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.

Inspiration and Bringing To Light The Things Done In Secret

Even though I’ve been feeling hopeful and optimistic overall during the last couple weeks, I still don’t socialize in person much. Then again, that could be why I’m optimistic. While most people have been allowing themselves to be bombarded by constant bad news, I’ve been making efforts to figure out what is actually going right. My entire life I’ve heard that the world was messed up and we would collapse back to the Stone Age any day now. It really messed with my head when I was growing up. It was one of the reasons I preferred to spend most of my days alone in my backyard. I’d spend hours on end out there pacing through the cedar and cherry trees making up stories. I’d made up stories of heroes, future worlds where we solved most of our current problems (like climate change, poverty, war, disease, etc.) and were exploring outer and inner space. I never read comic books or science fiction novels as a kid. The nearest bookstore was over an hour drive away. Most people in my hometown thought “The Simpsons” and “South Park” were morally degenerate but war movies, westerns, and crime dramas were “wholesome family entertainment.”

As I didn’t have much inspiring hope in me as a kid, I had to manufacture my own. Granted, this was in the years before youtube and binge watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix. My best friend from my teenage years (the same lady who is my best friend even now) was probably even more alienated and an outsider than I was. I could at least fake enthusiasm in things like watching sports and politics I didn’t agree with. And I still do, mainly as a mechanism to appear like one of the crowd. I am actually more effected by the reactions of my family and friends to things like politics and our team suffering a losing streak than I am the politics and losing itself. Sadly, social media only amplified this.

Yet, I’m still thankful that enough people had the vision and ability to make social media work to bring it to the world at large. Sure, it was painful seeing sides of people I had known my entire life I would have wished I never knew existed. But I also found out who were really cool people I could count on in times of crisis. I may have lost lots of friends over the last several years, but I strengthened others in the process. Social media and the last few years of social unrest and change have really driven home the fact that most people have the friends they have, not because of shared interests and values, but due to lack of options. I have often had more acceptance and friendship from strangers I’ll never meet in my various facebook groups than I experienced from some people I have known since childhood.

Social media also allowed me to find out who the really toxic people were in my life. Once I gave up trying to talk sense into these people, I cut them out of my life. It was a tough process, but one that was worth it. People like that have always been toxic. It was just in previous eras this toxicity would have never been made public knowledge. These may have been the types of people who were pillars of the community in public but beat and shamed their children and spouse behind closed doors. One positive about social media is that is exposed the con artists and liars for what they are. People like that could have gone entire lifetimes being such and would have probably never been detected. The people who can be aware of how messed up those in power and in our own social circle can be are figuring it out. We don’t necessary need an entire population of citizens aware of how bad they are being cheated by those in authority that have never cared about them. Just enough to force changes are necessary.

Sometimes all it takes is the actions of only one really dedicated individual to inspire others whom in term inspire others. I mean, does anyone know who Gandhi’s brothers and sisters were (without going to wikipedia)? Or Isaac Newton’s? Or Greta Thunberg’s? Or Martin Luther King’s? Short term, fear and hate usually win. Long term, it is usually love and hope that wins out. Sure we have our problems and always will. But that doesn’t mean that progress is in illusion. I absolutely despise people who believe progress isn’t real and that even individual people can’t change. I’ve ended friendships over these attitudes. I spent my entire childhood being bombarded by negativity, pessimism, and fear. I will never go back. Hell, I feel like I was cheated by my elders for trying to steal my optimism and hope. They may have fought to take my hope and crush my spirit and kill my creativity. But they failed and they failed miserably. If anything, they made my resolve even stronger. And I’m not unique in this regard. I imagine every city, town, village, cross roads, tribe, etc. all over the world has at least a few kids who were “hopeless dreamers” who refused to be “practical” in spite of the negativity and punishments of their elders. And many of these kids grew up to be the adults who made positive change possible in their own ways. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are often the ones who accomplish just that. In short, now is probably one of the lousiest times in human history to be a pessimist who naively clings to comfortable lies of the past. It is also an awful time to a tyrant so seeks to divide people and rule through fear.

Hermiting, Covid 19, and Schizophrenia

Been isolating and staying home for the last several days.  I do all my communication through social media and phone calls.  My cleaning lady had to have surgery so she’s out for probably a few months.  My neighbors come by and help out every few days.  Overall I’m burned out on dealing with people in person.  People actually scare me anymore.  The less I deal with them, at least in person, the better.

Currently working on audiobooks.  Recently listened to The Economic Singularity by Callum Chase.  Currently working on The Rise of The Robots by Martin Ford.  A friend of mine is trying to talk me into reading the Dune and Foundation series.  I read the first Foundation a year ago.  But I got soured on science fiction as a teenager when movies like The Terminator, Gattaca, and The Matrix were really big.  I have enough dystopia in my own life.  Why in the hell would I want to escape to that?  Recently read 21 Lessons for the 21st Century and Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harrahi.

I spend almost all of my time avoiding people.  These are real scary times for me, especially living in low income housing, being on disability, and dealing with mostly angry, irrational, and illogical people.  It seems like most people I personally know just want to fight all the time.  I’m through with that.  I’m ready to move past the anger phase.  Too bad almost no one I know is.  I am thankful I don’t live in a large city.  I am thankful I can hermit and stay home.  I am thankful I don’t have to deal with angry and stupid people anymore than I already have to.  I don’t see how most people can deal with this.  I know I couldn’t.

April 2 2020

Went to bed right after sunset last night.  Must have slept for over 10 hours.  I had some groceries and medications delivered yesterday.  I have some more groceries coming on Friday morning.  So far I haven’t had a problem getting food.  Cleaning supplies, especially Lysol spray is a different story.

