When do you surrender?

I’ve debated writing this post for several weeks. Overall, I was worried it would sound whiny or complaining, and I honestly try not to be like that (at least not too much). Most people have busy lives and problems of their own and don’t have time to invest in my issues.  I’ve finally decided to write it because it might inspire someone else to take control of their life, before it’s too late.

red flowers

red flowers

Fibromyalgia has been a part of my days for about 10 years now , and I’ve written about it from time to time. It’s steadily gotten worse to the point where I felt pretty handicapped. Going to the court house for work was difficult–if I couldn’t get a parking place nearby, I had a hell of a time getting there. I gave up my house for a small apartment with minimal stairs. My marriage suffered and eventually ended. Daily chronic pain was unrelieved by the mild exercise I could do without causing more pain.

My grown children were sympathetic, and we tried to work out a plan where I might go stay with one of them, so I didn’t have to manage a place on my own. Of course, Little Miss would have to go along, and she’s still in school.  And I wouldn’t have a job. Or insurance. And they’re not keen on giving disability for fibro. You know, since it’s not one of those “real” diseases.

Besides, why should any of that be imposed on one of my girls? Not their fault. They’ve got their own lives.

So, nothing worked out. Better yet, this year I’ve had a steady stream of diagnoses. Both knees’ cartilage totally destroyed. Torn retinas causing flashes in night vision. Sleep apnea. Neck and back arthritis. (Getting old just isn’t pretty, folks.)

Overwhelmed, I started wishing that whatever was wrong with me would just escalate and end me before the summer came and I had to make a decision. If I was dead, I wouldn’t have to deal with it any more…the day-long pain, the things I couldn’t do for myself any more, the knowledge that there would likely be more and more things like that. Sure, I could keep taking two Vicodin a day and muscle relaxers, and more and more anti-inflammatories that were eating away at my liver.  It wouldn’t make the pain vanish, but made it tolerable most days.

This is from someone who has a reasonable income that provides for our needs, an education, transportation, food on the table and a roof overhead. I can’t even imagine how this goes for someone who doesn’t have these things.

autoimmuneAnd then in late August, I got the topper–gout/arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For those who don’t know, the latter is an autoimmune disease. My body had become so dense with inflammation, that it was attacking itself, no longer able to differentiate what was good and bad. That’s why my ribs ache. That’s why my knees are shot. Probably the retinas, too. I’d done it to myself.

That could have been the end.

Instead, I found myself galvanized into action. I’m still not sure what the difference was, but finding myself under official attack must have kicked my competitive nature into gear.  I started reading about RA and some of the treatments out there. I consulted with some friends about it, what worked for them, what didn’t. One of my daughters had a family that had gone on the paleo diet to help with my granddaughter’s thyroid issues, and she extended a hand. My sister Shawna had recently received a spinal arthritis dx and she was dealing with the same thing. I signed up for a monthly healing seminar. I have support.

I could do this.

The dietary changes to reduce inflammation seemed like the best first step. The next day, I went to the grocery store, armed with the AIP list of foods to eat and foods to avoid, and I’ve followed that for over six weeks now. Is it a bitch to eat no dairy or eggs, no beans, no nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes), no grains, no nuts or nut products, oils, etc, ? You betcha.

But my pain has dropped about 75%. Yes. I said 75%. My energy is up about 50%. I might take two Vicodin a week, instead of two a day, and some weeks not even that. I’m in physical therapy and try to walk on the days my knees don’t hurt–and there are those days. On cold rainy days, I used to curl up on the couch, unable to move. Now those days are just like any other day. I’m winning the battle, for now, anyway.

That’s all I can do. One day, then the next day, then the next.

Because I’ve got a lot more days out there, and without all the suffering, I know I’ll really enjoy them. I finally scored an appointment with a rheumatologist at the Cleveland Clinic for next month, so new options will become available. There may come a time when I have to give in, but I haven’t reached it yet, not with this new lease on life. Supporting those with chronic pain is hard. But knowing someone else’s outstretched hand is available– preferably holding a couple of spoons!–is priceless.


Ring out the old, in the new–the important part is in the ringing!

It’s always a toss-up at the end of the year: look back on the year that’s passed, or set that aside and concentrate on the year ahead. Or both. I think that’s the kind of year it’s been for me.

Personally, the year has been a hard one, as we’ve struggled with the issues of our special-needs kids, some of them improving, others not so much. The stress has taken a toll on the marriage, as so often happens. We’ve both retreated into virtual worlds, finding life we can control there. I suppose it says something that we’re still hanging together. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We’ll find out, I guess.

