Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anxiety, Avoidance, And Possile Solutions: A Work In Progress

Warning: This is a longer post than normal, so bear with me.

OK. This post has been a long time coming. Two months or so actually. Anxiety. I've always been anxious. Since I was a kid, I was always worried about something. Up until about 10 years ago I've been able to deal with it fairly well. Over the last 10 years, but particularly the last two or three, my anxiety has increased. I've had more panic attacks, and I've let that anxiety and fear hold me back from doing things. If you've ever had a panic attack, you know how frightening it is. You can't control your breathing, your heart starts beating out of your chest, you start shaking, sweating, and your mind goes in a thousand directions at once.

I know what triggers my panic attacks, and unfortunately this cause is a reality for people with cerebral palsy. Falling. I've talked about my fear of falling before, and for the most part I do deal with that well. There is however one instance that my anxiety goes through the roof when it comes to falling. The dreaded shower. I've talked about my scary shower incident several years ago, and I honestly don't think about that day very often. That's because I know that day will not repeat itself because I no longer use the suction cup grab bar. I have a safety bar screwed into the wall now which is way safer. I take all the safety precautions I can think of when it comes to getting in and out of the shower.

I'm going to go into detail with my shower anxiety not because I really want to, but because I hope my experience will help someone else out there who might be dealing with the same thing. Whether you have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, any other type of disability that makes it hard to balance, or if you're just getting older and have lost some stability, I hope my story can help you attack the problem head on and move forward.

Let's start at the beginning. How I get in and out of the shower...past and present. Over the years, I have experimented with different ways of getting in and out of the shower.

Childhood Strategy:

As I kid, I used to use my parent's shower which is a big wide-open space. To get into the shower, you have to go down a small step. In my early childhood, my mom helped me in and out. For the longest time I was able to stand up and move around while I showered. I don't remember how old I was, but around 11, 12, or 13, I started getting in and out on my own. While I was in the middle of washing, I slipped and fell on my behind. I didn't get hurt, but I was startled. I can't remember the length of time, but I slipped and fell two more times over weeks, months, I don't know. After the third time I said enough was enough and I just sat on my butt and showered that way from that point on.. I also started getting on the floor and scooting down the step when I got in.

College Strategy:

Moving on to college, I had a private bathroom that I shared with three other girls. It was a tub style shower, so I had to get in and out of a bath tub. We put on a safety bar that clamped on to the side of the tub. Once I got into the tub, I would get on my knees and shower. Then somehow managed to flip over onto my butt so I could shave. Then get back onto my knees, stand up and get out using the bar. I never had any problems with that back then.

WA State Apartment Strategy:

I had my first shower chair in 1999 or 2000. That helped a ton. My husband and I were living in an apartment in the Seattle area, and we had maintenance come over and install a safety bar inside the tub shower. I did well with that for the most part. Every now and then I would get nervous getting out of the tub. I think it was because the bar was on the inside and I had nothing to hold onto with my outside hand. But I dealt with it just fine.

Current House Strategy:

Moving on to the house we now live in. It's once again a tub-style shower. You already know about the suction cup bar, and that I now have a safety bar on the wall outside of the shower. I still have a shower chair, and to avoid slipping there's a thick bathroom rug on the tile floor so there's no danger. This is the tub shower in which I've experimented with different ways of getting in and out. I used to get in and out standing up the entire time. I'm not sure when it was , but sometime in the last three or four years I started to sit down on my chair part way through the getting in process. I'd put my left leg in, sit down, and then swing my right leg in after. I'd reverse that process to get out. That's worked well for me the last several years.

I've mentioned the whole "jerk move" feeling I get from time time. Sometimes when my neck is out of alignment in just the right way, I get the sensation of being pulled back and to the left. That feeling plays a big part when I get in and out of the shower. I feel very unstable, and that causes me to doubt myself and hesitate. For the most part that feeling is gone, as long as I get my back and neck adjusted regularly. For the last month or so, I've been having a hard time getting my right leg into the tub, even when I'm already sitting down. My left leg tends to tighten up and my left knee goes inward and blocks my right leg from coming in (if that makes sense).

I discovered the tub floor was the culprit. My left foot would slip when I lifted my right leg up. Now I'm sitting down you understand, but it still feels like I'm going to fall off the seat. Is that even possible, to fall out of a chair? I suppose if you lean far enough over to one side you'd eventually fall off. Or if you lean forward (which I tend to do in order to not fall backward) enough and your feet slip out from under you. But is that realistic? To stop my left foot from sliding, I'd put a hand towel under my left foot. That kind of helped, but it was still precarious.


