Thursday, March 19, 2015

Five Things We Should Carry in the Car

I love my husband. If I could go back in time and pick a moment in life to alter, I wouldn't change a thing. Whatever rocky path I walked, hills I climbed, or valleys I crawled out of, it led me to the pot at the end of the rainbow. That's right. It led me to him. He's my mystical unicorn, the kind I thought did not exist: selfless, kind, loving, and gentle, with me; but ruthless, strong and vicious if he knows his family is threatened. 

With that said, I miss him. I miss him because he also has another love, a love for people and the need to protect and serve his community from those who wish to do them harm. He lives by a code of honor that calls him for duty every day no matter how sick or tired he may be. You see, my husband is a law enforcement officer. I don't know what wives go through who live under this type of circumstance, but I do know that this profession can wear on the family structure if you let it. I also know that in order for a family in this situation to thrive and succeed she must carry herself with a certain amount of independence, along with a list of well wishes or prayers to ensure that her man returns home safe at the end of his shift. I'm sure, though, that I'm not the only who feels this way when I see him leave.

You see, despite the fact that my husband knows I have a certain skill set that helps increase my chances of surviving dangerous situations, I know he worries about my welfare every day, both physical and emotional. He thinks I don't notice, but I see it in his eyes when he says goodbye with that solemn look of doubt that leaves me sensing that sometimes he wonders whether he's doing the right thing or chose the right profession every time he walks out the door. So I've learned to let him care for me the way he feels will help him be at ease if he can find some semblance of assurance from knowing that I will be okay. I don't know if most husbands go through something similar when they're away from home, but it seems to me that a husband in law enforcement has this "hyper aware" sense of DANGER, because they deal with the darker side of life on a close and personal level, so he feels an obligatory sense of duty to ensure that everyone else in the family inherits the same gene. 

I try to refrain from the classic eye rolls and exasperating breaths every time he feels the need to remind me that I need to maintain a sense of situational awareness when I'm out and about-- of which I'm aware... duh... as it's one of Krav Maga's core teachings, but I refrain from voicing that. He tosses constant reminders about where to keep my gun, how to use and clean it, his consistent hen-pecking about ensuring that I have a bug out bag at my disposal in case I need to split town at a moment's notice, and his incessant need to stick flares in my car, along with a heavy duty flashlight that will burn right through your hand, by the way, if left at a high setting.
my purse...shh! but aka satchel
Not to mention the extra new pair of batteries he'll toss in my purse, just in case the flashlight drains. 
Ooo, sorry, I meant to say, SATCHEL. The purse....ahem... a.k.a. satchel... is one I inherited from him, and I've been thoroughly informed that it- is- NOT- a PURSE! Although that's what I use it for, but anyway all of that is just enough to drive a cop's wife a little BATTY, sometimes, if you know what I mean. Regardless, he thinks I'm not listening, but I do. 

This weekend I was involved in a three-car collision pile up. Exiting a highway, the person in front of me came to a sudden stop due to backed up traffic. I managed to stop in time, and the person behind me stopped in time, but the third one rammed into her. This caused the second vehicle to whip forward and hit us from behind. My kid was in the front seat, and she bit her lip with the impact. Both of us were a little sore from our neck and back, but we walked out of it unscathed and so did my vehicle. Let me tell you guys, the next time you scoff at the thought of buying a minivan, think again. Mine survived with a tiny dent left on its rear bumper. Mmm-hmm... can I get an Amen...and thank YOU Toyota??? Snap! Snap!

The second vehicle wasn't so lucky, though. She had a baby in the back seat and his car seat jammed when they were crushed from behind. Thankfully, he was not harmed but the mother sliced her finger trying to get him out. The third car was completely totaled, as more vehicles zoomed by at ridiculous speeds. 

I told my kid to pull out the first aid kit, and I remembered I had five flares in my car... yes... alright, I'll admit it, the very flares my man insisted I must carry inside my vehicle's emergency bag. So I yanked out three. 

