What do you do as a patient with a progressive health condition that renders you unable to do certain tasks? Do you ask for assistance or find a work-around to accommodate for that situation? Once you ask for help, how does your relationship with your helper change?

Empathy word cloud

Learned Helplessness is, according to Wikipedia, “a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.”

Psychologist Martin Seligman coined the term, learned helplessness, in early research he did with animals, and eventually humans. This New Yorker article, “Trying to Cure Depression, but Inspiring Torture,” briefly describes different applications of the research.

In this podcast episode, Mike Hamlin, a man with myotonic dystrophy, sets the tone with a friendly rant. Melissa Dixon, Ph.D., a researcher and professor (Psychiatry and Behavioral Health and Pediatric Neurology) at the University of Utah, discusses learned helplessness with children and adults and how it impacts relationships and suggests empathetic communication styles.

Featured are four people — with their own unique health conditions — that are making the best of the quarantine and pandemic.

Luda Gogolushko, who has SMA Type 3 and lives in Southern California, continues to write and publish from the safety of her home.

Lindsey Kizer, in North Carolina, gets to telecommute for her job and tries to maintain self-care routines to avoid narcoleptic flare ups.

Jay Carr, with myotonic dystrophy in Virginia, spends more time with his teenage son during the lockdown. He also cheers others with his humorous Facebook posts and musical interludes.

Peter Slobodnik, outside of Sacramento, keeps himself busy by making masks for friends and family while also planning an advocacy bike ride to draw attention to his rare disease, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia.

Woman received dental treatment

People with anxiety, autism, blindness or low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, mobility challenges, chemical sensitivities, or PTSD may face unique challenges visiting a dental office. Now with the additional barrier — the COVID-19 pandemic — many people are postponing or cancelling routine dental appointments.

Dr. Helena Caballero, a dentist in Northern California, discusses oral health and hygiene, how COVID-19 has changed dentistry, and modifications for people with disabilities.

For additional information, you can download Creating Disability Friendly Dental Practices from The Independence Center. For those with Parkinson’s Disease, additional information is provided to maintain dental health. For those with neurological disorders, there is an article, “Dental Visits Made Easier” offering helpful tips.

Here is an article that discusses the little dental coverage that Medicare offers.

That is me; I still have my hands, says the 4-year old girl after waking up in the hospital and being told by her mother that she had lost her legs. The little girl grew up to become Rumba with Tina. Tina Verduzco teaches a Saturday morning online dance class for BORP: Bay Area Outreach & Recreation Program.

Tina and Cynthia
Tina Verduzco, Cynthia Noonan & Freckle, Younger Tina

Tina, along with several other online instructors, help this podcaster maintain positive energy and a healthy mind, body, and spirit during the shelter-in-place period.

Cynthia Noonan, one of BORP’s Board of Directors, transitioned the in-person fitness studio in Berkeley, California to the virtual world where participants join in from across the United States and Mexico.

You are invited to join this online community; check out the BORP class schedule as well as other accessible exercise program offerings including Dance For All Bodies and Wheelchair Dancers. If you just want to see what a BORP class looks like, here are a few recorded BORP classes.

We’re not talking about your financial investments. How much of a health risk are you willing to take during the current pandemic? Do you wear a facial mask when you leave your home? Do you maintain six feet of physical distance from people who do not live with you? Are you avoiding crowds? Postponing health appointments?

As our cities and towns gradually open up, will you change your behaviors or wait for a reliable vaccine?

Well, not really. No podcast episodes for the month of May due to a very bad computer. Naughty as heck. She/he could have reminded me of their age (6 years!) and I would have paid attention…treated her/him as a respected elder…gone easier on her/him. But no! Poof!

So, I’m waiting on a new one. And like everything else now, it’s moving slowly…from China, or Japan. Who knows? Not much else I can do but wait.

But for YOU…I’ve got some YouTube videos: Quarantine Life, videos related to Movement & Exercise, or a cooking demonstration for those with swallowing difficulties.

