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Being Stress Aware

Being Stress Aware

Online with Jamie McAnsh

21st April 2020
Jamie McAnsh

Being Stress Aware

Stress
Stress

Stress, the word we seem to use so often in daily life but that has many different outcomes and meanings. I am stressed. You are stressing me out. Work is stressful. Life is stressful. All very common statements and all reasons for showing signs of stress. However, what is the difference between short term stress and long term stress? 

With short term stress you may feel butterflies in your stomach, pain, or nausea, or might even vomit. Your appetite can change and you can have diarrhoea, constipation or heartburn. These are all signs of short term stress caused normally by a single event or an upcoming event. 

Long term stress can lead to a full blown change in life. Normally caused by several things or it may be caused by one main event. There are often signs to this. And in fact Beverley Jones of Awaken Coaching wrote an eBook all about this very subject called “7 signs your not coping” you can find out more here.

It is true that stress is a powerful thing and can lead to so many other health issues. 

My Struggle with Stress

My name is Jamie McAnsh, and, you would think that waking up one day paralysed would have caused me a fair amount of stress! Well, you would be right but in fact it was mainly short term stress. Not being able to shower the same way, not having the freedom I usually enjoyed and having to find a new way of living my life that had over night changed so dramatically. However, with each step of learning I found new ways of doing things and actually rather than stress for me it was frustration as well as learning to cope with the pain caused by CRPS

The real stress came in a working environment, something that is all too common. I was working for a very large company that I can’t mention. However, my story is real and I can see no reason not to share it. I was bullied because I was a male member of staff for one, and secondly the individual had taken a disliking to me so used the system and company processes against me. Yes, this is harassment and it can be so damaging.

The Story

I have not spoken about this in great detail before in any of my blogs or in my talks but after nearly 2 years of leaving the job it feels like a good time to open up about what happened and how it made me feel. One day I was in work and I was called into the office. I knew almost everyone in my department and had great working relationships with my colleagues and would say that I was probably a fairly popular guy in the company. I was often asked for my advise on work related issues as I was also a qualified Union Representative. So, to be called into an office was not that uncommon. However, this day was very different. 

I was told I was under investigation for sexual harassment against a female member of staff. My stomach hit the floor. I felt like I wanted to faint or be sick. I felt my body starting to shake as the accusations was read out to me and I could not believe my ears. This was in July of that year and the investigation continued through until a formal disciplinary hearing on December the 21st of that same year.  During that time I was still in the working environment and still sat very close to the person who had made the accusation against me. In fact we were on the same team. I had requested to be moved several times but this had been denied.

Around September time I was in work and had taken to just keeping my head down. I had by this point stopped speaking to other members of staff and I simply went into work and did what I had to do and left. Well, on this day in September the young lady that had accused me of sexual harassment decided to sit next to me.  I, of course chose the action to not speak to her and carry on with my daily tasks. The next day I was called back into an office and accused of harassing a witness.

This was dismissed and at that time I had requested to be put on suspension for my own safety. This request was refused and I was told to continue as normal. At this point I made the decision to go and see a doctor who without hesitation signed me off on the sick.  

Stress
Stress

The 6 Main Signs I Was showing Of Stress

  1. Depression or anxiety. Lets start with anxiety. I felt like everyone was talking about me, like I was some kind of dirty person. I was being watched and forced out. I used to lock myself in the disabled toilet on my breaks so I felt safe and in fact I used to go in there to eat my lunch. The depression was a mixture of things for me and I honestly couldn’t see a way out. I knew I was innocent  but I just couldn’t find a way to prove it. Over the time I just found myself sinking further and further into a black hole.
  2. Anger, irritability, or restlessness. I found I was lashing out on those around me, my family and mainly my wife. Even the slightest of things would irritate me and I think that I was working so hard during the day to keep hidden and out the way, bottling everything up that when I could I was just exploding. 
  3. Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused. During working hours I was so focused on the task ahead of keep a low profile that my own life literally went down hill. My relationship started to suffer and so did my own health. I would leave the office and burst into tears, I would then have to pull over in a quiet place to get a grip of myself before getting home. 
  4. Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much. Constant worry would keep me awake all night and to be honest I was simply exhausted.
  5. Racing thoughts or constant worry. My mind never stopped. My heart rate was constantly high and every time I see a manager walk towards me or HR I felt like they were coming for me and my heart would feel like it was going to explode out of my chest.
  6. Problems with your memory or concentration. This was an area that actually effected me more than I realised. I was so busy concentrating on what was going on and what I was trying to deal with that my head space had no room for anything else. I simply lost sight.

