Tuesday, September 3, 2019


This morning when I was introducing my family to someone new (via photos) and telling her about the miracles in my family, I realized I was being reminded of additional possible miracles for myself, too.

When my brother, Jon, was born, doctors didn't expect him to live. And if he did live, they said he'd be a vegetable. Contrary to what they recommended (put him in an institution), my parents took him home after 30 days in the hospital. The large spinal fluid-filled sac at the base of his skull was removed along with part of his brain. He was supposedly a vegetable and blind. My mother figured out it was reflexes he lacked so he couldn't blink. She taught him how to blink. To make a really long story short, he lived to be 49 years old. He could laugh, play, and love even though there wasn't much he could do physically.

When I miraculously was able to walk again after five years of having two numb, heavy legs, I never imagined the possibility of becoming wheelchair dependent again. In efforts to support my weight with canes and a walker after jarring my lower spine which affected my legs, my arms (more so the right) from shoulder to fingertips became compromised. On top of all that, I developed difficulty swallowing... even water... and lost eight pounds in two months. As petite as I am, fortunately, I had excess belly fat to lose. Malnutrition weakened me further.

After many months of doing my best to maintain my independence, I decided it was time to reapply for CAS (Community Attendant Services) through Medicaid. It took a few months for all the paperwork to get processed. Relieved to finally have someone coming over every morning for companionship and to help me with laundry, cleaning, dishes, food prep, and run errands for me, I found myself telling her the miracle story about my brother.

After telling her that story (I am a self-declared storyteller), I began to tell another one. When my son was four, I went to a single parent event. The next person in line was another single mom with a precious four-year-old daughter with blond hair and huge blue eyes. While waiting in line, I learned the girl had a rare condition, and her mom was trying to get her on an organ transplant list, hoping for the transplant before the young girl died. I remember believing that Chantel would live despite what her doctors were predicting. Then I lost touch with them. I had moved out of the apartment complex about a year after meeting them. Matter of fact, I had moved quite a few times, including to Texas and back to California. But this story is about them, not me, so I will continue with the story.

Thirteen years went by. One day, I went to visit my older sister's house. There was something very familiar with the eighteen-year-old blond-haired blue-eyed girl who was hanging out with my nephew in her adorable pajamas, but I couldn’t place her. Then I heard her name.

“Chantel? Is your Mom Cheryl?” The answer was yes.

Chantel had indeed grown to be a very positive bubbly happy beautiful young woman!

About two years later, Chantel announced to my sister that she was pregnant. Then she held up a marriage certificate to prove that they had eloped two months before. They had gotten married in secret after my nephew turned 18. I don’t remember why they felt they had to elope.

Chantel’s team of doctors was not happy about Chantel being pregnant. Medically they didn’t even know how it was possible after all the surgeries she had endured over the years. They strongly prodded her to terminate the pregnancy – yes her doctors – as a pregnancy would most likely kill her. Chantel said no. I could see in her eyes that she believed everything would be OK, and she was willing to risk her life to try and have the baby.

Chantel carried her baby to term and gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl, without any of the predicted complications in December of 2004. Everyone celebrated the miracle. Two years later, Chantel became pregnant again. Her doctors, just like before, were apprehensive that the pregnancy could kill her. Chantel refused to terminate the pregnancy, took really good care of herself, and in September 2007, gave birth to another healthy baby girl. Chantel and her daughters are healthy and happy.

After I told both these stories... stating doctors are not God, I felt as if the words were meant to be spoken to myself. I felt inspired by telling my own inspirational story. Just like my brother could laugh, play, and love... despite his disabilities, I can, too. Maybe my condition will improve. Maybe it won't.

I now have two beautiful, amazing young attendants who love what they are doing... helping people... the aged and disabled... and caring for them. I'm glad they have a cheery person to take care of. No matter how much my body aches and how limited it is, I can still smile, laugh, love, listen... and tell stories.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

New Release!!!

I am excited about my new book! The title is pretty much self-explanatory. Within a few days, the Look Inside feature will be activated on Amazon.

Book Description: Through many levels of spiritual and emotional growth, much time was spent in contemplation, reflection, observations, reflections, musings, and introspection of objects, wildlife, weather, pets, trees, flowers, clouds, and more. Words organized themselves into poetry and prose. Photography captured the moments.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Making Friends With The Storm

Image from Shutterstock

9 a.m. Lightning lit up the sky like fireworks. Thunder grumbled softly under its breath, gradually increasing in volume, ultimately to crack wide open at the top of its lungs, shattering the sound waves with its volume.

I put my hands over my ears and attempted to calm my racing heart.

Rain came, bashfully tiptoeing between the silence, gradually gaining the confidence to rain harder until at last, celebrating with a torrential downpour.

But… but... I planned an outing for this morning… at 10:30 a.m.!

Understanding the storm was beyond my control, (it is what it is), I managed to shift my perspective to appreciation. Storm, thank you for watering the earth and providing entertainment as you show off your potential with mastery. I shall sit here to observe every detail and appreciate your awesome wonder.

Could you please move on before my ride comes to pick me up?

I returned my focus to watching the grand show of lightning, rain, and now the wind which decided to join in and blow the rain sideward... from inside the safety of my apartment. I was grateful that I felt safe.

10:10 a.m. I am spellbound in a state of awe…
The storm responded to my appreciation and request, moving on to its next destination. The sky cleared, the rain stopped, and I am very aware weather has done this for me many times in the past… pausing, so I could get to and from my destination without getting wet.

Contemplating my increase in faith when it comes to weather, I began to wonder about my faith in healing the afflictions that had been storming in my body. What am I missing?

Perhaps I need to practice the level of appreciation for the storms in my body and observe them, too, with awe. Yes, I have been appreciating all the parts that still function, but I had not thought about appreciating the 'storms' -- places that don't feel good -- as well.

Storm, I’ve learned many lessons from people, experiences, nature, trees, cats, and squirrels… am I to learn lessons from you, too?

I observed all aspects of you without judgment, yet I judge what feels good or bad about my thoughts, my body’s afflictions, my emotions, my feelings, and what I am able to do or not do. Can I learn to just observe it all without judgment... just like I observed your beautiful storm?

Can I learn to let pain and discomfort be storms... and absence of pain and discomfort be sunshine… without judgment… and allow both to exist harmoniously… just like nature and weather?

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Spider Web

Copyright © 2019 Renee Alter


Oh, what webs we weave.
This amazing spider’s web which I caught with my camera,
inspired a variety of thoughts and conclusions.

Even though its fine threads are white, 
the spider leaves space to 
allow both light and color to show through,
and if I try hard enough, I can find
some light and color in my circumstances.

Even though the threads look delicate,
the web is much stronger than it appears.
And even though it feels like 
pieces of my body are falling apart,
my body is much stronger than it feels.

Even though we may think 
each of us as a single thread,
we are all intricately connected 
by the physics of the Universe.
I used to think I was a single thread, 
but with effort and persistence,
I have been able to build a web of my own.

Even though the web appears 
to be woven unevenly,
much like my life, 
it is still a masterpiece of perfection.
I just have to accept all the fragments of nature
that also get caught in the web.

The uneven design of the web 
is mesmerizing,
much like the videos I’ve watched of the
neurological networks of our brain synapses
and the energetic pulses between our cells.
The web is not solid, and neither are we.

