Some Updates

I realized its been a few weeks since my last entry, and that is a good and a bad thing. Not too much relating to my journey has happened, positive or negative. I just keep plugging away, and not paying attention to the numbers on the scale but rather all the things I can do now that were not possible less than a year ago.

Most of you that follow me on Facebook have seen that I have been pretty successful at adding new strength and cardio exercises at the gym. I am loving the new variety, and my confidence at trying new machines that seemed intimidating or foreign. Just in the last couple weeks, I have tried the arc trainer, the rowing machine, and the regular exercise bike, along with adding in three leg machines. The arms are going well, with the exception of the bicep curls. For some reason, those just seem to kill my arms, especially my left one. This may be just me, or it may be due to a trait that the Martino men have where we can not fully straighten out our arms. I may try the machine another time or two, and then if I still am feeling too much pain I will discontinue it and perhaps find a replacement.

Meals and eating have gone well, and I treated myself last week by purchasing an air fryer that I found on sale for a great price. I am excited to try it. I think tomorrow night I am going to make chicken breast tenders and brussel sprouts in it! If it works, I will post a picture of the finished products! For those unfamiliar with them, air fryers are like mini convection ovens where you cook or “fry” all sorts of things with no or very little oil, so it is a lot healthier for you. With my oven not working that great, this will be nice to have some crispy food again!

To get a little down on myself, there is one issue that is causing both physical and mental trouble. Below the extra skin of my stomach apron is a bulge between my stomach and inside left leg. This area has been around for quite some time, and is most likely the source of my lymphedema. However, with my weight loss and ever-shifting body shape, the bulge is more pronounced than ever. I can only wear certain pairs of shorts out in public now because it sometimes comes through the legs of them when I sit down. The only real long pants I have for everyday wear are sweats, which I do wear every time at the gym now, but are not great during these summer months. I have a couple inexpensive pairs of lightweight active wear pants on order from Walmart and should get them next week. The physical trait is not only a burden for getting around in certain situations, I have become so self-conscious about it and just catching a glimpse of it makes me want to cry. Unfortunately, this is part of what I will have to wait to have removed surgically until I have been at goal weight for about six months, so I am guessing I will have to deal with it for at least another year. I’ll take flabby arms and thighs any time, I just can’t wait to get rid of this problem. It’s crazy how large and heavy it is!

This Monday I go for my next round of eye injections for the swelling, and then the following Monday I see my NP and psychologist at the weight center. There I will definitely inquire about a prescription to help me sleep. Most nights I am still averaging only about 4-5 hours, and that is usually broken up into segments. Brightness, temperature, etc, do not seem to make a difference. I have tried so many natural remedies that I think it is time for the strong stuff, at least on a temporary basis.

I think that is about it for now. I apologize for not writing sooner. I love you all, and your continued support and encourage still amaze me every day!

Diet & Exercise Appointments

Wednesday this past week I visited with the dietitian and exercise physiologist at the Weight Center. Both visits went fairly well.

Jessica, the dietitian, went over all my medications, fluid intake, diet, and everything in between. Interestingly enough, I discovered I had been taking half of the recommended amount of calcium citrate, but because the kidney stone was most likely caused by too much calcium, she said to keep doing what I have been doing. She did confirm that I can now try things such as bread, brown rice, and pasta, as long as they are whole grain and I eat my protein and vegetables first. I am going to start out slow, but it will be nice to incorporate some more variety into my life.

Truth be told, the visit with exercise physiologist Lori was more interesting to me this time. It was nice to hear that I am making the right kind of progress, even with my setback with the kidney stone. She likes that I am easing into new things and not pushing myself as much. She thinks that my plan to do about an hour at the gym 4-5 times a week is good instead of the 90 or so minutes I was doing before. I did find out that I was doing exercises in the wrong order. I should be doing some kind of cardio warm-up before doing the strength training, something to get my muscles and joints moving. So that is why today I did the treadmill, then arm machines, then the recumbent bike. She also says that shorter times on each cardio machine will make it more diverse and allow me to play with things like speed and resistance more often. She likes that I am working on things like incline and going hands-free on the treadmill as well, working them in a little at a time rather than during the whole routine. I have to say today I went hands-free for several shorter periods, and I was a little sore, but nothing like I was the last time where I could not bend over for 48 hours afterwards!

