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Archive for May, 2013

Mileage Monday (on vacation)

Out of town at the moment. Getting back on Friday. Hope you’re all having a great Memorial Day weekend!

Enjoy the last big batch of virtual walk pictures.

Mile 556.8 (watp for 3.1 miles)                                  Mile 557.8 (elliptical for 1)

556.8 Leslie for 3.1                     557.8 Elliptical for 1

Mile 560.8 (watp for 3.1 miles)                                  Mile 564 (watp for 3.1 mile)

560.8 Leslie for 3.1                     564 Leslie for 3.1

Mile 565 (elliptical for 1)                                             Mile 568 (watp for 3.1 miles)

565 Elliptical for 1                     568 Leslie for 3.1

 

(photo credit – Copyright 2006 Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

Keep moving!

Big Solution For My Fear And My Panic Attacks

Xanax

Ok, so I know you’re all dying to know what this solution is. Here it is: Xanax. There you go. It’s an anti-anxiety medication, and take it from a big skeptic…it works. My mother in-law has a prescription for Xanax, and she’s offered me a pill here and there for years. Mostly when we fly back east. I’m not a huge fan of flying and I tend to get anxious. I’ve always turned her down though. Until January.

In January, my husband and I started to work on my balance and walking without any support at all. This is how I came to my realization that my balance was actually fine, and it was my fear getting in the way. So, one day, we were out in the living room. No one else was around, so it was a good day for it. I didn’t have to worry about doors opening and closing, people sneezing, or other noises that cause me to jump (darn that jump reflex).

I was anxious during my practice, and my body was so tense I could barely move. One thing that helps that is if I close my eyes. So I closed my eyes and kept doing what I was doing, which was walking with my husband behind me. Then he had me keep my eyes closed and he spun me in circles so I didn’t know what direction I was facing. I didn’t know where the couch or chairs were. No clue. Then he let go and had me stand there with my eyes close. I got a bit more anxious, but not horrible. Then, the whammy. He told me open my eyes. I opened them, and it was instant panic.

I was in the middle of the room, nothing around to grab onto, and my husband was several feet away (still close enough to catch me if I fell). My entire body froze and I lost it. My breathing got out of control, my heart started racing, and I felt like I was going to die. But, I didn’t fall. So, now, we had a big clue as to what we had to work on. Balance is fine, mental state is not. So we kept trying this, and it ended up the same way each time. As I was sitting in the chair trying to regain control, my in-laws came back from wherever they were. They knew something was up, because I was trying hard not to cry.

We told them what was going was going on, and my mother in-law offered me a Xanax. I finally relented and said ok. However, I did not take one that day. I waited a few days. I wanted to take one before we did this “balance practice” again. I took one, and waited for 25 minutes. Honestly, I did not think these pills were going to do a darn thing. So we worked on walking and balance again, and it worked. I still felt anxious, but nowhere near as bad as before. I also avoided a panic attack after I was spun around in circles with my eyes closed. I opened them, and was in the middle of the room again with nothing around me. I stayed somewhat calm and never lost it.

It didn’t hit me until the next day just how effective it was. The next day we did the same thing, only without a pill. Same as before, I was spun around with my eyes closed. Opened them, and instant panic. I was also a lot more tense in my legs than I was when I used the pill. I had no clue Xanax did as much as it did for me. It relaxed my muscles (nice bonus I wasn’t expecting), kept my mind calm, and let me work through what anxiety I did have. I’d have to say that it cut out about 85% of the anxiety. It was still there, don’t get me wrong, but it was manageable at least.

Since January, I think I’ve taken 5 pills. I do take one when I go to the chiropractor, not just to avoid panic, but to loosen everything up. It really surprised me how much it relaxed my body. I don’t know if that’s because of the medication itself, or the fact that my mind was calm. I don’t think Xanax is used primarily for relaxing muscles (it’s mostly for anxiety), but it does have that side benefit.

I don’t plan on taking it forever, although you never know. Xanax can be addictive, but only if you take it every day. That’s not my plan. I only plan to take it when I know for sure I’ll have to walk by myself or with the help of someone I’m not used to. Remember my incident with the chiropractor’s assistant? Since then, she’s helped me out a few times, and thanks to Xanax, I’ve been able to handle it. As a matter of fact at one appointment, she helped me out to the waiting room when I was done, and she actually let go and walked behind me. I didn’t freak out. I just kept walking calmly. I was a bit more unsteady, but I didn’t panic. That was a big woohoo moment.