One negative thought can 
trigger another negative thought 
from my subconscious mind,
and like a spider’s web, 
is connected to many other 
similar thoughts which is
why I can feel so overwhelmed,
feeling like I have been 
caught in a spider’s web
about to be eaten alive by life.

Then again, the web can be 
seen as a safety net if I let go of 
all I am trying to grasp
and trust in the divine plan.

And maybe the purpose of a web 
is more than it appears.
Maybe the spider wanted 
to catch more than a meal
And built a web that would also catch
fragments of nature 
for the purpose of providing
beautiful decorations for its home.

Maybe spiders have personalities, too.

Copyright © 2019 Renee Alter

Note: a fellow Reiki practitioner I knew from the past read this and responded: Webs are also used for PROTECTION. Visualize it around you. In Huna, we symbolically use a web for same.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Lessons from Occupational Therapy

To retrace my progress, with the new Medicare Advantage HMO plan I have, I learned I could get home health. REAL home health... which included physical and occupational therapy. GOOD QUALITY physical and occupational therapy.

I've been dealing with issues of pain in my right arm, wrist, and hand for over 30 years. With this last flareup of Spondylolisthesis, I aggravated it all by supporting my body weight on canes and my walker. After the fact, I found out it is not a good idea to use the canes at all or the walker as a wheelchair, but the damage was already done. I could no longer do even simple self-care tasks using my right hand/arm.

Occupational therapy would hopefully assist with troubleshooting movement challenges with my arm and teach me other living skills I needed to learn. I had four somewhat productive visits.

First, Brian informed me that my manual wheelchair could be lowered so my feet touch flat on the floor. All this time I've had it (got it from a donated equipment room at the local hospital), I had no idea. No wonder I didn't like it very much. Lowered, I can use my comfy seat cushion and backrest as well as pull myself along with my feet... and because the chair has brakes, it is less risky (less of a fall risk) to use the wheelchair at home vs. transferring on and off office chairs on wheels.

I told Brian where it hurts on my right shoulder when I lift my arm. He explained how the nerves connect, checked the alignment of my collar bone and other structure, and observed that my shoulder was out of alignment due to weak scapula muscles and possibly a rib dislocation. He gave me an exercise with a band for pulling back and strengthening these muscles.

On another visit, I told him when I raise my arms to reach for something, I get pain in my arm. He asked me to show him how I reach. I reach with my palms down. He told me to always reach up
higher than my elbows with my thumbs up. Palms down rotates the (right) shoulder in and pinches nerves. I don't know if my arm will get better, but at least I know how not to make it worse.

We also discussed during the four visits the many kitchen tasks I was having trouble doing and what adaptive equipment I could get to achieve these tasks. One major one is cutting things. Another was when my right arm hurts a lot, I needed to be able to do everything with one arm. Don't one-armed people have adaptive equipment they use?

I have ordered this cutting board because the posts will secure something round like a bowl for mixing, a jar for opening, or food to cut up, is off to the side, and the board also has (not shown in this image) spokes to put food on to hold it in place so you can cut it:


Out of the different types of knives available, I chose this one. I won't have to rotate my hand to grip it nor will I have to push down from above.


Note: Adaptive equipment is expensive because the manufacturers know people will pay more to have them. I balked at first, but then just ordered it all. I would really rather have someone who did all these tasks for me so I could save all my energy to do the exercises that will strengthen my body and do things I enjoy (like writing). Food prep, cooking, cleaning up after cooking, cleaning up the floor after cooking when I spill stuff, doing laundry, and cleaning, in general, have never been tasks I enjoy doing. Ask me to organize something, and I'll have some fun.

For more about how I adapted to trying to get the base on and off my Vitamix, go the previous blog post about Difficulty Swallowing.

An additional website Brian gave me (the one he looks for all his adaptive equipment on) is performancehealth.com.

And if I continue having trouble swallowing after 30 days on Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs), it may be a muscular issue. The GI doc had already told me this but couldn't tell me what to do about it. Brian told me speech therapists are trained to help with this. Thankfully, this same home health agency has speech therapists, too.

Postscript to the post Lessons from Physical Therapy: Tie a piece of stretch band to the outside of the door handle. Stretch band will not slip off like the last thing I tried. As I leave with the mobility scooter or wheelchair, pull the band over my shoulder which will close the door behind me.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Difficulty Swallowing

For the last several months, I've been dealing with difficulty swallowing:
  • both liquids and solid food. (I lost about 8 lbs but most of it was belly fat I am happy doing without anyway.)
  • the additional work and energy required to liquefy and combine foods to get enough nutrition in me... and all the work and energy required to clean up after I make a mess.
  • the frustration I feel when I spill stuff on my counters, floors, and clothes.
  • the discouragement I feel because, despite everything I've learned, I am still sick, in pain, and dealing with bouts of fatigue.
  • having the knowledge that (trauma recovery) therapies exist which could help me feel better but I don't have access to (at least yet).
  • the increase of throbbing neuralgia pain on the top my right foot toward the toes from spinal nerve compression. (It feels like I dropped something heavy on it in addition to the cramping.)
  • that the only way I can get pain relief right now is to sleep, listen to guided meditations, and be distracted by having meaningful conversations with people. (I suppose I could feel grateful this pain distracts me from discomfort in the rest of my body.)
  • that PCPs (managers of your healthcare) are limited in what they can do, therefore, they can only, hopefully, determine what you need and refer you out to specialists... who order procedures... as they don't have the means to see inside your body without them... and the procedures, like the EGD (Esophagogastroduodenoscopy) I just had felt more like torture. (They put the needle into my very sensitive hand. Then the anesthesiologist said when they turned on the anesthesia, I'd feel a little sting. It felt like they smacked my whole hand with a sledgehammer. I groaned in pain until it took effect, and I was out. And my throat was sore before the scopy but after was about five times sorer.)
  • the circumstantial changes such as meeting new doctors, specialists, and their staff, and repeating my symptoms (stories) over and over when all I want to do is focus on more positive thoughts.
  • aggravation when I see clerical errors in my medical records. (The first one, was when dysphasia--difficulty speaking--was written instead of dysphagia--difficulty swallowing. The 2nd one was the letter I received denying more than four P.T.  visits which had the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis on it instead of spondylolisthesis. After several phone calls, I found out it was a clerical error by the insurance company employee who typed up the letter. Once this was corrected, I was approved for the additional P.T.)
  • all the wasted time and energy waiting--for the referred specialists to call me, being on hold when I call to talk to insurance or doctor's office, appointments, in waiting rooms, in exam rooms, for transportation. (Yes, I avoided going to doctors as long as I could. I suppose I must be grateful that my health challenges are not nearly as severe as some of the other people I know... some of who do not have insurance... or their insurance was canceled due to clerical errors.)
  • the additional expenses of co-pays such as $250 to have an EGD in addition to $35 each time I see a specialist. (I do realize this is not much compared to what others will owe because they don't have satisfactory insurance. And I did manage to adopt the attitude that these are only numbers... and in my philanthropist spirit, willingly donate to their organizations.) 
  • that I must take a break from more enjoyable activities I had been previously participating in. (I suppose I could be grateful for additional experiences, even unwanted ones, and all the people I meet along the way. I do take advantage of learning as much as I can from new people I meet and enjoy offering them information they can use, too.)
(Note: I got the new Medicare Advantage Plan effective March 1, didn't receive my ID card until the end of March, couldn't get an appointment with the new PCP at the new clinic until April 23. The referral process took forever. On May 28, I met my new Gastroenterologist. And yesterday, I had an EGD.)

