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.

My Ideal Ways of Spending My Day

Hi everyone. I have been thinking about ways in which I would like to spend my days if I get to move to the main institution. Like I said yesterday, each client has their own day program, so they aren’t required to go to the day center by default. I also will keep my one-on-one support at least until December of 2023. In today’s post, I want to share my ideal ways of spending my days. These are things I might be able to implement should I remain here, but I’m dreaming big here and thinking of ways the institution could accommodate me too.

First, I would like to start my day in my room like I currently do. I don’t think I can handle eating breakfast in a group as of yet. That might change in the future. I would like to eat all my main meals in my room, but go to the living room for coffee breaks when I want to.

Ways I would like to spend my day, include crafting of course. I would really like to keep on doing my polymer clay work and maybe even sell it in the day center’s shop.

The day activities I am thinking the institution could help me meet my dreams with, are those related to sports and physical activity. I know the institution has a small swimming pool on grounds and I’d really like to use it. I’m not sure whether they might have exercise equipment too, like the type of equipment you’d find in a gym. If they do, I’d love to utilize that too.

The institution is in a rural estate area, so I’d love to go for walks on grounds. I’ll take my iPhone (by then, I might have a new one, who knows?) to take pictures of the beautiful nature.

I’ll hopefully at some point be able to take short walks on grounds on my own too. For that, I’ll need orientation and mobility training from the blindness agency, but I’m sure I can get that.

I may occasionally want to relax in a snoezelen® room. Then again, if I’m correct, I can keep my weighted blanket if I move within this care agency, so I might not even need a snoezelen® room.

I’ll probably also want to go to a day center every once in a while to socialize with other clients. The institution has three day centers I believe, but I’m pretty sure clients from the home I might go to won’t go to all three. That’s okay though, I’ll find out what suits me.

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.

Early Memories of Physical Activity

A few months ago, I read on another blog about Carrie Underwood’s book Find Your Path: Honor Your Body, Fuel Your Soul, and Get Strong with the Fit52 Life. One of the aspects that immediately appealed to me in the book, are the journal prompts. Yes, duh, you know, I’m a sucker for journal prompts. However, Carrie Underwood’s journaling prompts are not just random one-liners, they’re deep questions. One of them is about early memories of physical activity. Today, I want to share my thoughts on this.

As a young child, I loved playing outside. I used to build sandcastles in the wooden sandpit my father had built, not even caring that the wood hadn’t been treated so it got moldy every once in a while. I remember telling you all the story of how my father used to call my Kindergarten friend, whose last name translates to Peat in English, “Kim Mud”.

When I got older, I loved learning to rollerskate. I remember joining an informal neighborhood rollerskating “club” led by the oldest of two girls who lived next door. She was my age and could rollerskate real good or so we all thought. I wasn’t nearly as good or even as good as my own younger sister, but who cared? I didn’t.

I got a large tricycle when I was about seven or eight because I couldn’t ride a bike due to my cerebral palsy. Not that I could safely ride a bike, given my visual impairment, but apparently the rehabilitation physician had no idea. I occasionally rode my tricycle, but preferred to walk around the neighborhood.

However, by age seven or eight, when I started to lose my vision, my physical activity level also started to decrease. I am pretty sure it’s more than just my vision though, but there’s no way to prove this as my parents stopped taking me to specialists around that age. I am considering asking my GP or the intellectual disability physician at the care facility for a referral back to rehabilitation medicine, because I want to learn to make the most use of the mobility I do have.

I did till my mid-teens love to sit on the swings. I’m not sure that counts, as it is a sedentary activity, but you do move your legs pushing yourself. I would go on the swings for hours on end. Now though, I get dizzy even going on the swings for five minutes at a time.

A thing I also did from toddlerhood until I moved out of my parental home at age nineteen, was this crawling-in-place movement while in bed. By the time I hit adolescence, my parents complained that I ruined the bed and made too much noise, but I continued to move in this way exactly until I moved to the independence training home. I could do this for hours on end too and I now realize it’s probably a form of autistic stimming.

Overall, I wasn’t physically active in most of the traditional ways. I wasn’t in sports as a child and P.E. was one of my least favorite classes. However, I can’t say I sat on my butt all the time. I didn’t even as an adolescent, though I probably was more sedentary then than I should have been.

How about you? Were you physically active as a child?

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.

Things I Can Do to Improve My Physical Fitness

I had an intensely frustrating physical therapy appointment this morning. I told the physical therapist that, despite the semi-orthopedic shoes and the ankle-foot orthosis, I still walk with a drop foot after roughly 20 minutes of walking. She is going to bring my shoes and the AFO to the orthopedic shoemaker and the guy in charge of the AFO yet again, but I’m skeptical there’ll be a solution. I feel very frustrated that, a year to eighteen months ago, I could easily walk for an hour several times a day and now I struggle to walk for fifteen minutes. That, my staff later countered, may be related to my lack of physical fitness too. In other words, I need to build up stamina again. Now that I have nothing better to share, I am going to list ways in which I can improve my level of physical fitness.

