Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You Know How I Love to DIY

With my son Eliah growing, and recent discussions of how to affordably bathe a special needs child, I decided to take matters into my own hands and build a bath. You know my motto, "If someone else can do it, so can I".   I mainly did it for two reasons.... One, to make it easier to bathe Eliah.  And two, I wanted to prove it doesn't take a fortune to make this possible.

So I looked online and found this bath.... for $1700.... (holy moly that's a lot)


But when you look at it, it's just PVC.  And if you know me, you know I love to work with PVC to make projects for Eliah. It seemed doable.  Besides, there's no way I could or would pay $1700 for one.

The main thing I needed to remember was, I don't have an 8ft long shower to roll this in, so I needed to make it a manageable size.   Eliah is tall, but there are ways to make it workable for him.  Eventually, when he is an adult size, I will probably make something that he sits more upright.  There's really no need for him to lay completely flat. There's never going to be room for a full-sized gurney in my house.

Anyway, I started with 1 1/2" PVC and made a frame.... And remember, I've never done this before, so don't be too judgmental.  I gave up on making an exact replica of the above bath, and I just made it up as I went along.  It's very sturdy, and it's held together with PVC Cement and screws.



Then I added two layers of foam rubber flooring, so that it will be padded for Eliah.


Then I added flexible plastic around the edge of the tub area, so that the sides will be firm for the liner and hold in water.  Even Natalie got in on the build!


Next, I added locking casters to the legs.


Then, I debated on how to make a water liner.  I originally bought a pond liner for $49, but then after thinking outside the box, I decided to use a commercial grade shower curtain.  It's thick, easy to clean, and easily replaceable if it gets dirty or worn out.  It also has grommets on one end, so I used those to keep the liner in place.  I just used screws on the pvc to act as hooks for the grommets.  When done with the bath, I unhook the grommets, drop the shower curtain down, and drain the tub.

I considered adding a real drain, but makes it much more difficult to replace the curtain.  It's a possibility for the future, but I really like to make things easy and changeable.




Grommets hooked on screws to keep liner in place

After unhooking the grommets, I can drop the curtain and let the water drain

That was it!  The bath was done.   In total, it was $265.  And if had known what I was doing to start with, I could have done it for less because I wasted some PVC with mistakes.  Total time to build was about 6-8 hours.  Not bad for saving so much money.

I appreciate that I chose to buy an accessible house with roll in shower.  And the bath fit right into the 5ft shower.  But, in saying that, if I only had a bathtub, I would have designed and built something to work with that as well.  Anyway, the bath measures 54", so I lucked out.




Next step was trying Eliah in the bath....

The lift rolled right up to the bath, and I was able to drop him right in place

I added a pad in the tub so he wouldn't be directly on the cold plastic

I'm pretty sure Eliah loved it...

It was the perfect height to bathe him, no bending over.  And my clothes didn't get soaked.

I made it so water level didn't go above about 2 inches. It's adjustable though.
(Natalie is doing Sudoku on the toilet while Eliah relaxes)

video


After he was done with his bath, I let the water out.  I kind of forget that the shower is only slightly sloped, so it did go all over the bathroom.  But in the future, I will remember to let it out slowly.

It didn't take long to get the water out, and then I buried him in towels.


I was able to dress him in the now dry bath, and then back in the lift to head to the living room.  It was great for all of us!

Overall, I'm really happy with the result and proud that I wasn't intimidated with this project.


Edited to add:  I decided to put in a drain since it's hard to control the flow with just the shower curtain.  I bought a sink drain with plug and used a piece of stiff plastic to support it under the liner.  It just goes in between the PVC rails.  I used a washing machine hose to attach to the bottom of the drain to divert the water on the floor of the shower.  Works perfectly!





I also added a padded headrest for Eliah to keep his head above the water level.  It's a combination of foam on top and rubber flooring underneath.  It's curved to fit around his neck.

The bath has been working great, and I'm so happy this was an option! 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Susan G Komen #MORETHANPINK Campaign

Susan G Komen Foundation has asked me to do a video for breast cancer awareness. I need you to share it anywhere you can! It's real, it's personal to me, and it's a little twangy with my accent.  So exciting! 