The day I was Disciplined

Before I went into my hearing I had received my investigation report. The file was massive. 23 accusations of harassment. There was in fact only two actual accounts of what I was supposed to have done and 21 3rd part statements.  The investigation was a witch hunt. The union knew it and so did I. But, that is what the company went with and during a 5 hour hearing we went through every page. 

I supplied evidence that contradicted the statements and then was accused of other things like using emails for personal use. The case went on and I sat there. I was asked question after question and when I answered I was then accused of being to aggressive or being agitated or uncooperative. My union rep called an adjournment and we went outside for some fresh air. He said the statement I will never forget.

“Jamie you are going to loose you job today, there is no doubt  about it. So my advice is go in there and kiss arse and hope you leave with some pride.”

I went back in and done exactly that. The hardest and most degrading thing I have ever done. I never lost my job that day. I was advised that I would receive a 18 month final written warning, my bonus would be stopped for 3 years, I was to have no contact with the members involved and I was to take the equality training. 

I was then advised that I could return to work immediately.  Of course I was still on the sick so that was not going to happen. I left the meeting and went outside and vomited. I swore that day that I would never be made to feel like that again.

Back To Work

Going back was hard. I had been put on a new team and I was instantly worried as the team was made up of mainly female members of staff. I continued to keep my head down and spoke very little to those around me. There was a few colleagues that knew the situation and supported me through that time and honestly I owe them so much. 

A few months later the same person had accused me again and I had been put back through an investigation. It had been dismissed but for me the stress and pressure was still on. I went through a period of time where I would have an accusation of one thing or another most weeks. I was pushing my wheelchair too aggressively. I was too loud and distracting whilst on the phone and I was doing it to irritate others. The best one was the comments made about parking in disabled car park spaces.

As you can see it was relentless, my manager in the end started keeping a log and made sure it stopped. But I was feeling hounded everyday. I stopped getting involved with work activities and just went about what I was paid to do. I had bonded with my new team and so simply kept close to them and did not speak to anyone outside of that group. 

As time went on things got better. Every time my manager put me forward for something though I was soon put back down in my place. Every job I applied for was blocked and basically I stayed where I was and lost all interest in the company. Then I got divorced, the strain of everything had been too much and from that I soon lost my home and pretty much everything I had worked for. Oh and then there was the Cancer. 

The Story Came To A Head

Just as my time had come to an end and my 18 months was up I was feeling much happier without that dark cloud sat over me. I felt like I had been freed. I knew all along I was innocent but I had also lost the will to fight it. Now I was going to put it all behind me and get on with my life. And then, four days after I was taken into an office. I had been accused of sexual harassment. The same person.

This time I was calm and collected. I knew two things. Firstly, I was innocent and secondly I was not going through another investigation. I made that very clear and with it I walked out.

The investigation continued and I had been put on sick absence.  Fair enough but I knew I would never go back. There was no way I was going through what I had gone through before.

I was asked back in for an interview, I accepted. Lets have my day in court as they say. I did not hold back. Last time I had everything to loose. This time I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. I had found my strength. I was better than this and I knew it. 

The secret behind this crazy story is that I was not the first victim for this individual. I was the fifth. Probably not the last either. I had my moment, I left the manager lost for words. I had shown my strengths and put up the fight I wished I had done last time . He then said the best thing anyone had ever said to me to give me my perfect winning moment.

“Jamie we need to put our cards on the table”

I told him he was absolutely right. I took my ID cards off from around my neck and said; ‘here are my cards, here is the table. I quit!

