Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missing In Action

I've been gone for a while.... missing in action.

The hottest heatwave 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 upside, I had an air-conditioned place to hang out during the day while temperatures soared over 100 degrees. On the downside, 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 a while. 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 heatwave. 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 plagued me all night long as well as the day time. I also started up on 1/2 of the smallest available dose of an antidepressant called Remeron (its generic). I've been on it a week with no side effects.... and maybe it's 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 thunderstorms (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.