Dealing With Loss, Isolation, and Declining Health

Haven’t written for a few days.  I’m only now recovered from the holidays.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it’s 2020.  I am understanding why my grandmother said that time only goes faster the older you get.  I’m going to be 40 this summer.  Mentally I don’t feel any decline.  If anything, I feel mentally sharper and stronger than ever.  Physically, my body can no longer keep up with my mind.  It’s been this way for a couple years now.  I would love to be able to road trip and visit friends in person and go to concerts and ballgames at a moment’s notice like I did in my late 20s and early 30s.  But the body can no longer keep up.  I don’t know how much of it is aging, how much of it is the toll of two decades fighting a severe mental illness, how much of it is being overweight, etc.  At this point I guess it doesn’t matter either way.  I am pretty much content to stay home, chat with my old friends online, read my books, mess with my computers, and watch the events of our time and place unfold from my apartment.

Found out right before Christmas one of my college classmates died.  He was only 40.  He worked at a mental health hospital and was a compassionate man.  I hadn’t talked to him much since graduation.  I’m glad we found each other on facebook and were able to reestablish contact shortly before he died.  And then just yesterday I found out another college friend’s cancer has come back.  This time it’s terminal.  The doctors told her she has two to five years at most.  Starting to lose my own friends now.

Seeing most of my friends struggle financially has taken a toll on me.  And now that most of them are in declining physical and mental health and even starting to die is making this only worse.  It has gotten me to think about my own mortality far more than ever.  At my last doctor’s appointment, I was relieved to find I was not diabetic.  The only real problem they found was high blood pressure.  I no longer have much for stamina.  That’s one of the reasons I stay home so much.  Going out in public is now enough of an ordeal that I no longer enjoy it.  Add to this that most people I know are more stressed and short tempered than ever, I have no want to leave my apartment.  I have enough problems of my own to catch an ear full from my neighbors and landlord.  Sometimes I get in trouble even just staying at home.  Most people in my complex think I’m moving out or getting evicted because I never go out in public anymore.  Naturally, lots of rumors are going around.  No I’m not moving.  As far as I know, I’m not in danger of being evicted.  Though for the last few years I’ve lived in near constant paranoia that I was.  It’s mainly because most people are just so angry and short tempered constantly.  It didn’t used to be this way.  I actually used to enjoy socializing.  Then three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other in 2014 and 2015.  From there my social life fell apart.  Other than a few neighbors, I literally have no friends within a fifty mile radius.  I don’t think most people know or care how tough socializing is for a middle aged man with a disability and no immediate family nearby.  I just keep to myself anymore.  I would rather be alone than have to fight with neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers all the time.

Day After Christmas 2019

It is December 26, 2019 as I write this posting.  I had a rough go a few days right before Christmas.  I had to postpone my holiday plans as I was having some flare ups with the illness.  Even though I spent Christmas Day at home by myself, I made a point of calling my family and getting in touch with friends via phone and social media.  Got to chat with my brother and his kids and find out what they got for Christmas.  I rescheduled my family Christmas for this weekend.  But we’re supposed to have winter storms this weekend, so it may be getting postponed a second time, perhaps until New Year’s Day.  Fortunately there are lots of college football games this weekend.  So even if we do get the several inches of snow and ice and bad winds, I can stay home and watch football.  I just hope the power doesn’t go out.

I don’t have much planned for the next few days other than get ready for the storm and watch some ball games.  In addition to watching a few games already, I have been thinking over the last twelve months.  2019 hasn’t been as eventful as some years, at least not for me.  I did sell my car, I have employed a cleaning lady who has dropped in once a week, and now one of my neighbors is helping with my laundry.  My neighbors drop in a couple times per week and we just check in on each other.  I had my annual physical checkup in early December.  I didn’t lose weight (like I had hoped), yet I didn’t gain weight either.  I don’t know if I stayed steady because of the change of diet and regular weight lifting or what.  I did start on a blood pressure medication.  After a few weeks on it, I notice I feel less tense and am starting to become more active again.

