January 31 2023

Things are really moving fast now. Heard from my caseworker that it might actually be easier to move to Oklahoma City and wait for low income housing down there to open up than wait here in Nebraska. The process of transferring my medicaid would be only a couple days worth of paperwork. And my parents are willing to let me stay in their guest room until low income comes open down there. In short, I could be living in Oklahoma within a couple weeks if even that. I am excited for this new chapter in my life. I have never lived outside of Nebraska. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter in my life. I haven’t been this excited since I started this blog full time in 2013. Weight loss wise, I’m the lightest I’ve been since 2014. If I lose another 20 pounds, I’ll be the lightest I’ve been since 2010.

I’ve decided if I keep losing weight, I’m going to get my Oklahoma drivers’ license and eventually look for a part time job. Since I’ve been out of the work force for several years, I imagine I’ll have to go through vocational rehab to find that first job. Since I’m still kind of stiff and achy when I walk long distances, this new job probably won’t begin within the next several months. I hope to find something in janitorial by the end of the year.

Dreams and Creativity

Sometimes I get ideas for poems and stories through dreams. I sometimes hear music in my dreams I don’t hear anywhere else. Since I don’t know much about songwriting, I usually leave the music as inspiration for my stories. Just this night, I had a dream about an American astronomer living in London. He has a steady career at a London Planetarium but his friends are total losers. He roommates with his younger brother and two of his soccer hooligan buddies. He loves ancient astronomy texts, dotes on his ten year old niece, and can barely make it in spite of having a decent career. There HAS to be a story in that jumble somewhere. Just have to draw it out.

Hopefully by frantically writing notes in the middle of the night, I can make sense of this dream. I have decided that I want to branch out as a writer. I’ve been doing these blogs regularly for almost ten years. I used to be really big into writing poetry, namely nature and small town things along the lines of Robert Frost and Walt Whitman, my two favorite poets. But, who knows what can come of this strange dream. In the past I have written rough drafts for two novels, a book of “Hillbilly Wisdom” available on e-reader via Amazon under the title “Wisdom of a Hillbilly Scholar” by Zach Foster. I have been writing regularly for years in this blog, but I think now that I have a few more years under my belt, a few grays in my beard, and chronic knee pains, now might be a good age to share some of my wisdom.

Graduating From Physical Therapy

Today, January 27 2023, is a red letter day for myself. Today I officially graduated from physical therapy. I can still go in and use the exercise equipment, but I am no longer under doctor’s orders to go to therapy. I have officially been at Genoa Medical Facilities Long Term Care since June 9, 2022. I moved out of my old apartment in Kearney for good earlier that month. It was tough giving up on the apartment I called home for over 16 years. But it was for the best.

I originally decided to give up my previous apartment as a means to effectively treat my congestive heart failure. Since I moved to Genoa, my blood pressure is back under control, I have lost 90 pounds, did several months of physical and occupational therapy, and made several new friends. I have lost 90 pounds since June 2022 but have lost over 170 pounds since February 2020. I think it was the covid pandemic that convinced me I had to lose the weight or die an early death. I treated covid the same way I would had I got drafted to go to war. I got serious about losing weight, I lifted weights three times a week, I quit eating sugar, I quit drinking beer and soda pop, and I gave up most restaurant foods. I’m now at the same weight I was in late 2014. I can walk pretty much anywhere now long enough to find a place to sit. I can easily stand for several minutes at a time. My knees and feet no longer hurt. The weather doesn’t make my joints sore anymore. Even my libido is starting to come back.

Once my stint in Genoa is done for good, I’m moving to Oklahoma City area to be closer to my brother and his family. My brother has agreed to help me out once mom and dad are gone. I never realized until the pandemic just how cool my brother Josh is. Growing up, we hated each other. But it helps that we no longer live in the same house. I also think the ordeals of adulthood forced both of us to grow up and realize how important having family support is. I love you Josh. Please never doubt that.

Ultimately, my goals include getting a part time janitorial job again once I move to Oklahoma City. I’d like to lose another 50 pounds before I attempt that. But at the rate I’m losing weight, I could accomplish this by the end of summer. I also want to get an automobile again. My drivers’ license is still current even though I haven’t owned a car since summer 2019. I also eventually want to publish some of my blog posts in a book forum. Before I started this blog, I self published a book on mental illness essays, some poetry books, and a book of “Hillbilly Wisdom.” Overall I sold several dozen copies of my self published books over the years. I also wrote the rough drafts for two novels. Those rough drafts have been lost to the years, but fortunately I still remember much of the ideas behind the two novels.

