Category Archives: Family

Meditation for Anxiety

I teach a dance class with my friend Nicole on Fridays at 7:45a.m. at Be One Yoga Studio.  We were talking at class last week and we both have kids who experience Vasovagal Syncope.  If they go to get a shot or see blood they faint, pass out, vagal down–whatever you want to call it.  It’s embarrassing, inconvenient, and scary to them.

It is not uncommon.  A couple of years ago I was teaching a classroom full of College of Education students about tourniquets–because these days as a teacher it is a distinct possibility that they will be faced with having to stop a child from bleeding out as a result of a gunshot wound–and one of the young women in the class started to faint and had to be helped to the floor.  Just the thought of tourniquets, without even images of blood or graphic pictures, was enough to trigger vasovagal syncope for her.

My son, Sean, was given atropine when they put an IV in him prior to his surgery for wisdom teeth because his heart rate dropped so low.  He had to stay an extra hour after the surgery because his heart rate was staying in the 30s and 40s.

My son, Zach, literally turned green when he was getting stitches once.  He starts to faint and has to sit down when there are needles around.

What happens is that there is an adrenaline surge, for our kids it is a result of a fear (fear of needles, blood, etc.), followed by a vagus nerve response that dilates the veins, dropping the heart rate.

Nicole and I were talking about things the kids could do to try to prevent the reaction since they will have to see needles, give blood, get immunizations, and receive medical treatment for the rest of their lives.

These are the things that have worked for us:

  • Stay horizontal. One of the factors of hypotension is that the body has to work against gravity to get the blood back to the heart.  Keeping the body horizontal can reduce that pull.  Also, it can prevent head injuries during the fainting episode.
  • Benzodiazepines.  Okay, so most people probably don’t have a bunch of bennies lying around, but if you have a prescription for these for anxiety, this is a good time to take it–before you go.  Now, obviously, this can not be mistaken as medical advice.  Ask your doctor if you need medication to help deal with this problem.  Talk to your doctor if you have this problem at all.  Medication can reduce the stress factor of the adrenergic response.
  • Systematic desensitization therapy.  This can be led by a therapist, but you can also willingly expose yourself to the thing you are afraid of incrementally increasing exposure until the anxiety producing event is no longer problematic.

Things that I think might work for us:

  • Meditation.  I have used meditation for other similar physiological responses to anxiety producing situations with great results, especially when paired with the next suggestion.  Now, my kids have not yet tried this for their fear of needles, so I’m just pulling it in as a possibility.
  • Self-hypnosis.  Again, I have used this for smoking cessation and public speaking, and it seems reasonable to assume that you could program your brain not to respond to stimuli in the same way to prevent the physiological problem.
  • Applied Tension Technique.  This as a way to organically and systematically increase your blood pressure so that when it drops it doesn’t drop so low.
  • Relaxation and distraction techniques are techniques I use every day with patients who don’t have needle phobias.  I often ask patients to wiggle their toes, or talk to them about their lives to distract them from the horrible things I’m doing to them–whether I’m placing an IV, giving them a shot, or dressing their wounds.

Nicole had this list of resources that she likes:

Years ago my friends Gina and Zara introduced me to Silva Method meditation.  I love it because it gives people a method.  Often my clients want to meditate but they feel stupid or that they are not doing it ‘right.’  The Silva Method helps provide a structure that can get you comfortable with the process.

And it seems, in my awareness, that a lot of people are drawn to Transcendental Meditation.  I have not experienced the training for this yet, but it is intriguing.

One that I recommend to patients at the hospital often is HeadSpace because it is free and it starts with guided meditation and gradually increases the time and decreases the verbal.

Obviously we need to get our kids to try all the options because we haven’t had the opportunity to try much (see the above list of ‘things that have worked’).  Fortunately there are tons of resources on the interwebs, and hopefully they will be open to being proactive with the process.

If you want to take part in my ‘post dance class talks with Nicole’ you’ll just have to come dance with us at Be One Yoga on Friday mornings!

Email Wendy at imspa@hotmail.com to request a massage appointment.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, Master Massage Therapist, massage therapy educator, and gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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Recovery

This is my ‘year of recovery.’  Last year and the year before it were the ‘years of divorce.’  My ex-husband struggles with alcoholism and I finally felt able to make the leap.

He’s a beautiful man, talented, sweet, gentle, insightful, creative.  He was a good dad.  I love him.  I always will.

He’s also a man who struggles with depression, anger, and addiction.

What a 20 pound sledgehammer can do to a $400 blender.

I shared 27 years of my life with him and this divorce has been like the grieving of a death.  So much pain.

It is so complex and complicated that it is very difficult to write about because when I write about one aspect I feel as though I am betraying the other aspects when in reality they all coexist in the same moment.

If I say he was terrifying and my children weren’t safe then I feel like I’m not being fair to the fact that he was a wonderful dad and that he didn’t physically abuse our kids.  If I say that he’s an alcoholic then I feel like I’m ignoring the times when he was sober–his alcoholism came in waves progressively getting worse with each new wave.  When he was sober and not struggling with depression we fit together so well.  If I say he was domineering and that we all tiptoed around him then I feel like I’m betraying all the times he was so generous and supportive, insightful, and steadfast.

