Joy in September

Hi everyone. How is it the end of September already? I pretty much forgot the month is almost over, but since it is, it’s time for me to write an update on my word of the year: “JOY”. I am linking up with Lisa’s One Word linky.

September started out with good news, as, on the very first day of the month, I heard that I was first on the waiting list for what I now refer to as the prospective new care home. This gave me some renewed energy, but also stress. I was warned that the wait might still be six months or so. “That’s super quick,” my husband said. Well, those who’ve read my blog over the past couple of weeks, know that it’s gone even quicker: tomorrow, I am to decide whether I want to move to the home and, if I want to (which I do), I’ll move next Wednesday, October 5.

Considering this, the whole month of September flew by in a bit of a haze, in which I was both hyper with excitement and overwhelmed with worry. I am still both as I type this post, in fact. Consequently, I hardly found any clear moments of joy that were just that. After all, things I did feel delight or joy over, were also laden with some level of anxiety or anticipation. For example, at my husband’s and my visit to Ikea, I was thinking about what to buy for the new home.

The month of September, of course, was also the month my iPhone and Apple Watch got their updates and I got really used to my Apple Watch. For the first few weeks of the month, I was compulsively moving to get far beyond my activity goals. This past Friday, my dietitian did caution me against it. The next day, with some emotional struggle, I let a day go by when I didn’t fill all my rings. That seems to have broken the cycle, as I’m now able to be a bit easier on myself. For example, yesterday I was sick to my stomach all day, so really didn’t feel like exercising. I am relieved I am able to permit myself these days now too.

For the month of October, I am of course looking forward to enjoying real food, as the staff at the new home cook homemade meals everyday there. I am also hoping to enjoy visits from family, as I have a few planned already for the first week at my new home. Other than that, I am expecting to have a lot of getting used to at the new home, so I’m just hoping to enjoy some everyday pleasures.

Gratitude List (September 16, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. Right now I’m very hyper because of some really great news I just received. I’ll get to that at the end of this gratitude list, so you’ll have to be patient (or skip ahead). As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful with this post. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for my improved physical fitness. My cardio fitness level according to my Apple Watch is still low, but it’s slowly creeping up. My heartrate recovery is within the “good” range though. Granted, the watch only measured it after brisk walks, since I can’t run.

2. I am grateful for eggs. The guy from the care home next door to ours who has chickens near the day center, lets me check for eggs during the weekends when he’s home with his family. On Saturday, I found one. Then today, he gave me one just because he wanted to.

3. I am grateful the orthopedic shoemaker finally gave in and is going to get me completely orthopedic shoes rather than the semi-orthopedic ones I had been struggling with for the past two years. The semi-orthopedic shoes kept giving me blisters even after he adjusted them many times. For the fully orthopedic shoes, the shoemaker’s coming to measure my feet and make an imprint or whatever in early October. From that point on, it may still take six months before I get the actual shoes, but oh well.

4. I am grateful the orthopedic shoemaker finished repairing one of my regular walking shoes. For those who don’t know, the fronts keep getting damaged within weeks due to my drop foot. Now the shoes are at the main institution, where normally only a transportation guy picks them up to bring them to Raalte once a week on Thursday. The staff here are trying to send someone out there to pick them up on Monday.

5. I am grateful I decided to buy an extra pair of walking shoes.

6. I am grateful for new clothes. I went shopping for them on Wednesday. I bought two jeans and a blouse.

7. I am grateful for iOS 16 and WatchOS 9. I decided to update on Wednesday after all. Both have a few bugs, but not that many that they cause serious problems. Particularly, I am grateful that, after all sound disappeared from my Apple Watch after the upgrade, a restart (with sighted assistance) solved the issue. I am also grateful not to have encountered the bug so far that causes VoiceOver to stop working after restarting your iPhone.

I am grateful for all the new features with WatchOS 9. I love sleep phases and heartrate recovery like I mentioned. I also love that the Translate app on iOS is now available in Dutch too.

8. I am grateful I am doing pretty well on the fitness challenge I participate in this week. I have consistently maintained a position in the upper mid range, around 25th out of 107 participants.

