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 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.

Things I Miss About My High School and College Days (and some I don’t miss one bit)

I was talking about things like 9/11 and the start of the internet with an old college friend of mine earlier this weekend. Made me realize there were some things that happened back then I didn’t fully appreciate when they happened. However, there were also things I thought cringy back then that people are only recently waking up to how messed up they were.

I was born in 1980, which makes me either late Gen X or early Millenial depending on who you ask. I’ve been called both a snowflake and a slacker, sometimes on the same day. But I’m going to start with things I miss from the 80s and 90s (and things I don’t miss at all).

Things I miss from the 1980s and 1990s

Pizza Hut’s Book It program

Music videos on MTV

Athletes and Business Tycoons who were indifferent to politics

The books of R.L. Stine

The books of Bruce Coville

Wearing Flannel even during the summer

Collecting baseball and Pokemon cards

Having friends who did both D&D and high school sports

Lifting weights to the music of AC/DC and Metallica

Watching MST3k on Saturday nights

Tom Osborne as the coach of the Nebraska Huskers

Watching Michael Jordan play basketball

Having Garth Brooks, Tupac, Mariah Carey, and Marilyn Manson in my CD collection

Getting to talk to people who experienced the Great Depression and World War 2 first hand

Hunting through video rental stores hoping to find lost gems

The movies of Brendan Fraser and Pauley Shore

Surge Soda

Jones Soda

Conspiracy Theories being fringe

Arnold Schartzanegger in his prime

People thinking Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan were the worst leaders

The music of Korn and Hootie and the Blowfish

Trying to learn how to play Nirvana songs on an acoustic guitar

MTVs Unplugged Albums (notably Alice in Chains and Nirvana)

Jamming out to 311 at parties

Things from the 80s and 90s I don’t miss

Abercrombie and Fitch

Cold War politics

Pay phones

No internet

Harvey Weinstein movies

The Satanic Panic

The whole latch key kid thing

The War on Drugs

The War on Terrorism

Not cool being smart

Not cool using a computer

The comedy of Tim Allen

Having to learn about sex from stolen Playboys

Everybody smoking, even at funerals

No Paypal

No Uber

No grocery delivery

CNN and Fox being your only choices for news

The only sci fi being dystopian

TV evangelists

Sexism and Bigotry being cool

Most Teen movies from the 80s

People forgetting about pandemics and plagues

Not realizing the same kids jamming out to Madonna would be the same parents complaining about the music of Billie Eilish

December 6 2022

Been doing physical therapy for over two months now. My strength, stamina, and speed have improved quite a bit. This is inspite being sick on and off for the last month. Been sneezing, coughing, and congested for quite a while now. We have a couple cases of covid in here again. So the masks are back.

Hit a plateau weight loss wise for the last two weeks. Haven’t gained but haven’t lost even with the holidays. I still do therapy three times a week. I still watch how much I eat. But I guess hangups are to be expected once in a while.

Applied to get into low income housing in both my previous town and my parents’ town in Oklahoma. It’s now a game of waiting now. It could be several months or it could be a few weeks. We don’t know.

Overall I am down 70 pounds and my blood pressure has stabilized. I’ve just been fighting a virus that refuses to go away for the last month. I sleep better in spite of the sickness. Most nights I fall asleep shortly after dinner and sleep for a few hours. Then I wake up in the middle of the night and stay up for a few hours. Then I usually go back to sleep at 3am and sleep until 7.

Making Rapid Progress On Physical Health and Answered Prayers

I am now down 70 pounds overall in the last six months. I’m not even 10 pounds away from losing all the weight I gained after my car accident back in 2015. I am currently wearing a dress shirt I wore to my grandma’s funeral seven years ago. I can also now stand in place for several minutes at a time. I ordered an electric razor so I can shave my own face. It should be here by next week. My blood pressure has been holding normal for weeks now. I am currently on four meds for my heart and blood pressure. I used to be on six. I think as I keep losing weight I may be able to drop a blood pressure med or two. Heck I might even be able to reduce my dose of psych meds if the weight keeps melting off. Overall since covid started, I’m down almost 150 pounds.

Originally my goal was to get back at my old 2012 weight. 2012 is the last time I held a regular job and I could walk easily. Now I am aiming lower, so to speak. My goal now is to get back to my old college weight. It’s going to take at least another year, but time is on my side now that my blood pressure issues are being addressed. It also helps that effective vaccines and treatments for covid are now things. One of the reasons I avoided doctors and most people was that I was afraid of catching covid if I went to the doctors’ office for my blood pressure. I know most people’s attitudes towards masks and distancing in my hometown: not good at all. So I pretty much treated covid as drastic as I would being at war. As I result I lost 150 pounds, never caught covid, found out I could function with delivery groceries and Amazon, reread Wealth of Nations (the Bible of capitalism), kept in contact with family every day, built up a decent amount of emergency money (not enough to get me in trouble with disability), and even got to blog more. I also discovered the joys of Zoom calls.