Out of the above list, I will elaborate on the progression of getting enough nutrition. At first, I was eating a little of this and a little of that often throughout the day... like 1/2 sweet potato warm with coconut oil or cold, some steamed veggies with butter, 1/2 - a whole hard-boiled egg, a small piece of salmon cooked in water with added dehydrated veggies and some butter, some mushrooms with Basil Pesto, 1/2 apple and a small piece of cheese, etc. The food went down way too slow, and I felt full before I could get much down. 

I had also been swallowing a variety of nutritional supplements recommended by the ACN/HHP I'd been going to (Bri) but finally gave up on this and told her I had to have more nutrition in something that could be liquified. 

On May 9, I purchased Chiropractor's Blend PH50-GF Protein Greens--Gluten and Dairy Free. The instructions are to use a whole (tiny) scoop. I could open up the two supplements which came in capsules to add to this (l-Lysine and Cal-Mag-D). At first, I tried a variety of ways to blend this powder: it worked OK in applesauce, not so OK with plain water, and the Hamilton Beach little blender wouldn't process additional foods I wanted to add. I also experienced some stomach and intentional cramps... and wondered if there was something in it I had a sensitivity to just like other powders I had tried in the past.

On May 16, I was blessed with an advance barter of a Vitamix Space Saver unit. You put a washer on the base and screw the bowl on. Before realizing my error, I put all kinds of ingredients into the bowl (some pistachio nuts, a Wholly Avocado packet, an entire apple)... and watched it leak out the bottom. I panicked and made a bigger mess as I tried to rescue the precious content. In trying to turn the base tighter with my right hand, spasms shot up my arm. Even using a rubber gripper didn't help. And you can't just wash the thing out... you have to remove the base. (BTW, the instructions tell you NOT to make it too tight as it will leak.) 

As suggested by Bri's receptionist, I tried wrapping it in a towel and putting it between my knees so I could use both hands to turn it. Successful but often left contents on my pants anyway even though I had a towel on it... which I then had to wash out immediately. After a few days of struggling with it, I eventually figured out how to get it tight enough so it wouldn't leak... but couldn't get the base back off. I realized I could take it down to the office and ask someone to unscrew the base for me. I also got smarter and checked for leaking with just water before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Within a few more days, when I placed the unit with the base still on into the sink, I watched as it slipped into the drain hole... almost the exact same size... and wondered if I put a piece of green scrubby into the drain hole if the base would stay put. It did!!! I could now successfully tighten it and remove it. After I poked a finger with the tip of the blade the first try of removing the base out of the drain, I got smart enough to only unscrew it enough to get unstuck and lift the entire unit out to do the rest.

I thought maybe the issue was defective washers, contacted the company, and they shipped out newly improved ones. Same result. I continue to use the drain hole in the sink and green scrubby for assistance.

On May 21, at my next visit, I told Bri my concern about the cramping. She determined an entire scoop at once was too much for me and an entire apple was overkill on top of the ingredients in the powder. (I'm such a lightweight!) My new instructions were to only take 1/2 scoop at a time... up to four times a day... and only add 1/4 of an apple if I use apple. In the meantime, I was thinking $45.90 a canister, 30 scoops per canister, maybe I can get by with only 1/2 to 1 scoop a day. It was so much work to make a smoothie and clean up after it, I only wanted to deal with it once in a day.

Then came yesterday when I had a conversation with my sister who lives out in California. She lovingly reprimanded me for further limiting the amount of nutrition I was giving my body... recommending 3-4 smoothies a day... adding foods like sweet potato vs. eating just a little on its own... making each smoothie a complete meal to include protein and healthy fats... healthy fats in addition to the fats in the avocado and nuts. Only 6 packets of avocado come in a packet and I fussed about it being $5 a box. 


So far, I've only come up with two recipes for smoothies I like which I am listing in order of how you add them to the container. I am in the process of figuring out what other variations I can try.

1) Cold water, 1/4 cup raw pistachios, 1/2 scoop powder, contents of capsules, 1 avocado packet, a small amount of frozen fruit (peaches or melon), a teaspoon of coconut oil.

2) Cold water, 1/4 cup almonds (when I don't have almond butter), 1/2 scoop powder, contents of capsule if I hadn't already done this earlier in the day, 1/2 a cooked sweet potato, a small amount of frozen fruit.

If you're interested in seeing the ingredients of this powder, go to: 

If you're interested in getting your own Vitamix Space Saver S30, Amazon has a good price:


And if you have other suggestions for smoothies you have tried (gluten, grain, and dairy-free), please let me know! I steer away from most fresh produce as I can't eat enough of it before it goes bad. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Lessons from Physical Therapy

Amerigroup expanded into Lampasas County where I live, providing me with a Medicare Advantage plan which included many of the services I have been needing for little or no co-pays: Physical Therapy (Home), Occupational Therapy (Home), Home Nurse Visits, and online Psychological Counseling. In this post, I will focus on what I've been taught by physical therapists... which includes fall prevention... as another fall could jar L5-S1, causing additional damage. I've already slipped a little further from Grade 2 to Grade 2-3, just over 50 percent.


With unstable spondylolisthesis, rocking the pelvis forward and back or twisting is a no-no. I knew I had been doing some exercises that were aggravating the condition, but didn't realize just how many.

Pelvic tilts? No! Instead, pull my belly button to my spine for 5 seconds (abdominal bracing) x 10 or more times. In addition to doing these multiple times a day, whenever I do anything like standing up, transferring in and out of the wheelchair, on and off the toilet, do ab bracing! Squeeze buttocks (bottom squeezes) for 5 seconds x 20 three-four times per day.

Therapy Ball? No! The therapy ball, because it is a ball, is too dangerous. I must not do anything that can 'rock the boat' of spondy which can happen each time I lose my balance even a tiny bit.

Kicking legs back? No. In other words, no leg extensions.

Spinal stretch twist? No. Not when lying down or sitting in a chair or reaching over to the left or the right.


Never! Just like chiropractic on this part of the spine when you have unstable spondy, traction on an already unstable area is a no-no. I just sold my inversion device.


All this time I've been using a manual wheelchair in my apartment (and to local medical appointments if I was going to a small building), I didn't know it could be lowered. I just knew it was too high. Now that it is lowered, I can sit on my favorite seat cushion and can get around easier with my feet which can now sit flat on the floor... and my arms get a rest from trying to turn the wheels. With C5-C6 radiculitis going down both arms plus carpal tunnel pain, this was a challenge.


I thought I had a great idea about using stools with wheels to get around on... and on and off of. However, just like the office chair that rolled to the left when I sat back down on it in February 2018, resulting in my slamming on my right hip as I hit the floor (and jarring my spine), transferring on and off other things with wheels is risky, too. I am safer using the wheelchair which has brakes and applying these brakes whenever I am transferring to something else or standing to reach for something.


I had been using my walker for transportation as much as possible... while sitting on the seat. I was warned they weren't designed for this, and two different therapists told me they have witnessed the frame breaking while a patient was doing this... even someone as small and as lightweight as I am. Of course, this meant I could no longer go to some of the places I had been going to... like Toastmasters meetings... which are held in the back room of a large restaurant. The person who was giving me rides can't accommodate my wheelchair.