9. I am grateful for a great weight loss result today. I lost another 0.9kg. Last week, I’d lost the same amount. I’m now 66.5kg, which is pretty awesome considering when I came to the care facility I was almost 10kg heavier and I’ve lost over 5kg since starting my food plan in January. I do realize I need to make sure I’m not overdoing it with exercising or I’ll gain all the weight back once the weather’s not so good anymore and subsequently I’ll lose my motivation to walk.

10. I am grateful for some sunshine today. We had rain too, for which I’m also grateful, but I’m happy I could go for some walks outside in the sun.

11. And now on to the great news… I am grateful the main institution home I’m on the waiting list for has a room for me real soon. I will be orienting on Wednesday and the Monday after and, if then I decide I want to move there, moving date has been set for October 5! Remember it’s up to me and, if I don’t want to move there, no-one is kicking me out of here. This is all causing a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts. After all, the only other time I ever requested to move myself, I had to decide within the day of a place having been found and it was the worst decision I ever made. Thankfully, my husband is coming to the second orientation visit with me and my staff will come with me on both visits. Now I’m going to write out some questions I have for the home.

What are you grateful for?

Being Active Is Making Me Happy

Hi everyone. Today I want to share all about my active week. I have truly been enjoying my Apple Watch and seeing my stats go up as I move. And of course being physically active is helping me feel better too.

First, last week, my Apple Watch told me that based on my activity level of the week before, I could up my movement goal from 300 to 330 active calories a day. This week, despite my having surpassed that new goal every single day, the stupid watch told me to keep my goal the same. However, there was a reason I was going to get it back to 300, which I will get to in a bit.

However, I first need to tell you about my major accomplishment yesterday: a nature walk! My husband came by for a visit to have lunch at Subway. After that though, he drove to a nearby nature reserve, where we went for a 2.5km walk. Although I did have my Apple Watch as well as my iPhone with me, the stupid watch’s GPS probably didn’t work (or it’s broken altogether), so it didn’t register my walk as a workout. This means I cannot check details such as average speed, hills climbed, etc. My husband did check his Garmin app though and we’d walked pretty fast and climbed a few hills.

I did go for several more walks yesterday. In total, I got in 163 exercise minutes yesterday, all by walking. I got in 122 today so far, which honestly is quite fabulous if you ask me. This does include 18 minutes on the elliptlcal.

Now on to why I’ve lowered my movement goal to 300 active calories a day. I am participating in a weekday challenge on an app called Challenges, hosted by the admins of an Apple Watch-related fitness group on Facebook. In the app, you earn points based on completion of your fitness goals. To allow for fair competition, daily movement goals are allocated individually based on weight and mine was 300, because I weigh 150lbs. Honestly, I’m pretty content with my place in the competition so far. Obviously, since the weekday challenge lasts until Friday, a lot can still change.

I am loving being this active again. It gives me a true mood boost. Of course, my cardio fitness level is still low, but I don’t worry about it as much as I used to. My husband did also point out that smartwatches are mostly purchased by physically active people, so “low” according to Apple may not say much. I did notice that I was huffing from that nature walk, while my husband, despite recently recovering from COVID, had no problem with the walk. Then again, before contracting the virus, he’d go for 6km runs without much training.

Tomorrow, a staff with whom I used to go on hour-long walks two summers ago, will be working my day activities shift. I did go for a 45-minute walk yesterday, so am tempted to try for such a long walk tomorrow. Even if I can’t though, I do have yesterday’s walk to prove that my physical fitness is returning to a better level.

TGIF: Weather

Hi all. Fridays are usually pretty active in the blogosphere and there are lots of prompts to choose from on this day. Today, I discovered another one, Paula Light’s TGIF. Today, Paula took the opportunity to talk about the weather and for this reason so will I.

Let me start out with the positives: we had some amazingly warm late summer weather early in the week. Not too hot for my liking, although it did get to 30°C on Tuesday, which I understand is too hot for some. Wednesday was the best: some sunshine but some clouds too, no rain and 25°C during the day.