We also discussed adding in leg exercises, and so next time I am at the gym I am going to try those along with some cardio. She recommended starting with the leg press first a couple times to see how I like it, and then slowly add in leg curls and leg extensions. She said to add one at a time so that if something doesn’t work for me, I know which one it is. We talked about other machines as well, but those are designed to concentrate on specific areas of the legs, so she said let’s master these first and then get more specific if we need to.

I am also going to add the rowing machine into my cardio rotation soon, so that I have three different exercises to choose from and don’t have to do the same thing every time. And, I will also try the Planet Fitness 30-minute express workout soon as well, as that has a little bit of everything and should be low-impact enough to not hurt myself on any machine. Lori also told me that I can do chair squats if I have a day that I don’t feel like going to the gym, or just want to get a little something in at home. Once my whole apartment mess is resolved I will get into those.

Just like my surgeon, I am blessed to have a team of Jessica and Lori that celebrate all of the victories and benefits I have achieved apart from the scale. It is so nice to have such great support. I won’t see these two for three whole months (unless any issues arise), and it will feel strange not seeing them for that long, but that also shows that I am getting better and stronger in my journey.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend. Nothing exciting here except laundry tomorrow LOL! I love you all!

Six Months Post-Op

I can not get over the fact that six months has gone by since my surgery, and all that has happened in the last year and a half. It still amazes me!

I saw my surgeon today for follow-up, and lets get into the numbers:

Heaviest known weight: 558 on 12/31/15

Surgery weight: 438 on 1/3/17

Today’s weight: 360

78 pounds gone since surgery, and 198 gone forever overall! Surgeon is very happy with the progress and my health as a whole. He said my surgery scars are healing very well. He also said that I may have a small hernia near the belly button that we will keep an eye on. It does not hurt, so he said it may just be where my belly button comes in. Nothing to worry about at this point.  We talked about my kidney stone, and he did say that both kidney and gall stones are common after bariatric surgery, so he advised definitely keeping up on the fluids. My funniest moment was when we were discussing my lymphedema and the stomach apron, and he said that we will probably have to look at surgical options to remove the excess skin. I said yes, but inside I thought, “Duh!!” LOL!!

I wanted to tell you that I have gotten a big mood boost the past week to ten days with residents of my apartment building. I have had about a half dozen in that time tell me how good I am looking, even seeing me about 5 days apart. My one neighbor on this floor didn’t know I had the surgery, and when I told him all the details, he fist-bumped me and said that the effort is definitely showing, that he is noticing all the time, and to keep up the great work!

I have also noticed that clothes are continuing to fit differently, and all my flab and extra skin is constantly shifting, so I am positive I am losing inches like crazy. As I was discussing with my sister-in-law, I am quickly learning that that and my health are a better gauge of what is going on than the numbers on the scale. I have noticed that it hurts to sit in certain positions more often because my tailbone is more exposed. I have some back pain which I have not had before, and have found out that is common as well.  I bought two 2X shirts yesterday at Meijer, and even though I don’t think I am ready to wear them outside of the house, I could get them on and it is only a matter of time before they fit beautifully! The stomach apron and all the extra skin around my upper legs and thighs are really getting inconvenient sometimes, even though I know they are good signs. I know I am probably at least a year off from that type of surgery, but it will be such a blessing when I get it! I make my own soundtrack when I walk from parts of my skin slapping against other parts LOL!