We’re getting older and falling apart a little more–but that’s the way of things. Resolutions for next year include to find a therapeutic pool exercise class handy, since the Lyrica didn’t work out. Fibromyalgia is such a frustrating condition. You need to get good sleep to bolster pain management, but the pain prevents good sleep. They recommend exercise, even when you feel like you couldn’t stand to move an inch through your aching muscles. Best practice for me so far is to take something for pain and just soldier through. Hopefully it’ll be better next year.

 Professionally, though, what a raft full of blessings! I scored a part-time job with the county as an attorney for families working through Children’s Services, that came with benefits and a regular paycheck. This opened up my time formerly spent chasing new clients to spend writing.

 I haven’t wasted that time, either. In 2011, I signed contracts for five new novels to come out in 2012 and 2013. This is what my new email signature looks like now:

 Also writing as Lyndi Alexander:
The Elf Queen, 2010 The Elf Child, 2011 and The Elf Mage, 2012, all from Dragonfly Publishing
Triad, coming from Dragonfly Publishing in 2012

Also writing as Alana Lorens:
Secrets in the Sand, a novel of romantic suspense—The Wild Rose Press, April 20,2011


Conviction of the Heart, coming from The Wild Rose Press in 2012

 Second Chances, due out from Zumaya Publications in 2012

 Post-apocalyptic YA Series The Color of Fear: Plague, The Color of Fear: Journeys and The Color of Fear: Survivors debuts in 2013 from Zumaya Publications

 It took nearly forty years, but I’ve finally become a novelist. Best of all, that last YA series is the book(s) of my heart, the one I’ve sunk my soul into. To find a home for it has been the pinnacle of the year for me. I can’t wait to work with editor Liz Burton and Zumaya and get that into print.

But not today. Today I’m tending to my neglected blogs, which have taken second seat to all my novels and galley proofing the last two months. I’m grateful to have had a plethora of guests on particularly the Clan Elves blog and my romance blog to help keep my readers entertained. I want to set a schedule for the new year to tend to each of them at least weekly. With four books coming out in 2012, I need to make sure people can find them!

Next week I’m spending reviewing Margie Lawson class notes and several other writing books I’ve purchased over the last six months and stalled off reading. I’ve got a lot of writing to do in the next year, and I want to make sure it’s the best it can be. I’m sure you all will let me know if it’s not!

In the meantime, I wish you all a satisfying 2012, in whatever flavor and definition that means to you. Our family will be celebrating a new arrival in the spring–one that’s not between two book covers!– so we have much to look forward to, as well as travel, family and hopefully some sun here and there. May you have many blessings come to you and find that the dream of your heart comes true.


The role of fantasy in real life

I composed several blog posts for the Interwebz this week, but the one that really caught my imagination was this one–WHO DEFINES REALITY ANYWAY, over at A Splash of Scarlet (click through to the blog). The topic is about how we have used the same techniques I use to create my fantasy and sci fi novels to push Little Miss into critical thinking about the world.

Like Newton Crosby, determining whether Number Five was in fact alive, we push and prod her imagination every day, expanding it just a little so she can interface with our real world just a little better. Come check it out.

Let it…what?

 So this week it turned into December. Old Mother Nature, that little minx, popped herself in the forehead and went, “Oh WAIT! It’s supposed to snow now!”

And hence we have this week not half an inch, not an inch, but a full foot of snow, most of it arriving just last night and today.

Winter wonderland? Oh, hell, yes.

We’re not a big outdooors family, frankly, and despite all their other issues, these three younguns have the good sense to want to stay inside during a blizzard.

Except when mom makes them go outside and play so she can get material for her blog.

Yay mom!

But boys being boys, they can’t stand next to each other and a snowbank without one of them ending up in it.

Lucky Dr. Doo-Be-Do.

I’m staying inside with a latte.

Maybe we’ll go out next week.

Up for a visit?

I’m guest posting over at Jean Myles’ blog today on the subject of marriage and autistic children. Jean has two little boys, one with autism, and she now works at home so she can make sure her little guys have all the special support they need! 

I know I’ve talked about the subject of marriage stress and divorce before, and many of you commented on the study I cited.  But you know, for all the autism parents I know, so many of them are on the edge or have divorced over the issues their children have, that I stand by my position. It’s a hard life. Jean’s focus on early intervention is outstanding–what a difference this makes, as we’ve seen in our own house. My best wishes to her and to her readers.

Take a break from the summer heat to come by and say hello!

Tag–you’re it!

Every once in awhile, when I’m examining this blog, to see what I have to offer, to determine what else I could add to make the site more useful, I read over my tag cloud.

I know that WordPress assigns the size of the words depending on how often you use the tags. So clearly autism reigns pretty supreme in its spectral variants. But if the reader were to take the combinations line by line, there are some “truths” to be found.

