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.

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.

June 22 2022

Been in my current place for two weeks now. Had a roommate move in after a few days. We now have our own wheel chairs, so I’m getting out more often. Spent some time outside today in the flower garden at the entrance. I still can’t walk very well. I can do well enough to get into the wheel chair and get to the bathroom. My food intake is a lot less than it was previously. That alone means I’m probably losing weight. I think covid is making a bit of a comeback as I’ve been tested twice just in the last week.

The food is alright. Most of it seems homemade and we have quite a variety. I’m not doing physical therapy. With as shot as my legs are, I probably won’t make much progress in terms of walking until and unless I lose a lot more weight.

Most nights I sleep alright. Didn’t sleep well last night. My roommate accidently left his tv on overnight. Listened to more infomercials than I cared to.

Currently in my wheel chair. I’m going to try to stay in my wheel chair until bed time. Most nights I’m asleep by 10pm and up for good around 6am. I have meds twice a day, usually with breakfast and supper.

I played some cards earlier in my stay here. I shower twice a week and shave twice a week too. I think my beard days are behind me. Mentally have been pretty stable, more so than when I was living alone. I play lots of computer games and listen to lots of audio books in my free time. Since I don’t have to go to physical therapy, I have more free time than I’m used to. I haven’t eaten restaurant food or had soda pop in over a month. I certainly could go for a double cheeseburger and a Coke sometime soon.

I won’t be having visitors until around the Fourth of July holiday. I hope they bring some treats. Since I moved into long term care, I’ve been eating more balanced meals, more vegetables, and some more sweets. My roommate’s wife brings him candy bars and diet soda occasionally. I don’t have anyone within an hour’s drive to come visit me. I think the nearest Pizza Hut to my facility is a twenty minute drive. I definately live in a small town again. So small it’s eerie quiet and dark at night.

April 12 2022

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote. Updates are in order. Spring is here but we haven’t gotten much rain. With as windy as it’s been, we’ve had lots of wildfires in my state this spring. The weather is slowly warming up, but it’s still chilly at night.

Baseball season started last week. I have a fantasy league team again. I’m in a league with a couple college friends and some of their former coworkers. Been in this league for 15 years now. So I usually watch a ballgame or two during the evenings.

Been staying up later and waking up later. Most nights I don’t fall asleep until midnight. Wake up for good around 9am. I sleep in my recliner only half of the night anymore. I’m having fewer aches and pains again. They were pretty bad a couple weeks ago.

Mentally I am still stable. I don’t leave my apartment very often. I do visit my neighbors a few times a week. My cleaning lady arrives every Thursday. She helps me with laundry now too.

March 16 2022

Feeling pretty decent the last few days. My joints are hurting less. Haven’t had to take any advil for a few days. I still spend most of my time at home. I read and watch educational videos most days. Renewed my Netflix several weeks ago. I often watch Spanish language shows with English subtitles. I think some of my Spanish is starting to come back.

I sleep half of the night in my recliner and the other half in my bed. Half of the time in bed, I lay on my sides. First time I’ve done that in a few years. I almost rolled out of bed a few days ago. I’ve lost enough fat that sleeping on my sides is easier now. I’m not sure how much weight I’ve lost since the pandemic started. I know it’s at least 80 pounds as that is where I was during my last doctor’s appointment back in October. I don’t have any immediate goals for health and weight loss other than I eventually want to get back to my old college weight. That will take at least a couple more years.

Yet the weight loss doesn’t feel like drudge work. The biggest changes I made were giving up bread, sugar, fried food, and most fast food. I haven’t bought bread in over two years. Haven’t had even a Big Mac in almost five years. Most fast food is too greasy and salty for me anymore. Upsets my stomach too. Most of my diet is now grilled and baked chicken, pork, vegetables, and soups. It’s easier, at least for me, to cook healthier meals now than even five years ago. It also helps that I’m cooking only for myself as I live alone.

Even though my aches and pains are reducing, my mobility hasn’t come back as quick as I would like. So, my family and I hired someone to help me with my laundry on the weekends. I just provide the coins and laundry soap, she supplies the labor. Even though my mobility is all but gone, I’m glad to be getting help around my house. Makes me glad I was helpful to others in my younger days when I was still quite healthy. See, kids, it pays to not be a jerk to people.

Don’t have any real plans for St. Patrick’s Day even though I’m 20 percent Irish. I’m just glad that winter is about over.

March 10 2022

Got several inches of snow over the last couple days. Been really cold too. Haven’t left my apartment in over a week except to accept grocery deliveries. I still talk to friends and family on a daily basis. I still sleep a lot but I usually sleep only a couple hours at a time. Been feeling more aches and pains again. I just want to stay home all the time anymore. Sometimes I don’t even want to eat. I try to avoid the news anymore, even online materials. Bought some extra groceries. Who knows how high prices are going to get. Gas is close to $4 a gallon in my hometown and we are below national average. I guess it’s a good time to be a hermit and away from most people.

Feb 20 2022

Been warmer than usual for the last several days. Supposed to get real cold starting tomorrow morning. I’m actually looking forward to it. Gives me an excuse for not feeling guilty about not wanting to leave my home. Probably just stay home, make cheese soup, and read for the next several days.

I’m feeling less aches and pains all the time. The only real bad time is in the mornings. My knee pains are all but gone but I still get lower back pain after sleeping for several hours. I got a new mattress a week ago. It’s firmer than my old one and a lot easier to get out of. I usually stay up late now and sleep until 9am.

My best friend found a new job. She has to have security clearance and can’t take her phone into her office. So I haven’t gotten to talk to her much in the last couple weeks. I miss our chats but I know this job is better for her than most of the jobs she’s previously held. She too has problems with anxiety and depression.

I think I’m continuing to lose weight. I don’t have the same appetite I had even six months ago. I’m able to make my groceries go farther. I still get winded if I have to stand for several minutes at a time. I’m also not as heat sensitive as I used to be.

Mentally I’m stable. I’m not having flare ups as often. I still do better taking people one at a time and in short time periods. I hear from my neighbors at least once a day. I still call my parents several times a week.

Been kind of lazy about reading the last several days. I always seem to read more in cold weather. Been watching lots of documentaries about America before the arrival of Europeans lately. Same with the old Silk Road.