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.

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.

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.

Things I Learned In The Adult World I Wish I Learned In School

With graduation being only a few weeks away, I thought I’d compose a list of things that I learned as an adult that would have made my life easier had I learned them while in grade school and high school. Here goes:

How to invest in the stock market

How compounding interest works

How to have an argument without resorting to insults and violence

Sometimes being “just good friends” is better than a romantic relationship

How to spot biases in news stories and journal articles

How to really listen to people

How to convince people of the validity of my ideas (Hint: facts and statistics almost never work)

I wish I paid more attention in junior high home economics

I wish I paid more attention in shop class

No one is going to ask to see your grades unless you’re trying to get into grad school, law school, medical school, etc.

Things change

Take care of your knees

The only language some people understand is force

There are truly wealthy people who dress in Wal Mart clothing and drive Dodge Ram pickup trucks

There are lots of people living paycheck to paycheck who drive BMW and wear Louis Votton

If you are wrong, apologize and move on. Don’t keep bringing it up.

It is possible to pay too much attention to a love interest. What you call being attentive, they may call being clingy.

Adults don’t know everything. They are just better at bluffing.

Having a job isn’t as bad as your parents and 7th grade teacher told you it was

You probably aren’t being judged as much as you think. Most people are too busy with their own lives to notice.

Eye witness testimony isn’t always reliable.

Sometimes bad people really do get what they deserve.

Some of the most admired people are sometimes the worst human beings in private

You can have just as good a time with pizza and cheap malt liquor as you can champagne and caviar.

You can have an even better time at your nephew’s sixth birthday party then you can any frat party.

No, it doesn’t make sense that a wedding takes a year to plan but a funeral can be planned in less than a week. But it doesn’t matter. Roll with it

It is impossible to predict human stupidity

Most people don’t read books or even newspapers after leaving school

Most people can get through life hap hazardly. But it won’t be a life that makes a difference to even your friends, family, and coworkers

Some people are better off not marrying

Some people are better off not having kids

Some people are better off not working a traditional 40 hour a week job

First impressions do matter but aren’t always accurate

Being a liar and a hypocrite works only when most people aren’t liars and hypocrites.

And, most people aren’t liars and hypocrites.

I have more in common with the working class of rival nations and religions than I do my political leaders and business tycoons

Life is a competition and a game, but in the end it all goes back in the box.

Money in itself isn’t evil but can be easily abused.

Poverty in itself isn’t virtuous.

Long hours and obsessive commitment won’t insure riches. They are the bare minimum.

You can be rich in money but poor in free time.

The graveyards of the world are full of people who could never imagine the world without them.

There will always be people who fight against progress.

The past was a real lousy place for anyone who wasn’t rich or in the religious or cultural majority.

Progress isn’t guarenteed

Machines and robots will eventually take most jobs

Time speeds up with age

I Don’t Socialize Much In Person, But I Don’t Feel Lonely Or Isolated

Spring has finally sprung. I’m glad to see the end of winter. My aches and pains have been essentially non existent the last several days. Most days I’m asleep by 10pm and up for good by 5am. I’m back to listening to audiobooks again after a few weeks of vacation I still have no desire to socialize in person. I do talk to friends and family a few times a day. But I spend most of my time alone.

I’m still losing weight, at least as far as I can tell. I can stand for longer periods of time now. I have fewer aches and pains. Things are going alright on that end.

I’m still afraid to socialize in person. I’m also scared to leave my apartment. My paranoia keeps me at home most of the time. I’m just scared of people anymore. I just don’t know how to read them anymore. It’s far easier for me to socialize over the phone and online than it is to socialize in person. The pandemic hasn’t been as tough on me as most people. I love that I can socialize online and on the phone. I love that I can get my groceries and medications delivered to my home. I love that I have a cleaning lady comes to my place once a week. I love being able to make payments online. I enjoy streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Absolutely love my Audible audiobooks. Sometimes I can spend hours at a time listening to audiobooks while playing computer games. I even love doing my doctors’ appointments via Zoom calls. I have too much sensory overload to be a safe driver anymore. Haven’t driven a car in almost three years. Saved me lots of money and headaches. I now know that my car accident several years ago spooked me real bad. It killed my love for driving.

Even though I’m afraid to socialize in person anymore, I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. It’s always been really tough for me to find people with similar interests. It’s gotten tougher the older I got. Most of my old friends have families and careers, so their ability to socialize with me is at a minimum. I haven’t seen my friend Matt since 2015. I haven’t been to a family reunion in probably ten years. I’ve been outside of my town only once since the start of the pandemic. While my physical world has gotten much smaller the last few years, my mental world has gotten much bigger. I probably spend six to eight hours per day reading, watching documentaries, and just learning new things. I’ve learned more history, economics, philosophy, science, etc. since 2015 than all the years before that.

One of the things I enjoy about being in my forties is that I no longer feel pressured to conform to others’ expectations. If I don’t want to leave my apartment for days at a time, I don’t leave my apartment. And I no longer feel any shame for wanting to stay home. I didn’t use to be a homebody. When I was in my teens and twenties, I preferred to spend time at my friends’ houses. I went roadtripping with my college friends every summer in my twenties and early thrities. I started becoming a homebody about five years ago. And the pandemic has accelerated this trend. I no longer feel like eating in restaurants or going out in public. I know many people feel like I’m missing out on life by not going to movies or sporting events or restaurants. But I don’t feel that way. I just hate being forced out of my home.