Thankfully, we did get some much-needed rain too. We got a thunderstorm Tuesday night. My Apple Watch registered sound as loud as 82dB during the storm. I wonder how accurate that is, but well.

We also got some rain yesterday as well as today. Today, in fact, it rained most of the day, but I still managed a short walk outside in the morning.

I tried out my orthopedic shoes, which came back from the shoemaker for the umpteenth time. Well, those who’ve read the orthopedic shoe story before can probably guess what’s next. Yes, indeed, I did get another small blister on my right heel after a walk of not even 20 minutes. I’ve told you guys before that the shoes won’t be fixed until 2034 and I’m more and more confident I’m correct after all.

Despite only managing one walk, I did reach my Apple Watch’s Movement goal today. Okay, I did go on the elliptical for just over 15 minutes too. That went surprisingly well, honestly.

Tomorrow, if we aren’t getting lots of rain in the morning, I’ll likely go for a longer walk. A staff who walks quite fast works my one-on-one shift then. Last time we went on a walk together, I broke my speed record: 13 minutes 11 seconds per km. That’s not very fast, but it’s not slow either. Let’s hope for not much rain tomorrow morning.

A Rather Frustrating Monday

It’s past 10:30PM and I’m still wide awake. I just took a PRN quetiapine. My Apple Watch and the staff’s blood pressure cuff are telling me I should be super relaxed, in that my heartrate is 67 even when sitting upright. That’s rather low for me, but not worryingly low or so the staff say. Oh yes, I know normal resting heartrate is between 60 and 100, but mine is usually closer to 100. Oh well.

Today was quite intense, honestly. In the morning, the manager came by to talk to me about my meeting with the behavior specialist last week. She also, of course, told me a new staff would be starting his orienting shifts here and he’d start right this evening. Of course, like all new staff who’ve been hired over the past six months, the first part of the home he’s being introduced to is mine. Can you read my sarcasm? Well, it should be there. I’m rather annoyed at the fact that every new staff starts working on my side of the home rather than the other one. I know it’s probably because one of the clients on the other side gets really irritable when introduced to new staff. Well, maybe I need to show a little more of my irritable side.

Then, the temping agency housekeeper came to clean my room. She left my bathroom in a horribly wet state and left the tap on its hottest setting. Thankfully, that setting is not hot enough to actually cause burns, but it did hurt a little when I tried to wash my hands.

Once my day activities started, I went for a walk. My cardio fitness level was once again low, but it hardly bothers me anymore.

In the afternoon, my staff and I drove into town so I could buy a new pair of shorts for when I go on the elliptical or ride the side-by-side bike. The old pair pretty much falls off my butt. I also bought socks and some presents for my oldest niece, who will be three on Saturday.

In the evening, I went for a short walk with the new student staff, taking his camera and tripod with us to snap some pictures. I cannot yet show them, as I haven’t yet figured out which ones show what.

Then, I wanted to go on the side-by-side bike again, but got really frustrated trying to fasten the belts around my feet. They need to be really tight or my feet, particularly my spastic left foot, will fall off the pedals. That didn’t work out and I got really overloaded, so had a short meltdown.

Later in the evening, when I was alone, I started fretting about my health. That probably caused me to feel spacey. Now that I’ve processed all this in this post, I feel slightly better. It might be the quetiapine is working as well.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (September 3, 2022)

Hi all on this beautiful first Saturday of September. I for whatever reason keep typing “July” rather than “September”. Maybe that’s me wishful thinking. Anyway, here’s my post for this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had my afternoon coffee, but the other clients are currently having theirs, so I bet there’s still some left for you. Let’s have a cup of coffee (or another drink, if you so prefer) and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start out by asking about your weather. Ours is beautiful. Today, we’re supposed to get daytime temps of up to 27°C. On Monday, the temperature’s even forecast to rise to 30°C. I guess my husband was wrong a few weeks ago when he predicted that it’d get only colder from that point on.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about all the physical activity I got in this past week. I got in a total of 330 exercise minutes according to my Apple Watch this week so far, exercise being anything at least the intensity of a brisk walk. I guess this means I can up my goal from 20 minutes to at least 30 a day. Then again, I badly want to reach it everyday.