When we get back from vacation, I’ll be talking with my doctor about getting my own prescription. I feel bad for using my mother in-law’s. She doesn’t need them very often either, which is good, but I do want my own.

I lasted 38 and a half years without taking any medication for my cerebral palsy. For the record, this technically isn’t for my cerebral palsy, but for my anxiety. So I guess my streak can continue. My mental issues finally got the better of me, hehe. I say, if it works, do it!

Ways I Am Dealing With My Fear Of Falling

panic-attack

I have bad balance. Yes, this is true. However, since January, I’ve come to the realization that my balance is actually quite good for someone with cerebral palsy. My main problem is my fear of falling. I’ve come to the conclusion that my balance has never declined since I was a kid. It was only my perception. My perception started to change sometime when I was a teenager, an early teenager at that. I can’t pinpoint the exact event that made my perception changed, and that drives me insane.

As a preteen/early teenager I can’t remember a traumatic fall or other traumatic event that would have kick started this fear. All I know is that one day I was fine to stand in one place not holding onto anything. Then the next day I either had to hold onto something, or I’d need to stay in motion, or I’d fall. No rhyme or reason for it that I can think of. The only traumatic event I can think of happened in my senior year of high school when I fell down the stairs one day at school right before the final bell. Luckily I didn’t break a bone or anything, but it did hurt. Come to think of it, that was probably the first time I started hesitating using the stairs. I used the elevator at school for a while after that fall (big mistake). I am a lot more cautious now when I use stairs. And I absolutely avoid escalators. That is a huge panic trigger for me. But it still doesn’t explain why I suddenly had to hold onto things at an earlier age.

Over the years, this fear has gotten worse. I didn’t even fear falling (other than stairs) until college I think, and even then I didn’t put it together as it being a fear. I thought it was more of a self confidence thing. I didn’t want people to stare or laugh at me. Which has always been true, I’ve never liked it when people (young or old) stare at me. I still don’t, but I try not to let it bug me too much. As it turns out, it was actually a fear of falling. I was falling more and more during my college years, and that led me to avoid things. I only went where I absolutely had to go and nowhere else.

For me, fear turns into panic if I don’t deal with it. I have panic attacks. I know what triggers them, and do my best to avoid those situations, but it’s tough. My panic attacks happen when I know I’ll be walking either on my own (which is very rare) or with someone helping me that I’m not used to. My panic attacks lead me to hyperventilate (breathe rapidly), my heart rate to skyrocket, my entire body to lock up so I can’t move, to start crying, and it leads me to sweat…a lot. I can’t separate any thoughts, they all jumble into one giant nose machine in my head. I can’t hear anything but noise.

I think it was February when I almost had a panic attack in public. Maybe it was January. Oh wow, it was back in December. Here’s the original post I wrote about it. Anyway, I was at the chiropractor’s office, and I was walking from one room to the next. The assistant was helping me, and she’s like five foot four at most. I feel like I can squash her if I fall. We were going slow with no problem. We get to where we need to be, and she lets go. Instant panic mode. Luckily there was a wall right beside me that I grabbed onto (as much as you can grab a wall). I told myself to not panic and to just breathe. I was only on my own for about 30 to 45 seconds, but it seemed like hours. My heart rate went through the roof, but at least I was able to control my breathing, and I didn’t start to cry. She came back and helped me to the chair (she let go to set up a chair), and I calmed down right away. No one knew what almost happened.

So, how do I combat these attacks? It’s not easy. Not easy at all. I have tell myself to stop. Physically stop what I am doing. Mentally stop what I am doing. Focus on counting to ten (or in most cases higher). Focus on controlling my breathing. Anything to help calm me down. The easiest thing is to sit down, but when there’s no place to sit, what do you do? Either keep going or drop to the floor on my knees.

Other than breathing and focusing, there is one solution that I have found. I don’t intend to use this solution forever, but for now it’s helping out big time. I will write about this in tomorrow’s entry as this post is getting long. One hint though. I’ve said before that if I ever found something that gave me the same feeling that alcohol gives me, (relaxed muscles and calm mind) without the brain fuzz, I’d take it. Well, I found it. And it’s helping.

