Anxiety in Its Many Forms

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This is (was) my hot tub. It’s about 20 years old we think, we’re not sure because 10 years ago we “rescued” it from a backyard where it sat empty, being used as a dog chew toy. My husband cleaned it up, bought a new pump and cord, ordered a cover and presented it to me on my birthday when I turned 40. I loved this gift the most out of all gifts and used it daily for pain relief.

A hot tub is not suppose to grow ice-sickles under the deck. And it’s not suppose to need refilling every week. The problem wasn’t just the leaking, my beloved hot tub was old and needed to be replaced. Anxiety issue #1 – when looking at prices for hot tubs, my husband asked if I really needed a replacement.  I could feel a shortness of breath as I contemplated the forever loss of my morning muscle relief routine – so YES, I did NEED a replacement.

Anxiety issue #2 – do we buy new or used. I chose new because I knew how much value I received from the hot tub and I knew I would use it … I didn’t want a used one needing something replaced and being “out of commission.”

Anxiety issue #3 – the new hot tub, which is small, has a 110 hookup, is minus any fancy light or sound systems and is insulated for Michigan winters will take 4-6 weeks for manufacturing and delivery … but the old hot tub is leaking and during thaws is saturating the ground under the deck. That’s a problem that could cause my husband to drain the hot tub, which means I’ll be without my pain relief for a month – I feel short of breath again and my jaw muscles tense. We pull out a couple of children’s plastic play pools that we got for the dogs to lay in during the summer and placed them under the drips. It worked and we had to empty them about every 3 days. Whew.

Anxiety issue #4 – the day the new hot tub arrives, we drain and move the old one, preparing the space for the new hot tub. It’s an icy day and the guys are 2 hours late, I’m fretting and call the salesman, everything is fine, they are running late and the delivery pulls in. My new hot tub has a dark brown exterior and a marbled creams and browns interior, lots of jets, a cover lift, OMG – it’s beautiful! I love it immediately. My husband comes over to attach the wiring and discovers everything is labeled 240 and not 110/120 – I’m completely asthmatic now – coughing to breathe … we call the salesman, and yes, we have the correct tub, it’s a brand new 2015 model for the Master Spa company and so everything, even the instruction book, hasn’t been updated. So with a few simple directions, the wiring is done, the hot tub is filled and finally turned on!

Anxiety issue #5 – the water is cold to start out with, it’s from the garden hose, so the hot tub has to heat it up another 40 degrees to get it up to temperature – which I already know takes about 30 to 36 hours with a 110 set up. But the hot tub pump has a loudness that is an annoying vibration type of loud … my husband instantly complains and suggests that we send it back – oh no, I turn to my essential oils, slather on the Balance for stress and the Breathe to open my chest. My husband is right, it is loud, such a vibration that we actually have to turn on a fan in the bedroom to drown out the sound so we can sleep.

I send out an email to the company asking if this is normal. It’s been a day and a half and no one has emailed back, but we have found out that the sound isn’t as loud when the hot tub is up to temperature. I think it will work out and I’ve been in it twice already today – feeling the anxiety leave my body as the water flows over the aches – when the pain (both physical and psychological) is eased, then my breathing becomes normal again.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt that level of panic type anxiousness – the last time was in early 2013 – after I’d been in the hospital for a 10 out of 10 pain level and finally experienced pain relief with the peripheral nerve anti-seizure med neurontin … I had a lot of side effects with that med, but it didn’t matter at the time because neurontin did manage the pain when nothing else had. Once, when I was getting near the time to refill my prescription, I didn’t want to run out of pills and went to the pharmacy only to be told that my insurance wouldn’t cover the refill until tomorrow … WHAT … I was beside myself because the next two days were scheduled and I would have no time to stop at the pharmacy, which meant I would run out of pills. I felt a breathless panic attack then and there and told the clerk (quite forcefully) I would pay out-of-pocket and I wanted my prescription today (in other words, I will not have an insurance company tell me when I could or couldn’t get my prescription filled when it was only one day from running out).

And I think that’s the connection – the hot tub helps me manage my pain level on my own time and terms. I can’t imagine being without it now. I’m off all prescription meds and have found a nice balance of how to live with the now mild chronic pain. Yes, flares can still happen, because my flares are stress related and there’s only so much you can do to manage the stress that life throws at you. But thankfully, I have a new hot tub and it’s finally working and I’m again feeling on top of this stress management thing!  Yes, breathing in with ease … anxiety bubbling away…

Stifled by Belief

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This feels like rocky terrain – a path I’m still trying to navigate and discover a clearer way through. But one thing I know is that I’ve been stifled by certain beliefs in my life.

An early memory is from when I was 3 or 4 years old, running freely and wildly and joyfully barefoot in the soft grass behind my home, then I couldn’t run anymore, I wanted to, I had so much more pent up glee to express but my lungs wouldn’t keep up and I couldn’t breath, so I collapsed on the grass and looked up at the sky. And that’s where the first stifling belief creeped in – somehow I had internalized at that early age that people who lie around are l-a-z-y.  And at that tender age, I judged my breathlessness as laziness and I felt guilty for resting.

Fast forward to grade school. I have, what I now know is a highly sensitive and introverted personality. School was draining and I was lucky to be smart. I ended up learning despite an environment that was not the ideal learning environment for people who are like me. But there was a cost to being smart and applying myself to learn in school – I came home exhausted from holding it together all day, I had nothing more to give, I was emotionally, physically, and mentally spent. I was surly and went into self soothing – a dark cool basement with a cuddly blanket, laying on the couch eating and watching TV and I felt guilty for resting.

I grew up in a blue collar family, where you worked long hours for an income. Work was a necessary evil to provide for the family. I was the first person in my family to graduate from college and I worked in a hospital as an occupational therapist. I actually loved my work and found it fun and I felt guilty for that because I had internalized the belief that work was suppose to be drudgery.

With age, comes wisdom, and I just turned a half a century old, so I’m coming to acceptance for who I am …

Happy Birthday Becky

– Lazy? No. I am a unique person with some physical limitations who needs to rest now and again and that’s ok, I’m ok.

– Surly? No. I have a unique personality that is extra sensitive to the world around me and I allow myself quiet space to revive my energy and that’s ok, I’m ok.

– Work is not work unless it’s drudgery? No. I find peace and joy in living out my passion and purpose by offering others the gifts I have been given, and I graciously accept compensation from those I share my time and talents with and that’s ok, I’m ok.

Yes, I’ve been stifled by certain beliefs in my life but I’m questioning them, reframing them, and finding self-acceptance and peace in the process and that’s ok, because I’m ok.

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