1. Go on the elliptical for ten to fifteen minutes at a time three times a week. I used to try to go on the elliptical for 25 minutes at a time and aim for five times a week, but that’s not realistic right now. Besides, I hate that thing with a passion, so making myself go on it five times a week right away is guaranteed to fail.

2. Go for daily walks again. I have been avoiding walks because of the pain the AFO causes me as well as the hassle involved in trying to judge the weather, whether I need to wear sunscreen, etc. I really need to make daily walking a habit again, even if it’s only a ten-minute walk around the day center.

3. Throw a ball. This doesn’t necessarily strengthen my legs and it isn’t quite cardio level either, but any movement counts.

4. Weight training. I really need to get into the habit of doing weight lifting again, if only three rounds of ten a few times a week. This is arm training, since I cannot really do core training at all, but again, it will help me get to a higher physical fitness level.

5. Doing the exercises I originally did with the physical therapist for my back. I am not sure why I list these, but they can’t hurt.

Ultimately, I would really like to go to a gym at some point. The day center has a stationary bike too, but I’m not sure I can use that.

Do you have any suggestions as to ways for me to practise physical exercise?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 24, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s really sunny out this Sunday afternoon! How about you join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare. I had quite a lot of coffee so far today, as I went out to McDonald’s (well, through the drive-through) with my husband for lunch and had coffee there. It was better than the coffee I had at Subway last week. Then when I came back to the care facility, I had a cup of coffee again. If you’d like a cup of it too, I’m pretty sure there’s still some left, as my staff said her colleague had just made a fresh pot. Let’s have a cup of coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d almost invite you to the balcony. It’s sunny, after all, but quite cold. Besides, the balcony is covered in fallen leaves. So I guess we’ll sit indoors after all.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I managed to get in 12.5K steps yesterday. That’s a huge win, as I had thought my physical condition was declining slightly. Apparently not.

I also went on the elliptical for half an hour on Friday and am planning to go onto it for another 30 minutes later this evening.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that all this is slightly comforting in light of my probable IBS symptoms and the upcoming abdominal X-ray. I mean, if it’s something very serious, I guess I’d have other symptoms, such as unexpected weight loss or declining physical fitness. Please all still pray for me that the X-rays will show something easily treatable.

If we were having coffee, I would share that my husband bought a new car. Well, he’s going to exchange it for our current Volkswagen Golf on Wednesday. It’s a Daihatsu Cuore, a very small car. His VW is still in relatively good shape, but both of us wanted a cheaper car with respect to gas usage, insurance and tax. With the deal he got, my husband says he’ll have saved enough on these to cover the cost of buying the Cuore within the year. I must say I feel a lot better about this car than I felt back when my husband bought the VW.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I woke up after a nightmare early this morning. It wasn’t yet time for my one-on-one to arrive, so the morning staff helped me put on my music pillow and settle back to bed. I thankfully slept well for about an hour and a half after that. I am really hoping this means that the topiramate is working. I mean, my nightmares aren’t your standard scary dreams and as far as I’m aware, topiramate doesn’t suppress REM sleep altogether, but it does seem to make it easier to let go of anxiety-inducing dreams.

How have you been?

Getting Active #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining in with Word of the Week. It’s been nearly a year since I last joined this linky, but today I’m inspired to. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase. My phrase for this week is: getting active.

You see, last week I was still pretty badly under the weather. This week, though I’m not fully recovered, I’m getting back on track. Though I did walk most days last week, I didn’t get in any other exercise.

This week, so far, I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day each day. I am pretty motivated. Last week, my husband joked that I’d earn a Domino’s pizza for every five million steps I took. That’d take me about a year and a half if I reached my step goal each and every day. I don’t, of course, but I do meet the goal about three times a week on average. This week, five times, so far. I still marvel at the fact that, about three years ago, I merely dreamt about reaching my step goal a few days a week and considered it a sign of optimal physical health. This does show that, as much as I may think I’m deteriorating, at least with respect to physical activity, I’m not.

In addition to walking, I went on the elliptical both yesterday and today. I got in only about ten minutes each day, but that’s okay, considering I’m still not fully recovered from my cold. Yesterday, I listened to a Christian workout playlist. Today, I chose the Southern rock playlist I created some years back when I still went on the elliptical regularly. It was good to listen to my favorite song on that playlist, Jessico by the Kentucky Headhunters.

I also did some core training, ie. planking. I can do it for about ten seconds at a time, which isn’t much, but oh well. I know that if I continue to try, I’ll get better eventually.

Being able to be this physically active, truly boosts my confidence. I mean, I had to buy new clothes this past week and the jeans I ordered, seemed a bit tight at first. This caused me to feel rather self-conscious about being overweight. My staff though reassured me that jeans always fit tighter when you first buy them. Besides, though I’m overweight, at least I still have the exact same size I had about six years ago when I ordered my current favorite jeans, for which the new ones are a replacement. This means I’m not gaining weight.

Word of the Week linky