The best feeling in the world and the best choice I have ever made.

Jamie in a happy place
Jamie in a happy place

The Outcome

I was left with this phobia of working alone with women that I held onto for well over a year. That was recently dealt with whilst on my NLP Practitioners course. I never want to work in that environment again . I never want to be made to feel like I had been made and there is no way that will ever happen. I am stronger now than I have ever been. I aim to talk openly about how these events effected me and I want other men to know they are not alone. I also want women to understand the effect of making accusations of this nature has on those around them. 

I knew the signs of hitting high level depression. I am a survivor of suicide to prove that. If I had been a more vulnerable person through all of this I may not have got to the other side.

I am in a very happy place now. See No Bounds is jumping from strength to strength. As a motivational speaker I now help others going through tough times and I get to do a job I love. What more could I ask for. 

  • Never let anyone control your life. You are worth more than that.
  • Be the person you are capable of being and show the world what you are made of.
  • And as always if you fall remember to Get Back Up
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My Honest FlexyFoot Review

FlexyFoot Review

My honest review of the FlexyFoot

My relationship with FlexyFoot has grown and developed from my strong connection with SmartCrutch. My view on this amazing product is simply outstanding. I feel safe and secure when using them on almost any surface. You can also see my review on the Smartcrutch here

Simply connect the foot to the base of your crutch or walking stick and away yo go. You will need to slightly adjust your walking aid for allowance of the foot being that ever so slightly bigger that a normal foot.

Designed to be retro-fit to a variety of walking aids they are available in black and grey, and in four different sizes, 16mm, 19mm, 22mm & 25mm.  There is an additional size designed to fit the SmartCrutch. FlexyFoot is articulated and shock absorbing in the design and will assist in more ways than just grip to the surface.

The bottom part of the ferrule can be replaced easily when it becomes worn or damaged reducing the ongoing cost of owning a Flexyfoot.

What about ice?

FlexyFoot have this thought of this as well. What happens when it freezes or snows? You simply purchase a handy little ice boot that clips onto the end of the foot and with its zigzag spike design you will have stability and grip when you most need it. 

Last winter when we had a lot of snow Charlott and I went out for a walk, I was very stable and never slipped once. Charlott on the other hand was not so good and that was with a good pair of walking boots.

A great little unique addition that again has not been offered anywhere else that I know of. 

Summary.

For me this is not a luxury item.  This is a life changing product. An investment in my health and well-being but also my safety. I have been using the Flexyfoot on my SmartCrutch now for nearly three years and I can honestly say I would not use anything else. When I first started selling these products in our online Storefront earlier this year, I began to feel that I am helping people to improve their day to day lives. 

For elderly people stability and balance is everything. A simple fall can destroy confidence and if an injury is caused that person can be out of action for months. 

For younger people these products offer freedom and a new form of independence that I simply would not know how to put a price on. For me these are a necessity.

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My Honest Smartcrutch Review 

So here is my Honest Smartcrutch Review.

I first came across SmartCrutch Uk at Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham in 2017. Instantly, I was  impressed by the look, design and all round durability of the product. This was also the first time I had met Jason and asked if I could try them out. Really fancied putting them through their paces. 

When I asked Jason if they had ever been tested off road, and when I say that I mean mountains,  the answer was no. He advised me that he had not found anyone stupid enough to take them off road. His exact words. I simply smiled and said I was that Man. 

Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years. People now don’t want to simply sit around and feel sorry for themselves. Also, People want their crutches to be apart of the outfit. They now consider the look, the style and can they do everything they want from them. 

I have a set from early days that are adjustable, standard NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step, They start to put massive pressures on your wrists and after long term use you start to suffer tendinitis. I was later issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great, no more clicking as the two sections moved on impact, however, they still came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly and sore hands. Unfortunately I don’t ever see SmartCrutch NHS becoming a thing. 

Over looked on everyday crutches.

Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined.

Hand grips are normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.

The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight. Use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.

The main point to note.

Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Standard Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.

I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. Not its purpose.

When SmartCrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits. What I really meant was would they be any good off road!

SmartCrutch Eldow
SmartCrutch Features

So whats my verdict?

Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. An elbow support that is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist. With the benefit of the elbow being a much bigger and stronger muscle group it can take the extra work load a lot easier. 

The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give, with the purpose mainly to guide the crutch the wrist pressure is reduced to almost zero. Add with an elbow section that adjusts to fit perfectly this creates a comfortable platform.

Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking noise. They are a good fit and well-built. The adjustment needs to be there to make these crutches most effective. As you move the elbow joint from position 4 up you need to move the crutch up one level to take up the gap. This then stops the awkward shoulder movement. Improves posture and supports the user fully. I also used this when going up a mountains I lower the leg and coming down I raise the leg. Really helps me for terrain differences.

To me the extra safety magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier. Straight away I felt much more secure.

The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to. You need to understand at this point that if you are going from standard crutches you are using a set of muscles. When you come over onto SmartCrutches you are now using a slightly different set of muscles. These need to develop and will take a few days over each setting on the elbow joint. You will not go directly to 90 degrees and find it works. Take your time and get used to them. In a few days you can adjust and this will improve your usability and enjoyment of the product. That is my honest advise. 

Now for the best bit!

So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone. Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface. My normal NHS crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into. The SmartCrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish so I not only look cool I look like I am prepared to take on the game , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome. This was a winner!

Next was to try them off-road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip. On relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. At this point I had not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal but only because of the feet not being completely up to the job.

Jamie McAnsh with his SmartCrutches

few words of IMPROVEMENTS.

I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions I put them through are not what they are designed for. In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet! If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off-road feet. As an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain. There is so much potential for the SmartCrutch to be used as off-road all terrain crutches with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think SmartCrutch are missing this vital sector.

Jamie McAnsh on Ben Nevis
Jamie McAnsh on Ysgryd Fawr Mountain.

Stepping into the future.

So this review was first written by me back in 2017, After my review was first published SmartCrutch came back to me with a response to the off road foot. Meet the addition of the FlexyFoot! These feet are literally the best feet on the market, attach them to the SmartCrutch and you are left with the very best product attached to the very best product. Trust me that is no exaggeration. Take a look at our FlexyFoot Review for how we really rate this amazing product.

So how did they do under pressure? In reply to that question! They done fantastic. I decided to take them to another extreme environment and climbed Snowdon. With 6 foot of snow drifts and an inch of ice (See image above) I can honestly say the Smartcrutch and FlexyFeet relationship worked perfectly. I had to put ice over boots on over my walking boots to stop slipping but my crutches stayed almost solid.

Great addition and the results are simply awesome! over the past three years I have not given these Crutches much rest, I have taken them in the sea, up Ben Nevis, Pen Y Fan, Sugar Loaf and back up Snowdon. My relationship with my crutches have become stronger and stronger. I now walk again, confidently and comfortably on my crutches. I have had a new lease of life and am always looking at new thing to do. In May 2020 myself and my SmartCrutches Fitted with FlexyFoot will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime! We will be heading 17,500 feet up to Everest Base Camp. 

Do I have any final word? Of course I do! These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and I am very impressed. I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to taking this product on my adventures and keep pushing their limits. I am also very excited about the future of this product and the developments that they keep on making.

Becoming an ambassador.

In the beginning of 2019 I was proud to be asked by SmartCrutch to become an ambassador of the product. I get asked my advice about improvement ideas and even had the oppertunity to support SmartCrutch UK at the Naidax show in Birmingham where the story first started. 

I spoke to Jason about the future of the product and how we can look at new ideas, such as attachments like possibly a torch and reflectors. Who knows the opportunities are endless. Since then I have now become a stockiest of the product and love the fact that I get to share my passion for the SmartCrutch with others and pass on the journey I have had. 

If you would like to purchase these amazing crutches but would like to know more, please get in touch or you can simply go to the shop and purchase a pair today. 

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