There are now at least a few cases in my town.  Don’t know much else about details.  As far as I know, no one in my complex has gotten ill.  I still haven’t gone out in public since mid March.  I check in on my neighbors every day.  I usually just call them or knock on their door and chat for a minute or two.  I still lift weights.  I can feel the old strength starting to come back.

Been watching an ancient history series on Netflix the last couple days.  Halfway through the series right now.  I think I’m going to watch The Men Who Built America this weekend.  History Channel put out some pretty good series about 8 to 10 years ago.

I have my cleaner coming this afternoon.  Even during a crisis, the place has to stay cleaned up.  I usually just sit in my recliner just to stay out of her way.  She seems to enjoy chatting while she works.

I still talk to my mom and dad every day, usually in the mornings.  My brother and his wife often work from home now.  A friend of mine and her husband are both working from home now in Omaha.

I saw that like six million people in the US alone have filed for unemployment.  Certainly tough times for lots of families.  None of my friends have had to file yet.  A friend of mine in Lincoln has been having coughing and fever for a few days now.  Since she works at a pharmacy she has been taking sick leave.  She was wearing face masks and gloves in public weeks before it became a thing here in the US, especially as she takes public transit to work.

One of my neighbors is planning on planting a vegetable garden once the weather warms up for good.  My mom has already put in a vegetable and flower garden at her house in Oklahoma City.  Most homeowners I personally know are doing this.

Been kind of lazy about reading traditional books this week.  I am reading a lot of online articles even though I try to avoid the news.  Not much I can do besides stay home and wash my hands several times a day.  Been buying groceries more often but in smaller batches.  I don’t buy for two weeks at a time anymore.  I have plenty of non perishables already.  About all I need to buy any more is fresh meat and vegetables.

I saw that the feds approved a stimulus check for most US citizens.  I don’t know if I’ll get a check.  But as I’m debt free and can do alright on my disability pension, I have no clue what I’m doing with it.  Won’t get much letting it sit in a savings account.

Self Quarantine: March 28 2020

It’s raining and overcast in my home town.  On the surface it looks like a typical early spring day.  Not much traffic on the highway outside my place.  Bought some cleaning supplies yesterday.  Been doing more reading these days.  Contacted a few family members I hadn’t talked to in a while.

Still holding on alright mentally.  I haven’t left my apartment except to pick up deliveries in almost two weeks.  Been watching a lot of comedy and history channels on youtube the last few days.  I try to check the news only a couple times per day.  I’ll have to drop off my rent check in a few days.

Still sleeping a lot.  But sleep is good for the immune system.  And having to avoid people doesn’t bother me as much as it would most people.  Overall things are still going alright.

Improvements and Accepting New Realities

Been sleeping more the last several days than usual.  I had been gone weeks where I slept no more than 3 hours at a time.  Now I’ve been sleeping longer but I don’t wake up as stiff and sore.  Maybe the weight lifting and healthier diet are beginning to pay off.

Overall, I feel decent physically.  I have fewer unexplainable aches and pains and I get better quality sleep than was my normal the last several weeks.  I changed my diet too.  I no longer drink soda pop, not even diet.  I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  I occasionally go meatless for a day or two to give my guts a rest.  I lift weights three times a week.  I don’t sleep in my recliner as much these days.  Overall, as the weather has warmed up I have started feeling better physically.

Mentally I’m doing better.  I still occasionally have issues with irritability and depression.  Fortunately they usually pass after a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I still don’t socialize much, as I am still a little paranoid about dealing with rude and angry people.  During the winter, there were days it was bad enough I didn’t even want to socialize with anyone even online or over the phone.  I don’t call my family as often anymore.  But when I do, the conversations usually last longer and go more in depth.  I still call my parents at least once a week.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer days.  I have my windows open most of the time now, except when it rains or we have bad winds.  I leave my drapes open except for when I sleep.  I don’t watch much for tv anymore, haven’t since New Year’s.  I spend much of my free time reading, watching educational videos, listening to audiobooks, messing with my computer, and participating in my tech enthusiasts’ groups on social media.  I don’t socialize with even close friends as much as I normally do.  I still drop in on them every few days.  But it seems like most of my friends have just been having problems lately, whether with work or relationships.  Since most of my friends are in the age range of mid 30s to early 40s, I imagine many are going through mid life problems now.  I have so far managed to avoid the mid life crisis.  I had my crises in my mid to late twenties.  It was in the 2004 to 2008 years that I painfully had to realize my schizophrenia and anxiety would never allow me to hold a long term job, get married, have children, have any kind of prestige, or any kind of money.

At one time, namely 2006, I had the goal of finding my niche and being off disability before 2015.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Here it is in 2019 and I am still on disability.  But I have come to acceptance in that regard.  I had to change a lot of priorities and completely reexamine everything I was taught and believed over the years.  I came to realize that people are defined by their careers only because they allow themselves to be.  We were brainwashed since childhood to believe a human’s worth was in what they did to earn money.  I had to find out the painful way that there is far more to living and life than earning money and working.  It was only then I came to realize the obvious: the most important and influential work in the world is not paid or even respected by many people.  That work is, of course, being a parent.  The second most important job in the world is being a friend and support to other people.  I will never get to be a father, but I can be a friend and support person with the best of them.  And this is alright with me.

Even though I will probably never have much for money or any kind of prestige or be in any kind of romantic relationship, I am alright with all of this.  I made my peace with this several years ago.  Having a mental illness made me face my limitations and accept that I had to adapt.  I will never become the scientist I wanted to be as a child, but I am alright with that.  I have found my niche as a blogger, friend, support person, and confidant.