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 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.

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 9 2022

A lot has changed in the last few weeks since I wrote. I started physical therapy two weeks ago. I have three sessions per week. I can now walk in my apartment without a walker. I can get anywhere in the facility with a wheel chair. I get outside more often now that fall has hit and the weather is cooler. My blood pressure has returned to normal. I’ll probably have to take blood pressure meds for the rest of my life. But blood pressure issues run in my family. My knees and feet don’t hurt anymore. I have to take tylenol every day for my knees but it works. I’m down over 45 pounds since Memorial Day and over 120 pounds overall since covid started. I’m currently at the lowest weight I’ve been since late 2016. I can now walk several minutes with a walker non stop. And I’m the waiting list for a private room. My own personal wheel chair is on back order but if I keep losing weight and improving through therapy, I might not need it for long.

Overall things are going well. I’m doing much better than I was six months ago. I never thought this improvement was possible this fast. Therapy and I both now have the long term goal of getting back out on my own again. Even though I haven’t owned a car for three years, I still have my drivers’ license. I’m glad I kept it current through the pandemic. I had an odd feeling that I might have need for it in the future. And I just might.

After my car accident in 2015 I got really depressed and eating a great deal. Gained a lot of weight. And I’ve already lost most of what I gained after the car accident. That accident spooked me real bad but I’m glad I didn’t give up my drivers’ license. As much as I love using Door Dash to get groceries delivered to my house and I get damn near anything delivered to via Amazon within four days even though I live in a small town, I’m glad I still have my drivers’ license. I was inspired to keep my license by one of my old neighbors who had a drivers’ license for “emergency purposes” even though I never knew him when he owned a car.

Ideally I’d like to end up back in the town I previously lived in. I know that town well, still have several friends there, I love the culture of the town, and I’ve always done well in college towns. I imagine eventually I will end up living in Oklahoma near my brother and his family as my aunts and uncles become elderly. But I’m glad to have a new lease on life. And these are good issues to have. Things have really been improving in the last five to six months. I didn’t expect to improve this fast. I thought I wasn’t going to improve at first.

Last Days of Summer 2022

Summer will be coming to an end in a few days. The leaves are starting to turn yellow. The days are still hot but cooler weather is supposed to hit by the middle of next week. I’m glad that summer is almost over. It’s always been a rough time for my mental health problems. I’m looking forward to Okotberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, chilly nights, pumpkin spice in dang near everything, and the whole bit. Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Fall is living proof that change can be beautiful and good.

I’m still losing weight. A wheel chair has been ordered for me. Should be here any day now. Now that I am regaining my mobility and am losing weight, I’m starting to formulate a strategy on how I can get into position to where I can have my own apartment once more. I have made a lot of progress over the summer. I’ve lost over 30 pounds since Memorial Day. My blood pressure has stabilized. I lost enough weight that the doctor had to take me off a couple of my meds because my blood pressure was getting too low. Once I get my own wheelchair, I’ll be a lot more mobile than I am now. I am currently using a wheel chair I’m borrowing from the nursing home. The public transit buses in Kearney are wheel chair accessible, so maybe I could go back to Kearney once I’ve lost some more weight.

One of the reasons I opted to go to a nursing home was I couldn’t get to my doctors’ appointments anymore. I couldn’t walk long distances and I get sensory overload so much I can’t drive safely anymore. But, since some public buses are wheelchair accessible, I might be able to live on my own again and just take the bus everywhere. Hell, I might even be well enough to move out on my own within several months.

Maybe I should have bought my own wheelchair rather than give up my apartment in the first place. But hindsight is always perfect. I really didn’t think I was ever going to get better. It’s amazing how losing weight, regular doctors’ appointments, and getting my blood pressure under control changed everything.

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.

August 27 2022 Updates

My knee pain is starting to clear up. I’m on a couple medications for it. Seems like it’s taking effect. I get out of my apartment at least a couple times a day anymore. It was just getting too discouraging to spend all my time at home.

My blood pressure has been stable for weeks now. I think I’m still losing weight. Some of my smaller clothes are starting to fit again. Tried on a couple of my hoodies a few days ago and they fit perfect now. Weather will start cooling off in a couple weeks so I have those ready.