I know, not nice to leave you hanging. That entry will be up tomorrow (Wednesday) morning. If you read my blogs by clicking the link on FaceBook, that might not be reliable Wednesday morning. For some reason, WordPress stopped automatically sending new post links when I publish an entry, so I do it myself. I’ll set it to upload at 5 in the morning, and try to remember to post the link before I leave. If I don’t get to it, just keep checking the blog. It’ll be there, I hope. Actually, I think I just fixed it. We’ll find out at 6 AM Tuesday if it works or not.

Mileage Monday

Here we go again. It’s Monday. Seems like the weeks are flying by this year. Gearing up for our trip this week. I had a chiropractor appointment yesterday, and it was a good thing I went. My hips were totally skewed again. One hip was a lot higher than the other. They haven’t been that out of whack since I first went in. I’m a bit sore today. I didn’t realize how bad it was until he found all the kinks. He said to come back in Tuesday before we leave if I need to. I doubt I’ll need to, I think it’s just muscle aches. Everything is aligned. Not sure what I did to make my hips go cockeyed, but they’re better now.

I have no doubt I’ll be going back in soon after we get back from our trip. We tend to do a lot of walking on trips back east. Fine by me, but I tend to over due it sometimes. I don’t want to miss out on the fun, so I do as much as I can. Need to remember to stretch both in the mornings and in the evenings. I don’t plan on working out again until we get back. I want to be as fresh as I can be.

On to the virtual walk update. I passed through Elkhorn City, KY the other day, and am now making my way to Ashcamp, KY in Pike county. I’ve got a little over 3 miles until I get there. My total mileage is now up to 572.2.  Here come the pictures.

Mile 547 (elliptical for 1 mile)                                  Mile 548 (elliptical for 1 mile)

547 Elliptical for 1                  548 Elliptical for 1

Mile 549 (elliptical for 1 mile)                                  Mile 549.6 (elliptical for .5 mile)

549 Elliptical for 1                  549.6 Elliptical for .5

Mile 552.6 (watp for 3.1 miles)                               Mile 553.6 (elliptical for 1 mile)

552.6 Leslie for 3.1                  553.6 Elliptical for 1

 

(photo credit – Copyright 2006 Lawrence Berkeley Lab)

Have a great few weeks! Keep moving. I’ll be setting up an automatic post for next Monday, but I’ll be gone by then.

Walking And Accessibility On Our California Vacation 2013

accessibility (1)

My walking ability on vacation was drastically different compared to last year’s to trip to Monterey and Carmel. Drastically. Last year, my back was still out of whack, I was going through one of my strings of days with the “jerk move”, and I just felt uncomfortable walking. This year, there were no problems at all. I felt stable, and I had no pain (other than tired legs from walking at the end of the day). There were even a few moments where I stumbled or slid on a wet surface, but that didn’t hinder me at all. When I stumbled or slid in the past, that would make my confidence drop, or I believe that would set off the “jerk move”, if only subconsciously.

I still have a long way to go in terms of where I want my walking ability to be, but I am making great progress. It felt like we walked a lot more than we actually did. At Hearst Castle, the tour we took apparently had about 170 stairs up and down. Honestly, it didn’t feel like we went up and down that many stairs, but I’m sure we did. The walking at Hearst was a bit hard for me only because it’s that slow paced walking with a lot of stops and starts. I was fine on the walking part, but we stood still for five minutes or more at a time, and it took me a while to get my legs going again. My hips tend to get stiff if I stand in one spot too long.

The walking I did in Sausalito was fine. It was a little slow paced, but we didn’t have as many stops and starts. We did go into several shops along the way, but I was continuously in motion, I never really stood still. And if we did stand still it wasn’t for too long. The walk in Sausalito felt a bit longer in distance than it actually was. I found the spot on Google Earth, and marked the distance. From where we parked to the furthest point that we walked was about a half mile. We did walk back and forth in one section a few times. My guess was that we walked about three quarters of a mile at most in Sausalito.

Another tough spot for me walking wise was at the car museum. That was probably the toughest spot of the whole trip. It was slow paced walking, starts and stops, standing in one place for a while, and it was on very hard floors. Hard floors like that kill my lower back for some reason. At one point I found a spot to sit for a few minutes, and as I sat, my back popped all up and down my lower back. Click, click, click, click. And it felt good to sit down. I never realize how compressed my lower back gets until I sit down.