I can now walk short distances even without a walker. My wheelchair has been on back order for almost three months. Wouldn’t it be ironic if by the time my wheelchair got delivered I didn’t even need it anymore?

My goal is to still get out on my own eventually. I think at the rate my physical health is improving I can be back at my old college weight within a year or two. Sheesh, even in two years I could be below my old high school weight. The protocol my doctor set up for my diet and therapy is working. Oh my goodness is it working. I just hope nothing throws a wrench in my plans. Things have been working so magically well for the last few months that I can’t even believe it. I have been used to things not working according to plan for many years. Maybe God is answering prayers.

Surviving The Covid Pandemic With Schizophrenia and Congestive Heart Failure

Still doing physical therapy three times a week. Been doing this for over six weeks now. My speed is improving. So is my leg and arm strength. Overall I am down 65 pounds since I moved here around Memorial Day. Since the meals are well balanced and home made, I don’t feel deprived. I get three hot meals every day. I am on calorie restrictions, so I can’t go back for seconds. The meals are good enough that the smaller portions don’t bother me. I’m still on fluid restrictions. I usually drink less than 2 liters of fluids per day.

Got on the scale today. If I lose another 10 pounds, I will be at my lightest since my car accident in October 2015. One of the reasons I gave up my car was that it was really tough to get in and out of my car with my bad knees and back. I haven’t ridden in an automobile since late May, but I am quite confident I can get in and out of most cars easily. It seems like I’ve been losing 5 pounds per week since the therapy restarted in late September.

I can walk with a walker easily now. Distance is still a problem as I still get winded after a few minutes of walking. But even that is slowly coming back. I can stand in place for several minutes at a time even without a walker. I started experimenting with a cane too.

I go outside more often, at least when the weather is nice. Haven’t been outside for a few days as the weather has been chilly and rainy. We’ve been having terrible dry spells for many months now. Any rain is welcomed. Some parts of my state got their first snow of the season. Most of Nebraska usually gets it’s first snow before Thanksgiving.

The corn harvest is mostly done. Most of the leaves are gone from the trees. The grass is turning yellow. While we haven’t had our first snow yet, it does feel like winter isn’t far away. Most nights I sleep under a fleece quilt. It is purple and made for a king size bed even though I have only a queen size bed. I bought an extra large blanket so I could wrap up whether in bed or in my recliner.

I am now in a single room. It feels good to not have a roommate again. I had a roommate for a few months. First time since May 2004 I had not lived alone. Having a roommate was the largest adjustment to long term care. I’m also getting used to having communal meals. For years I made my own meals and ate alone most of the time.

My blood pressure was kind of low a few days ago. I don’t feel dizzy or weak. But I had problems with low blood pressure during the summer. Spent three days in the hospital in July because of those problems. I guess as I am losing weight fast, I’ll have to readjust the doses on my blood pressure meds every few months. I have lost 65 pounds since late May and have lost 145 pounds overall since the pandemic started. I’ve lost most of the weight I gained after my car accident. For a few years, I was really depressed, ate a lot, and was lazy about exercising besides weight lifting. If I lose another 45 pounds, I will be the lightest I’ve been since 2012. I eventually want to get back to my old college weight, but that’s at least a couple years in the future.

I still don’t have my own wheelchair. I’ve been borrowing one from the hospital for the last five months. First, Medicaid denied to pay for my wheelchair. Then we decided to order one through the hospital with my family paying for it. Well, the chair has been on back order for over three months. I can get along just fine with the wheelchair I borrow from the hospital. There is still no timeline on when the backlog will clear up. Could be another several months. I imagine by then I will have lost enough weight that I have to get remeasured to see how big of a chair I need. My current chair is already kind of big for me. I can get around just fine as long as the doors aren’t too narrow. For the doors that are narrow, I just fold up the chair and walk through.

I can already walk anywhere in my room without a walker most of the time. Sometimes my knees hurt enough that I use the walker. I can use a cane now too.

I had a bad cold for a couple days. I isolated from the other residents a couple days ago so I wouldn’t get others sick. I tested negative for covid. In almost three years of covid I still haven’t caught it.

Decided to get real serious about weight loss right before covid hit the US. I was afraid if I caught it, it would be real bad with me being overweight and having sleep apnea. I’ve lost 145 pounds since early 2020. Currently the lightest I’ve been since mid 2016. I avoided doctors and hospitals during covid for fear I’d catch it. I more or less stayed near my complex for 2 years. I rarely left the apartment without a mask. I wore masks when I met the delivery guys for my groceries and Amazon. Grocery delivery and Amazon kept me from getting sick for over two years. Most people I know have had covid multiple times. My brother has had it at least twice.

