Sunday, September 2, 2012

Adventures in Summertime and Some Major Decisions

August came and went without a blog update from me — the first blogless month to pass since I started blogging in January 2011. But it wasn't without reason. 

August was a restless, dramatic, difficult but ultimately, transformative month marked by progress. Five of my seven foster kittens got adopted by loving families, I finished four musical projects, I had a frightening reaction to an immune-boosting shot, I made a life-changing decision to move cross country, I planned a trip, and my house got broken into. It was never the right moment, a restful moment, to sit down and update everyone. As soon as one storm passed, a strong wind would move right in.

The decision for me to leave California was both a long time coming and a sudden epiphany rolled into one. For those of you who don't know, I'm originally from Texas, but I moved to California shortly after I graduated from college to chase the California dream of warm beaches and tolerance (some may call it liberalism). Fast approaching my ten-year anniversary (gosh, that's hard to believe), I'm disgruntled to say it's hardly been a dream come true.

For almost ten years, I have struggled on my own — far from any family members — to survive somewhere I'm not happy. Jumping from job to job. In poor health. 
Paying a premium price to live here. In a culture tainted by selfishness, flakiness, and arrogance (yes, Californians are stereotyped by the rest of the U.S. as such, but my personal opinion is based entirely on my own experience with people, including some I considered friends). Before anyone jumps to California's defense, let me say that yes, there are many beautiful places in this state, and yes, if you're "different" and want to be accepted, you can't find a better place than San Francisco... or Santa Cruz.

But ultimately, I just can't stand being here anymore. 
The extremely high cost of living and bad memories all around me are two of many reasons I don't like it. And I'm astute enough to realize that going about my business in a constant state of paranoia — afraid I'll run into an ex who frequents the same areas as me — is no way to live.

And nothing is tying me to this place anymore — nothing. My last and final tie to this area was my band, but after seven years, Opal Axis is officially kaput. I'm sure I'll always write music (and sing!) but I no longer have the endurance nor desire to perform. Actually, I've never enjoyed performing, not one bit. Nor am I interested in fame. For me, the joy comes from the process of composing, recording, embellishing, and ultimately sharing my songs with people — giving them a track that they might enjoy, that may add some color to their life.

I don't see the demise of my band as a bad thing. On the contrary, I am satiated by the recordings we've made, which I'll keep forever as a reminder of what we were able to accomplish together. (Our four new songs will be on iTunes later this month). Each instrument, every member of the band, contributed such talent and ingenuity to the music, that I will always relish in our successes.

But they wanted to play shows. Badly. And I couldn't do that. Now they're able to focus more time on other musical projects — which most of the band members have — and their future goals and aspirations in the music industry.

As I was saying, nothing is tying me to California anymore. No boyfriend, few friends, no job. I had to leave my full-time job in February 2011, and can only work (graphic design) part-time at best, but design projects aren't hard to come by wherever I end up. Every small business needs an identity — a logo, a website, branding. And I don't need to be here to continue treatment with my LLMD or LLND, since I can always get bloodwork and other labs done in any city and follow up over the phone with my doctors.

See.... I am literally untethered, free, a bird standing in the doorway of an open cage, staring outside with wonder, preparing for flight.

So one early August day, I dove into research-mode on places that might suit me better. Based on my list of desires — a low cost of living, proximity to people I love, land suitable for vegetation, historical charm, mild to moderate winters and hot summers, open green spaces with lower population density, values and hospitality, an artistic and creative culture, a slow-paced life (I could go on and on, but these are some of my priorities), I have set my mind on Tennessee or its surrounding states.

I have yet to step foot in Tennessee, but the happiest memories of my life have taken place in Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma and surrounding areas, and I've heard some really, really great things about Tennessee.

When I was a child, we used to drive from Dallas to Farmington, Missouri, often to visit my maternal grandparents. Those memories of catching tadpoles in creeks, sliding down ancient rock formations, exploring caves, swimming in hot springs, and rolling down grassy, expansive hills pull at my heart strings and fill me with an overwhelming desire to return to the southern Midwest.

