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.

Going To Long Term Care and Reflections on Life Since 2006

Tonight is my last night in swing bed. I move to my permanent place in long term care tomorrow. My parents and my cleaning lady are emptying out my apartment today. It is a bittersweet end of one chapter in my life and the start of another. At this point in my life, I can no longer manage both my physical and mental health problems all alone anymore. I gave it an honest shot for over eighteen years. I had lived in my previous apartment for sixteen years. Worked a variety of jobs, started my blog, made lots of new friends, had three grandparents, three uncles, and a favorite cousin die, had several really good friends die, lost most of my mobility, survived a car crash, went through two years of the covid pandemic without getting sick, saw my best friend from college get married and become a dad, and saw my three nephews and niece grow up. While I am sad that my physical health has fallen apart so fast, I am confident I am now where I need to be.

In my sixteen years in my previous apartment, I went to the mental health hospital twice. I applied for and got on social security disability insurance. I worked for four years as a janitor at the county courthouse. I started this blog and have continued it on a regular basis for nine years. I became a published writer by having several poems published in a couple literary magazines. I learned about the joys of home grocery delivery. I found out that youtube is a wealth of knowledge if one knows how to properly look. I learned more history, philosophy, economics, science, etc. in several years of binge watching youtube than I did in my formal education. I saw several cousins get married and become parents. I had DNA tests to determine what psych meds would be best for me with great success. I saw the rise of the smart phone. I saw the world completely transform during a pandemic. I went from a young to a middle aged man. I saw three college classmates die young. I saw my parents retire and move out of their house of over thirty five years to be closer to their grandkids. I saw private space flight become a normal thing. I saw the first Black man become president of the United States. I saw the first woman become vice president. I saw a new pope elected. I saw same sex marriages legalized. I saw the beginnings of legalized marijuana. I saw the Arab Spring. I saw Brexit. I saw the beginnings of driverless cars. I saw electric cars become mainstream. I saw people my age and younger become leaders in politics, science, and industry. I saw some people my age become grandparents. I saw the internet go from a luxury to a necessity. I saw China become a world power again. I saw a renewed appreciation for democracy, especially after the war in Ukraine started and several years of choaotic politics in USA and Europe. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the sixteen years I lived in my last apartment. Heck, I don’t even recognize the world of 2006 anymore. Hope I can get to live another sixteen years to see what changes happen then. Now that I’m in long term care and have around the clock medical care, my chances of seeing the next sixteen years are improving.

April 24 2022

Finally got some rain. It’s been drought here for a long time. Seems like we have range fires every day somewhere in the state anymore.

Spending most of my at home these days in spite the warmer weather. I am just content to not socialize. Mentally I am still stable. Feeling less paranoid these days. I still sleep a lot. Eat usually only twice a day. Some days I eat only once. I think I’m still losing weight

I try not to pay attention to the news. Between the war, the number of covid cases going back up, and how hateful politics still are, it’s more than I can bear. I get overload so easily anymore. Makes me worry about the future. I’m glad I don’t have kids or a career as messed up as things have gotten. I just don’t see things ever improving.

August 31 2021

Another month is about to pass. Invited one of my neighbors over yesterday afternoon. He helped me with my laundry and mail, for which I paid him. Found out one of our mutual friends in the complex caught covid and is now quarantining off site for the next several days. Glad I still have a box of facemasks and disinfectant sprays. I have enough food and supplies I can stay home for several days if needed.

Saw that the ban on evictions is up. So glad I was able to keep up on rent throughout this ordeal. I know at least a few people who weren’t so fortunate. This thing got uglier than most people thought back in March 2020. People will be studying these times hundreds of years from now.

Looks like the weather will start cooling off soon. Usually things cool off for good in my home state by mid September. We usually have our first frost in early October and our first real snow by mid November.

August 5 2021

Found out my brother and all four of his kids tested positive for covid this morning. I had a couple friends in Omaha and a couple cousins catch it last year. So glad I got vaccinated months ago. Having a chronic mental illness and being overweight are already two strikes against me. I’m getting prepared in case another round of lockdowns are enacted this fall. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Saw my psych doctor a couple days ago. We did a teleconference. Got my prescriptions renewed. It was essentially a follow up. I had been having more irritability than usual all of last week. I wasn’t paranoid but I was quite irritable. It seems to have cleared up.