If we were having coffee, I would use the rest of this post to share the details I promised you all in yesterday’s post about the potential new care home. You see, on Thursday at 2PM, the behavior specialist came by my room. The appt had already been planned or so I believe, because of the situation I shared a few weeks ago about an application having been put in for me to live at a senior citizens’ home for the visually impaired, a place I don’t consider suitable. I knew from my care facility’s manager that she understood this place doesn’t sound suitable indeed and also that she had heard that the people at the main institution for my current care agency, with whom I’d met at the end of July, were pretty enthusiastic about me. However, the manager didn’t expect to hear anything from them until next week.

Well, as it turned out, my behavior specialist had planned a meeting with the behavior specialist whom I’d met in July as soon as she could, which was last Thursday. It turns out I am number one on the waiting list for a home at the main institution. The home caters primarily to people with moderate to severe intellectual disability with a need for intensive support due to additional problems such as autism, attachment issues, etc. The level of intellectual disability is significantly less severe than in my current home, so I can actually make smalltalk with the other residents. The staff offer help with activities of daily living (personal care) where needed. Each resident has their own day program. This means that residents aren’t required to go to the day center by default. In fact, some of the residents go some of the time, others ride their bikes around institution grounds, while still others can’t leave the home unsupervised.

I told my husband about this home and he immediately replied that it sounds perfect. Well, I said, that isn’t possible, but it does sound pretty good indeed.

Of course, I am on the wait list, so there currently isn’t an available room, but the behavior specialist said they are working towards finding a new home for one of the current residents. She said it might go quickly but it might still take six months or so. Well, if you ask me, even if it’s going to take six months, that’s still super quickly. That’d honestly mean I’d have found a place within the year from saying I want to find a more suitable home.

I will get an extensive orientation, getting to look around at least twice before I decide whether I want to move to this home. I am both nervous and excited. Mostly quite excited though. I’d read up about this home before and wished I could live here and now my dream might come true.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (September 2, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m feeling really thankful for a lot of things today. What better time than now to write a gratitude post? Of course, I say that when I’m feeling down in the dumps too. In my opinion, it’s always a good time for a gratitude post. Anyway, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) as always. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for a good weekend with my husband. We had pizza delivered, which was delicious. We each ordered a salad too, but I decided to eat my pizza first then was full so we had to throw the salad away. I felt a bit guilty about it because of food waste, but, as my dietitian says it, I’m not a replacement for the trash. In other words, just because something gets thrown out if I don’t eat it, doesn’t mean I need to eat it. I shouldn’t have ordered it and I know that for the next time.

2. I’m grateful for my health. Like I mentioned on Wednesday, I had a health scare earlier this week, but it was nothing, for which I’m so grateful.

3. I am grateful for my husband’s good health too. He tested positive for COVID earlier this week but I am so grateful he isn’t very ill with it.

4. I am grateful for no COVID symptoms in myself so far. Let’s hope I won’t get it.

5. I am grateful for my Apple Watch. It truly motivates me to stay physically active. I must admit I do need to watch out that it doesn’t become an obsession though.

6. I am grateful for the care facility’s new side-by-side bike. This is like a tandem bike but, rather than one person riding the bike sitting behind the person steering it, the person on one side has the controls. I just went for a 5.7km ride on it and, for whatever reason, my Apple Watch counted the full 27 minutes as exercise. Granted, I had started a workout manually, so it may not have caught it had I not done this, but well.

7. I am grateful for French fries on Wednesday as a treat from the old student staff who had her last shift. I am also grateful I took the opportunity to sneak to the living room to ask for a second helping, which I then decided to eat while sitting on the couch. It was fun being surrounded by my fellow residents once again, which is a rarity nowadays since I get one-on-one support.

8. I am grateful for a maintain in the weight department this week. I am also grateful the dietitian is mostly satisfied with how I’m doing, although she does worry slightly about the possibility that exercise might become an obsession.