Haven’t heard much from friends lately. Everyone is busy with work, family, chores, etc. Found out my friend in Denver is promoting her arts and crafts again. Won’t be too long before Christmas. I’ve bought a couple of her knitted hats in the past.

I just feel chilly most of the time lately. I imagine the blood pressure medications have changed my circulation. Rarely do I ever sit down without a blanket over my legs and feet. My joints feel worse when they are cold. My knees also ache whenever the weather changes drastically. We had a hail storm a week and a half ago. My knees were really acting up that day.

Still listening to audiobooks. Decided I’m going through Asimov’s Foundation series. I’m halfway through the first book so far. I like to listen to it while I play Civilization: Beyond Earth. That game is about setting up colonies on another planet. It’s certainly a science fiction game.

I’m thinking about hooking up my Play Station soon. I imagine as the days are getting shorter and start getting cooler, I’ll want to spend more time at home and less socializing. I still get around really well in a wheel chair. I usually make a few laps in the hallways every morning just to keep my arm strength up. Just because my knees went bad doesn’t mean my arms have to.

Haven’t seen my family since early July. I did get a good visit from an old college friend about a month ago. He bought me some updates to my Civilization game. Been playing that a great deal since. Having activities, even if it’s computer games, help the time pass on long days.

I’m looking forward to the fall. Fall is my second favorite season behind spring. I love the longer nights, the cooler nights, the changing leaves, the harvest, and the variety of sports during the fall.

Updates August 3 2022

I’ve now lived in my current place for two months. Updates are in order. My blood pressure is now normal and stabilized. I’m doing physical therapy twice a week trying to get some mobility back. I’m continuing to lose weight, usually a couple pounds per week. I’m eating smaller, but better balanced meals. The nursing and help staff are amazing here. My mobility is still limited to wheel chairs and walkers. I occasionally still get pains in my feet and knees. Usually some tylenol will clear those pains.

The variety of meals here is good. Seems that everything is home made quality. I think we have about 40 residents in my complex, most are senior citizens. I’m still adjusting to having a roommate for the first time in eighteen years. I had just got so used to living alone that having a roommate is probably the biggest adjustment I had to make. I sleep in an adjustable hospital bed. It’s so much easier on my knees and back than traditional beds. I’ve lost enough weight that I can sleep on my sides for part of the night. I’m currently at my lowest weight since late 2017.

Even though I’m at my lowest weight in almost five years, my mobility hasn’t come back as much as I hoped. I can still get around really well with a wheel chair. But I don’t own my own personal wheel chair as I borrow one from the complex. I met with a wheel chair salesman last week and talked to him for a good forty five minutes trying to get me outfitted with a custom made chair. Right now I’m waiting on social security to approve the purchase. I imagine supply chain problems are still an issue on some things.

Had a couple amazon deliveries to my new residence. Had to buy some new shorts as I was running out of pants that properly fit. It’s nice living where I don’t have to worry about doing laundry or cooking my meals anymore. I also enjoy having 24 hour access to health care and not having to worry about filling my prescriptions anymore.

July 24 2022

My blood pressure has returned to normal. My feet no longer hurt. My knees are getting better with each passing day. I got a new adjustable bed. I think that has helped my knees as much as anything. I had a Zoom appointment with my psych doctor. I’m continuing to lose weight at a fast pace. I’m now at my lowest weight in five years. I’m still mostly wheel chair bound. I’m starting to walk short distances with a walker.

My mental health has improved too. I was in a dark spot for quite a while earlier this summer. I’m still sad about having to give up my apartment and my independence. But it was for the best. I know have around the clock access to medical treatment. I don’t have to cook for myself anymore. I think the smaller, and more balanced, meals are helping me lose weight. I’ve lost enough weight I was taken off two blood pressure medications. I’m still afraid to walk without a cane or walker. I’m still a fall risk.

I still play lots of computer games. My roommate and I usually leave each other alone as we have different interests. I’m still getting used to having a roommate after living alone for almost eighteen years. While I mourn the loss of my freedom, independence, and privacy, I know I made the right decision to give up my apartment and move to long term care.