Onto the avoidance factor of this post. About two months ago, my anxiety about getting in and out of the shower got so bad, I unconsciously started to delay showering. I would avoid exercising because if I exercised, I would get sweaty and need to shower. The less I exercise, the harder it is to move around. It was a viscous cycle. And when I absolutely had to shower, I would get so anxious, that I would not be able to move. Every time I tried to get out of the shower, I would panic. It got so bad one day, I had to call my husband (I started bringing my phone in with me after the suction cup incident) to help me out.

A little over a month ago, I decided to take a Xanax an hour before I took a shower, to let my mind calm down, relax my muscles, and to let myself know that it is possible. Before that could happen though, I went into the bathroom that morning, not knowing there was water on the floor. I went into the bathroom and slipped on the floor (the tile floor we have is deadly, I hate it). I didn't fall, but came pretty close. My panic went through the roof. My anxiety had been building up for several days, and I was anticipating my shower later that day. I managed to get back into the bedroom before the full blown panic attack hit. Then my body just did its thing. Hyperventilating, sweating, shaking, heart and mind racing uncontrollably. My husband came in when he realized what happened, and calmed me down. He told me to take a Xanax right then and there. I remember saying in a squeaky voice "I'm thinking about it". He laughed (not at me but at my reluctance to take a pill) and told me to take one. My reaction is exactly the reason to take one. So I took one and I felt better after about 10 to 15 minutes. The shower that day went smoothly also.

Solutions (on-going):

After that panic attack, we made another adjustment to the tub. First we tried sticky tape on the tub floor. That didn't cut it. We then tried a wooden bath mat. That's been working well so far. That helps my left foot from slipping. I'm still dealing with the falling feeling while sitting though. That's been a problem for a while now, and I don't know what to do about it. I'd blame it on the "jerk move", but it's not the same sensation. It feels like the falling sensation you get when you're just about to fall asleep. I get that feeling when I'm awake too. More often now than I used to. It's weird. Maybe my neck is out, who knows. All I know is I'm tired of being anxious when I have to shower.

Here are some pictures of my current set-up.

Shower Safety Bar

Shower Chair And Wooden Bath Mat (and the rug I use still draped over the side of the tub)
(photo credit: Me)

I'm doing my best to not fixate on it. I have a tendency to hyper focus on things that make me nervous. I have to practice the mindful thinking again. Focus on the present moment, and not worry about something until it's time to deal with it (and even then, just go with the flow). Hard to put that into practice though sometimes. I'm actually thinking about taking a Xanax today before I shower. I've been getting more and more anxious about it again. I just feel like I'm going to fall off the shower chair now. And my left leg is still blocking my right from getting in and out. It's a work in progress that's for sure. I'm hoping that by taking one today my confidence will rise, and I can go a few weeks without fear. If I let my anxiety build and build I'm headed for a panic attack for sure. So I need to cut it off at the pass.

This post is a huge one, but I hope this may be of some help to others who have anxiety, whether it's shower related or not. To those of you who read the whole way through, thank you! It does help to get it all out there. And to those of you with an anxiety problem, just take in one minute at a time (rather than one day at a time like I used to say).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mileage Monday: Back In The Swing Of Things!

I think I'm finally getting back into the exercise groove! Last week I worked out 5 days, Tuesday through Saturday. Today (Sunday) is going to be an active rest day. Active in that I'll be giving our dog a bath. Luckily he is very cooperative with bath time, but it's still a lower back workout.

What did I do for the last five days for exercise? Well, I bought myself a new walking DVD. This one is by Jessica Smith. She's got a ton of workout videos on YouTube, so check her out there. If that link doesn't work, just go to YouTube and search Jessica Smith TV. I ended up buying the DVD because I had enough Amazon gift cards to buy me a splurge. I think this will kick start me into exercise again. The DVD I bought (which I'll get into more info in another post) is four workouts in two DVDs. Each workout is 30 minutes each, which is the perfect amount of time in my opinion. On the fifth day I did a mile on the elliptical. I'll start up the DVDs again tomorrow (well today since it's Monday).

Needless to say, I have more mileage pictures to share! It is definitely good to get back into exercise! I feel a ton better, and feel like I'm accomplishing something. So, let's get to those pictures. Since my last Mileage Monday post, I've passed through several cities in Kentucky. I've passed through Howardstown, White City, and Buffalo, all of which are in Larue County. I have about 13.6 miles until I reach Sonora, KY.

