Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Catch Up Post: Anxiety, Avoidance, And Possible Solutions - A Work In Progress

(photo credit - www.yourwebgraphics.com)

Toward the end of March, I mentioned my problem with anxiety and showering. I came up with a few strategies to deal with it, and I am happy to report, I am on the upswing with this. It's not over by any means, but I think I am over the panic portion. I still get anxious, but I am able to deal with that aspect. Here are the strategies that I (and my husband) came up with.

First off, I owe my husband and huge thanks and a lot more. He gave me an "assignment" not long after my initial post. He told me he didn't care if I took a shower or not, he wanted me to get in and out of the tub every single day by the end of the day. I haven't missed a day yet. When he first gave me this assignment, I had many days where my panic went out of control. Another little rule to his assignment, I had to do it alone, I couldn't have him come in with me. In the beginning, like I said, my panic ruled, and I needed to text him to come help me get out several times.

That was the start of everything. I needed to reassure myself of what was going on. What was I afraid of? The shower seat tipping over? OK, I sat outside the tub, and literally tilted the shower seat back as far as it would go until it fell over. It went pretty far over, and I serious doubt I could tip it over on purpose when I was sitting on it. Well, I could, but it would take a lot of effort. The second thing my evil mind came up with was the shower seat legs. Would they collapse under me? So I turned the shower seat upside down and I gave the legs a good yank. They wiggled a bit, but they're supposed to have some movement so they can fit in the tub. I yanked harder, and they were sturdy. Not going to collapse. One last shower seat test I did was to take the seat out of the tub and sit on it. I tried to put as much weight as I could on the seat by holding on to the counter and picking both feet off the floor. No problem at all. These seat tests helped me with my fear of getting my right leg in and out of the tub once I was already seated. No more problems with the actual getting in and out. Phew.

Now that I've determined the shower seat is good, we go on to my other "issue". I found myself having more panic when I was soapy (sorry if it's TMI, but I'm keeping it real here). My soapy butt would slip and slide all over the seat and that would have me "seeing" myself flying off the seat (I have a very very vivid imagination, always have). My solution to this problem was to place a towel on the seat and sit on the towel. Much better! No more sliding around. I used this towel strategy for 4 or 5 showers, and then I decided enough was enough. I wasn't going to fly off the seat. I had enough confidence that I managed to shower without the towel. One thing I didn't mention...since this all started, I began shaving my legs outside the tub. I had that feeling of being pulled forward so I didn't like to bend over.

Not only is the seat fine, I now know I'm not going to fly off or slide off the seat when soapy. I am still working on shaving my legs in the tub. The last 3 or 4 showers I've taken, I have shaved in the tub, but I am still using modifications. I hold on the the tub tap or I hold on to the shower safety bar when I do it. I need to work on doing it without holding on to anything. To my rational thinking, it's OK to still use these adaptations, but in the back of my mind I still here my college advisor (another story for another time) say to me, "We can't keep putting up Band-Aids for you." Like I said, that statement deserves a whole post on it's own (and I will rant a lot). I keep thinking about that statement, and it makes me want to get back to where I was. I'll get there, it will just take time.

I think that wraps things up. I still have anxiety with showering, but it's nowhere near as bad as it once was. I'm sure panic will rear it's ugly head in the future, but I now have a handful of strategies to get me back on track. This will be an ongoing thing from now on, but that's OK. As long as I don't go back into avoidance mode, and as long as I keep up with my husband's assignment every day, I'll be ahead of the curve.

This was one of my longer bouts of anxiety and panic. It was a long haul, but I survived. It's scary, but if you deal with panic and anxiety, face it head on and deal with it. Find creative solutions to help you get through it. Practice makes perfect (well, with everything except public speaking). So keep it up.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Catch Up Post: Mileage Mondays

First off, let me apologize for being a really bad blogger. I have a habit of posting for a little while, and then dropping off the face of the earth for months. So it is time for some catch up posts. There's a bunch of things that have happened in the last several months that I need to get you all (all 5 or so of you who read) caught up on.

On deck first...Mileage Mondays. Some sad news. The virtual walk site that I've been using since April 2008 is no more. It shut down in the first week of May, and I am sad to see it go. No warning, no email, nothing. I found out from a fellow SparkPeople member (one of the co-leaders of the virtual walk/run team I help lead) posted about it. At the time, I wasn't working out out consistently, so I had no idea it was gone until I saw her post. So what does this mean for my Mileage Monday posts? I'll still be posting on Mondays, but there will be no pictures. I still have a back log of photos that will last me a few weeks (like I said, bad, bad blogger), and then after that, I'll just post how many miles I completed for the week and what I did to get them.

On the plus side, a former co-leader of the SparkPeople virtual walk/run team, Monty (sadly he passed away from lung cancer almost three years ago), made up a post showing the mileage points for each state border on the route. So, I will continue on the walk using those points of reference. Here is an old image of the walk across America route.

I was in Kentucky when the site shut down, and am still currently in Kentucky according to Monty's mileage points post. Since my last Mileage Monday post, I've passed through Sonora, KY in Larue county, Eastview, KY in Hardin county, and Hardin Springs, KY, also in Hardin county. I have 143.5 miles to go until I reach the Illinois border on the walking route.

And now on to the back log of pictures for this week.

Mile 896.4 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 898 (Jessica Smith for 1.5 miles)

Mile 901 (Jessica Smith for 3 miles)

Mile 902.4 (Jessica Smith for 1.4 miles)

Mile 903.4 (elliptical for 1 mile)

Mile 906.6 (Jessica Smith for 3.3 miles)

While it is sad that the virtual walk site is no more, that won't stop me from continuing on. It was a very big motivator to keep going, as the photos along the route were so pretty. Ah well. Life goes on. Find another source of motivation, or make adaptations to an old source, but make sure you keep moving!

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!