In spite of the trials of the last seven years, I never lost hope. Some days hope was all I had left. I had hope that I’d reestablish friendships once the political environment calmed down. I had hope that the pandemic would ultimately end. And it has, at least in this part of the world. And the best part is, I never caught the covid even once. I’ve been vaccinated several times, but I have yet to catch the covid. I never lost hope that I would eventually be able to drive again. I never lost hope that I could get more of my writings published. I never lost hope in this blog.

Even though this blog has never had a large audience, it is documentation of my life with mental illness. I’m so, so thankful I never gave up writing in this blog. I’m thankful that I never gave up on myself. I’m thankful I never truly gave up on God. Even though I haven’t been to church regularly in years, I never did lose my respect for God, spirituality, and the supernatural. As much as I love science, I never lost my belief that some things just can’t be explained by the laws of nature. I am thankful for this process. I feel like it was all worth it. We did it.

Seeing The Light At The End of a Dark Tunnel

Looks like we’re halfway through the winter now. I can tell the days are getting longer. Went outside a couple times today. The snow is starting to melt. The snow is perfect for snow balls and snow men. Threw a couple snow balls for the first time in a few years.

I’m still losing weight. If I lose another 30 pounds, I will be lighter than I have been since 2010. I can already walk short distances without pain. I sometimes breathe hard if I walk too far or too fast. But I can easily stand up and walk for six minutes straight without sitting down. At my last evaluation, I could walk 380 feet without sitting down. Pretty good considering last May I couldn’t even stand up without serious pain.

Been talking to friends more. They are excited about my progress. I admit to feeling kind of restless and frustrated with how slow the process of finding my own apartment is going. I just have to keep reminding myself that I didn’t expect the progress to be this fast. When I fist came to Genoa I thought I would have to be here for at least one year, possibly two. But the weight loss has been rapid, physical therapy has been going better than expected once my knee pain cleared up, and I can do most things on my own now. I can make my own bed. I can shower myself now without help. I could probably do my own laundry if they let me. I can even easily clean myself after using the toilet. Never thought that would be a big deal. I’m even starting to run out of toilet paper. I could even mop my own floors if the facility would let me. I can also navigate stairs once more. First time in almost four years I can easily climb stairs.

My blood pressure is actually lower than normal. The other day I checked in at 103 over 53. Looks like I may have to be lowering the doses again. I had the doses lowered last fall and even had a couple discontinued entirely.

Heard from Kearney Housing Agency a few days ago. They wrote to me asking if I still wanted to be on their waiting list for low income and section 8 housing. I wrote back telling them that I am still interested. It’s starting to look like Kearney my find a place for me even before Oklahoma City area does. I’m thinking that if this happens, like it looks like it could, I’ll move to Kearney for awhile and wait for an opening in Oklahoma. My brother and his family live in Oklahoma City as do my parents. I’m confident I’ll eventually end up down there. But for now, I just have to navigate the system and take what comes open.

Doctor seems to think if I keep losing weight I will eventually be cured of my sleep apnea. I still sleep with the CPAP machine. But I can nap in my recliner without problems for at least a couple of hours per day. It looks like things are really improving and really fast too.

I’m thinking had I not had my car accident back in 2015, I wouldn’t have gotten interested in home delivery groceries or buying on Amazon. Even though the accident set my weight loss back a few years, I do think that I avoided getting sick during covid precisely because I stayed home most of 2020 and 2021. I guess it sounds like hyperbole, but I really treated covid the same way I would have had I gotten drafted for a major war. Once I found out people with obesity and breathing issues were especially vulnerable to covid, I got serious. I started losing weight. I started lifting weights in my apartment. I wore a mask every time I met a delivery man. I wore masks when I hosted guests. Sure 2020 and 2021 were tough and lonely years, but I think I came out better because of them. In short, I never gave up on losing weight or getting serious about my help. But the car accident made me take a few years worth of detours. Maybe it was the universe’s way of proving to me that I can accomplish great things even with my disability and limitations. Maybe God just ain’t ready to give up on me.

