at the tender age of 5, going on 6, to become aware of those less fortunate than she is… and figure out a way to help another child or family in need. I received a gift card that I forwarded to her parents with instructions. I’ve watched the children of The Copperas Cove Five Hills Scholarship Pageant come up with ways to ‘pay it forward,’ establishing various fund-raising activities to support various causes. I find this impressive… starting children out with this in mind from a very early age. I also watched a video about children in school ‘adopting’ a lonely, special needs child into their group.

I wonder how life could have been different for me if I had been exposed to these opportunities when I was young… instead of sitting on the sidelines as a lonely, empathic introvert. I’ll just have to come up with ways to do it now.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Finding My Way

Once upon a time, I felt isolated.
I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
As years went by, and I cried my cries,
I finally learned how to swim.

I learned words like empath and introvert,
providing me with new understanding.
I battled with the questions like, “Who am I?”
Boarded a new boat to a new landing.

Decades went by while I diligently searched
for answers to the meaning of life;
searching for a place to comfortably fit in
which included being somebody’s wife.

But who WAS I? The question remained,
and what is my purpose in the world?
My sense of direction was pretty poor…
and I didn’t mature from being a teen-aged girl.

Searching for love had been my priority.
I didn’t feel safe or secure at home.
But I took all false beliefs with me into life
and wherever I managed to roam.

More years went by and I cried my cries…
depression was just a fact of life.
I didn’t realize how skilled I was manifesting
and manifested a lot of trials and strife.

Here I am today, almost 63 years old.
I finally met others who are just like me.
We are writers, poets, empaths, and introverts
all different, special, experienced, and unique.

I found meaning in new skills I learned
and passed these skills on with a sense of purpose.
An introvert I still remain, but now
wisdom commands I contribute to the life of the planet.

Positive psychology provided many answers
to ruminating about what I couldn’t change.
I learned the art of gratitude…
the compass that guides me through growing pains.

Every time I find myself judging,
I recognize I am also judging myself.
We are all miraculous beings so I must be, too…
one of many special books on a bookshelf.

The longer I live, the easier life seems to get. I wonder if everyone could get a glimpse of their future possible selves if this would make a difference in the time they are living now.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Pain: Sensations vs. Danger

As I notice numerous sensations traveling through my lower body, I acknowledge they are only sensations... the pain, burning, tingling, numbness in my glutes, legs, and feet are not dangerous... just uncomfortable.

When I think of danger, my fight or flight response kicks in... and this could lead to danger as blood pressure goes up and adrenaline kicks in. With an adrenaline rush, I don't necessarily make good decisions. (Nobody does.)

It would be so nice if I can really convince myself I am not in danger. I am doing a lot better job of it these days... controlling anxious thoughts and reactions. However, my fight or flight kicks in (White Coat Fever) every time I go see an allopathic doctor ... terrorized by memories of what they might decide to do with me. I do not experience this when I see a chiropractor or my holistic nutritionist. With them, I feel calm and safe. How can I get to feeling safe with allopathic?

What part of it all could be dangerous, I wonder?

I am wiser and more informed... so I have more knowledge to base decisions on instead of allowing procedures to be done to me or pharmaceuticals to be prescribed without knowing the whole picture... the risks vs. benefits. The trouble is, I have seen when children are taken away from parents who decline allopathic treatment and seek out holistic treatment instead. Just knowing this is happening... that those parents are not given choices... I don't feel safe that I will always be able to make my own choices.

I suppose danger would be a matter of perception... what I tell myself the discomfort means. I've fallen into the black hole of depression before... not a safe place to be. And this is in my medical records. Also what is in my medical records is my refusal to take anti-depressants again.

I am clumsy on my feet and fall over like a toddler who has just learned to walk... so I use a walker. The danger here is that I could hurt myself when I fall... which I have done on numerous occasions. There are places I go without using the said walker.

Two weeks ago, my ears perked up when Annie (a new acquaintance) told me about compounding creams she is prescribed for her back pain. I had not heard of them before. This led to me finding out the doctor she sees (pain management) who comes to my town every Tuesday.