Mile 889.4 (Leslie for 2.4 miles)

Mile 890.4 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 891.8 (Jessica Smith for 1.5 miles)

Mile 893.6 (Jessica for 1.7 miles)

Mile 894.8 (Jessica for 1.2 miles)

Mile 895.4 (Jessica for .7 mile)
(photo credit - Virtual Walk Site)

I am on the move again, which is good! Hope everyone is doing well. Keep moving!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Milelage Monday

Been dealing with allergies for the past week, but not sure if it was that or some strange cold. Everyone in the house seemed to have a different version of the same thing. I've had a headache for the past who knows how long (a month?) off and on, and the last week and a half my sinuses have been aching and giving me a hassle. My husband had a bad headache for the better part of last week, and my mother in-law had the same sinus thing and a nasty cough. We all seem to be on the mend though. My sinuses still feel a little strange, but not as bad as they were.

I didn't do much in the way of exercise last week, but by Thursday or Friday, I had enough of feeling blah. The elliptical actually made me feel a bit better. Sweat it out of me, we'll see if that works.As long as my chest is clear, I should be fine to exercise.

I'm all caught up on my back log of virtual walk pictures. Which means I need to get my butt moving so I can get more pictures for next Monday. That's a good motivator right there. Since my last Mileage Monday post, I've passed through Howardstown, KY in Nelson county and I'm currently passing through White City, KY in Larue county. Let's get to the last of my saved pictures!

Mile 877.8 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 878.2 (elliptical for 1/2 mile)

Mile 880.6 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 883.6 (elliptical for 1/2 mile and Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 886 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 887 (elliptical for 1 mile)
(photo credit - Virtual Walk Site)

I just came upon my 8 year Sparkaversary. I joined SparkPeople.com 8 years ago because I finally was fed up with the yo-yo exercise/diet circle. The website is still extremley popular even with other free weight loss sites and apps out there. I've been tempted to try out other apps (such as MyFitnessPal), but I'm a loyal Sparker. I do use the FitBit site, but FitBit and SparkPeople can be linked together so that's a bonus. I still would recommend SparkPeople to anyone who wanted to lose weight or become more active. It still has one of the best online communities I've come across.

Keep moving!!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Teavana Tea Review: Gingerbread Black Tea

(photo credit - Me)

The second of the two Teavana teas I received for my birthday is the Gingerbread black tea. This tea is a limited edition black tea and smells great in the package! OK, so what is in this tea?

Chicory root
Candied ginger pieces (ginger and sugar)
Apple pieces
Black tea
Natural and artificial flavoring
Ginger pieces
Cinnamon sticks
Popcorn with cocoa (corn, sugar, canola oil, and cocoa powder)

It's simple as always to make this tea. Use 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of leaves for every 8 ounces of water, let it steep for 2 to 3 minutes, and you're good to go.

As I said, it smells great in the package, and it smells great after it's been steeped as well. I mostly smell cinnamon at first at first sniff, but I do smell the ginger also. When I was scooping out the leaves for the tea, I did see pieces of popcorn (not in the photo above though). That surprised me, I didn't expect to see popcorn in my tea leaves

As for the taste, this is my first impression, so maybe I need to tweak what I do with this tea. It seems weak to me. Maybe I didn't use enough leaves, maybe I need to let it steep longer, but it was definitely weak the first time out. I know with certain Teavana teas, the longer you steep them the more flavorful they get. I have a feeling this is one of those teas. I'll try steeping it for 5 or 6 minutes next time and see how it tastes.

Definitely a great flavor though. I taste both the ginger and cinnamon. That's pretty much all I taste with this one. I don't taste the apple, and as I said in previous reviews, I don't really know what chicory root tastes like.

If the taste is stronger and if I tweak it a bit, I think this is going to be a great fall and winter tea. I don't know how long Teavana is going to be selling this one as it is a limited edition, but give it a shot.

Edit: I did tweak how I prepared the Gingerbread Black Tea. I added a tad more tea leaves and I let it steep for another minute. That did make it stronger. So, this is another hit with me from Teavana!

Be sure to check out more of my Teavana tea reviews!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Teavana Tea Review: White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos Tea

(photo credit - Me)

Back in November (I know, a long time back), I received two Teavana teas from my parents for my 40th birthday (thanks Mom and Dad!). It was hard to choose which one to try first, but the White Chocolate Peppermint Rooibos tea won out for one reason. The scent.

When I first opened the entire box with all the gifts in it, I instantly smelled a bubble gum smell. "Hmmmmm, that's interesting" I thought. When I got to the teas, I understood why. Peppermint. Yum! I love anything with mint in it. Mint is a refreshing scent and it actually perks me up.