Been following the Olympics some. I don’t watch much for regular tv anymore. Most of what I watch are youtube videos and Amazon Prime. Saw the first half of The Ten Commandments yesterday. Probably finish that tonight.

Been chatting with friends a little everyday. Found out a friend of mine is going to talk to a disability lawyer soon concerning chronic health problems. Another friend’s daughter had her first birthday party a week ago.

The Black Hills Motorcycle Rally is starting this weekend. That is always a sign for me that summer is all but over. My cleaning lady’s kids start back to school in a week. I just hope schools reopening and summer rallies don’t turn into super spreader events. Since we actually have vaccines, where we didn’t a year ago, I hope the outbreaks won’t be as bad this fall.

I’m pretty content to stay close to home, at least for the near term. As long as I can get my groceries delivered and have access to internet, I should be alright.

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

Quarantine Journal: March 25 2021

Doing well overall. Started lifting weights again. I’m taking vitamin D supplements and I think it helps with the depression and anxiety. Met my new landlady a couple days ago while I was waiting for a delivery man. I think she will make a good manager.

I’m thinking about signing up for a home health service to see if I can a covid vaccine at home. Without a car I’m essentially home bound unless I want to hire an Uber driver. I’ve heard that many places are starting to have spikes in case numbers again. For as many problems as my country had in the first several months, we have gotten vaccines out faster than I thought we would. I’m thinking where was this level of focused action one year ago? Many people died that didn’t have to.

While I don’t socialize much in person, I leave my door unlocked during daylight hours in case anyone wants to drop by. My neighbors and I check in on each other a couple times a week. I’m having fewer aches and pains the last few days. Maybe I’m doing something right.

Still stable mentally. Had one flare up in early January but it was short lived. Haven’t had any since. It does get lonely sometimes spending most of my time at home and by myself. But I am still prime target for covid and there are still lots of vaccinations to go. This thing isn’t over by any means just yet.

January 11 2021

Been pretty quiet the last few days. The highlight of my day was washing several loads of laundry and having a large Amazon delivery. Spent some of my stimulus money on clothing. I was needing some new shirts and pants. It’s been cloudy and damp for the last several days. It got just warm enough during the days to melt the ice and then it would refreeze after sunset.

Been cooking more complex meals lately. Made some alfredo pasta a couple nights ago. Made a few batches of creamy potato soup. I haven’t tried any baking yet. I’m probably going to grill some bratwursts in a day or two.

Chatted with a few neighbors while I was doing laundry this afternoon. I don’t get out as much as I used to. Found out one of my neighbors had hip surgery a couple weeks ago. As far as I know, we haven’t had any cases of covid in my complex lately. Last I heard, nine million doses of vaccine have been given here in the U.S. One of my college friends is a high school teacher and he’s supposed to be getting his any day now. I think the first priorities were health care workers and elderly people in nursing homes, at least in my country. I heard that California is getting it real bad. The number of new cases per day is actually going down in my state. I haven’t had it, at least not that I know of. I’ve had two cousins catch covid in addition to three of my friends. My friend out in Denver said she’s had at least a dozen clients catch it already.

I’m not sure when I’ll be getting my vaccine. As I’m not healthcare, first responder, elderly, police, or military, I’m not a high priority. Hopefully I can get mine in the spring or early summer. But I’ve taken precautions for almost a year. What’s a few more months at this point?

January 2 2021

Another holiday season has come and gone. I saw my parents a couple days before Christmas. Had Christmas dinner with them. First time I saw them since June. We still have lots of snow on the ground so I don’t get out much these days. Been content to stay home, listen to audiobooks, and play computer games.

Been sleeping more lately. I have more or less kept to myself between Christmas and New Year’s. Been feeling kind of irritable and short tempered the last few days. So I’m reducing my caffeine and trying to sleep more. I also make a point of avoiding rude and angry people. I think the pandemic is getting to most people I know. It’s gotten to me sometimes even if I try not to take it out on others. Two of my cousins had covid this fall. There have been a few thousand cases in my hometown with a few dozen deaths. So it is here even several hours outside of major cities. Granted we haven’t had the protests or looting that some places have. If I wasn’t concerned about covid I probably would get out and about more often. But as I am mentally ill and overweight I already have two conditions that would make covid worse than normal for me. I still have some face masks, a bottle of hand sanitizer, plenty of soap, and enough food supplies and meds I can stay bunkered down for weeks if needed.