Wednesday I see the dietician and exercise physiologist, and it will be interesting to hear what they both have to say. I know that at six months I am able to add back in some bread and such, but I want to very careful and cautious about it, and only add the right things. I also want to talk about strength training exercises for my legs and working those in so that maybe that will have some impact on the flab. I see a few machines at Planet Fitness that look interesting, but again I want to make sure I am doing the right ones. I will also ask her opinion on the 30-minute express workout at the gym, and see if she thinks it would be a good idea a couple times a week just to mix things up.

Also coming up this week on Thursday is Orientation and Assessment for the county door-to-door transportation, even though I have started using it. Supposedly it should not be a difficult appointment, and then he will approve me for transportation for a couple years. Hopefully there will not be any problems there.

Happy Independence Day tomorrow to all of you. For me this year the day is taking on a different meaning as I am going to celebrate my independence and getting my life back. What an unbelievable journey it has been so far, and it is far from over!

Love you all!

Healing

Good afternoon everyone. I am recovering fairly well from my kidney stone procedure this past Wednesday. The first couple days were a little touch-and-go with pain and sensitivity in that area down there, but for the most part that has gone away.

I will be calling the urologist early next week for a follow-up appointment, and there I hope that they determined what caused the stone, and maybe some ways to prevent more in the future.

I have to give a quick shout-out to Beaumont Health. I have had almost everything performed by them in my journey (except for Wound Care and my initial time at Detroit Receiving in the beginning). All the staffs at Taylor, Troy, Dearborn, and Wayne have been incredibly friendly and helpful. I never expected to not be so nervous in an OR, as I still have traumatic thoughts of all my surgeries as a child, but the nurses and techs have all made me feel relaxed, have treated me with respect and dignity, and made me as comfortable as the situations could be.  Because of my past, I still get very nervous in pre-op, but then the actual experience never is as bad as I think it will be. After I have left each hospital, the staff from the floor or center has called me the day after to make sure I am doing good and if I have any questions, and I have received thank you cards from the staff in the mail. The one from this week actually have everyone’s signature that I came in contact with, and they wrote who they were (recovery, pre-op nurse, etc). That little gesture means so much. Maybe other hospitals are doing this now, but Beaumont is the first I have seen. Great patient care and customer service!

I am still not very happy about having to remove the two-foot long stent at home, but I am sure I will get through it okay. It’s funny because the nurse said it does not feel as bad as having a catheter taken out, but then recommended taking a pain pill thirty minutes before LOL. Not exactly reassuring! I was supposed to do it Monday, but my home help worker Yvette does not believe I will be able to access it on my own because of the extra skin hanging from the stomach, so she will help me when she comes on Tuesday. She definitely deserves some recognition – she has been a blessing so many times!

I have stayed safe and decided that I will wait until a day or two after the stent is removed to resume going to the gym and such, as hard as it is stay away. I just don’t want to cause any issues in that area and make things worse somehow. I am going a little stir-crazy though!! I can’t wait to feel more active and vital again.

Elsewhere, some things are coming together, and I am still in limbo on others. I filled out the necessary paperwork May 31 for the Department of Health to cover my Medicare transition, and have yet to hear anything back. If I don’t by mid-week, I will start stalking my case worker again.

However, I did get another deferment/forbearance on my student loans for a year, so that is good. And, I turned in my updated information to the housing commission yesterday, and it looks like no issues there. I also asked about relocating to another public housing area, and she said that after October, I just have to give 30 days notice, and that it is okay to get on other waiting lists now. So, my next big project is researching locations and then maybe trying to see them in person. I really wish I could pick up this building I am in and just relocate it to a more central area, ha-ha!!

Thank you for all the prayers and thoughts last week, that love made all the difference for me during this new experience. Love you all!

Obsession

Good Afternoon!

Just a brief note to catch everyone up on more of my journey. The most difficult part of this for me has to be not putting too much stock in the numbers on the scale. I’ve written about it before, and I have been better mentally, but it is still extremely challenging. I just expect more dramatic results, but I forget that I came so far before I ever had the surgery, so my body will be different.