9. I am grateful for Simple Radio, an app on my iPhone (and Apple Watch) that lets me listen to any radio station. I mostly like 1000Schlager Web Radio at this point, because I love the upbeat German songs to dance to.

10. Last but not least, and I initially wasn’t sure I was going to share this in my gratitude post or wait for #WeekendCoffeeShare, but I am so grateful that I just need to share: I am number one on the wait list for a home at the main institution for my care agency. They’re currently in the process of finding a new home for one of the current residents. According to the behavior specialist, it might go quickly but might still take six months before this has happened and as a result I can start the process of orienting there. Six months, in my book, is still super quickly. You all will have to wait for my coffee share post tomorrow for more details, but I’m excited and nervous at the same time. Mostly grateful though.

What are you grateful for?

The Wednesday HodgePodge (August 31, 2022)

Okay guys, it’s Wednesday again and this means it’s time to join Joyce for the Wednesday HodgePodge. This week, several of Joyce’s questions are related to Labor Day, which is, what, this coming Monday? Time certainly flies. Here are Joyce’s questions.

1. Something you’ve labored over recently?
Nothing really. I don’t have any large projects I’m currently working on, even though I do need to start thinking about what to create for my husband in honor of our wedding anniversary on September 19. I’m in a crafting rut, honestly. I am, however, working hard on my physical fitness. Does that count?

2. How will you rest on Labor Day?
I probably won’t. It’s a regular Monday here in the Netherlands, so I do have my usual day activities. That being said, if I want to rest, I can do so every single day.

3. Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, “I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” Would you agree? Where and how did you learn the value of hard work?
I don’t think I agree. I worked quite hard in school and college, to the point of autistic burnout, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I value hard work all that much. If anything, by working this hard and subsequently suffering burnout, I learned the value of self-care and rest. Then again, I do realize I’m privileged in this respect, in that I got on disability benefits without any trouble as soon as I turned eighteen and sailed through every re-assessment without any difficulty too.

4. It’s National Eat Outside Day (August 31st). Will you? Do you enjoy dining “al fresco” or do you prefer indoor seating?
I had no idea it was eat outside day in the U.S. and it’s past my dinnertime now, so no, I didn’t. I don’t like eating outside anyway.

5. Somehow it’s the end of August. What was the best day of the month for you and tell us what made it so?
The best day of the month was probably the day my husband took me for a drive to Enkhuizen, 100km away, just for some fish. Either that or last Monday, the day I scored 200% on my Apple Watch’s Movement goal, 300% on my exercise goal (but somehow there’s no medal for that) and received reassuring news on my latest health scare. You see, over the weekend when I was in Lobith, my husband noted a large mole on my back and told me to see my doctor about it. Thankfully, it was nothing to worry about at this point and my staff suggested we keep the picture they took for reference should the mole change.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Today was the last shift for last year’s student staff here. She treated us to French fries and snacks, strawberry cake and she gave me two bars of chocolate. And not just any chocolate, they were stroopwafel chocolate bars. Stroopwafels are my favorite type of cookies, so this is truly awesome. I gifted her a handmade bracelet. She did joke that, since I have money to buy myself an Apple Watch, I should’ve bought her a new phone. After all, her old iPhone was in horrible condition and I’d been nagging her to buy a new one for months, which she finally did a few weeks ago (well, a refurbished one, which I personally would never do). I think she’s happy with the bracelet though.

First Week With My Apple Watch

Hi everyone. I’m not sure whether this post is going to be a tech post or a health post or both, as I want to write about my first impressions of using my Apple Watch. I’m putting it under the “Tech” category, but sharing some of my health stats just so it doesn’t get boring. Oh wait, maybe my health stats are boring too. Oh well.

I got my Apple Watch series 7 on Monday last week, but didn’t get to actually use it until Tuesday evening, because then I got its case and screen protector. I know many people don’t use anything to protect their Apple Watches, but I’m happy I got a sturdy case and a glass screen protector, because I’ve bumped my watch against a wall, chair or table too many times to count already.

