kevyn: (Default)
( Feb. 25th, 2009 07:36 am)
Yesterday, I went to my first state-mandated physical therapy session.

Since I am having difficulty standing and walking -- the pain in my knees and feet is fairly intense, about a 4-5 on a 10-point pain scale, and rising to 8 (or higher!) when the gout kicks in -- and this is preventing me from working, the state has mandated that in order for me to continue to receive benefits, I must go to physical therapy.

So, I'll be going to physical therapy twice a week for the next few weeks. Fortunately, Bellingham Physical Therapy is near my home, in the same strip mall -- Sehome Village -- as my grocery store, Haggen. That's convenient!

Being forced into PT is a good thing. It gets me out of the house, it forces me to get some exercise, and, of course, the exercises are supposed to help me stand and walk freely again.

I am sure these people at the physical therapy place don't quite know what to make of me. The Physical Therapists (PT) are people who are all about movement and physical fitness, and here I am, the complete opposite: laziest, most sedentary slob they have probably ever encountered. Most of their clients are people who were injured on the job, or have suffered sports injuries.

Me, I'm just a a giant fat guy whose knees and feet are giving out, because of his sheer size and sedentary lifestyle.

Still, I have to admit I enjoyed the session. Bellingham Physical Therapy is a teaching institution, where student doctors come to get hands-on training for PTs. My PT was a handsome and buff young guy (mid 20s?) from the University of Idaho named Jon. Originally from North Dakota, Jon has to be a Swede -- very pale, blue eyes, blond hair and eyebrows, just a few shades redder than Albino, fine pale hair on his well-muscled arms, nice big package. What can I say, he made for nice eye candy. Not my usual type, but very pretty to look at. Oh, please grow a beard and take me, you handsome Viking.

While he examined my knees, legs and feet, determining which bones and joints were causing trouble, a senior staff member sat in and watched him work, occasionally asking questions of me. I got the feeling she was kind of disgusted by me, having let my body go to waste like this. He did a much better job of hiding his judgements than she did. Whatever.

After the examination, they determined what the course of treatment would be. The goal is to get me ambulatory again, though exercises and weight loss. The gout will have to be taken care of by my MD, and I need new shoes and orthodics, but they can help with the arthritis in the knees, the knock-knees, and the ankle weakness. Since walking is my preferred form of exercise, they are striving to get me walking actively again.

After showing me some exercises they want me to do every day -- and I will! -- they said they were starting me off slow and would work me up into a more rigorous regimen over time. They've scheduled me to come in twice a week over the next few weeks, and since my medical coupon covers it, it's nice -- kind of like going to a gym, except that I don't have to pay for it, it's not super overwhelming the way a gym is, and I have hand-on personalized attention every time I go. Which, for me, may be exactly what I need to start getting exercise.

After the session, they put me on the stationary bike for 15 minutes, and told me they wanted me to do this for 15 minutes each time I come in. Okey by me, it felt a lot less stressful than a gym. Then they gave me the standard lecture about the dangers of smoking, and sent me home.

We'll see what happens over time with this!
kevyn: (depressed)
( Feb. 5th, 2009 04:22 pm)
So, today is the third consecutive day that I haven't been able to leave the apartment, because of my swollen foot and ankle. One thing is very clear -- my next apartment MUST be a ground floor one, because if these kinds of attacks continue to get worse as I age, and my joints continue to degenerate, then I am going to find myself more and more trapped in the apartment, unable to navigate the flight of stairs. I can't even do simple household tasks that require going down the stairs right now, like taking out the garbage and recycling, or checking the mail.

I've eaten no meat protein today, and have finished the last of my black cherry juice. I need to get someone to go to the store for me again.

And I still don't have any painkillers, and I don't know who to ask for help?

Each day that goes by, I am giving up more and more, surrendering to this life, a shut-in invalid. I am going to be forced to file for Social Security, and all of the things that means to my future.

Part of me believes that I deserve no better.

OK, I got to remember to take my antidepressants every day... I can tell I'm slipping after a couple of days.
Because WTA isn't running today, I asked my friend [livejournal.com profile] seespikerun to drive me to the ATM, and then to Haggen to get some groceries and smokes (I got my January disability disbursement from DSHS today -- time to pay rent!). I went to the WECU ATM on campus, because it disburses $5 bills. One of the bills was another Where's George bill:

http://www.wheresgeorge.com/report.php?key=47c30628b392d52d1b5b2b678589280bc3ec236dcabcfa19

Cool! I gave it to Alex to pay him back for the $5 I borrowed from him to buy cigarettes last week.

Where will it go next?
So the temperature finally rose above freezing, and the falling snow turned to rain. Which is good for washing away much of the accumulated snow, but turns everything into a sloppy, slushy mess -- and when it freezes again tonight, it will be dangerous. But for now the streets are clear, and it's warmer, so I decided to brave the slush in order to run some errands. It's the first time I've been out of the apartment for days.
Click for more Christmas Eve adventures )
I got a notice from the state: based on my knee and foot problems, they're reinstating my short-term disability benefits!

YAY!

This means three very important things can now happen: 1.) The monthly benefit is just barely more than my rent, so going forward I will be able to meet my rent! 2.) I can now go to the Opportunity Council with proof of income and plead for help from their eviction prevention programme to cover the back rent and late fees, and 3.) I get a breather in the stress of worry about eviction while I look for suitable sedentary work.

This is SUCH a load off my shoulders. For the time being, I don't have to fret about paying rent while job-hunting, or worry about being evicted.

Thank you, DSHS!
One of the reasons I have been having so much difficulty in finding a job is that the joint problems I have in my knees, ankles and feet limit the kinds of jobs I can take. Most of the readily available menial jobs in Bellingham -- fast food, retail, custodial, day labour -- are not jobs that I can do, because they require standing for long periods of time, and walking, bending and squatting a lot. I'm capable of working desk jobs -- within the limits of my mental health issues -- but those jobs are very hard to come by in the current job market. As I am fond of saying, I graduated from university at the end of August, just in time for the economy to tank.
Read more... )
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