January 20 2023

Got a letter from one of the housing agencies I applied to. Wrote back to them to let them know I am still interested in a low income housing setup. I may be moving up the list to get my own place real fast. I’ve been on a waiting list for almost two months now. My first choice of places would be in the Oklahoma City area. My second choice would be in Kearney, Nebraska. I lived in Kearney for seventeen years, so I really know that town. But even in Kearney I can get almost anything delivered to my house. Kearney also has a few Uber drivers so I really no longer need a car. Kearney also has public transit that is wheel chair accessible.

Found out last week that I can now navigate stairs. I still do therapy twice a week even though I’m not really required to anymore. I’ve been therapy regularly since last September. I’m also down another size in pants. I can easily wear 2XL pants again. Can also easily put on socks, tie shoes, and clip my own toe nails. I weigh now what I weighed in 2015. If I drop another 35 pounds, I’ll be the lightest I’ve been since 2010. Hopefully can be there within the next few months.

Been kind of sick the last few days. Finally getting over it. Been having bouts of sleepiness and congestion. Haven’t seen the night staff much the last several days. But I feel much better now than a couple days ago.

We got several inches of snow this week. So glad I got outside last week before the weather got bad. Been wanting to go outside real bad even though the weather is lousy. It’s tough not being able to do much outside in spite the fact I want to go outside. In short, I’m ready for spring again. Spring is only several weeks away.

I’m looking forward to having my own place again and cooking my own meals. As much as I like the food here in Genoa, I do miss my own cooking. I also miss my privacy and freedom. My best friend said she never doubted that I would get healthy again if, for no other reason, because I have too much of an independence streak. I have always preferred independence and freedom as much as possible. I’ve always liked doing things for myself. Hopefully I can have my own place again within a few months.

January 14 2023

I started losing weight again after Christmas. I’m down over ten pounds since then and almost 160 pounds overall in the last three years. My goal is to eventually get to my old high school weight. That will take at least a couple more years. But the slower I lose it, the more likely I am to keep it off.

I’ve officially graduated from regular physical therapy. I can now walk over 6 minutes without sitting down. I found out the other day that I can now navigate stairs. First time in over 4 years I could walk on stairs. I felt so accomplished. Heck, maybe by the time I find my new place in Oklahoma I won’t even need a wheelchair.

I use the wheelchair only for long distances now. I am able to make my own bed again. I can easily stand up long enough to brush my teeth. I used to sit on the toilet while brushing. Don’t need to do that anymore. I’m the lightest weight I’ve been since 2015. Lose another 30 pounds and I will be at my lightest weight in 10 years. I think it’s going to happen. Just a matter of time now.

I’ve put in applications to move into Section 8 low income housing in Oklahoma about two months ago. Amy, the case worker here at the nursing facility, has been making calls and writing emails on my behalf. Most of the nurses here think I no longer need long term care. I can make my own bed, get my own coffee, do my own showers and shaving, and sometimes I am asking the nurses for my meds even before they are ready to hand them out.

I still sleep for a few hours in the evenings after supper. I usually rattle around for a couple hours in the over night. Made several friends with the staff here. Most of my friends here are staff members. I guess it’s easier for me to relate to people my own age and younger now. Most of the staff is in their 20s to 30s. The head doctor is probably in his 50s. The charge nurses are mostly my age. Most people here don’t have me being in my early 40s. Most people think I’m ten years younger than that. But I do look younger now that I regularly shave and have lost a bunch of weight.

My best friend started a new job a few days ago. She works for a small real estate firm. They said they will help her get her realtors’ license this year. I’m so happy for her. She says the pay and the atmosphere of the office is already better than anything she has experienced in previous jobs. I wish you only the best dear friend.

Recently reestablished a friendship with an old college friend after a several year hiatus. We reestablished contact last summer and probably talk once a week on the phone. He lives in Missouri and has a steady girlfriend now. Both of them are on the autism spectrum and seem just right for each other. My friend’s wife died from ovarian cancer a couple years ago. He seems so happy to have found a romance interest again. Heck, maybe there is hope for me yet. I’d hate to think that I never found much success at romance because of where I was living. But I’ve lived in small towns my entire life.