Susan G Komen wants to know who your hero is.  Share your story and hero with the hashtag #morethanpink  


Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Unspoken Side Effect- Weight Gain After Chemotherapy

Every six months, I visit the Oncologist to go over bloodwork and make sure cancer has not made a reappearance.  And I'm coming up on being a 3 Year Cancer Survivor within the week.  Yay! I'm excited to be healthy, have great bloodwork, and to get another year under my belt.  But...

There has been a notable downside of going through chemotherapy.  Most cancer survivors I read about have the big issue of fatigue for years following treatment.  And I can definitely see that as a problem, but my issue is something different.  For the past year and a half, I've steadily gained weight.  Not a lot at a time, but a pound here and a pound there.  About 10 pounds up, I asked the Oncologist about it.  His response was that it wasn't a big deal, and I had it in all the right places.  Obviously, that did not put my mind to ease, because I could see the difference in the mirror and the way my clothes fit.

Although I didn't have a "workout" routine since starting full-time work a year ago, I did get exercise throughout the day.  In one year's time, I had given 550 tours of the assisted living community, not to mention all the times I walked the building in anticipation of those tours.  I was getting a good 10,000 steps in daily (in high heels!)  In addition, I ate well.  I never drank sodas, I didn't overeat, and I focused on healthy choices (with dessert sometimes).  Yet, the weight continued to creep up.  And to top it off, I noticed that my body composition had changed.  Cellulite? Sagging skin? Low muscle tone?

It's not that I think I
 look bad, but more about
how my old clothes fit me
By the beginning of August this year, I had gained 22 pounds from the date of cancer diagnosis 35 months prior.  And I had no real reason for the gain, as I refused to believe that it's my age to blame, so I started to research (as you know I love to do). Turns out, weight gain after chemotherapy is a thing.  Apparently it's quite common for women to gain weight 1-2 years after cancer treatment, and it's not due to overeating (see study here).  No wonder my Oncologist was so dismissive about the whole thing.

In addition, it's also common that body composition changes after chemotherapy.  Loss of muscle, loss of bone mass, and an irregularity of insulin, causing insulin resistance, are all expected changes.  Why aren't we told these things up front?  Regardless, what's done is done, and I'm on a mission to fix the issues.

There isn't a whole lot of research on HOW chemotherapy changes someone metabolically, but I can tell from my own body that, despite food intake and physical activity, I will have to do more than just "diet" to make a difference. Knowing that the body's insulin is affected by chemotherapy, I'm also guessing that how the body processes Triglycerides and fat retention is also affected.  I really wish there was more research on these effects.

Anyway, around the middle of August, I started a new regime for getting my weight and skin under control. First, I joined Sparkpeople to track my calories during the day, trying to keep around 1200 a day, with one cheat day a week (so my body doesn't think I'm starving).  Daily, I use organic plant protein meal, organic superfoods, and collagen peptides full of amino acids that spark HGH (human growth hormone) in my morning coffee...along with my supplement regime to include Silica now.

Then I use two things about an hour before lunch and dinner; one is Garcinia Cambogia and the other is Glucomannan.  First, the Garcinia Cambogia keeps your insulin low while you eat, preventing your body from retaining fat.  And second, the Glucomannan is a soluble fiber that has digestive enzymes, probiotics, and helps fill your stomach so you don't eat as much.

Then, when I do eat lunch and dinner, I take CLA and L-Luceine.  The CLA aides in fat loss and L-Luceine helps your body retain muscle mass while losing weight.  I have a tendency to forget the ones before meals, but usually remember to take these two fairly religiously.  I also try to get back to reducing carbs, eating more veggies, and taking a break from dessert, although I do have dark chocolate occasionally, so I don't feel deprived. It really just depends on what my calorie count is for the day.

Now, I realize that this regime seems somewhat intense with regard to pills, but apparently that's what I needed to jump start weight loss now that I know I'm fighting a cancer treatment battle.  And this may not be sustainable in the long run.  But the goal is to get the weight off, build the muscle, and maintain a healthy lifestyle....all without being miserable from not eating the things I enjoy.