Anyway, I try to weigh myself with my home scale once a week, on Wednesdays. Last week I missed it because that was the beginning of my not feeling well and the trip to the hospital. I weighed myself yesterday, and my weight was the exact same that it was two weeks ago, to the ounce.

I was, of course discouraged. The numbers have been at a stall for quite some time it seems. But, then I had to remind myself that considering what I went through last week, this was actually pretty good. For three days, I probably only consumed about 500 calories or less due to stomach pain and the hospital’s crazy diet. I was also very short on protein and water consumption those days, which can impact things as well. Plus, in the hospital, I was pumped with IV fluids and anesthesia for some of the time. That can also cause gain. So, to remain steady over that time really isn’t the end of the world.

And, there’s more. There are certain cargo shorts that I prefer to wear because the longer length looks better with my legs. Unfortunately these are still from the more expensive big and tall online store. Anyway, I had been wearing size 4x in these, and I took a big chance and ordered two pairs of 2x, thinking that I could use them eventually. They came on Saturday, and they actually fit!! From 8x to 2x in under a year and a half! Also, my home help person still insisted that I am losing, so we measured the inches around my waist yesterday, and I am down 1.5 inches from the end of March!

So, my body is still responding, just in different ways. Hopefully the scale will start reflecting it soon, but at least I know that I am still headed in the right direction.

Just had to share my victories from this week. Love you all!

Heck of a Week!

Most of you reading this also follow my posts on Facebook, so you know all that has happened this week. But I wanted to put it all in writing in one place, and give you all the juicy details, whether you wanted them or not LOL!

At the gym Tuesday morning, I conquered another fear and hurdle and tried the elliptical machine for the first time. It was for only about 5 minutes, but it was a start. And, I determined I am probably not quite ready for it yet. In fact, the maximum weight it would let me enter was 350, so I think I will hold off on returning on it for a little while yet. However, it was a great feeling knowing that I could do something else!

The next day, Wednesday, I was up early around 4 or 4:30 with lower left abdominal pain. I thought it was another reaction to something I ate, or how fast I ate it, even though I could not really think of what the culprit would be. I went that morning to County DHS to fill out the new healthcare application so that I can hopefully transition to Medicare smoothly. My home help person Yvette that helps with the lymphedema pump therapy took me and then we came back for the pump. The whole time I was not feeling right. She left around 10:30, and no matter what I did or what position I was in, the pain was still there. I called the weight center around noon, and they could of course not diagnose over the phone, but recommended that if the pain did not go away, it would be wise to go to the ER. That afternoon, I felt slightly better, and tried laying down for a couple hours. Once I got up, I was still in pain and not sure what was going on. Food and water was staying down, but I could tolerate even less than my new normal. I tried a protein bar around 5:00 pm, but could only finish about half.

That was it, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. I was mainly worried that it was something related to the surgery, such as an ulcer or a leak, both of which I heard are not easy to deal with. So, around 6:30, I got my stuff together, and since I technically could still walk and did not want to make a scene, I requested a ride from Lyft! The driver was great, and we were laughing that I was his first passenger that ever used the ride sharing service to go to the ER! My decision to go was so spur of the moment that I didn’t even tell any family or friends that I was headed there, I just went.

According to records, I was checked in at 6:55.  Beaumont Hospital Dearborn has a set up that after you check in with insurance and such, they call you back and you go from one bay area to another. First checking vitals (BP was 191/78), another for EKG, another waiting area, then lab work, and then finally a family waiting area where the lab tech said that it would probably be a while before I was taken to a bed, but by the time I get back there my blood work would be completed. I waited in that separate room for over an hour while all sorts of people were coming and going. I was then called back, but it was just to verify more information from my record. I think I finally got taken back to a bed between 8:30 and 9:00.

One of the bad things about this ER is that it is in the basement/ground level of the hospital, so once you go inside, it is pretty much impossible to make a call from your cell phone. I could occasionally send text messages, but even those had to be resent several times. I had no idea about this beforehand, so I could not call anyone.