I asked the therapist to help me with the logistics of getting to and from my car with either canes or my walker... and how my hatchback door was heavy. As for the canes, it is too dangerous as I can still lose my balance and fall. Even though it only weighs 11 pounds (I used to have one that weighed 22 pounds), I was told to never lift it. My back is too unstable.


I must learn to be my own girdle and back brace. The therapist must have told me to do this about 50 times during my last visit as I kept forgetting to.


This exercise was given to me, but the therapist can't climb inside my body to understand what happens everywhere when I stand up. I modified this one by marching in my chair.


I have a ceiling fan/light combo in each of my main rooms. When it is warm, I like having the ceiling fans on 24 hours a day. The wall switch turns them on and off along with the lights, so when I want to turn lights off, I had to stand to reach for the light chain. Fall risk. The simple solution (why didn't I think of this?) was to buy chain extenders. I even got fancy and found some with a one-inch crystal.

While I have mostly ceiling lights on wall switches, I still needed two standing lamps for additional lighting. With the one by my work station, I had to stand up to reach up and over to the switch. Fall risk. For the bedroom, the lamp was clear back by the head of my bed, the main light was with the fan which went on and off with the light switch... and the pull chain for the light was over the bed. Fall risk and frustration with getting around in the dark. The simple solution (why didn't I think of this?) was to buy a set of outlets you plug the lamps into which plug into the wall outlets which operate from a remote control device. Now, from the doorway of my bedroom, I can turn on the lamp by the bed and turn the lamp by my work station off.


...with a Shepherd's hook!! I did buy one, but I had an...


I realized I could take most of my clothes off the hangers, fold them, and move them to the cabinet with doors I have in the bathroom... where another stool lives... and brighter lights are. Of course, in order to do this, I spent hours trying to find new locations for what was in the cabinet.

But what to do with my blouses? Ahhh... I saw that if I removed the lower shelf in the built-in cabinet by the sink and put up a tension rod, I could hang my blouses! Of course, in order to do this, I spent hours trying to find new locations for what was in the cabinet.

Now, I can dress and undress in comfort without dealing with hangers and a closet. The closet can get used for STORAGE.


With chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia on top of spondy, I have yet to learn how to properly pace myself. All that work taking down clothes, taking them off hangers, folding them, and placing them into the bathroom cabinets wore me out. On top of that, the therapist had recommended I do the exercises every day--even twice a day--unless I have a fibro flare. Gung ho with now knowing the proper way to move, after being dormant for over a month, I did too much all at once. I climbed back on the recumbent stationary bike (which, by the way, I had moved from where it was because it was a fall risk to climb back into it) for about 15 minutes (with rest stops in between) and did a series of band exercises for my arms and legs. I also washed 2 shirts and 2 pair of capris in my mini Wonder Wash, prepared some food in addition to using the Vitamix which required it all get cleaned up, and did additional exercise picking up everything off the floor I had dropped. The following day, my body was screaming with major fatigue for dessert... and I found myself in the midst of a major fibro flare.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Adventures in Medicine

I am self-proclaimed OCD when it comes to an obsession with words and spending hours-days-weeks typing them up in the correct order so everything makes sense--rereading what I wrote many many times because I can’t remember what I wrote. I have self-published many books that few people read but maybe they will one day. In the meantime, I like having them like an artist has their art.

I now have an Amerigroup Medicare Advantage HMO plan that gives me access to much more than I had access to on Traditional Medicare. The first thing I did was look into switching over to the Seton Clinic and their network of providers.

And each time I have an appointment with a doctor or other practitioner, especially a new one, knowing I don’t have much time for the visit, I hand them a typewritten report. If I have multiple visits with different doctors/practitioners, I type a different report for each one of them. Some people just write down the questions they want to ask on paper, I type a report that includes known conditions, my symptoms, the purpose of the visit, and my specific requests.

I will report to you on the appointment I had with my new PCP last Tuesday--who I think is amazing. The first thing he did was walk up to me, shake my hand, smile, and say, “Hi, I’m Corey, it’s nice to meet you.” I’ve never had a doctor do that. But he’s not a doctor, he’s a nurse practitioner. The best doctor I ever had when I lived in California was an NP. Corey spent over 30 minutes with me. When my blood pressure was taken with him in the room (and shot up to 200--IKES!), he asked if I had white coat fever--YES--and apologized for not taking off his white coat.

First, I complained that my left ear and left side of my face had been feeling congested, and the sound of my own voice was muffled. He identified my left ear had so much impacted wax, he couldn’t see my eardrum. I was instructed to soften it up and return in two days to get it cleaned out... which I did... and I feel much better.

Second, I’d been dealing with wicked sore throats for longer than I can remember and difficulty swallowing for over two months. I thought maybe I had mono again or it was allergies, but he asked me if I ever was diagnosed with esophagitis. He said the esophagus goes all the way up the throat. My eyes went wide as I remember that in 2006, I was diagnosed with an eroded esophagus. He asked if I ever had a 5-year follow up. Didn’t know I was supposed to and didn’t realize I’d have to keep babying it. I am getting a referral to a gastroenterologist to get a current endoscopy.

Third, I have really dry eyes, dry mouth, and dry throat which I had been previously blaming on the medications used to take, followed by my CPAP machine. He asked me if I had been tested for Sjogren’s. Nope.

Fourth, just the same, I had found out I could continue to go the same sleep specialist/cardiologist if I get a referral for a continuation of care. When I got home, because I now know I have esophagitis, I Googled CPAP and esophagitis. Lo and behold, CPAP machines can blow air down the esophagus if there is something dysfunctional which is called aerophagia. It was obvious during my first year when the air pressure was set too high... but apparently, additional adjustments need to be made.

Fifth, I filled him in on the situation with my spine and asked if I can get referred to the right doctor who can refer me to the right physical therapist. I also asked if I could get referred for a home health aide (covered by my new plan) and hopefully a physical therapist that will come to my home.

I went for blood work yesterday (Corey ordered tests for just about everything--watch it all come back normal), and I will have several appointments with specialists who are up to 60 miles away. This involves taking my mobility scooter with The HOP van transportation which my new insurance will pay for. I’ll have to pack food to take with me... something to do to keep me busy... and navigate the scooter in and out of restrooms and new environments. Note to self: bring a blanket. I froze in the lab.

In the meantime, I’ve been slowly digesting everything I’ve read and know about how suppressed emotions manifest as physiological symptoms and have concluded that my repressed emotions are suffocating me.
  • Sleep apnea
  • Inflammation of my esophagus, so it is hard to swallow.
  • Sometimes, it’s hard to breathe.
I wonder if I am choking on all the things I’ve never had the courage to say.

I also had with this new insurance two online virtual psychological counseling sessions so far and will be able to continue as long as I want to. I had been worried about zoning and dissociating from the part of me that felt good when I feel bad and vice versa when I don’t feel good, I can't relate to the part of me that felt good. 

My counselor began to tell me about the trauma a woman has when she is giving birth to a baby, yet she won't remember it and will have one or more children due to what is called 'containment.' I have to do more reading/research on this, but all I can say is it is something the brain does to protect you. Ahhh... my brain is protecting me.

I will be thinking about how traumatic memories of giving birth to my son no longer affect me, yet many other incidents of traumas still do. I am asking myself what MEANING did I put on those other experiences that were different than giving birth? My homework is to look into EMDR therapy and call to see if a therapist with this specialty is available.