Take for example, “therapy TSS” or “autistic blog.” Given. “Prize publish publishing”? For a writer, not a big leap. “NaNoWriMo” is a real “mother.”

“Obama” has “novel” ideas, certainly. “Lawyer” between “internet” and “marriage” is an interesting juxtaposition.

“Asperger’s” NEEDS a line of its own. (and probably prefers one, if truth be told). “ADD agent”?  So that’s what’s skulking around the secret corners of my life!

“Carnival children”?

SO many things I could say, but I’ll bite my tongue. Oh yes, dear friends, you know what I mean.  Grab the cotton candy and the kettle corn and watch them go…

Blogs: time vampires

Back in the day, I had a diary. (No, children, we did not carve words into stone tablets in those days. Really.) So my original understanding of a blog was that it was just like a diary. Except on the computer, and open to anyone to read.

In the past year, I’ve found that a blog is very different. A diary you write in, when you remember, and if you don’t, then it’s still there just as you left it, in the same condition and with the same level of investment.

A blog is a demanding child that needs constant attention to thrive, and threatens to distract you from any other meaningful necessity in your life. Once you make the initial investment based on your purpose in creating it, you have to justify that investment and keep tossing more fuel in to maintain, much less expand and grow.

I started this blog for several reasons, not the least of which was to leave the stone tablets behind. It’s the 21st century, after all! But I wanted to seriously pursue the business of writing, so I created what all TPTB were calling a “platform,” and also a space where people outside my own circle could read what I wrote. I now have a worldwide audience, based on the comments and emails I receive.  Cool, huh?

I also wanted to connect with others who have children with special issues, because as much as the professionals have to offer, sometimes hearing what whacky technique worked for another mom or dad is just the thing that will reach one of my kids.

I’m pleased that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. At the same time, I struggle sometimes with the time commitment the blog requires. I try to write at least two posts a week (although some current thought is that’s too much), half an hour each for creation and perhaps more time for research, if I’m creating a well-rounded post with links and pictures for real educational value.

I’m delighted to receive comments, and I like to respond to those who’ve been kind enough to acknowledge my writing. Another 30-60 minutes a week. I return the favor by reading other’s blogs, particularly those in my blogroll, an eclectic batch of very interesting people and advice columns, and one just for plain fun and a creative break. Another hour a week.

To find out what other people are doing with their blogs, I study the WordPress Dashboard everyday, where people’s latest posts are listed on a rotating basis.  I’ve learned some interesting things there–not everyone on WordPress is American, so there’s a broad world view. Another 15 minutes a day.

But I want to grow the blog, so I venture off the WordPress safety net and out into the Interwebz. I belong to Blog Village, where you can list your blog in a little community that’s not quite so overwhelming. You have to sign in at the first of each month to keep your place there. Another 15 minutes a month, catching up on what’s new. I’ve promoted my writing with pages at Redroom, the Polka Dot Banner and Pennwriters. Each of those sites requires a certain amount of maintenance and interaction with the other members, probably an hour total a month. More would be better. Then there’s Linked In. And Myspace.

To reach a broader audience, I also seek out blog carnivals. This month, for example, I was featured in the Freedom and Privacy Carnival, the Carnival of Positive Thinking , the Carnival of Family Life, and the Fuel My Blog Carnival. Another hour or two in deciding which posts to enter, then reading through the lists to see where I fit best. The effort is worthwhile, because I come to the attention of a cross-section of people I would not have encountered otherwise; many come back to visit once they’ve been here.

The Wellsphere connection I’ve been very happy with. In addition to the honors I’ve received, I’ve been able to answer questions about autism, at the same time I’ve been able to find information for fibromyalgia and stress relief. But there goes another two hours a week.

Guest-blogging is wonderful, and I never turn down an opportunity.  This week, I’ve been invited to guest at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, a romance writer/reader site, and that will appear Friday. Next week, I’ve been tapped for an entry at Gardening Nude, on community building.  These entries, because they’re more formal, tend to take a little longer, maybe an hour each.

With my job, and my family, and my writing, this is frankly all the time I can spare, and it’s really not enough. Other bloggers I know swear by Facebook, and insist you can’t get anywhere without being on Twitter. Networking is the way!! they wail as they are hauled off to the lunatic asylum or hospital muttering about pixels and keyboards. It’s true.  Networking is the most likely way that you will make those few connections that will set you where you want to be. I’m just moving in that direction at that old brontosaurus pace, slow and steady, hmm?

In the meantime, if you find something you like here, do me a favor. Network the old way, and tell a friend.Your kind act will free up some of my time so I can sit with my child, take a stress break, or maybe tell another story.

I’d appreciate it.