Even though I don’t have a paying job or a family, I don’t feel incomplete or a failure. I have, on average, written one blog entry per week over the last nine years. While it doesn’t have much of an audience, I still love doing it. I see no reason to quit doing this. It has given me more meaning in my life than any job or dating relationship ever did.

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.

I’m Ready For Some Good News

Been watching the news online on and off all week. Breaks my heart that we made it through a pandemic only to have a major war. While I managed to make it through the pandemic and am thousands of miles away from the war, the last several years have taken a toll on me. I’m more or less house bound anymore because of my mental illness and chronic pain. At this point, I don’t even want to leave my house unless absolutely necessary. I’m too discouraged and disheartened to interact with most people in person anymore. I still hear from my neighbor across the hall several times a week. Maintenance was in my apartment to replace my intercom a few days ago.

All of this discouragement and anxiety is taking a toll. I am afraid of most people anymore. I am afraid of having a mental breakdown in public. I am afraid people will pick fights just because I may not agree with them. I know only a handful of people (myself included) who haven’t gotten covid. Even my brother has had it at least twice. I’d rather not talk to a therapist about all of this. I just want to vent to friends and family. Therapists are neither. I don’t need therapy. I need the support of real family and friends. Therapists are a poor substitute for both.

I am, like most people, spending more of my budget on groceries. Prices on everything have gone up. I’ve had to change my eating habits to make the budget work. So glad I no longer have a car. I get sticker shock every time I go shopping. Can’t even remember the last time I bought ground beef, let alone steak.

I’m scared of socializing. I’m tired of being forced into pointless drama. I’m tired of everything going wrong all the time. I can understand why monks and scholars have voluntarily isolated themselves from the rest of the world for thousands of years. I more or less do just that, even if it is just my apartment. And I’m content and happy with it. What bothers me is that most people I know can’t understand why I’m happy to be alone all the time with my books and computers. I have never enjoyed social gatherings or workplace parties that much. I don’t even like watching sporting events anymore. They just lost their appeal for me. I wouldn’t even do fantasy league baseball if not for a few friends. And now the baseball season may be delayed because of a lockout. I swear nothing works like it’s supposed to anymore. I’m just ready for some good news again.

End of Holidays and Sticker Shock

Another holiday season has come and gone. And we are now in full winter. Supposed to get some snow in my town tomorrow night. Makes me glad I have enough supplies I don’t have to go out.

This was kind of a let down holiday season. I spent Christmas alone as I told my parents I didn’t think it was safe for them to travel several hundred miles when the pandemic was picking back up. The case numbers have skyrocketed in my country. So I stay close to home most days. I haven’t seen my family since Thanksgiving. I can hardly wait for this pandemic to burn out.

I drop in on a couple neighbors at least once a day. Found I have a new neighbor a couple doors from me. She seems nice. Seems like we’re getting more and more younger people in here all the time. I was the youngest when I moved in 15 years ago. There are plenty of residents older than me but only a handful who have been here longer than I.

Found out my internet bill went up this month. Cancelled my cable several months ago because of price increases. Cancelled Netflix too. I watch mostly youtube and Amazon Prime. I get most of my news reading free online journals and newspapers. I definately suffered some sticker shock the last time I bought groceries. I’m looking for ways to cut expenses. I can’t really increase my income without social security disability cutting back on benefits. I definately do not want to lose Medicaid right now. I’m sure my three week stay in the hospital would have cost a fortune if not for Medicaid.

I keep myself occupied by reading books, watching educational videos on youtube, and reading online journals. Currently working on a Ray Dalio book. I’m not sure what my next project will be.

December 27 2021

Another Christmas has come and gone. I spent this one alone as I was afraid of having my elderly parents travel several hundred miles to see me on Christmas. First time in my life I spent Christmas alone. My cleaning lady was kind enough to drop off two plates of traditional Christmas dinner. She does this for all of her clients who are shut ins. I stayed home, listened to Christmas music while playing computer games, and watched the old movie ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’ It could have been worse. I friend of mine and her spouse spent Christmas sick with the flu while their neighbors suffered from covid.

This month has been warmer and drier than usual this year. We’ve had snow only twice in the last eight weeks. So it’s been drier too. Supposed to get cold this weekend. New Year’s Eve has always been one of my favorite holidays. Something about the old ending and the new beginning has always appealed to me. I used to go to local concerts on New Year’s Eve. I always made a point of leaving well before midnight to avoid drunk drivers.

Still lifting weights three times per week. I’m starting to sleep less too. Most nights I go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake up at 5am. I got a new cpap machine so I’m good to go on that for at least several years. I’m still losing weight as my clothes are looser and my endurance is increasing with each passing week.

I still talk to friends, neighbors, and family at least once a day. Even though I spend most of my time at home, I’m not lonely. I drop in on my neighbor across the hall once a day on average.

Been lazy about reading the last several days. I guess it comes and goes in cycles. I’ll probably start back up by the end of the year. I still have the Audible account. I probably won’t give that up anytime soon.

Been more paranoid than usual the last several days. Probably from the lack of sleep. My illness seems to get worse when my sleep patterns change. Sleep has always been good therapy for me.