I have often wondered if the reason pain medication has never worked for me is because if the pain is emotional vs. physical, it wouldn’t. If the pain is in my brain and not my body, it wouldn’t. Analysis paralysis. While some people drink or eat or take illegal drugs or have other addictions, maybe I am addicted to figuring myself out... and everyone else, too.

I’ve read lots of books, subscribed to The Mighty and NICABM, and listened to lots of videos and webinars by Teal Swan, Abraham Hicks, Dr. David Burns, Dr. Joe Dispenza, Rebecca Hintze, Bruce Lipton, Dr. Keesha Ewers, Dr. Mark Hyman, and more.

Between fatigue, brain fog, ADHD, and a brain that won’t do what I want it to do because thoughts keep vanishing which is frustrating when I am trying to do self-care tasks, I suffer from information overload.

According to all the following people, I should be able to get better if I do what they have been able to do. It could be an unreasonable expectation, but what if it isn’t? Overall, I am not experiencing as much physical pain as I did in past years.

Dr. Keesha Ewers had autoimmune diseases until she freed herself of repressed emotions--then became an integrative medicine expert. (Solving the Autoimmune Puzzle: The Woman’s Guide to Reclaiming Emotional Freedom and Vibrant Health

This morning I had a flashback of going on two 3-day mountain climbing trips when I was 16-17 years old... in the White Mountains... New Hampshire... where ticks carrying Lyme Disease populate. I looked it up and saw in addition to swollen lymph glands and fever, one of the symptoms is Bell's Palsy type paralysis on one side of the face and another an enlarged Spleen. 

Wait! I developed all this! Is it possible I was misdiagnosed as having mono when I actually had Lyme? I don't remember getting blood tests--only being diagnosed with the symptoms. If so, Dr. Keesha and other doctors have solutions for dealing with autoimmune diseases.

Teal Swan overcame much worse childhood abuse and torture than I dealt with. She now travels all over the world doing seminars. She says depression happens when we resist our emotions and the futility of life situations. (The Sculptor in the Sky and The Completion Process)

Abraham Hicks talked about contrast--with emotions being your compass vs. your enemy. And she says we incarnated because Earth is the only place we can create and manifest--that we’re supposed to have fun doing it. And if we commit suicide, we’d just come right back again for the same reason. (The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living the Art of Allowing)

Dr. Joe Dispenza says we create our future from our past emotions and memories, and unless we figure out how to break this cycle, we’ll stay sick and in pain. We must learn to set a new intention with an elevated emotion and our body/brain will follow. (Becoming Supernatural)

Rebecca Hintze is a life coach and emotional-wellness counselor who promotes essential oils to create new neural pathways in the brain, and yes, I have some essential oils. (Essential Oils for Happy Living and Healing Your Family History)

Nick Ortner promotes tapping, and I’ve tried that, too. (The Tapping Solution)

Dr. Mark Hyman, a doctor of functional medicine, said his brain broke twice--first from mercury toxicity while he was in medical school and the second time two years ago from black mold he didn’t realize was in his house. He went from one doctor to the next with undiagnosed mercury toxicity until he found a functional medicine doctor who identified it and treated it. He then went back to medical school and changed his focus to functional medicine. I watched his two documentary series: Broken Brain and Broken Brain 2.

Bri, my holistic nutritionist, did a presentation that included her background and how she recovered from numerous health issues after she got a job with a functional medicine doctor who treated her. When she got well, he trained her to do what he does. She strongly suggests I get all my mercury fillings taken out. (And Dr. Hyman says some people do not have the ability to handle the load.) She says it's the mercury aggravating my throat.

Information overload. Can you relate?

I just want technology I can plug into that runs an analysis and comes up with the current state of my physical, mental, and emotional state as well as suggested solutions. Is that too much to ask?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Continued Education

I've been very busy! Even if one is sick one is busy... taking care of yourself and resting.

First, there was a week of figuring out how to overcome my own PTSD to figure out how to help someone else who was dealing with their own mental health crisis. Once I had the initial adrenaline rush when my neighbor banged on my door at 2:30 in the morning on Monday, March 11, just as it has done in the past, my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. I felt the ongoing survival stress response all during the week... hoping that improved self-talk would calm me back down. I had to search my subconscious mind to figure out what exactly 'triggered' me. A memory? Or just an adrenaline rush? What was I telling myself? (Why can't you act like a grown-up?)

That Wednesday afternoon, there was a continuation of Monday night's drama. I was feeling powerless. At least I had company at the time who offered support.

On Thursday, I decided to face (unrealistic) fears and report the incident so I could find out what action I needed to take should it happen again. After all, I did go to the one-day seminar on Mental Health First Aid, and I desperately wanted to 'feel' like a grownup! In the course, we were told if someone you know (or yourself) is having a mental health crisis, to call the police department. Many of them have been trained on how to handle this type of crisis. I did, indeed, get the answers I needed, but my sympathetic nervous system wouldn't calm back down. (I find it interesting that it is called sympathetic as it wasn't being sympathetic to my plight.)

The following Monday, I felt sick. My body hurt all over, especially with intensified sensations of sharp points sticking into my upper back. My chronic sore throat got worse--to the point I couldn't swallow (and I thought about my inability to speak up when I needed to). The fatigue was a literal killer, and I often found comfort in my bed throughout the day... for 10 days. I had to sum up the courage to miss a monthly meeting for one of the organizations I belong to. In the midst of making that decision, I had a flashback of not being allowed to miss school when I didn't feel good. But now I'm a grownup and can make that decision for myself. Yes? I requested that someone else take the minutes for the meeting.

I got some energy back just in time for the morning of March 28, when I attended the first of 5 sessions of Master of Memory--Am I Losing My Mind? facilitated by the County Extension Agent. Since we all seem to have memory issues, I am sharing what I am learning... which, of course, is filtered through my perspective (haha).

I found out I am not as bad as I thought I was memory wise. There are 3 basic types of memory: Sensory (momentary sensations and impressions), Short-term (holds information for several seconds while we decide what to do with it), and Long-term (can last forever--even if it takes time to retrieve info). We talked about how we go blank when trying to remember something then wake up in the middle of the night remembering or recalling the following day a piece of information we couldn't remember the day before. I'M NORMAL! Unless you LEARN what is being processed in short-term memory, you won't retain the information.

Three types of learners: Auditory, Visual, and Kinesthetic. I learned that I am mostly a kinesthetic learner--one who learns best by doing--needing to experience something "hands on" to learn how to do it. Visual? There was a sentence with six 'F's in it, and I only could find TWO. How trippy! The class had a good laugh because I am not the only one. It was to prove if you are not a visual learner, you wouldn't see them all.

Why can't I remember? All kinds of reasons. One of these is stress (overactive sympathetic nervous system), and one of these is habits. Losing your keys (or anything else) when you put them in a different place is not a memory problem... it is due to breaking a habit. I think my life runs mostly on auto-pilot based on habits... including where I 'file' physical pieces of information. When I go back to look for something, many times, it isn't where I thought I put it. This happens in your brain, too?