Now as far as accessibility goes, what do I mean by that? How easy is it for someone like me to get around these places? Are there ramps, railings, a few places to sit if I need a break? Things like that. How about the hotels? Not many “normal” people think about the bathrooms in hotels rooms, but for me, it’s something I think about more often. I do have help when I need it, but it is nice to be able to get in and out of the tub without help.

I bring this up because normally I don’t request any special equipment on trips. The only thing I tend to request is a wheelchair at the airport. That just makes it a lot easier when we have to change planes and when we’re getting our luggage. But, when we booked our hotel room at The Morgan in San Simeon, there was a check box on the web site that you could mark if you wanted a shower seat for the tub. I don’t think I’ve seen that option before when booking a hotel room. We checked the box, and sure enough, when we arrived, there was a shower seat. How cool is that. At the Marriot, I ended up asking for one also. It is very convenient to sit on a chair rather than the floor of a hard tub. I think from now on, I’ll be asking for a chair whenever I stay in a hotel. Just makes it so much easier. That is one thing I’ll never do again. Stand up in a shower. I’ve been sitting while showering since I was about 12 I think. I fell three times in a few weeks in the shower, and after the third time I decided I’d just sit from then on. Back then, I didn’t even think of a shower chair. Didn’t even cross my mind. I always thought those chairs were for old people, not me. Hehehe.

On our walks during the trip, there were ramps when I wanted them, as well as elevators. I did take the ramps a few times, when my legs needed a break, but I do tend to pick stairs because it’s good exercise. The sidewalks in Sausalito and San Ramon were in great shape, no divots or rough areas really. So, for people using wheelchairs, it would have been a smooth ride, no potholes or anything.

I think that’s all I wanted to mention in terms of walking and accessibility. The trip went very smoothly, no problems at all in terms of me being too sore. A few days after we got back, my hips started aching. Not sure why it would hit me after the trip, but I guess it happens.

Now, we’ll see how our second trip goes. I’m sure we’re going to do a lot of fun and interesting activities on that trip. That vacation recap will be up in the beginning of June, so be on the look out for that.

Check out parts 1 and 2 of this vacation recap.

Activities On Our California Vacation 2013

Eating On Our California Vacation 2013

Eating On Our California Vacation (2013)

Eating On Vacation

This is the second entry for my vacation number 1 recap (2 of 3). Check out the activities we took part in. This entry is all about food. The restaurants we ate at were fantastic. I try my best to eat fish or seafood when on vacation because I don’t regularly eat that here. So when I can get my hands on it, I do it. And this trip was a big success as far that goes.

The first restaurant was in San Simeon, just down the street from our hotel. The Cavalier restaurant is a part of the Best Western Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. I couldn’t find their menu online, but they had a variety of dishes. I don’t know the exact name of what I had, but it was a turkey wrap. I know it came with coleslaw, but I think it also came with French fries. It was a huge wrap filled with avocado, veggies, and of course turkey. I had about two thirds of it and stopped. I wanted to save room for the rainbow sherbet. It was very good, and there was more than it looked like. They packed a lot of sherbet into that small looking bowl.

The second place we ate was for lunch at the Blackhawk Plaza. A place called The Prickly Pear Cantina. Definitely a Mexican restaurant. Both my mom and I ordered the Classic Taco Salad, while my husband ordered the Quesadilla. Everything was huge! The taco salad was about a foot wide and very tall. The quesadilla was just as big. I’ve never seen a quesadilla that big before. I ate about half the taco salad and I was full. Very good food though. You can check out their menu here.

That night we had dinner at Firehouse 37 in Danville. Casual spot with really great food. I had the Cedar Plank Salmon and it was delicious. Very juicy and tender. Check out their menu here.

We found a nice little restaurant for lunch in Sausalito called Scoma’s Sausalito. There I had the Scoma’s Clam Chowder which was served in a bread bowl. I had all of the chowder, but the bread bowl itself was hard and was tough to eat. I just ate the lid off the bowl and scraped the insides of it out. You can see their menu here.

The last place we ate at was a very nice restaurant called The Peasant and the Pear. Again, I had the salmon, and again it was very good. I hate to admit it, but I did not eat the asparagus. I’ve never been a big fan of asparagus. I try it every now and then, and it’s always the same. Just not my taste. For dessert, I had the White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake. It was to die for. I want to go back just to have that again. You can find all of their menus here.