Let's get to the good stuff. What is in this tea?

-White chocolate pieces (sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, dextrose)
-Cocoa kernels
-Carob pieces
-Red rooibos
-Artificial flavoring
-Vanilla pieces
-Coconut blossom sugar
-Liquorice root

On the description page for this tea they put in all capitals that this tea contains milk and coconut. So if you're allergic to these two ingredients, you should stay away. Other than the peppermint scent, the second strong smell was indeed the milk.

Now, what did I think of this tea? When I saw the name of the tea, I was all in. Then I saw that one of the ingredients was coconut. I'm not a huge fan of coconut, so I started to wonder how strong that flavor was going to be.

Fantastic tea! The coconut is definitely there, but not overpowering at all. The peppermint is probably the strongest flavor out of all of them. I can also taste the milk powder too, which surprised me. And of course the chocolate. The milk powder is actually in the white chocolate pieces,  so I guess it really doesn't surprise me that I taste the milk.

The description on the web site says "Richly sweet, creamy white chocolate with a delightful peppermint finish". That describes it perfectly. The after taste is definitely peppermint.

This one is a keeper! I wouldn't say this is one of my favorites though. The only reason I say that is because of the milk. I'm not a huge fan of milk in teas. I don't care for the smell of warm milk. It puts me off somehow. If this tea had no milk powder in, I think it would be high on the list of my favorites. This tea is easy to make as all of Teavana teas are. Use 1 and a half teaspoons of tea for every 8 ounces of water. Let it steep to 5 to 6 minutes and you're good to go.

The bad thing is, I don't think this tea is available any more. I know with the other tea that I'll be reviewing was a limited edition tea, but I don't remember seeing that notation on this tea. Not sure why it's no longer there, but maybe they'll bring it back again in the fall for the holidays.

I'll be reviewing the other tea very soon, so stay tuned for that!

Be sure to check out more of my Teavana tea reviews!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Mileage Monday: Short And Quick

Here are some more of the pictures I have saved from the virtual walk site from the last several weeks. I mentioned in my last Mileage Monday post that I've been dealing with anxiety and avoidance issues. I'm getting a hold of it though, at least to some degree. I do intend to write about it, but it is a touchy subject. It's personal and hard to talk about sometimes because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I figure there are other people with cerebral palsy who are dealing with the same set backs and fears, so why not share my experience? That's what this whole blog is for right? To share my journey and how I deal with my situation. I won't be "cured" of anxiety, but I can learn to deal with it and keep moving forward. It's no fun to go through, and is downright scary sometimes.

Onward and upward. Here are some more pictures from the cross country walk.

Mile 868 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 869 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 872 (elliptical for 1 mile and Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 872.4 (marched in place watching The Biggest Loser for .5 mile)

Mile 874.8 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 877.2 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)
(photo credit - Virtual Walk Site)

I'm almost current with the pictures. I have three left. Now if I can just get my butt up and moving I can add to those pictures. It seems I've lost my mojo. I'm nowhere near as consistent with exercise as I once was. I'll get there again, I just need to focus and DO IT. Keep moving!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Mileage Monday: Slacking Again

I've missed several weeks again for my Mileage Monday posts. I won't appologize, I won't make promises to do better, but they will still be posted. I may miss a week here or there, but oh well. As Roni and Carla would say...WYCWYC.

My workouts have been hit and miss lately also. I'll get into the why of that at a later time, but long story short, it has to do with avoidance of a certain issue. If you guessed fear of falling as a cause for this avoidance, you're spot on. Like I said, a story for another time. But it's time to deal with it.

On to the virtual walk progress report. I'm still going, although like I said, it's hit and miss. I got back on the wagon this morning though. Only did 1/2 mile on the elliptical, but it's something. I still have a few weeks of pictures to get caught up on, so let's get started.

Mile 858.6 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 861 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 861.4 (elliptical for .5 mile)

Mile 862.2 (Jessica Smith for .8 mile)

Mile 864.6 (Leslie Sansone for 2.4 miles)

Mile 865.5 (elliptical for 1 mile)
(photo credit - Virtual Walk)

Onward and upward. Hope everyone who is dealing with the tons and tons of snow is safe and staying warm. Wish I could send you our 90 degree weather. How about I send you 30 degrees of warmth? I'll give you all 30 degrees from our temps. I miss the 70s and 60s. Too soon to be getting into the 90s. Bah. Oh well. Keep moving!