The best learner blends the three types to maximize performance. You must exercise the brain regularly just like you need to exercise the body. If you do the same brain exercises every day, you will lose other parts of the brain's ability as if you are only exercising your legs vs. your whole body. Suggestions: do things with the non-dominant hand, word games, brain teasers, trying new and different learning methods, conversation, and continuing education. I prefer the continuing education part. Use it or lose it! It's been a while since I've played my guitar or keyboard. Maybe it's time I start again... motivated or not... so that part of my brain won't atrophy. Subsequent modules will address other aspects of memory.

The fatigue lifted, but I still had pain and that awful sensation in my upper back and felt desperate for relief. On the afternoon of March 28, I went to see Bri (holistic nutritionist) and explained to her what happened with my dysregulated nervous system. (Feeling pleased that I now have the knowledge and terminology to understand and explain this concept.) I went home with instructions to increase a few of the homeopathic potions I already had along with a number of new ones, including supplements. I had to also 'allow' these to support my body's recovery.

I began to feel much better in a few days... just in time to get the energy I needed to listen to two new documentary series both of which launched on May 3: Broken Brain 2 and Eastern Medicine. So far, I've been able to watch all of them. My ears perked up each time the topic of the dysregulated nervous system was discussed as well as how chronic stress affects your overall health.

In between, I received an email from Rebecca Hintze on her newly released Emotions Mentor Podcasts. I listened to Key Steps to Developing Resilience, The Plague of Anxiety, and Mental Health & Where it Starts.

On May 4, I went to session 2 of Master of Memory--Memory Strategies. Strategies include Concentration, Association, Repetition, and Relaxation. I have some homework to do...

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sensory Overload

It was Friday morning. I woke up, took a shower, got dressed, ate breakfast, and got ready to go to a Toastmasters meeting. I love going to these meetings. It is generally an uplifting environment... but then I deal with sensory overload when I get home. Many times I feel like I picked up everyone's thoughts and emotions empathically as well, adding to my own.

On a Friday night, I attended Art After Dark at Frames and Things to support some author friends as well as visit with them. Another person who was in the same car wore perfume and/or hairspray which assaulted my sensitive receptors. Sometimes, it may be other smells I am sensitive to. The music was louder than what I am comfortable with. I have never liked parties, nor have I liked going to concerts. I never liked the noise. This place is not much bigger than my apartment, doesn't fit a lot of people, and is enjoyable... until it isn't... when I begin to experience another layer of sensory overload.

A group of people I know decided we should go eat out at a local restaurant... where multiple conversations take place depending on where individuals are seated... and the smell of food I don't like permeates my sensitive receptors. I went once but declined to go again. "Why?" they ask. But they don't understand the meaning of sensory overload.

It was a simple trip to my local Walmart store. Thank goodness it is a much smaller store because this is a small town, so there are usually fewer people, and it is somewhat quiet. Until it isn't. Before I know it, over an hour had passed, and I head home... with sensory overload. Now, I order as much as I can online or pick it up at a Curbside service or ask someone to go to the store for me.

I talked to someone on the phone (a friend or family member) for an hour and more. What a great conversation!!! (Which is why it lasted so long.) But then I couldn't turn the conversation off after I hung up. My head began to hurt with all the words that continued to get louder inside my head... as I experienced sensory overload.

I go on Facebook to catch up with everyone I am friends with and see posts from all the pages I have liked. Within a short time, I feel overwhelmed. Too much information too fast. I get uncomfortable as sensations of agitation begin to increase, adding to the agitation of sensations of pain in my body.

I volunteer as a secretary for an organization which meets once a month. Usually, 17-23 people attend. When everyone first arrives, there are a lot of separate conversations. These conversations echo off the walls. Before the meeting even starts, I experience sensory overload. When the meeting starts, the voices get quiet, and I work at focusing on the one or two speakers I need to take notes for. After I get home, I rebel against doing this task. I struggle with my need to have an important role by attending and providing this service vs. the sensory overload I deal with for sometimes days afterward.

I go to the monthly potluck at my apartment complex. The same situation exists with multiple separate conversations bouncing off the walls of the community room. And I can't hear the person in front of me talking to me.

But if I don't go anywhere, isolation will consume me and swallow me whole.

If you know me and visit with me, I need you to understand why I need a lot of quiet time alone at home to recover. I may rebel for a few days and feel like not going to the next event. I often rebel against doing any more volunteering.

When I'm in a room with many other people in it, I can't hear individual voices -- even the one directly in front of me -- if other people in the room are speaking. The other voices seem to bounce off the ceiling and walls, making their way back to my ears with overwhelming sounds and sensations. My brain has difficulty focusing due to competing sensory input.

When I get home, I hear what feels like hundreds of conversations in my head competing for my attention. When it is intense, I can experience restlessness and irritability... which may spill over into triggering survival reactions in my body. As exhausted as I am when I climb into bed, even if I manage to fall asleep, I wake up in the middle of the night (to pee) but can't go back to sleep.

Knowing I will most likely experience sensory overload in many different environments produces anxiety to the point I decide not to go. The next time someone asks me 'why' I don't want to go, I'll send them the link to this post.

In addition to 'social' sensory overload, other types of sensory overload I experience can include:

I put on one of my favorite shirts, however, this time, I feel a lot of pinpricks on my back as if the threads are made of thin wire and the seams are highly irritating. The fabric itself may feel irritating, too. The pinpricks become an itch, and the itch continues to spread. I can't stand the feeling of labels and cut all of them out. I finally found the term for this is tactile allodynia.

My fingertips on the hand I hold my computer mouse with feels like I burned them on something hot. I Googled this issue and found that some people are extra sensitive to the EMFs of WiFi. If it is because it is a wireless mouse, I will try using one with a USB cord.

The computer monitor is too bright for me. Fortunately, I found an inexpensive pair of blue-blocker glasses to wear over my prescription glasses.

The good news is that I found out sensory overload is a known 'symptom' of fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, generalized anxiety disorder, ADHD, and PTSD from past traumatic experiences... when it's difficult to focus and think straight because there is so much 'noise' inside your head.

I used to take medication to calm down. I used to take medication to knock me out at night. However, I learned this is not a good long-term solution, and the medications have unpleasant side effects. I especially became aware that with sleep apnea, I do not want to be sedated through apneas.

These days, I try to unwind before bed by applying Lavender oil on my spine and bottoms of my feet. After I climb into bed, I will 'upload' all the conversations and thoughts into what I call the 'mastermind' -- where everything exists -- a holding tank for all the thoughts and voices of the entire planet. Just like I turn off my computer every night, this is my way of turning off my mind. Most of the time I am successful.

I know when I turn the computer on again the following day, all my work will still be there. I don't have to keep the computer on all night with all my files open, fearful that I will lose any of my work if I close the files and turn the computer off. I know my files are 'SAFE.'

I don't have to keep my mind on all night fearful I will forget something important or worry myself into further despair. All my appointments are written down on my calendar. Important tasks are on the Task app of my phone. Inspiration always comes from a divine source. Problems eventually sort themselves out. The aftermath of a disaster will eventually calm down, and many people will discover strengths they didn't know they had and can even become heroes.

I remind myself that I am a vehicle for the Creator of all that is to express itself through. "I" don't have to hold onto anything. "I" am not writing this post. "I" can go to sleep and let this expression decide what it wants to do in the morning... which all depends on how much energy I wake up with.