Maybe I went overboard treating covid like a war time crisis, but it kept me safe and well. I’ve also lost an incredible amount of weight in that time. It was kind of lonely, but I had my smart phone and called friends and family every day. I dropped in on neighbors a few times per week. My cleaning lady came every Thursday and did my laundry. Even though I was home bound because of my knee and foot pain, I still managed to survive the covid pandemic.

Even though I wound up in the hospital because of my blood pressure problems (which manifest in the knee and foot pain) in May 2022, I think I made the right decision to avoid most people and hospitals during the pandemic. It was lonely and it felt like I was hiding out in a bomb shelter. But it very well may have kept me from getting sick and thus kept me alive. With as overweight as I was in February 2020, my mental health problems, and my sleep apnea, covid could have been a death sentence back then. The vaccines didn’t become available in large scales until late spring 2021. I got vaccinated as soon as I could. Only then did I relax on some of the self imposed restrictions. Once the threat of covid faded, I started concentrating on the blood pressure issues.

Now that I am doing physical therapy three times a week, my weight loss has really gone fast. I am now convinced it is not a matter of if I get to go back out on my own, it’s a matter of when now. Everyone I know is amazed by the amount of progress I’ve made in less than six months. Hopefully I can make even more progress in the coming six months. Once my knee and foot pain cleared up, everything changed for the better.

The grocery delivery service, meds by mail, and Amazon service were all godsends for me. They very well may have kept me alive during the covid pandemic. I’m thankful I was able to have regular psych doctor appointments via Zoom calls for the duration of the pandemic. It was a difficult couple of years I will never forget. I think the covid pandemic changed me for the better.

October 24 2022

Started physical therapy about five weeks ago. It’s going really well. My doctor says he’s proud of how much progress I’ve made in the last few months. My therapist thinks it’s a matter of “when” rather than “if” when I get to go out on my own. Once the pain in my knees cleared up, everything changed. My strength is starting to come back. I’m still losing weight. I’m down 55 pounds in the last 5 months and over 130 pounds since the pandemic began. I’m currently at the lightest I’ve been since 2016.

My blood pressure was creeping back up. So the doctor put me back on some pills to pull the water off. He’s convinced all my knee pain was fluid retention. Seems like he was right.

My roommate has to have a heart cath tomorrow. He hasn’t been doing well for the last several weeks. Hope they find out exactly what is wrong. He sleeps a lot on has a hard time standing up. He’s completely wheelchair bound right now.

Found out an old friend of mine is buying some country property in West Virginia. She always loved the mountains and forests. Says she going to raise some bee hives and make some money off the timber rights. She has wanted to get out of the big city for the last few years. Her neighborhood has gotten real bad.

I don’t have any plans for Halloween. Not sure what my place is doing for that. We had pumpkin painting about a couple weeks ago. And the fall leaves are beautiful this year. Been really dry too. The corn harvest is almost done. My parents are probably coming up for Thanksgiving. This fall has gone fast.

Nearing The End of Summer

Summer is almost over and I’m glad for it. This has always been the roughest time of year for me. I’m looking forward to chilly nights, changing leaves, pumpkin spice in everything, and fall sports. School started a couple weeks ago so it’s feeling more like fall.

My Saturday plans during the fall usually involved staying home and watching football. Today will be no exception. I might even go down to the community tv room and watch the games. I feel like things are starting to come back to life with the change of seasons.

For most of my adult life, I lived in college towns. Those towns were really quiet during the summer, but really came back to life once students returned for fall semester. This is the first time in eighteen years I won’t be in a college town for the fall. It’s bittersweet. I’m where I know I need to be to get healthier. But I do miss the activities of college towns, whether it’s concerts at the local dive bars, ball games on the weekends, cultural events on campus, or just running into college students during my overnight trips to Wal Mart or the 24 hour grocery store in town. I miss those activities already.

My blood pressure is back to normal and I’m losing an average of 8 to 10 pounds per month since I moved here. I’ve lost over 100 pounds in the last 2 and a half years. Eventually I would love to get back to my old college weight. I can walk short distances again, even if it is slow. Most of the pain in my knees is gone. I haven’t had pain in my feet in weeks. I’m starting to need less sleep. Last night slept from 11pm to 6:30 am. My sleep patterns are starting to improve. I used to need 10 to 12 hours of sleep per night.

Overall I’m feeling much better than I felt this spring. I’m glad to be back on the right track.