We were fortunate enough to have good citizens come out of nowhere and offer to help-- faith in humanity restored, by the way. One of them set the flares up for me, and traffic exiting the highway slowed down to a cautious pace as they were able to see the flares on the road. The woman in the second vehicle had a cell phone but the battery was drained and borrowed mine to make a call. 

It wasn't a devastating experience...well... for my kid it was, and now I have to figure out how to get mine to sit on the front seat again, but I know it could've been much worse, so it did shake me somewhat. This whole incident got me thinking about how easy it is to become complacent and take life completely for granted. "What if I didn't have these things in my vehicle?" I thought. I remembered an instructor who love to drill this saying into his students in Krav Maga, "Being PREPARED for a dangerous situation is not PARANOID! You must always be PREPARED!" he would bark in that scruffy drill sergeant voice that makes every one take notice.

I believe, that in addition to having a self-defense skill set, there are some things that mothers, daughters, all of us as a matter-of-fact, should always carry in our vehicles should we find ourselves in an emergency situation and in need of assistance. Now, keep in mind that region may vary, and I'm sure that there are other things you might need if you live in the snow-filled mountains of Montana, for example, but I found these items extremely useful for my neck of the woods. Aside from the standard equipment of battery jumper cables, and a tire changing kit, these five things could prove to be life-saving:

1. Water- In Texas, with mother nature's testy hormonal changes of freezing cold to tongue parched heat in one day, I always carry a bottle or two with me everywhere I go, but I don't leave it in my car if I intend to drink it. It can be used as a rinsing agent or simply for hydration. We stood outside that accident for close to two hours in the hot sun. My kid was flushed red from the heat. That water definitely helped.

2. First Aid kit- I like to get the ones equipped with everything but the kitchen sink, but if you're on a budget, make sure it at least has band-aids, antiseptic, scissors, gauze and those crystal ice bags that you squeeze and they get ice cold. It is especially useful if there's swelling involved from an impact.

3. Flares- You can buy those at any Academy and they come in handy should you find yourself in a high traffic area at the scene of an accident to serve as a warning for other vehicles. And although I don't like to travel long distances at night, if you are left stranded on an isolated road, those flares are extremely useful to signal for help. Unless of course, you end up with the hatchet serial killer who likes to comb for individuals on the side of the road, then I would have to say you're toast. Sorry, didn't mean to pull out the dramatics, but I just had to add my two cents about how much I dislike traveling long distances at night. Night travel seems to invite a higher element of risk, but if you find you MUST do so, those flares are important.

4. Cell phone- make sure it is fully charged, always, but I'm going to pull out my motherly warning hat and advise that you PLEASE not text and drive, or take SELFIES in the middle of the road for that matter. Yes, someone actually did that when I was driving with my family last week, and it's rare that I want to say that I want to physically hurt someone, but I really did want to stop and give her some assistance by offering to rearrange her face for that next selfie she took. Let's see if she'll want to put another family at risk to take a picture of herself, again. Like...seriously?!! Okay, off my podium, next...

5. Flashlight- A heavy duty flashlight with fresh batteries is crucial should you get stranded in the dark. Don't leave home without it!

I will confess that the whole ordeal made me realize just how delicate life really is. A single moment, from a single decision made, in a single day can take a sudden turn for the worst. We can be living our days working towards goals and building a life, but we never stop to think just how fast all that can slip right through our fingers. I know that a higher power must have been looking out for us, but I'm also grateful that I have my very own superhero here on earth, who loves us enough to ensure that we are safe and secure at all times, even when he can't be. For that I'd like to say, "Don't worry, honey...we're okay...I'm so proud of what you do. I'll hold the fort. You go fight crime. And there will always be a light on, right here, waiting safe and sound for you!"