I avoid going to my GP as long as possible while getting chiropractic and holistic care (which she is not exactly in favor of). In order to get a referral to someone new, I had to go. First, since the last MRIs were taken 11 years ago, she wanted me to get new ones. Then she referred me to Annie's doctor at Capitol Pain Institute.

I go to doctors prepared... with type-written reports. After all, doctors, in general, only have 15 minutes at the most to evaluate your situation and make recommendations. (Maybe this is why I have adrenaline rushes? There is so much to do in just 15 minutes!) I had typed up a report for my GP and a separate one for Dr. Desai. (I got 15 minutes with the GP and 30 minutes first visit with Dr. Desai.)

Just like it takes me weeks-months to work on a speech for Toastmasters, it takes me weeks-months to write this report. You should try this sometime. I have revised these reports numerous times... and worry that I will miss noting an important detail. In reality, the physician is going to speed-read it and not pay attention to each and every detail.

Capitol Pain Institute has intake forms you download ahead of time to fill out. Half of page 2 was an extensive summary of all the dangers and side effects of pharmaceutical drugs... including ones I had been prescribed in the past. I felt relieved to know they cared and were aware. I also noted they are INTEGRATIVE which is different than past experiences. I am hopeful.

I now wait to receive: compounding cream (was told it would be mailed to me), a new back brace (the one I purchased on Amazon is not suitable), and the results of the new MRIs. I also have to get new x-rays for flexion and extension.

Information, I tell myself. It is just for information. Don't make up stories and meanings about what these images will show or what they might want to do to you.

The only thing that is broken is pars connection to L5.

As many times as I have fallen or have been in car accidents, none of my body parts have ever fractured. And I'm still here. Yes, the other thing I tell myself often is there must BE a reason I am still here. I must have PURPOSE.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Late Bloomer

Copyright (c) 2018 Renee Alter

This is a photo of a tree in my neighborhood that was the last to come back to life this last Spring. I thought it was dead. What a surprise when it began to bloom as Summer arrived. This tree inspired me to contemplate on the subject of being a late bloomer... and not giving up on what appears to be dead... like my health and my spirit.

I was, indeed, a late bloomer. My mother reported that I never crawled on all fours... I just pulled myself along like a Comanche. All these years later, I decided to look up what this word meant.

A Comanche is a member of an American Indian people ranging from Wyoming and Nebraska south into New Mexico and northwestern Texas.

Mom loved Westerns and must have been thinking about how Indians dropped to the ground and quietly pulled themselves around on their bellies just before attacking their target, whether it was a human or an animal. Yes, this must be what she meant. I was also very quiet.

I was a late bloomer when it came to walking, too, finally finding my 'balance' at 15 months of age, although, I am still challenged with finding my balance. I'm sure the bifocals I used to wear and the medications I used to take affected my depth perception and balance as well. Finding a balance in life has always been challenging as well. In trying to prove my worthiness to others, I often pushed myself too hard, suffering the consequences later. Now I know I only need to prove worthiness to myself.

In life, I was a late bloomer in many more ways. While all the other girls were growing mounds on their chests, I didn't sprout any until much later. For a fearful, introverted, shy female, this didn't go well when I was 'assaulted' by the sneers and bullying of other students while in school. I didn't fit in anywhere (in school). I also continued to look like a middle schooler well on after I graduated high school. While my skin stayed young throughout my years, I can't say the same for my body. Autoimmune issues can do that to you.

In relationships, I was a late bloomer when relating to others. I was a good listener, felt compassion for others, but had no clue how to actually communicate. Instead, I withdrew into my own inner world, while my body turned against itself. As I read and studied more about human behavior and psychology over the last seven years, I began to understand both myself and others. I finally began to bloom.

All these years later, I realize I am a "normal" introvert with some extrovert tendencies. There is even a term for this: Ambivert. I spend most of my time in solitude, will not step foot into an event with a lot of people--preferring small groups, and after I am with a group of people, I need downtime to recover from the energy drain. Knowing there are many others who are similar makes a huge difference.

The term “ambivert” may be new to you, but it may also define and shed some light on your own personality traits. To simplify it, an ambivert is a person who has both introvert and extrovert qualities and may bounce between the two.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Wheels

I enjoyed some years of walking... how I reframed my recent "episode" (implying it is not permanent) of leg weakness/pain over several months that kept getting worse until I couldn't walk at all. This time, since I'd been through it all before (and already have my wheels), I didn't panic. 