Maintaining a regular exercise routine has been vital for my mental and physical health during quarantine; I put together this list of mostly free or low cost online resources.

I’ve written a few COVID-19 blog posts: How I Cope with COVID-19 and How I Exercise at Home with Myotonic Dystrophy. I’ve even participated in two webinars related to maintaining good nutrition during the pandemic: Food Preparation for the DM Community and Practical Strategies for Eating Well and Keeping Immune System Strong during COVID-19.

If you want some evergreen, relevant podcast episodes, you might consider starting a mindfulness or meditation practice. Or prayer as a healing modality, which I believe can be akin to meditation.

So many things can be therapeutic; you know laughter can be the best medicine? Have you considered Sound Healing? I’ve seen several practitioners taking their work online.

My mental and physical clarity is enhanced by my daily walk through nature. Even if it’s just around the neighborhood. Every day I discover new natural and human-made curiosities.

One of my natural relaxing remedies — and the most downloaded episode of Glass Half Full — is explored here.

I hope you’re taking good care of yourself. Personally, I’m in it for the long haul; I’ll wait for that vaccination. I’ll miss hugging, traveling, and eating in restaurants but…I’d like to be around for awhile. Take care XOXO

This month we have both Earth Day and Arbor Day so it’s high time to be amongst the trees. Even if you are hunkered down in the safety of your home during the pandemic, you can still derive healing benefits from gazing out of your window at nature’s bounty. If your window faces man-made materials, there is science proving that a photograph of trees can impact you in a positive physical and emotional way.

Verla Fortier, RN, author of Take Back Your Outside Mindset: Live Longer, Prevent Dementia, and Control Your Chronic Illness, shares some of the research she found about the healing powers of trees and nature. Diagnosed with systemic lupus, she was told to stay indoors to avoid the sun. And she did. Until she witnessed a noncompliant online support group participant.

Katherine Chen, meditation teacher, talks about Bodhi Meditation and its connection to nature.

If you can, go outside and hug a tree. And if you’re not sure what kind of tree you’re hugging, download a smartphone app:

If you, or someone you know, has a muscle or nerve condition such as Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Cord Injury, Amputation, Osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s Disease, or a neuromuscular disease (i.e. myotonic dystrophy, SMA, Charcot Marie Tooth, Becker’s, ALS, etc.), here’s an opportunity to participate in a research study. No trips to a medical center or donation of muscle tissue required.

The Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center has a variety of studies with different criteria. For Factsheets produced by UW — after a study has concluded — check this website.

Listen to an earlier podcast episode with a UW Department of Rehabilitation Medicine Research Study Coordinator about Resilience and Aging with a Disability.

For additional information about research studies discussed in this episode:

UW Community Health Study, Phone: 1-866-928-2114 Email: communityhealthstudy@uw.edu

UW CALMS Study, Phone: 1-866-928-2114 Email: calms@uw.edu

Coming soon to the Glass Half Full YouTube Channel

It’s April Fool’s Day so we’re mixing things up. One can’t be positive 100% of the time. Now is the opportunity to share about all of the weird things people have said about our health conditions — whether it was a friend, an aunt, or even a health care professional.

Perhaps well-intentioned but definitely not insightful nor helpful advice. Most people with some type of chronic health condition have had this experience.

A panel of three previous podcast guests share their stories — from the hilarious to the frightening. Nancy, Melissa, and Laurel let it all out.

A retired nurse, physical and yoga therapist, and mental health professional offer strategies to cope with uncertainty, anxiety, and all those other emotions caught up in this season of the pandemic.

Verla Fortier, author of Take Back Your Outside Mindset: Live Longer, Prevent Dementia, and Control Your Chronic Illness, speaks about her experience diagnosed with systemic lupus and the discovery of the healing power of trees.

Tianna Meriage-Reiter, DPT, C-IAYT, and owner of the Mind-Body Movement Center talks about her new live streaming yoga classes available at her YouTube channel.

Lee Greenstein-Wein, MSW, shares how specific essential oils can help with situational anxiety or depression. An earlier podcast episode features other healing benefits of essential oils.