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Intruder in the Shower- True Story and I Lived to Write About It

Every parent yearns for that quiet, solitary moment in the bathroom. This morning, bursting into my home with the urgency of a short distance runner making a mad dash toward the finish line, I thought I had finally earned mine. Gone was the kid with the built-in alarm system whose sensor is somehow triggered like a trip wire the moment those cheeks hit the toilet. If you’re a parent, you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. I sat there in peace, soaking in my moment. Amazing what grape fruit can do for mothers who suffer from constipation.

Suddenly, the shower curtain moved.

I tensed.

Something shuffled in the tub.

Frantic eyes scanned for the nearest, sharpest object: a roll of toilet paper, a tube of toothpaste, and a toilet brush. Great, now I could roll my attacker in toilet paper and brush his teeth with the over-sized brush. Where was Bessie, my 9 mm, when I needed her?

Screw it. The sharp end of the handle would have to do. Although I failed the first part of the test: always be prepared! It was time to put into practice what I trained for in the last five years.

Eyes dilated… heart pounded…my vice grip hand grasped the handle.

Without a moment’s notice green eyes peered out of the curtain, followed by a long body…a gray coat… and four legs.

My cat, Felix, with a built-in alarm system of his own, that is triggered the moment my man gets out of the shower, so he can lap the water accumulated around the rim of the drain, gave me a curious meow and what seemed like a mild heart-attack.

Note to self, and to anyone who cares to heed these words… two actually:

  1. Forget the grapefruit, a good scare will cure all types of constipation.

And…


  1. Your home protects you from the elements, but not from predators or intruders. Come up with a plan to help you prepare for both.
MEOW!

Friday, February 27, 2015

How Chronic Stress Affects the Body, Part 3: Effects of Energy Drinks and Lack of Sleep

I remember feeling consistently run down, despite exercising. Needing the energy to keep up I turned to coffee drinks and always had an ample supply of Red Bulls, Monster Drinks, and Starbucks Double Shot drinks just to keep me going, but they eventually stopped working, and I kept having to up the doses just to get some type of effect, seeming to only cause more inflammation and make matters worse.

“Why did this happen?” I asked Dr. Boyd.
“As the adrenal glands begins to fatigue, the Cortisol levels needed to help provide the body with the energy it requires to combat stress, illness, infection, and bleeding, flat line, so you will no longer get the desired spikes when needed.  Your body begins craving things with sugars and caffeine in order to try to get the adrenals jump-started.  But the caffeine places additional stress on the adrenals. Until, eventually, the adrenals stop working all together. It is not recommended to drink the sugary energy drinks as they will only make matters worse, not to mention it will cause you to gain weight. A good option is to drink a large glass of water with a large freshly squeezed lemon.  You may add a small amount of Stevia for sweetness.  The lemon water will have a cleansing and detoxification effect, and it will also jump start your day. 
“At the expense of changing the subject, the whole cop and donuts stereotype is beginning to make perfect sense to me now, actually.” I chuckled. “Poor guys are consistently stressed.” I continued. 
“You mentioned that the adrenals get suppressed. Is there anything we can do to support the adrenals?” I asked.
“Certain supplements and amino acids help, but one of the most crucial things people tend to forsake is sleep. Sleep is a way to restore your body’s cells back to normal. Seven to eight hours is recommended so that your body can repair itself and recharge its batteries. Also, it is important to exercise at least 3 times a week and incorporate prayer or meditation into your daily routine to help calm your mind,” said Dr. Boyd.
Whether you believe in prayer or meditation, finding things to help calm your mind like Tai Chi, yoga, or other activities is extremely effective. Aside from writing, I had to examine what I enjoyed doing the most and MAKE time for it, even if it was on a small scale. For me, sitting outside my balcony and reading a book or working on a crossword puzzle was relaxing. My husband finds going to the gun range calming because he is focused on nothing but a target. I would imagine that anything that helps a person calm their mind and relax is important.