Me--not panic? This is a new one for me. I finally digested that stressing out makes things worse. So does getting angry.

The weakness/numbness in my glutes, thighs, and legs moves around--to the right side--to the left side--back again. To the toes--but different ones each time. No matter how many pillows and pieces of foam I prop myself up on, I wake up with cramping hips and legs. 

In the past, I just got weak and numb all over from the waist down. I am currently on guard, wondering if this will happen again... so I am getting prepared. Better to be prepared than sorry. I arranged for someone who runs errands, and I will call and register for the HOP -- transportation to doctor/therapy appointments, especially ones that are out of town.

Since I know we are made up of energy, I watch where the 'energy' goes with some amusement (vs. fear). But not knowing when or how it will affect me, I decided it isn't safe to drive more than around my tiny town -- at least for now -- until I know what to expect. It would never happen suddenly... slowly over the course of say 5 minutes.

I had to begin asking for rides... something I had never been comfortable doing... if I was going to continue participating in club activities. Thank goodness I finally know people I can ask for help from! I can't drive further than my tiny town (no cruise control) as in addition to pain/weakness, I get cramps in my right leg while it is holding the position on the gas pedal. 

I pulled out my WHEELS which had been on standby in the storage closet off my back patio for who knows how many years -- since sometime in 2012 after I moved into this complex on the other side. 

While I went and sold my electric wheelchair (oops), I kept the walker. I had (falsely) assumed that if I needed an electric wheelchair again, I could get a new one because it had been more than 5 years since I had gotten the other one. Nope. Medicare changed rules. You can't get an electric wheelchair for outside... only if you need one in the house. Do I hide all my chairs on wheels and ask for one anyway? 

Also, I didn't have to pay a share of cost for the other one (which I got in California) and I'd have to pay here.  I would only be able to get the very expensive one that Medicare will pay for... billing me 20%. If I have to pay 20% of $5,000+, I'd rather invest $700 in a scooter of my choice. Unless I can manifest a donated one. :-) 

It is possible that going two years without chiropractic didn't help... at least I got to go for three years from 2012 - 2015. I'd only be able to return if I had an accident... which I did... when I fell back in February. But even then, he could only treat me for 'headache' due to the subluxated atlas.

I started with a new one who has different equipment, and I will hopefully get at least 12 visits before Medicare cuts me off. He alerted me to a fact I had discounted all these years. I hadn't paid any attention to the words PARS DEFECT clearly stated on the many MRI and x-ray reports I still keep in my files. He showed me L5 had broken away from its base (pars) which is why it slipped forward. (See arrow.)

When I was 21, I had ignored the word Spondylolisthesis that was typed on the accident report for insurance (at least I kept a copy) after I crashed into a parked car because I didn't know what it meant. I could have saved myself grief when the Physiatrist I went to in 1998 suspected I had MS. It was years before I went through old files and brought it to his attention.

Back to the walker. Here's a link to the one I have... 


I got it in California before I moved to Texas. In case you ever need one or know someone who does, I recommend this one. (I don't have a basket under it.) 

It held up in the extreme heat and cold conditions during the many years it was stored in the outside closet off my patio. Unlike the vinyl on my comfy office chair that is disintegrating, the only damage this walker has are multiple pinprick holes in the seat... reminders that I once had cats that enjoyed digging their little claws into it. 

Most walkers I've seen do not have wheels... and wheels are wonderful! They roll over everything (almost), even an occasional bug. (Yuch!) It is even wonderful when I need to transport things like groceries in and out of the car. 

I am enjoying this walker, especially since I found a large tray with high sides to lay on the seat. (Photo below.) 

I am enjoying the secure feeling of holding the handles. (Note: I am finding reasons to be positive.) I wheel it around the apartment and put whatever I need to transport from one room to another on this tray, including a cup of water and my cell phone. It saves me a lot of trips and actually helps me be better organized. 