Immediately they gave me morphine and nausea medicine, and ordered a CT scan with contrast. The hospital pharmacy took over two hours to get the contrast drink down to us, so more waiting. Because of the gastric bypass, I only had to drink half the usual amount of it and water because it processes through my system quicker. I think I finally got transported to the CT around midnight. That went pretty smoothly, the techs were very nice. The hardest part always for me is keeping the IV arm straight above the head, and sometimes holding my breath at points during the scan.

After another hour or so, the doctor came back and said I had a kidney stone. She initially thought I would be released to pass it on my own, but a couple things made them decide to admit me. First of all, my resting heart rate kept dropping randomly, sometimes into the 30s. I felt fine during this, so we were all very confused. That, and come to find out, my stone was higher up than normal.

So at about 5:00, after 10 hours in the ER, I was transported to a room on the 6th floor. The transport person said she would let the nurses know I was there. I thanked her, and said on the side of the bed and waited. And waited. And waited. I had to take my chances and use the rest room at some point because I couldn’t hold it in! Finally, around 6:00, the nurse Cynthia comes in and says, no one told me you were here! She said she went on a break when she found out I would be coming up there, and when she got back no one said anything to her. Finally, she said something like, my patient never arrived, and they said, yes he did he’s been here for a while! Not exactly the best first impression in the world!

The next couple hours are kind of a blur, you know, the usual getting settled into a hospital room routine. I remember having a very dry mouth, having not really eaten or drank anything for over 12 hours, but I was restricted to just ice chips, which turned out to be a blessing. The nurses also gave me kayexalate to drink because my potassium was elevated, I believe 5.5. That stuff is nasty, and it makes you extremely gassy!! I also had to call my housing commission, because I had an appointment for the recertification at 10:00 am that day, that I obviously could not make it to. I will call them tomorrow to reschedule.

Around 10:00 am, the urologist comes in and explains that I had two options for the stone. They could send me home to pass it on its own, but because it was so high up, it would take two to three weeks and I would be in severe pain and on pain meds the whole time. Or, they could go in and put a stent in my ureter that would stretch it, and basically allow easier access to the stone when they go to remove it in a week or two. We both agreed with plan B. He said, I think we can fit you in today, and anesthesia will like that you have not had anything to eat or drink. Within an hour, the nurses came in and said that transport was on its way to bring me down to pre-op! This was crazy! I am used to procedures and hospitals, but I have to admit I was feeling quite overwhelmed as all of this new stuff was happening so quickly. They even had me sign the consent forms for the procedure downstairs. Once I got down there, they wasted no time as the doctor was basically in the OR area and waiting. They had to do a quick blood test to recheck my potassium level, and it was down to 4.4, so the procedure was a go!

I think a team of about 5 people brought me into the OR, and they now have a raft-like device that you lay on while you are on the gurney, that when it comes time to transfer to the surgical table, it kind of inflates below you and allows the team an easier way to transfer the patient. Boy that was a strange feeling! Once on the table, they went to work right away, and the anesthesiologist had me take a few deep breaths, and that was all I remember. When I was awake again, I was still on the table and the same anesthesiologist said that everything went well and I did great. Another ride on the raft, and taken to post op area. I did not have a very groggy feeling at all, and the one thing I noticed was that my abdominal pain was pretty much gone! I stayed in recovery for probably an hour, mainly because there were several patients who were not having as easy of a time as I was.

I think it was between 1:00 and 1:30 when I arrived back upstairs. I felt pretty good, and calm considering the whirlwind that I just went through. This hospital has a room service ordering system for meals, so the nurse told me to call down and order something, and that Dietary would tell me if it was not bariatric friendly. So I called down to get a salad, and the person says that I am not allowed to order! My nurse didn’t know that for bariatric patients, trays must be ordered and we cannot get room service! So, finally I get some food in me. It turns out that all bariatric patients there get put on a soft food diet, regardless of where they are at in their journey. I couldn’t even get condiments or pepper for my food. It was yucky stuff!