As I get warm under my down comforter, I practice a meditation technique in which I climb inside my body and focus on visualizing brain synapses, nerve impulses, cells interacting, and blood flowing instead of all the voices I was overwhelmed with during the day. I will repeat this process in the middle of the night and early in the morning if necessary. Sometimes, I have to visualize thoughts, words, and concerns flowing down the creek outside my apartment. The water is always flowing... doesn't get caught up in staying in one place, holding onto thoughts, words, and worries.

And to overcome feelings of powerlessness when people I know are struggling with their own life situations, I try to remember to let go of my own anxiety and consciously dispatch angels to guide them and get them through. After all, there came a day when I realized angels/guides had always been there for me. They just waited to see if I could handle those situations on my own before stepping in. (Miracles Sandwiched Between The Challenges.)

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Bipolar: My Extremes

About two weeks ago, I experienced a manic high idea explosion, not for the first time. When these occur, ideas (thoughts) race so quickly, I am unable to sit and be with any one of them long enough to take action. I also have flash visions of my completing them all. Maybe I have in an alternate life.

Due to memory issues, I'm sure I've written all these ideas down somewhere before, but who knows where. I've saved I think thousands of digital files in both downloads and on Pinterest.

I Googled "manic high idea explosion" and once again, (I do remember finding this before), I came across bipolar. My highs are "less than fully manic" -- known as the term "hypomanic."

"During an early manic phase of a bipolar condition, a person may become highly energetic, have a million ideas, become very talkative, stay up all night, ... and become very productive."

Hey, at least this statement puts a number on all the ideas I feel like I have. A million!

Plus, there is a marked "increase in goal-directed activity (purposeful behavior)" and sometimes,  "physical agitation." For the agitation, if I remember to do so, I will start Tapping (EFT) and use some essential oils.

For three days in a row, I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep. One of the known symptoms is "reduced sleep needs compared to normal." At least I know it won't last three months straight like it did in 2010.

I like this description: subjective sensation of racing thoughts (often called a "flight of ideas"). Yes, to a flight of ideas... they fly by at what feels like the speed of light.

I just ordered a blend of essential oils to help me focus. This next one describes my experience to a T: "distraction or derailment of thought occurring significantly more often than normal".

I'm sure you all know what happens when bipolar swings the opposite direction. Fibromyalgia can do the same thing. Two big ones for me are: "Finding it hard to make even simple decisions" and "feeling extremely tired." And when I am extremely tired aka fatigued, I don't feel like doing much of anything.

At the very worst, I have felt completely hopeless, inadequate, abandoned, and yes, twice that I can remember, I've considered ending my life.

Most recently, Abraham-Hicks came to the rescue by explaining that we all WANTED to incarnate in physical bodies here on earth because we desired to experience the creative process of manifestation with the power of our thoughts and emotions. If we end our lives, we will make the same decision all over again to come back for more. The key is to find FUN in as many activities as we can which will ALLOW the magic to happen. (Law of Allowing.) And if we find ourselves in a funk, climb up the emotional guidance scale one step at a time.

OK. I must admit that I have managed to manifest some amazing things, people, and situations in my life. Perhaps I decided this time to put a bit of spice on the process by experiencing bipolar episodes.

In the meantime, one of many books I've collected over time called my name as I looked at the bookshelf in the hallway. I must have had a feeling I would need it when I found it. And part of manifesting is divine timing.

Optimizing Brain Fitness by Professor Richard Restak is a transcript book from one of The Great Courses. I didn't have to read very far to find what I am challenged with:

"Just as an athlete cannot perform optimally without endurance, you cannot expect to achieve a superpower brain without being able to laser focus your mental energies. In order to do this, you must successfully manage 2 key factors in our current culture: distraction and multitasking."

Distraction? Multitasking? All day, every day! We live in a crazy, overwhelming time when information overload is intensified by social media.

Have no fear... on page 4, I found hope.

"Let's look briefly at 3 of the important functions we'll explore in this course. The first is attention, which means focusing the mind on one thing at a time."

I feel a sense of excitement at the prospect of learning how to focus on one thing at a time. :-) I also wonder whether it is at all possible.

Perhaps, I wanted more than the ability to create. Perhaps I yearned for knowledge. Each time I stumble upon something I am interested in learning, I feel inspired.

Oh, yes, I also want to learn how to read music, draw, create digital art (with a drawing pad that connects to a computer), and I want to do it all at the same time. Haha... good old hypomania!

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Author Connections: Can't I Write Off My Expenses?

Are you writing a book? Do you have one or more books that you self-published on your own? Are you hopeful that you will sell a LOT of books and make a LOT of money as an author? I really thought this would happen for me back in 2010. But it didn't. At first, I felt discouraged. Then...

I listened to a number of book marketing webinars, courses, read articles, and more. While I still felt discouraged, I also realized I had unrealistic expectations. Yes, my books are available on Amazon, but so are millions of other books.

I found out that very few authors earn more than $100 a year in book sales... unless one or more of the following exists:

1. You have a coaching or other business/profession, and your book relates to your coaching or business/profession.
2. You are often invited to speak at events and sell books at these speaking events.
3. You create a course based on your book (and have buyers).
4. You have a network of people who have a huge mailing list (email) and support you by (emailing) everyone on their list about your book.
5. You are already famous.
6. You meet someone who is famous and loves your book.
7. You are good at marketing or you have the budget to hire a publicist.
8. A movie producer wants to invest in turning your book into a movie or TV show.

Even if you have one of the above, the costs involved in getting your book into print may far exceed what you will ever get in sales. Think going to concerts, ballets, out to eat, decorating your home, and shopping for clothes you will only wear once. It is best to invest in your book as an experience without getting caught up in the money aspect of it all.

Since I started out on my author journey, here's what I have learned.

1. Don't make your books about money. Make them an AVENUE TO REWARDING EXPERIENCES AND CONNECTIONS. 

I have met many wonderful people at local author events, some of who have become friends. If I felt up to traveling, I could participate in many more. I talk to other authors, and we share information among each other that can be of benefit to either us or someone else. I've learned about all the different publishing companies who took thousands of their dollars to get their book into print. I have met writers who are thirsty to get their book published but don't know how or where to begin. It feels good to pass information onto them.

2. Unless you make a profit within five years of publishing (after all your expenses), the IRS determines this as a hobby. 

Tax Guidelines for Book Authors

You can't just buy a new computer, software, and printer with the hope you can write it off on your taxes. The same applies to paying for editing and other services. By all means, save all your receipts just in case you DO sell a lot of books. If you have a regular accountant or tax preparer, you can get more information from them.

Think of someone who loves to knit or crochet and buys yarn, totes, hooks, books, and more. Think about the artist who invests in canvases, paints, brushes, and other supplies. Maybe the artist loves digital, so they invest in a computer, software, and a drawing pad. Think of someone who loves photography and buys a new camera, lenses, tripod, computer, software, and more. Same with quilting (think buying an expensive loom, quilting machine, and many different pieces of fabric) and wood-working (buying all the tools), etc. In the meantime, you make gifts for family and friends. Maybe you sell some of it on Etsy or at local markets. You meet other people with similar interests and make new friends.

I found an art gallery and framing business in the next city that holds an event on the first Friday of every month. At each event, an artist or two is featured. On the same night, there may be a photographer, author, and musician. I look forward to mingling with all the talented, inspirational people. I make new rewarding connections and enjoy being around a lot of creative people. And yes, if I felt up to traveling, I'd participate in many more events.