I guess now that things are calming down between the pandemic and contentious politics, I’m reestablishing old friendships that had fallen by the wayside the last several years. Even though I currently live in an assisted living facility hundreds of miles away from most of my family and friends, I can honestly say I feel more hopeful for the future now than I have probably since 2014.

2015 to 2022 was a real rough time for me, as it was for most people. I honestly believe that the kids who grew up in the 2010s and the pandemic will talk about these events the same way their great grandparents talked about the Depression and World War 2. I mean, we’ve already had contentious politics all over the world, a covid pandemic that has killed many millions of people, really bad price inflations of everyday items in most countries, energy crisis in Europe, major war in Eastern Europe, and now food crisis in the Middle East and most African countries. People will talk about the 2010s and 2020s the same way their ancestors talked about the 1930s and 1940s or the Civil War here in America for decades to come. I think it will leave a major scar on the people who survive these years, especially those who are children and teenagers right now as well as those who worked in hospitals, drove trucks, worked in grocery stores, worked in warehouses, etc. I’m sad for all the millions of people who didn’t get to live to see some glimpse of hope that is now starting to come out of these dark times.

I’m sorry that I don’t write as often as I did before I moved to assisted living. It’s sometimes easy to get lost in the day to day and ignore the progress I’ve made in these last several months and years. When covid started, my knees and feet hurt so bad I could barely stand up, let alone navigate stairs. But I have lost 160 pounds in the last three years. Haven’t done any crazy exercise routine or diets or anything like that. Portion control, more protein, and less sugar has been enough to help me out. I’ve also done 30 to 40 minutes of physical therapy a day, three days a week, for the last four months. Other than that, I haven’t done anything crazy.

I think one of the reasons we have such a problem with weight gain is that we as a people have kept the same eating habits our ancestors did but do only a fraction of the physical labor that people did even 150 years ago. Our ancestors could eat several thousand calories every day and still not gain weight because old style farm and factory work required lots of physical labor. Now that much of that can be done by machines and computers, we no longer need to do the physical labor people in the 1800s had to just to survive. And we’ve adapted our eating habits only in recent years. It took me almost 40 years to unlearn the clean your plate no matter how much is on it mentality the pioneers had. It served our ancestors well as they never knew how much their next meal would be. But the same attitudes towards food without the physical activity has been killing us for a couple generations now. I hope the kids growing up today can adapt to eating less because our daily lives no longer need large meals every day. I guess save the large meals for the holidays.

January 1 2023

Been a few weeks since I last wrote. Updates are in order. I managed to get through the holidays with gaining only a few pounds. But I’ve lost two pounds since Christmas, so I’m back on track. I’m still doing physical therapy three times a week. The workouts are getting tougher as my endurance increases. I can walk with a cane now. I still use a walker for long distances. I don’t use the wheelchair nearly as much anymore.

My dad had a health scare a few days before Christmas. He survived and decided to get serious about weight loss and physical therapy. He’s in his seventies, so it’s not like he’ll be able to walk 5 miles a day like he used to. In short, he was having a stint put in and the surgery was unsuccessful. He didn’t have a heart attack but had a close call on the operating table. He was under travel restrictions for several days, so I didn’t get to see my parents on Christmas. I did get to see them on New Year’s Eve. Got an iPad for Christmas as well as some money for the vending machines. My parents also brought me some good instant coffee mix. I usually have one cup of coffee per day.

Our complex has several cases of covid, again. I’ve never tested positive but I get tested every few days. One of my friends in here moved to more independent living. While I miss her I am thrilled she has made so much improvement. She and I are kind of therapy friends as we have physical therapy often at the same time.

I decided I’m getting serious about writing again. I have done this blog regularly for ten years. I used to write lots of poetry. I wrote rough drafts for two novels in my younger years. Even though I lost the drafts over the years, I still remember enough about the books that I could probably put them back together.

I decided I’m moving to Oklahoma City area to be closer to my family. My parents now live there. My brother and his family have lived there for years. I want to be closer to my family again. After a few years of covid pandemic, contentious politics, and a couple health scares of my own, I’m ready to get on to some kind of normal. The paperwork to transfer my social security disability insurance to Oklahoma started a month ago. It could take a few weeks or it could take several months. But at the rate I’m going, I will eventually have my own place again.