One thing when I got up to the room that morning that I was happy about was that I had the double room to myself, and I had the bed closest to the windows. After being in the pit of the ER all that time, it was great to see sunshine and sky! Alas, when I got back from my procedure, I was getting a roommate! I knew I couldn’t be that lucky!

A couple symptoms of the procedure that are happening, and that I was warned about, are extremely painful urination, as well as blood in the urine.  For the first day or two, I was almost scared to go because the pain was so intense. But, that is almost gone by now, and as for the blood, that ebbs and flows. Just when I think it is done, the next time I go there is more. It makes sense, but is not fun to see or experience.

Sometime before or after the procedure I also saw a cardiologist. I explained that I had no symptoms of dizziness or such during the low heart rates, and that when I exercise, my rate still increases to normal physical rates. He said that he wanted to do an ultrasound of my heart to make sure that the heart rate was not a manifestation of something else going on. Just after dinner on Thursday night, transport comes to take me down to radiology. That test went pretty smoothly and without any incidents.

So, back to my room by 6:00, I had the whole night to think to myself and wonder what exactly was going on! I talked to a few friends and family over the phone, which was great because it gets pretty lonely in that room. When I wanted to watch TV, my roommate had his volume turned up so loud that I had to put the speaker/remote right up to my ear in order to hear what I was watching!

When it came time to try to sleep, one hurdle I had was no CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. But I asked for some oxygen and tried to sleep sitting up thinking that I would sleep because I was so tired after no sleep the night before. Well that was a pipe dream. The nurses had to wake up my roommate for blood work and vitals often, and he left that TV on loud even while he was asleep himself! I was so mad and frustrated. I think I turned my TV on around 5:00 am and gave up on trying to rest.

The urologist came in fairly early to let me know that things went well during the procedure, and that their office will contact me about scheduling the next one. I verified that it would be back at the hospital. He said from a urology standpoint, I was okay to go home. So I just had to wait on the cardiology clearance.

By the way, Dietary messed up that morning and never delivered me breakfast because someone had taken me off the bariatric diet in the system, so I did not get my first meal until about 10:00!

It took forever to hear that my ultrasound came back clean, and even longer to see a cardiologist to verify that I could go home. I think my nurse was finally going over discharge instructions with me around 3:00 pm. I have to follow up with the urologist and cardiologist in the next week or two. I was given two different pain medications, one for general pain, and the other for bladder pain, as I was warned that I might feel pain in my back near that area. I was also given Cipro for three days, as well as Flomax to take for a month. I am proud to say that I have not taken anything stronger than Tylenol since before the procedure.

Being that I was at the hospital by myself and there were so many unknown variables, I had to try to find a ride home once I knew about what time I would be released. Fortunately, my best friend Rae came through again, and I left the hospital about 47 hours after I arrived in the emergency room. It was so nice to be home and also to have some real food. I took something to help me sleep, and got a good 7-8 hours of rest, which for me is downright amazing!

So now for the better news. Saturday morning, I took my time getting up and having breakfast and such, and when I was ready, I headed to the gym to attempt the 5K on the treadmill. I made sure to clear walking and resuming regular activities with my doctors and nurses. So, I got on the treadmill, next to the one that is my favorite because that one is almost never available anymore, armed with headphones, towel, 32 ounces of water, and a protein water to drink halfway through. And I did not push myself too hard. I took it nice and gentle, even slower than what I was originally planning. I did the first 2.12 miles in my 65 minute routine. I drank the protein water, and started up again slowly for that last mile. And I did not feel too bad, a little tired but not wore out or in pain. Once I realized that I was actually going to complete it, I had to try really hard to hold back tears of joy! I couldn’t believe that I actually accomplished this goal, especially with what I had just been through. It was such an amazing feeling, I had a smile on my face for the whole rest of the day!

Funny side story: When I go to the gym, I like the least amount of things in my pockets as possible, so I always keep my wallet and keys and such in my gym bag. Well, I didn’t realize it until a couple hours after I got home, that I never had my wallet with me at the gym! It was on the counter from coming home from the hospital, and forgot to put it in my bag. Thank god nothing happened to me and I didn’t need it!