I even pull the walker up to whatever chair I sit on as it holds my water, notebook, pen, snacks, paperwork that needs to get filed, stuff to throw in the trash, etc. Wish I thought of doing this in years past. 

I even have a Word Puzzle book on it for when I am using the toilet... hoping to distract myself from the sensation of pain when I sit on it. (Imagine the sensation of sitting on a bruised butt, hips, and backs of thighs, but it is neurological.) I tried a raised cushion, but it was just as bad. It was only meant to make it higher, not softer. I'm open to ideas...

My walker is great outdoors, especially when I need to sit down, although I can't walk very far. The seat is a bit hard, so I don't sit for long. I can also pull myself along while seated for short distances (like after I've visited my neighbor). This is actually good exercise for your legs, although steering it while seated doesn't work very well. 

Going backward is much easier to steer, but dangerous if you hit a crack in the pavement. (Yes, I've done this.)

Did I mention it only weighs 21 pounds, so I can get it in and out of my car? Yes, it folds. And yes, the little exercises I've been doing gave me some arm muscle strength, and I'm grateful that the frozen shoulder I had in my right shoulder cleared up a few years back. With the wider of the split seats in my Dodge down, it will fit into the back end of the hatchback. 

I am grateful for the dumpster on the opposite side I can drive right up to for throwing my trash into. (Drive-up dumpster. Not really. I'm just being funny.)

I can drive up to the mailbox at the post office to mail letters, etc., but still have to walk from my car to my mailbox... which is down by the office. 

But wait! This is a small apartment complex compared to the monster ones in larger cities, many of which I have lived. And my car is parked right outside my door. Isn't this a gorgeous Crate Myrtle?


I was worried the walker wouldn't fit into the trunk of my new friend's (Monica) car... or behind her seats. She just happens to have a model car with a truck that goes on forever! 

Monica joined my Toastmasters club in December... reluctantly accepted an officer role (like I had done)... and lives nearby. Yay! I had been driving my own car to Friday daytime meetings, and she drove me to additional training and meetings further away or at night. During long drives, we've gotten to know each other and have quite a bit in common... never a dull conversation or long stretches of awkward silence. 

Monica has a 9-year old daughter (Lili) who is an angel (like her mother). During the summer, she joined her mother (and sometimes her little brother, too) for Toastmasters meetings. She is very grown-up and has often filled simpler roles at meetings such as timing and being a Topics Master. She loves to get up in front of the group to speak. 

Monica used to work 60+ hours a week in hotel management, but when her health began to decline, she made changes. Now she does a variety of income-generating jobs which include house-cleaning, website design, and building a Young Living (Essential Oils) business. 

Lili helps her mother with house-cleaning to earn some money of her own, and I asked her (Lili) if she wanted to vacuum my apartment for $5. She is also learning how to play the guitar, so it was a joy for her to stay and show me what she has learned on guitar (I still have one). Then I uncovered the electronic keyboard where she stayed glued for another hour.

Anyway, on the way back from Toastmasters, we stopped at the HEB Superstore. The original plan was to drop me at the entrance, but it seemed everyone decided to go to the store at the same time we did. Even finding a parking space was challenging, and it wasn't even one of the larger stores. 

I used the walker to get to the entrance of the store (couldn't believe tiny Lili could lift it out of the trunk herself), switched over to a motor cart, and Lili pushed the walker through the store nearby. My heart was filled with joy having Lili and her Mom accompany me in the grocery store... something... believe it or not... had been absent way too many years of my life... having company while I had to shop.

When I first began going to Open Mics and other evening events for Writers and artists, I found out a young man by the name of Mikey lived two minutes from me. Mikey has never driven and has never owned a car. (Wouldn't that be nice?) He rarely lived in a place like my town where there is no public transportation (settled here when his parents moved here), but his parents moved North, and he will soon follow... back to a place that has public transportation. I learned that once you get a job with Walmart (Mikey works nights stocking), you can transfer to another one anywhere in the United States... which he plans to do.

Nicole (founder of the Writer's society) had been driving here to pick him up twice a month (20 minutes each way). I took over giving Mikey rides until about two weeks ago when I asked him to find us another ride. Since Nicole used to pick him up, she came and got the both of us. 

(Note: socializing with people who are generous about giving people rides is quite nice!)