So now, 19 days in to my new treatment for metabolic homeostasis, I'm 9 pounds down, and there is a very noticeable difference in my skin.  That's 3.32 pounds lost a week, and my skin is starting to look tighter on my face and thighs, and even my hair and nails are looking better.  I'm hoping to continue this routine for another 20 pounds, and I'll be setting myself up for better success in beating cancer long term...as we all know that obesity is linked to higher cancer rates.

We'll see how it all goes, and I'll keep you updated on the progress!

UPDATE 9/5/16: I'm down 12 lbs!!

To read more about weight gain after chemotherapy, just type this into your google search box...
weight gain after chemotherapy treatment pubmed

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Susan G Komen Survivor Spotlight

Cancer was just one battle this stay at home mom had to fight

By Katrina Daniel
2013 and 2014 was a bad time for Ann Peart. And that’s an understatement.

She was divorced, no longer able to care for her two children, she had no job because she’d been a stay-at-home mom of her medically-fragile child for 10 years, she had no health insurance. And she was diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive form of breast cancer.

“It’s been…challenging,” Ann says now.

She was 39 in August 2013 when she felt a sharp pain in her armpit. That “led me to do a self- exam. I found a hard lump in my armpit and another in my breast, so naturally I panicked,” Ann recalls.

Her cancer spread quickly, going from one lump in her armpit to four, and six in her breast in about two weeks.

Her panic didn’t last long, however, as her natural resilience, curiosity and drive kicked into high gear.

“Not having insurance, or even a family doctor, I started to look online for options. South Carolina has free mammograms but only for women over 45, I was only 39 so I didn’t qualify,” she says. “I finally found the Susan G. Komen Foundation and called my local chapter (the SC Mountains to Midlands affiliate). Within a week I was at the Breast Health Clinic, and by that time had two more lumps in my breast that seemed to show up overnight. I felt that having the local Komen Chapter and being able to talk with someone was the most helpful.”

“I was scared, looking for answers and guidance, and they were able to produce results. A phone call to my local chapter was all it took. However, with it being so late in the year, the grant funds for my local hospital were already gone. But I persisted, knowing that I couldn’t travel out of state due to my kids. Luckily the local chapter gave me someone to talk with at the Breast Health Clinic who could help me. They took pity on me, heard the desperation in my voice and I was able to be seen with an emergency stash of Komen grant funds.”
Shortly thereafter, Ann underwent seven rounds of chemotherapy and five surgeries, including reconstruction.

At the same time, she was dealing with an acrimonious divorce and she had to give her husband temporary custody of their two children – a 10- year-old daughter and 8-year-old son –while she was undergoing chemotherapy and surgery.

“I have the best of situations, and I have the worst of situations,” Peart says. Her daughter has tested in the top intellectual tier of children in the country and goes to the School for the Talented and Gifted. Her younger son, however, is severely disabled and will never talk, walk, or graduate developmentally beyond the level of a 2- year old.

After she underwent several surgeries, she says she put her pride aside and asked for help.

“I applied for Medicaid for insurance, a hospital sponsorship to pay for surgeries and treatments, food stamps, and the SCHelp.org program that pays your mortgage while you have temporary hardships. I also had friends and family hold a fundraiser to help me get through all those months of treatment. I managed on $800.00 a month for two years.”

“One thing I’ve learned through experience is that nobody is the same when it comes to cancer. When you have cancer you get bombarded with advice, cancer stories, book suggestions, diet suggestions, alternative cures, and the list goes on. My best advice is to think for yourself. Figure out what works for you and you alone. This is a journey towards health, and it will take time and different strategies to get there.”

After she was forced to go to court to get her children back, Peart also needed to get a job.

“I remember standing at the Social Services office, waiting to get food stamps, with hair an inch long and scars still fresh on my body from breast surgery. I was going through the work training program with recent criminals by my side, and thinking to myself ‘How did I end up like this?’”

“And now, after clawing my way back up, I’m the sales director at a health care facility. I am able to provide for myself and my children. I’m able to leave the strife in the past and pay it forward to others. I don’t take any of it for granted.”