I’ve been around alcoholism my whole life.  My dad was an alcoholic, my brother was an alcoholic, my husband was an alcoholic, his dad was an alcoholic.  Even now in my job as a nurse I detox alcoholics regularly, over and over again, often the same people.

Alcoholics have taught me so many valuable lessons:

  • I don’t need anybody else to make me happy.
  • I can live peacefully even though there is darkness and depression around.
  • It is not necessary to stop loving and having compassion for someone even if you have to let them go.
  • Alcoholism is a family disease
  • I am not responsible for another person’s successes/failures or emotional state.  I am responsible only for my emotions/successes/failures.  This is huge and I love it.
  • Boundaries are healthy.
  • I am not a victim.
  • Independence.
  • Humility.
  • Compassion.
  • Acceptance.
  • It is hard being a human on the planet.
  • Life is fragile and precious.
  • Respect for all humans struggling with addiction or living with an addict.

My ex-husband was an amazing craftsman and carpenter.  He did beautiful work.  He could put things together that would leave other people scratching their heads.  ‘How in the world are we going to get this massive full wall of window installed on the drop off side of Mt. Sequoyah?’  He would find a way.

But our house hasn’t had siding for 20 years.  We have sub-floor in the dining area.  For some reason he didn’t have it in him to work on our home.  It’s a common problem for tradesmen.  Add that to the fact that when I told him we were getting a divorce he took a 20 pound sledgehammer through the house and destroyed about $30,000 worth of property–so you can see that I have some rebuilding and recovery to do in my life.

In case you didn’t know, it is legal for your spouse to destroy your property since it is also his property as defined by marriage.

Things that were destroyed? A guitar I bought when I was 17 years old, the TV, the TV stand, my Vitamix blender (if you have read any of my blog you know how important this piece of kitchen equipment is to me), built in bookshelves, an oak desk, computers, my hot tub, our wood burning stove.  He destroyed it all with a sledgehammer.

What a 20 pound sledgehammer can do to your guitar
Takamine Guitar I bought when I was 17 years old.

But it is all just stuff, and the point of all that is to say that this year I am in recovery.  I’m being optimistic calling it the year of recovery because recovery is a lifelong process.  So far during this process I have learned how to patch and repair sheetrock, I finished siding my house with concrete hardie board–in the process learned how to use a nail gun, compressor, circular saw, and a bunch of other tools, and I have learned so much more.

One of my favorite things, my hot tub, after the 20 pound sledgehammer problem.

My house is coming together, and so much of my time has been dedicated to that process.  There are many other pieces to this recovery.  Fortunately the process of physically rebuilding my house has helped tremendously with the process of reclaiming my life, redefining myself, building a better life for my kids, and providing them with a secure environment.

I hope that my ex can find his way back to his own recovery.  But I don’t have any control over that.   Anybody who has ever successfully negotiated their own recovery knows that it is a full time, life long job, and sobriety is only one piece of the puzzle.

I’m looking forward to the point in my recovery when I can use my time creating music, hosting get togethers, and writing books.  In the meantime I’m learning carpentry and writing in my spare time when I’m not being a single mom, working as a nurse, doing massage, or teaching massage therapists.  The work is good for me.

Being able to finally write about this is good for my recovery too.  I think another very important thing I have learned about alcoholism is that we are not alone.  This is such a pervasive illness that there are few people who have not been touched in some way by alcoholism.  Just knowing that is a comfort when coming from the culture of silence and stigma that follows addiction.

Our oak desk and computer after the sledgehammer

This weekend I’m going to try to inspire my kids to help me caulk the house to get it ready for paint.  When I’m not doing that I’ll be writing, running, and doing the few massage appointments I have scheduled.  And when I get my house painted I promise to post a few pictures so that all my images are not depicting destruction.  There is a rebirth that happens with recovery.

Let me know if you want to get on the massage table.  I’m doing massage most Fridays and some Sundays.  It’s part of who I am and I love it.  I hope you’ll make time to get on the table soon!

By the way, massage therapy can be a very helpful part of recovery too.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, former owner of I.M. Spa, registered nurse at a hospital, Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, runner, world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 24 plus years, a massage therapy educator, and a gardener.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

 

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Levi–My First Son, Before Your Wedding

You are a person who gave me a purpose in life.  You focused my energy and helped me stop taking life for granted.  You gave me something to live for that was bigger than myself.  I didn’t know what it meant to truly value myself until I had you.

Levi and Sean have a sink bath

You are a person who has taught me the patience of saints, pain such as I’d never experienced before, responsibility, and humility.  So much humility.

You taught me that most holes in the wall can be patched.

You are a person who has taught me that raising children (and life in general) is an exercise in letting go.  Letting go of ideals, opinions, attitudes, expectations, attachment. Control is an illusion.

You are a person who has given me such a deeper understanding of profound love, such  as can only be experienced by a mother with her child.  You have brought me so many tears and sorrow, joy and wonder, and oh my god the laughter.

Qualities that will continue to be teachers for you are pride, desire, competitiveness, emotion, and a sense of certainty.

Qualities that you now possess as a blessing to others are your sense of humor, loyalty, love,  playfulness, thoughtfulness, seeking, support, sense of community, and faith.

You are a beautiful human and I am happy to know you, proud of the man you have become, and I have so much gratitude for you as an honored teacher in my life.

 

 

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