“Thank you, Dr. Boyd. I really appreciate your input,” I said. “I remember when I began to lose my sleep, and no matter how hard I tried, I would get but four hours of sleep a day, which led to a lot of irritability and mood swings. Another doctor started me on 5HTP and Melatonin, and it helped tremendously, but unfortunately, my hormone levels by this time were so destabilized that my body completely shut down, which led to an imbalance of testosterone levels, causing Andropause, a condition most commonly seen in men.”
Looking back, the excessive daily training in Krav Maga, five times a week, exacerbated the problem because Krav Maga’s goal is to train a person under stressful conditions. With that said, does this mean that anyone undergoing stress should never practice Krav Maga, or any high impact sport for that matter? Not at all. The type of stress that I am referring to is the CHRONIC type—excessive, nonstop, don’t have the time to ever decompress stress.  There are many health benefits to exercise, but people undergoing chronic stress may benefit more by balancing Krav Maga with other exercises such as Tai Chi, yoga, swimming, strength training, even walking or hiking.

This whole experience has required a complete lifestyle change on my part, and I’m learning new ways to find balance in my life. It’s not always easy. With a crime fighting husband and a rambunctious little one, managing a writing career, holding the fort, and finding time to do what I love can prove to be challenging. Now, I make it a point to make sure I find time to release that valve, and if I don’t, my loving husband goes out of his way to ensure that I get a break to focus on me. It’s not only needed, but extremely necessary and mandatory for not only the benefit of my body, but a happier family. I now force, yes FORCE myself to get at least myself to bed at a time that will allow me a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. It’s amazing how much energy you get just doing that. I used to be of the, “I’ll rest when I’m dead," mentality, and while that worked when I was younger, I found that as I aged I was working myself to that grave a lot sooner.

It’s not easy saying this, but I’ve regained much of my weight back, and have since started treatment for bioidentical hormone therapy, plant-based pellets called BIOTE, which changed my life from night to day. Most men with this condition are placed on T-shots (testosterone shots). Unless I wanted to grow a nice beard like a Chia pet and a full set of chest hair, my body couldn’t handle that large amount of testosterone found in those shots.  The BIOTE restored me with the hormones I needed in my body to reach a state of balance. I am now able to workout every day, but it’s balanced with strength training, walking, yoga, cycling and of course, can’t neglect my second child: Krav Maga. 

It was a gradual process, started at 20 minutes, moved to 30, 45, and now I am able to do 1hr of a cardio bag workout, trying to be conscious of not over doing it, hard to do, cause I will literally work through pain to the point where my husband will come up and remove whatever it is I’m lifting if I so much as grunt or grimace. Ugh! Annoying, yes. I hate when he does that, but it’s for my own good. All in baby steps so as not to start taxing those adrenals again. Because of my condition, I don’t believe I’m going to participate in high intensity exercise on a daily basis again. I’ll leave that for the young-ins. My goal now is to lose the weight, manage stress, work on my PTSD, and perfect my technique. It’s a new beginning. I’ve been very blessed to have another fresh start where I can wake up feeling like I’m ready to conquer the world and not like I got run down by a semi. The best part about being at the bottom of the pit and clawing your way out is that there is only one way to go but up.

JAX
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*Dr. James Todd Boyd is an expert in Chiropractic Neuroscience, specializing in Neurological Stress Reduction Therapy (NSRT) through the use of laser induction therapy or laser acupuncture to help bring the neurological/ immune/ endocrine systems back into balance. NSRT combines biofeedback, laser induction therapy, and nutrition.  He has seen much success through this treatment. Allergies have been very responsive with NSRT.  They also have the first documented case of having successfully treated a patient with a severe red meat allergy after being bitten by the Lone Star Tick. Until now, there had been no known cure.  They regularly see patients with adrenal fatigue, eczema, and even autism with incredible results by simply using the NSRT.  Detecting stress and then changing the way the body responds to that stress is key to helping the body get to a state of true health and wellness. You may reach him at his website or his new practice at the following:
Integra Wellness Center
1040 Edgewater Corporate Prkway
Indian Land, SC
803-548-7007