As an adult, I've been able to re-visit some of these places. The top two photos below are from a trip to southeastern Missouri in 2008. The bottom two are from a trip to southern Illinois in 2010, which coincidentally lies only 100 miles due east from the top two, just across the Missouri border and barely into Illinois.


Once I made the decision to move, I decided it was going to be a slow and patient process, one poised for 2014 — just to give me enough time to visit and explore the state(s), find the right city for me, sell my house, find a new house, and do so with as little pressure or stress to my delicate balance as possible.

But then my house got broken into. It was 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and I was fast asleep with all my blinds still drawn. The juveniles broke down my back door (tearing right through three locked locks), tripped my alarm system (which I set every night at bedtime), and hustled down my hall, in a hurry to find something valuable while the alarm fast approached its transition from menacing beeps to full-blown siren.

Somehow I managed to sleep through all the ruckus (the sound of my back door being kicked permeated my dreams, but I've trained myself to tune out all sounds that take place in the mornings so I can sleep until at least noon — since most nights I fight insomnia until about 4 a.m.).

It wasn't until I opened my eyes and an 18-to-20-year-old, tall, athletic, short-haired, Hispanic male was standing in the doorway of my bedroom that I realized exactly what was going on. Talk about a rude wake-up call.

He was so shocked to see me (obviously he and his co-conspirator weren't expecting anyone to be home) that he and I were both simultaneously yelling and jumping out of our skin. But that lasted only about half a second. And then he was gone — he and the other guy, whose voice I heard coming from my kitchen but whose face I did not see. Out of my house they fled like speeding bullets, right as the beeping alarm took on its deafening siren.

That exact moment is when it really hit me what had just happened. The whole situation had been so surreal and my emotional response literally shut itself down so that I could not feel — that's how I got through the rest of that crazy day.

The first thing I did as they ran out of my house was call 9-1-1, and just 60 seconds later the cops were scouting my property with guns drawn. They took my story but did not catch the intruders. Soon, a friend came over, a repairman fixed my door, and all the while I was very calm and stoic. Since I had not been harmed, and nothing had been stolen, I came to see the incident as a benign sign from above, confirming my need to get out of California — and fast. This message — sent from my spirit guides — solidified what I had to do, causing a sense of peace to come over me, which many found to be an odd reaction to the incident.

My plans quickly changed. Now I'm aiming to be moved by early-to-mid 2013. And in just two-and-a-half weeks, I'll be on a plane to Tennessee! I'll be looking for a feeling more than anything — a place that feels right. And when I find it, I'll know. I anticipate that I'll be flying back to California with a new home in mind. But if I don't find the right place on this trip, I'll continue looking until I do.

I am more than a little overwhelmed by the daunting task of moving myself, my belongings, and my three cats across the country without any help and in my fragile state. I don't know how I'm going to manage it, but I always find a way to do anything I put my mind to, as I can be very determined  in accomplishing goals. I will take it one step at a time. At least I have the ability to somewhat control my herxes.

The move has to be made; there's no doubt. Even four members of my online metaphysical community have come forth to tell me how much better my life will be (happiness, health, and love) after I leave California. Independent of each other, each performed her own "reading" of sorts (using tarot, dowsing, mediumship, visualization) and unequivocally predicted the same things down to nitty gritty details. While these readings were neither the reason nor the motivating factor for my move, I find them nonetheless interesting and encouraging.

And still, weeks after my decision was already made, the universe is still seemingly trying to ruminate the point: I wasn't looking for it when I found this article rating California with an F, and by contrast, Tennessee with a B-. Well, thanks.

Ultimately it's not a psychic or an article, but rather, my unhappiness in Silicon Valley, that will take me far from here. Bad memories, former friends, toxic energy, terrible traffic, high population density, ridiculous expenses, and feeling unsafe — violated even — are why I'll be leaving.