And that ends the food experience portion of the recap. I would highly recommend all of these places, they were all fantastic. Stay tuned for the last entry of the trip recap which will be about my walking and accessibility on the trip.

Check out part one of this vacation recap.

Activities On Our California Vacation 2013

Activities On Our California Vacation 2013

This is the first entry (1 of 3) of a very overdue recap of our April vacation in San Ramon, CA. This was a somewhat short trip. but packed with a lot of exciting things to do. My parents were coming out west for a band conference that my dad was involved in, so we decided to make the trip up. It seems like a long drive from the Coachella Valley to the San Francisco area, but it wasn’t too bad especially since we split the drive over two days.

We first drove up to San Simeon where Hearst Castle is located. We stayed at The Morgan hotel, which was a quiet little place with a homey feel, not like a regular hotel. We got to the hotel about an hour and half before our scheduled Castle tour. So we just relaxed and looked at the options for dinner that was in the area.

At Hearst, we took the Grand Rooms Tour. There are several tours available, but the Grand Rooms was what we chose since it was a tour of the main castle. This tour led you through the very large social areas of the largest house on the grounds, Casa Grande. This tour is actually the recommended tour for first time visitors. The other tours included the Upstairs Suites Tour, which takes you through the upper rooms of Casa Grande, and also the Cottages And Kitchen Tour which takes you through Casa del Mar and the industrial-sized kitchen. Every spring and fall they hold an Evening Tour where you can roam the grounds dressed in clothes from the 1930s. It would be nice to experience all of these tours.

I know I’m not allowed to post photos of the inside of the castle, without some sort of permission or waiver, and I don’t know if that includes the outside, so I won’t post them here. You’ll just have to take my word for it, the rooms were very ornate and beautiful. And the pools were also quite the sites to see. We saw the Neptune Pool and the Roman Pool. The Neptune Pool is possibly the largest pool I’ve ever seen. Can’t remember, but I think it holds a little over 350,000 gallons of water. Somewhere around there. And the Roman Pool is cool because it’s underneath the tennis courts.

So that took up about two hours or so of our first day. The next day we drove about 4 hours or so to San Ramon, CA. We decided to take Highway 1 up to Monterey and then took the freeways until we got to The Coutryard Marriot. We stopped along the way to look at some elephant seals.

SDC10942        SDC10953

They sure were smelly, but fun to watch. We saw a few make their way from the sand into the water. They took their time. They’d move a few feet, then take a rest, and then keep going. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many seals in one place before. They went for a good half mile I think down the beach.

On the third day of our trip, we had no plans. My dad was tied up with conference activities, so it was just us and my mom. We decided to check out the Blackhawk Automotive Museum in Danville. We didn’t think it was going to be as large as it was. I was expecting about 10, maybe 15 cars, but the number of antique cars was easily in the hundreds.

SDC11054

This is one of the B.A.T. cars that were on display. Pretty cool. After we spent several hours at the museum, we wandered around the Blackhawk Plaza, a nice outdoor shopping mall. We had lunch and we also got a caffeine fix at Starbucks.

On the fourth and final day of our trip we took a drive through San Francisco, over the Golden Gate Bridge, and into the city of Sausalito. The drive over the bridge was socked in by fog, so we didn’t really see the bridge clearly until we were in Sausalito a bit later in the day. We stopped off briefly at the visitor’s area. That was the only time I was ever really cold on this trip. It wasn’t even that cold unless the wind was blowing. And it was blowing hard at the visitor’s area. Otherwise, the temperature was nice.

In Sausalito, we wandered the streets that were lined with little shops. I bought a T-shirt (I was going to get a sweatshirt since I was so cold on the bridge, but it had warmed up by then, so went with a T-shirt.) at one little shop and some salt water taffy at Munchies Candies. I haven’t had salt water taffy in a very long time, so I got two different flavors, caramel cheesecake, and peppermint. Everything in that shop looked so good, but I restrained myself. The smell of sugar was overpowering.

And that was the end of our trip in April. The food and restaurants on this trip was fantastic too, so be sure to come back and read about that when it’s up. I’ll also write about my walking ability and accessibility in another entry. We’ve got our next trip in just about a week, and I will write up a recap (hopefully a lot sooner than this was written) when I get back.

Check out part two of this vacation recap.

Eating On Our California Vacation 2013