I familiarized myself with the use of the Apple Watch with VoiceOver first by reading Apple’s own support page on the topic as well as listening to the relevant podcasts on AppleVis. It’s sad that the Apple Watch user guides on there are all podcasts and none are in text format, because I process information better through my Braille display. One thing both the Apple support site and AppleVis say, is that you need to swipe with two fingers rather than one in order to scroll. I have found this to be incorrect. Either that or I’m doing something wrong all along, but swiping with two fingers does something really weird for me.

I prefer to change most of my settings in my iPhone’s Watch app rather than on the Apple Watch itself, because I do find the screen of the Apple Watch a little hard to navigate. I have chosen the “California” clock face, which is really cool.

I also read most of my stats in the iPhone’s Health app rather than on the watch itself. The reason is the fact that, firstly, they are all in one place there and, secondly, the Health app is easier to navigate than the apps on my watch. I might need some getting used to with, for instance, the heartrate app on my watch.

Most people who have an Apple Watch or know about it, are probably familiar with the activity rings. I did know they exist prior to buying my watch, but didn’t know what they represent. Your Movement ring shows your calories burned during movement relative to your goal. My goal is set to 300, which is slightly higher than the Apple Watch suggested for me (based on the activity my iPhone had recorded, I guess) but still low. The Exercise ring shows your minutes doing exercise, which is any movement equivalent to or more intense than a brisk walk. My goal is set to 20 minutes. Your Standing ring shows the hours you’ve been standing upright and in some motion for at least one minute. My goal is set to 12. The Apple Watch can count steps, but does not display them on the screen unless you install a third-party app for that. It does send your step count to the iPhone’s Health app.

Each week, I believe, you get a report on how you did compared to your goal and a suggested new movement goal for the week. Yesterday, my suggested goal was the same as the one I’d set.

On Apple Watch series 7 (and some older models too, I believe), you can measure your cardio fitness level. This is done using an estimate of the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process during movement (VO2Max). This is estimated during each brisk walk or run outdoors. On Friday, I had my first estimated cardio fitness level result and my VO2max was 22.9. This is “low” or so the watch said and it doesn’t get lower than “low”. As it turned out, at 24, I’d cross the border to “below average”. I managed this once.

I do want to add here that I got in nearly three times as many exercise minutes compared to my goal three times this week. I also reached 200% of my movement goal yesterday, burning 600 active calories. I actually burned off over 2200 calories that day and I hadn’t even been on the elliptical. Yay me.

Joy in August

Hi all. It’s the end of the month once again and this means I’m reflecting on my word of the year, which is “JOY”. I am linking up with the Word of the Year linky as well as with Lisa’s One Word linky.

The month of July was hard and it ended on an even more difficult note with a health scare. Did I even tell you all about it? Well, I had bloodwork done at the end of July as part of my annual health screening and, while most results came back normal, my EGFR, an indication of kidney function, did not. It’s supposed to be above 90 in healthy adults, had been 81 last year and my nurse practitioner back then had said that anything above 70 was still acceptable. Well, it was 68 this time around. I checked with my GP and he said this could be a one-off lower score, but I do need to be checked again, including a urine test, in a few months.

This health scare, as well as some other worries about my health, did decrease my joy over the month of August. However, I still tried to find moments of joy in the everyday. Like in July, I did sometimes seek joy in material things, for example when I bought a lot of polymer clay supplies a few weeks ago.

However, I also found joy in experiences, such as my and my husband’s trip to Enkhuizen last week and my trip to the town fair yesterday (even though I didn’t buy anything).

Earlier this week, I of course tried to find joy in another material thing by buying an Apple Watch. It’s pure delight seeing how I reach and even exceed my goals. That being said, I did have another health scare today, when the stupid thing told me my cardio fitness level is low. “Low” is the lowest score your Apple Watch will give you. My husband joked: “except for ‘dead’, but that’s not far off.” Great, huh? Thankfully, I do know I can to a degree increase my cardio fitness level by exercising. It is good to feel some sense of control.