Mentally I kept largely to myself even though I have felt less paranoid and anxious than previous years.  I have had a few flare ups over the last twelve months, but they seem less intense than in previous years.  I still sometimes call my parents and just blow off steam.  I feel guilty for it even though my parents seem to be understanding.  I admit, I have an amazing family for support.  Even the extended family of cousins and aunts are very understanding.  I’ve been doing this blog on a regular basis for six years now.  I’m more comfortable talking about my issues now than I was even when I started this blog.  I certainly didn’t feel comfortable about talking about my problems twenty years ago, not even really to family.  I started having problems when I was seventeen and a junior in high school.  At first I was hoping it was merely teenage angst and anxiety.  Turns out I was wrong.  After using regular medical treatment and therapy for almost twenty years, it is easier to talk about my problems.  I have moved past the acceptance part and now advocating for others besides myself.  I don’t know how long I will get to live, but I plan on talking about these issues for a long as I can.  For awhile I was thinking about starting a youtube channel where I do voice overs just talking about mental illness.  I am still a little leery about broadcasting myself, but not so much my voice.  I hope that mostly paranoia talking.  A friend of mine has a youtube channel featuring her art work and she’s tried to convince me to put some of my thoughts to video instead of just print.  I didn’t get around to it in the 2010s, but who knows what opportunities the 2020s will present.

December 5 2019

Been on my blood pressure meds for a few days now.  I notice that, oddly, I don’t need as much sleep the last few days as previous weeks.  Instead of sleeping for five to six hours at a time, I usually sleep only three to four.  Yet I feel just as rested.  I’m also awake longer in the overnight hours.  Woke at 1am last night and stayed awake until sunrise.  Then went back to sleep for about three hours.  Felt fine afterward.

I’ve noticed I can concentrate on projects longer now than previously.  I wake up with fewer aches and pains.  This evening was the first time in three days I took anything for aches.

Had some laundry done on Wednesday.  My cleaning lady arrived this afternoon.  I might be hosting my neighbors as guests sometime this weekend.  My place is cleaned.  My rent is payed for the month.  My groceries are restocked.  And I’m ready to face the weekend.

Weather has been good for the last few days.  It’s been sunny during the days and cold at night.  Most of the snow from last week is melted.  I heard horror stories from my friends about road conditions over Thanksgiving.  A friend of mine in Denver said they had two feet of snow there.  A friend in South Dakota said they had a blizzard on Thanksgiving weekend.  Kind of glad I didn’t travel for Thanksgiving this year.

Saw my parents early this week.  They dropped off some things and helped me get things rolling on my annual physical and seeing if I can get maybe a home health aide to drop in on me every few days.  As far as the physical goes, my blood pressure is high.  I’m not surprised as it runs in the family.  I’m now on a blood pressure med.  I’ll have a follow up in probably six weeks.

 

December 3 2019

Had my annual physical checkup this morning.  Sadly I haven’t lost any weight since last year, yet I didn’t gain any either.  The really strange thing is my clothing fits better than even last year.  I don’t know if it’s because I gained muscle or if I’m just delusional again.  I started on a blood pressure medication.  Not surprised as my dad has been taking blood pressure medications for over thirty years.  My lab results will be coming back in a day or two.  The big things I got taken care of was the new blood pressure medication, new prescription for a cpap machine, got the paperwork going to try to get some home health aide programs, and just getting everything up to speed again.

I had a physical back in summer 2018.  Shortly after I developed serious agrophobia.  I got to where I was fearful of driving.  I finally sold my car several weeks ago.  I heard it went to a good home.  I got to where I wouldn’t even leave my home most days.  I was just that fearful of being out in public.  And just spending time at home no doubt made my physical health worse and led to the paranoia and phobias just building on themselves.  When I was out in the parking lot waiting for my ride to the doctor’s office, I had two residents who thought I had moved out.  No I haven’t moved out.  I am just home bound most days.