I guess the highlights of my week are when my neighbors and I drop in on each other just to check in. My neighbor across the hall is kind enough to pick up my mail and help me out a couple times a week. In exchange I will usually give him some face masks or some quarters. We have a soda pop machine on ground floor that has the coldest soda pop I ever had. It’s worth the 75 cents a can to get a frigid Diet Coke. Our laundry machines still take quarters too. My mom gave me a bunch of quarters for Christmas. Saves me a trip to my bank. I also enjoy Thursday afternoons when my cleaning lady arrives. She gives the place a good scrub down every week and she indulges my need for chatting. I’m glad she at least tolerates my eccentric sense of humor.

Overall I’ve done okay during this pandemic. Sure I get lonely sometimes. But that’s why I have a cell phone and my facebook account. But, since I sold my car back in 2019 I’m able to save some money as I don’t have to buy gas or change oil. Once I found I could get my groceries delivered and get amazon delivery, usually within two to three days even in my rural town, I no longer had much of a need for a car except for emergencies. My drivers’ license is due to be renewed this summer. I’ll probably keep it updated just for emergency purposes. I tend to get sensory overload with my mental illness. And I felt that made me unreliable as a regular driver. Since I can already get most things delivered to my house, I really don’t need a car. Even my small town now has a few Uber and Door Dash drivers. As I can stay home with fewer problems, I’ve managed to avoid getting sick so far. Hopefully only a few more months until I can get the vaccine.

Christmas and Pandemic and Mental Illness

We’re now only a week away from Christmas. My elderly parents and I both think travel is too risky this year. I guess I quit keeping track on where the worst outbreaks were. My town has been having outbreaks to where I don’t even leave the complex anymore. I bought a couple boxes of masks for management to hand out to shut ins and people who can’t get masks. I’m glad they got the supply issue on those figured out. Also picked up some disinfectant spray last time I bought groceries.

Had a Zoom call with my psych doctor a few days ago. I’ve been stable enough that we decided not to change anything. I talked to him for at least twenty five minutes. I see him again in two months. I sometimes have momentary flare ups. Haven’t been as bad this week as last week.

I’m having fewer aches and pains these days, even when I wake up. My flexibility is slowly coming back. I’ve been lifting weights three times a week. I plan on doing this for the rest of winter.

As far as my plans for Christmas, my cleaning lady said she would bring a plate of food. I will be calling my parents, my brother’s family, and as many friends as I can. Most of my friends are pretty stressed this holiday season. My friends in Omaha are looking for a cheaper apartment. Both had covid back in September. My friend in Denver is looking to buy a house in a rural area. Housing is overpriced in most urban areas. And her neighborhood has gone really bad within the last ten years.

I’m glad I don’t live anywhere near a city center if things are going to be this bad and stressful. At least in a small college town I can disappear and blend in and still be in a pretty safe town. Living in a small town (less than 40,000 people) several hours away from any major metropolitan areas, I think we’ve avoided most of the problems with the protests and the early outbreaks. We’ve had shortages on some supplies, namely cleaning supplies. And for a few weeks during the summer we had shortages on frozen meats after the outbreaks at several large packing plants. But it was easily managed with a little planning.

Some people got complacent in the early months when it was mainly urban areas having the most problems. But it was only a matter of time before the virus made it to the rural areas. I haven’t been to the hospital since the pandemic started. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant either. With Door Dash being in my town, I probably could get any fast food within reason delivered. But as it’s been three years since I had even a Big Mac, I guess I lost my taste for fast food. Fast food no longer agrees with me. I usually get upset stomach when I eat things like that.

But now that the vaccines are being given, hopefully the end of the pandemic is in sight. 2020 has been a dark year for most people. I’m thankful I haven’t had as many problems as most people even if I rarely leave home anymore.