This coming week will be a week of transition. I have several calls to make in the morning to schedule different things. It will also be an easier couple weeks at the gym. The nurse recommended not doing weight lifting, which makes sense because it might aggravate my affected areas. And, I am thinking that it might not be all that comfortable on the recumbent bike seat in my current condition. So I will go and get on the treadmill a few times. And I will continue to go a little slower than I was, just to be on the safe side.

Once I get the date of my next procedure, I am probably going to see if someone can be at the hospital with me for it. I have to find out if they think it will be an outpatient event, or if I should plan on an overnight stay. The nurse said that may depend on what they actually end up having to do during the procedure. I just think I will feel more comfortable knowing that someone is there waiting for me, and especially if I will be able to go home afterward.

I am so sorry that this is so long, but I just felt the need to get it all out. This has become so therapeutic for me, as well as an inspiration to many of you, that I want to include everything. I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for all of the prayers, support, and encouragement this week and always! Love you!

Some Updates

Happy Sunday everyone! I wanted to take a little time to update you all on some things going on in my life that are unrelated to my weight loss journey, but still playing with my mental game. I have so many things coming to a head in the next month or so.

First of all, I go this Thursday to my housing commission office for what they call annual recertification. I have to basically bring proof of my income (or lack thereof) and bank information to make sure they are still charging me the correct amount for rent. It shouldn’t be too big of an issue, but not fun nonetheless.  I have a lease for this location through this October, and since I want to move to a more central location to friends and family, I will ask them about how to proceed so that I can move out when a spot comes up on another location’s waiting list.

Another issue is my student loans, that are coming off of the latest deferments. I had to resend my information to hopefully continue deferring payments last week, and hopefully that gets processed ASAP.

My bigger concern coming up is regarding my health care coverage. As most of you know, I am on Social Security Disability and have state Medicaid coverage. It has been a true blessing, as 95 percent of all of my costs have been covered through this journey. Anyway, I got a notice a little while back from Social Security saying that I am now being switched to Medicare Parts A and B as of July 1, and that I will be responsible for the premiums for Part B. I was very surprised, but after calling them, I learned that everyone who has been on Disability for 24 consecutive months gets switched over to this. They also said that my state Medicaid should cover the costs of the premium. Everyone told me to contact my DHS worker to ask her what I need to do in order to not lose any of my services, including prescriptions, home help, and transportation to medical appointments. After numerous calls that were not returned, I finally talked to her this past week. She said I have to go to her office and fill out a new health care application (even though I am already in the system), and write “QMB” on the top of the form, and she will process it. That stands for Qualified Medicare Beneficiary. So, I am going on Wednesday to fill out this paperwork, and hopefully she is correct, and I will be all set. I hate to lose all this wonderful care that I have been receiving from all of my doctors.

Now, onto happier news. I got the letter yesterday that I have been approved for the door-to-door transportation that I applied for with the county!  I get to start using it now, and have to schedule an orientation and assessment so that my approval can be extended beyond August 31. I will call on Tuesday to see how the reservations work, but I am very excited to be able to use this to go the gym and some other places. Now, I will be able to do cardio one day, strength training the next, and so on. I am planning on making the gym 5 days a week (schedule permitting).

I want to leave you with a non-scale victory from Friday. I fit into the front passenger seat of a Ford Mustang convertible! And I got the seat belt on without any issues! And it was not too hard getting in and out (actually easier getting out than some of the back seats of some sedans I have ridden in)! My best friend Rae got the car last summer, and I always had to use the other vehicle, but we tried it Friday and were so happy! It really is things like this that make my journey so special, and so worth continuing!!

Thank you as always for reading, especially me ranting on some off-topic subjects LOL! I love you all, and look forward to seeing some of you next Sunday to celebrate my 5K. If you did not get an invitation, and would like to come, please let me know!