Also taking place in August (and actually before the break-in) was my second gamma globulin shot. Also known as immunoglobulin, it's basically an immune system in a bottle! Well, sort of. For immune compromised individuals like me (and AIDS patients) who don't produce adequate "natural killer" blood cells, it fills that shortage by pumping us full of microscopic soldiers and deploying them to war.

That "war" it produced in my body ended up being really, really good for my health, but it caused one hell of a week. I had one of the biggest herxes yet, sweating and sleeping profusely for seven days before it lifted, comforted by the knowledge that my surge in immunity helped my body kill off a lot of bugs.

The problem with me and people like me, as I've mentioned in previous blog entries, is that my detox pathways are blocked due to my genetics, so my herxes can potentially be a lot worse than other Lymies' herxes. (I'm not downplaying anyone else's struggles, as I've never experienced some of the horrific symptoms other Lymies endure like severe hip and joint pain so bad they can't walk. I'm just referring to how quickly my liver and detox pathways build up with toxins, making me more sensitive and, less often, allergic, to medications than many people are).

The sleeping 16-18 hours a day and sweating through my sheets wasn't the worst part of the immunoglobulin. The toxin-induced depression and anxiety hit me hard for that week. For those seven days, I wasn't myself — I was a tearful wreck in a zombie-like haze. Not fun. One of the commonly discussed topics among Lymies is the depression we experience during a herx. It's a temporary, entirely biochemical reaction in our temporal lobes, nervous systems and lymbic systems, and it sucks.

But I awoke on day eight (post-immunogloblin) refreshed and upbeat. It had finally passed. Not only that, but I wasn't just returned to my baseline — I actually felt healthier than I had pre-injection. Building up the immune system, which helps us kill off a broad spectrum of microscopic invaders, seems to be a verifiably effective tactic in healing chronic illness. 

I need to put more careful consideration into it before making any decisions, but I may decide to continue with these injections. Ultimately it's more my decision than my doctor's, since there are at least a half dozen paths I can take in my healing. While my doctor encourages these injections, she doesn't see them as a mandatory part of my recovery.

She also encourages many other medications and protocols which are too numbered for me to feasibly partake in at once. Plus, due to my sensitivities and intolerances of many regimens, such as sulfur-heavy metal chelators and cyst-busting enzymes, it's important that I'm very careful not to overload my body with toxic by-products of the die-off effect. I'm a difficult patient, so essentially she points me in a certain direction and lets me make the final call. (Cool doctor!) I'm only referring to the Lyme disease component, though; she also treats my thyroid disease and other conditions with non-negotiable treatments.

I can't say I'm looking forward to the misery caused by my next gamma globulin shot, but sometimes I have to bite the bullet if I think it will have good long-term effects. I also have the option of substituting one full-dose injection with smaller ones to lessen the reaction. I'd love to hear anyone's personal experiences with immunoglobulin if you'd like to share.

Anyway, that sums up my last month and where things currently stand. Oh, August, never a dull moment. 
Some might say it so happened because of the rare two full moons. All I know is I'm glad it's September.

1 comment:

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog posts, Leila, so thanks for the update. Sounds like you have had lots of things happening. Your decision to move was a huge decision to make. I grew up in Indiana and love the midwest. The southern midwest (in places I have visited) are actually very nice. I will be hoping on your next trip you are able to get a feel of where your new home will be. I hope your move will brighten your days with new possibilities.

    I am so sorry to hear about your break in. How scary! We currently live in Sacramento, however-we've spent ten years in Alaska and growing up in Indiana, Sacramento will never be "home." But it's fine for a while. I don't live in fear being here but I am more nervous here than other places I have lived. We must hear some sort of siren everyday, which-at first seemed so odd to me and now after a year-it just sort of blends in with the daily sounds of California life.

    I am also sorry to hear about your awful herx. I am glad you pulled out of it feeling better. It sounds like you have a fabulous doctor, and I am glad you will be able to continue care once you move.

    Lots of things going on in your life. I will be hoping and praying for you as I always do. Hope this month brings you better and brighter things.