Sadly, Nicole will be moving out-of-state soon... as soon as the house sells. Her husband's parents offered their family a paid for house to live in. Who wouldn't want that? I know... the grass is always greener. We are seeking someone to take over. Nicole works at Walmart, too, (how she and Mikey met) and may transfer to another store as well.

Wheels. I am on the fence as to whether to have aftermarket cruise control installed in my car. People tell me just trade the car in for one that has it. I don't get this mentality. Why would I trade a car in that I slaved for six years to make payments on, which I paid off two years ago, which only has 82,000 miles on it? And why would I want to trade a car in which is evidently high in demand according to the numerous postcards I get in the mail with "we want your car!" If it is that high in demand, I think I should keep it!

Three men I talked to about after-market cruise control (my dentist who works on his own vehicles which include multiple old stickshifts, my mechanic who owns his own shop and is also a volunteer firefighter who said he's known even factory installed ones to malfunction, my apt complex maintenance man who I found out is 70 years old who also rebuilds classic cars) don't like cruise control to begin with -- they don't trust it -- never mind install aftermarket. 

I did get a quote for $420 at the Dodge Dealership excluding taxes. And then there are Tesla's that drive themselves. I wouldn't even need a driver! Maybe they'll give me one... along with every other disabled person.

I mentioned the topic to Monica during one of our drives... and guess what... her husband had just installed cruise control on his truck. But he has a demanding job... and it isn't being a mechanic. He just maintains his own family cars. Finally, I know someone who has done this.

The other set of wheels is a salon chair.

Instead of using a wheelchair in the apartment, I have office chairs on wheels in each area/room. I got this salon chair for the kitchen. My kitchen is quite small, so this works easier than an office-type chair. It elevates higher than an ordinary chair (and has a padded seat). I wheel it to the refrigerator... wheel back to the counter... wheel to the stove, etc. Swivel this way and that. I open the cabinet door I need to be in front of (like the kitchen sink), and my knees fit nicely underneath -- except when I forget there is a pipe under there. Just the same, my butt and the back of my thighs still go numb after sitting on it for more than 5 minutes or so.  

This morning, I remembered that Dr. Bergman (chiropractor) had given me a sacral belt the last time I was out to Huntington Beach, California. I have it on now, and my right leg doesn't feel as weak. This strap is tight.. holding my pelvis/sacrum together, and Bergman had advised I not wear it more than a few weeks... just until I got to my hometown chiropractor and my L5-S1 stabilized. 

Stabilized? I never could understand how this would be possible. 

I see my new chiropractor tomorrow for the 2nd visit. I will get his opinion about the belt. Hoping for improvement but have finally learned "it is what it is" and catch myself making up stories based on thoughts I can't prove. i.e. I can't prove the condition will continue to get worse... and don't catastrophize like I used to do all the time.  

I'm done with past years of numerous procedures, injections, and pharmaceutical drugs to hopefully get relief. It was all very temporary, and in the long run, caused additional problems, never mind the miles I had to drive to get them and the endless waiting in waiting rooms. 

I already know surgery is not an option. I am continuously learning about alternative treatments for pain... and I hope to experience them... like float tanks (you float for an hour in a warm pool filled with Epsom Salt), PEMF Therapy (Pulsed Electromagnetic Frequency), and sound therapy.  

BTW, I learned in the Matter of Balance course I am repeating to put the letters ICE in front of your emergency contact name/number in your phone. I just wonder how they will get into my phone, because I have it password protected, but I was told they can. If they can, doesn't that mean a crook can, too?

I also learned to keep copies of your DNR, Power of Attorney, medication list, etc. on your refrigerator door. This is the first place emergency personnel will look when they enter your home. Note, I said copies. Keep the originals in a safe place like your safe. 

I even learned that a physical therapist is supposed to analyze you and fit you for the right walker and cane. Really? I don't have access to P.T. and said so. I went home, looked at my walker, saw that it could be lowered another notch, and lowered it. I am, after all, a short person and didn't realize I could lower it.

P.S. The image of L5-S1 Spondylolisthesis is one I got on the internet because I couldn't get a clear photo off my x-rays. It looks pretty close!