There are many writers conferences being offered -- some that also have agents. You will pay to go to these, and travel is often required. Think vacation. If you were to go to Hawaii, you'd pay for airfare, hotel, restaurants, a rental car, taxi service, etc. You go for the education and experience.

A note on agents: publishing companies want what is popular. Agents may like your book but expect you to rewrite it according to what publishing companies want. I listened to a local author speak about her experience with agents. After rewriting numerous books according to agents' instructions, she finally found a publishing company who accepted her book the way she wrote it.

Write because it is fulfilling like an artist paints for fulfillment. Yes, there are some artists just like authors who made it to fame.

Keep creating. Keep dreaming. Keep networking.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Relationship Between Trauma and Resilience

I am curious. Did you play in competitive sports when you were in school? Did you ever get hurt? I bet when you did, you got right back up into the playing field again.

Some kids play in competitive sports from the time they are really little. They get pushed, shoved, hit, thrown, get bruised, break bones – and get right back up and play again. I wasn't one of them.

Maybe you were like me – one of the kids who was bullied in school, had an older sibling who intimidated you, and a father who assaulted you with degrading words, so you grew up feeling worthless. I was traumatized each time I got hurt physically or emotionally.

One time, I was riding my older sister's big bike when no one was looking. I didn't know the brakes didn't work and couldn't slow down when I came down the hill and turned the corner, making friends with the stone wall. I sprained both my wrists in addition to the other scrapes and bruises the bike and the wall decorated my body with. I'm sure I suffered emotional wounds as well.

When I was 21, I dozed at the wheel and opened my eyes just in time to see the parked car I was about to crash into. My Fiat folded like an accordion and I sustained a whiplash, concussion, and a lot of bruises – especially where the seat belt was – across my chest and hips. A 19-year-old boy I was infatuated with had just broken up with me, so this emotional trauma was layered on top of the physical injuries.

When I was 36, I lost control of my Toyota and jackknifed sideward into a bus bench that was cemented into the ground after a lady driving a Mercedes clipped the back, right corner. I couldn’t walk for months. At the time I had this accident, I was an emotional mess in the midst of a volatile relationship with a narcissist. Once again, trauma was layered on top of physical injuries.

It seemed like the injuries I collected never healed, which contributed to the chronic pain condition the doctors diagnosed as Fibromyalgia. They were very generous with all the drugs they prescribed to me, and by the time I was 43, I couldn’t work anymore and found myself on permanent disability.

When I joined Killeen Toastmasters in July of 2015 at the ripe old age of 59, I began to get a different kind of education. I heard stories from fellow members about all the adversities they’d faced and how they were dealing with them…especially from Tim. And I couldn’t use the excuse that I am a female because I met women like Anca, who was a professional boxer, and Rolana and Delsina who were in the army. I began to wonder… what do they have that I don’t?

Some people become firefighters, police officers, first responders, go skydiving, skiing, go bull riding, go into the military, and volunteer for rescue missions. They face danger, get hurt, recover, and go face the danger again. I wanted to know HOW.

I began to do some research, found some books, and I believe I finally figured it out. It’s the relationship between Trauma and Resilience.

In Dr. Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, I learned that trauma, especially in early childhood, programs your brain and nervous system to stay in survival mode – always on alert – because you never feel safe. Because of this, you don't get the rest and repair cycles you need to heal.

I found data showing that most people who have had adverse childhood experiences, also known as ACE, develop autoimmune diseases, chronic pain, adrenal fatigue, depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

I found an ACE questionnaire online. I scored 8 out of 10. Here's the link to the quiz so you can take it yourself:

I found out I am not alone when it comes to ACE. People who have suffered from ACE become afraid of everything. Fear attracts more situations to be afraid of – like the abusive relationships I blindly walked into. It makes you jumpy because your adrenals are constantly being ignited – and rarely for any good reason. 

On the US Dept of Health & Human Services website, Substance and Mental Health Services Administration, I found: “Adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have substance use disorders. ACE are strongly related to the development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems throughout a person’s lifespan, including those associated with substance misuse.”

Sam Goldstein, Ph. D. wrote: “Resilience explains why some children overcome seemingly overwhelming obstacles while others become victims of their early experiences and environments.”

On MindTools.com in an article on Developing Resilience, I found: “Resilience (or resiliency) is our ability to adapt and bounce back when things don't go as planned. Resilient people don't wallow or dwell on failures; they acknowledge the situation, learn from their mistakes, and then move forward.”

I've been making some progress – investigating ACE and watching for ANTs around fear (automatic negative thoughts). The main ones are convincing my brain that the pain in my body is not dangerous – which in my case it isn't – and developing a sense of safety and self-regulation. I am easily triggered into a PTSD reaction with my heart pounding, back spasms, and exhaustion. I hope to find a way to regulate my nervous system in the near future to stop the vicious cycle of fight or flight so my body can rest and repair itself.

In conclusion, if you're like me, dealing with PTSD, fear, auto-immune disease and/or chronic pain, look into ACE and Resilience. You may be surprised what you learn about yourself, the people you grew up with, and the people you know now.

Saturday, February 16, 2019


For the past number of months, there is often a solo bee that flies really close to me yet not quite landing on me. I was feeling a bit unnerved. After all, I had been stung by a bee when I was a little girl.

'It' was at the Walmart parking lot -- several different days, even to the point of trying to join me in my car. However, I didn't want it to be inside the car with me, and I had a hard time getting it to go away. 

When I got home, 'It' was there again waiting for me. What on earth? 🐝

'It' was also in the parking lot of other stores I recently visited as well as a restaurant. 🐝

What about me was attracting bees? 🐝

'It' was really close several different days when I was riding my mobility scooter outside, down to the community room of my apartment complex... and wouldn't go away. 🐝

'It' is either flying around my front door or my back door. 🐝

'It' is always alone. 🐝

I began to think it was the same one appearing everywhere as it is the same size. 🐝

I began to wonder... this seems to be more than coincidence... 🐝

I Googled the metaphysical meaning of a bee. Look what I found! This is so trippy! 

Now if I can accept 'It' wanting to be practically on my body and stop being afraid that it will sting me... maybe it is the same one and just wants to be my pet. If it is the same one, it teleports from one location to another. 

I know a few bee-keepers in town.

If you're interested in reading more, click on the link below.

  • Level of productivity - finding balance.
  • Moving past limitations (Bees can't aerodynamically fly.)
  • Pollination symbolizes social nature.
  • Bee people often become motivational speakers, teachers, healer, and lightworkers.
  • The honeycomb represents Heart Chakra.
  • Strong protector.
  • Take inventory regarding responsibilities.
  • Master of Miracles.
  • Emblem of persistence, industry, communication, teamwork, and fruitfulness.
  • Amazing builders: call on when in need of help with the architecture of your life and career.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Release!

In 2005, Just before I turned 50, I found out I had Grade 2 Spondylolisthesis at L5-S1 which had been the source of most of the discomfort, pain, and problems I had with my back, hips, knees, and legs over the years. To date, I haven't had surgery. It is now 2018. I've been researching, studying, reading, taking classes, watching pain summits, listening to interviews by specialists, and putting into practice all that I've learned in pursuit of becoming my own advocate. I cover the multi-faceted topics I have learned and put into practice in memoir-style narration to serve as my personal survival guide as well as a book that others who have spondy can read and relate to. Photos included.