Things have been going down hill for me for right on five years now.  I had three good friends die within six months of each other.  They all lived in my complex.  Then I had another friend die in 2016, also in my complex.  I had my car accident in 2015.  That was the beginning of the end of my road trips.  After that car accident, I went into a deep depression and gained well over 100 pounds in three years.  I had a few rounds of physical therapy.  But that car accident really took most of my confidence.  2016 and 2017 were even more depressing as I had falling outs with most of my family and friends, mostly over politics and religion.  I am still not on speaking terms with much of my family or some of my old college friends.  The whole thing has become a mess I am too overwhelmed to deal with.

I tried to talk to an old friend about toning it down some, but he wouldn’t have anything to do with it.  Told me it was my fault for being so sensitive and triggered.  Well, screw you!  If we as a civilization have gotten to where we no longer care about friends’ emotional health and generally don’t care about empathy, then I want no part of it.  I don’t understand people who care more about politics and religion than their oldest friends.  I never will.  Hell, I don’t want to understand people like that.  The only real positive that has come out of everything falling apart for me is that I got to find out what friends and family were genuine and which ones were frauds.  Sadly I lost most of my friends and don’t talk to most of my family besides my parents and a couple cousins.  Yes I said frauds.  If you care more about your precious damn politics than you do friends and family, you are a fraud.  End of discussion.  This is not open to debate.  You will not be responded to.  You were never a good person.  I’m glad you are out of my life.  Don’t ever come back.

Early Thanksgiving and Changes

Hosted my parents for an early Thanksgiving celebration last Sunday.  They brought the food and I provided the place.  They spent most of the day here.  I also received a stationary exercise bike from them.  Since they are moving to a suburb and are getting rid of some of the things they have no need for now, I got an exercise bike and a couple desk chairs from them.  Used the exercise bike a few times already.  It’s good to be exercising regularly again.  I had fallen out of the daily exercise habit after my back started flaring up a few months ago.  I was pleasantly surprised that peddling on a stationary bike doesn’t hurt my back like walking does.  Used to be most of my exercise was walking in the park or old downtown.  I would usually walk the hallways in my apartment complex when it was too icy or cold to walk outside.  But I’m starting to feel more decent after only a few days of regular exercise again.

While I enjoyed hosting my parents for Thanksgiving, it was also a bittersweet gathering.  That was the last time I get to see them when they are living nearby.  Even as much as I don’t like driving, I could still get in my car and be at their house in less than two hours.  But now that they are moving I won’t be getting to see them on a whim.  At least until I find a low income place that’s not in a tough neighborhood.  I may have to find a place in a small town nearby if the places in the city and the suburbs are too questionable.  I have been lucky to have had the good luck with low income housing that I have experienced in the last twelve years.  I’ve been fortunate to have good managers who will quickly and decisively deal with people who don’t pay the rent or are troublemakers.  I don’t have any true complaints about my complex.  I can be left alone when I want to be.  I can socialize when I want to.  And most people don’t give me problems and I try to avoid being a problem for others.  It’s seemed to work or I wouldn’t still be here after twelve years.  The only place I’ve lived in longer than my current apartment is my childhood home.

I haven’t bee out much for the last few days.  I guess I’m still adapting to my parents moving to be near my brother and his family.  I hope to be joining them eventually.  But right now I probably won’t be making any moves, at least not until the end of winter.

Wanting To Socialize Again

We got several inches of snow over the weekend.  Of course with it being mid April the weather warmed up again within a day or two and I didn’t have to shovel my car out of the snow.  Hopefully it will warm up for good now.  Been spending too much time indoors and avoiding the cold for the last few months.  And I think I’m finally getting cabin fever because of it.  Took four months but it is finally starting to creep in.

I admit to staying home and not getting out much this winter.  Other than a few days at my parents’ house in February I haven’t been outside of my town this winter.  I’m glad my town is big enough to have everything I need and good delivery service.  Yet it’s small enough it’s easy to navigate around when I’m inclined to want to drive.  After many weeks of not wanting to leave my complex, I am now the total opposite.  I want to get out and about.  I think I’m getting burned out on phone calls, computer games, internet research, keeping in contact via social media, etc.  I am ready to get out and interact in person again.  I’ve spent enough time hibernating in my “cave.”  I need to get out and about again.

 

I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

whybenormal

My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.