There’s always a bright side, right???

So I had Covid. And I had a pretty serious case of it. I am still dealing with the after-effects. One of them, diabetes, is a daily issue. I got a “Fitbit” that I wear all the time. It logs my sleep, which is fascinating and is actually helping me get a better quality of sleep, as well as steps, movement (when I use my cycler), food intake, water consumption, and so much more. It also monitors my O2 saturation, which since Covid, is important to me. It is worth every penny. I discovered I was allergic to the band it came with, and that is apparently very common, and so I was led to a collection on Amazon of bands that are colorful and fun. And so it has become a fashion accessory, as well as a tool I depend upon. I am now used to the buzz it gives me when I need to move (more steps a day) and when I have a text or phone call. I log my blood sugar every morning and it reminds me to check it, as well as reminding me to take my medication. You can set goals and you get badges when you achieve one. I recently got a badge for 10+ pounds lost and over 26 miles in my steps and exercise. I get a notice that I need to wind down for the day and prepare for sleep. It reminds me to check in with the groups I have selected to belong to. It reminds me to eat healthy foods.It posts recipes to try and exercises I might like. It helps keep me on track about my complete health. Honestly, it’s almost like a nagging wife on my wrist! But I love it. I have learned so very much about myself and this stupid disease, as well as how I can combat it and get healthier. Fitbit for the win!

Versa 3 SpO2 Face

The Fitbit has helped me to gain control of diabetes, and my overall health, which was spiraling out of control. I am obese. Clinically obese. Yuck. The term sends shivers down my spine. The severity of Covid and its aftermath are solely my fault. If I would have been in shape and had my health under control, I would have breezed through it. I think. LOL. Covid – most infections – love sugar. And diabetics have it in every cell. So I fed the infection. The nurses did not push me to eat in the 6 days I was hospitalized. They said fasting was probably good because it was allowing my body to divest itself of an over-abundance of blood sugar, which would in turn, help overcome the illness. It was a lesson in consequences. Every bite matters. Every still moment of couch potato life, or in my case, recliner life, add to my ill health. And I am happy to say, I am learning so many lessons. Even at my grandma-era state of life – I am still teachable!

Covid Hair Loss Is REAL!

One of the things “post-Covid” that is finally being talked about is hair loss. Especially in women. Well, I can tell you I have had a few cry fests, dealing with all the hair I am losing. My ears show through my hair on the sides. If I towel dry my hair, it is so thin I have no time to blow dry it; it’s already dry. There is a bald spot on the crown of my head in the back. This is NO JOKE. I went 4 days this last week, between washing, to rest my hair. When I got into the shower, it was coming out in bunches thicker than the photo above. I had to clear the drain before I could finish showering. Then, when I combed through my wet hair, the hair that fell out literally filled the sink. I am not kidding. There is no mathematical way it can keep this up and it not show. I am beyond depressed about it. Let’s face it – Covid, diabetes, and now going bald. Ugh. My hair is all over the place. It is on the furniture. It gets stuck in my standard poodles’ hair. I have found it in the food I am cooking. It is all over the carpeting and the floors. I have globs of it on my chair and my pillow. Honestly, it is everywhere, but on my head. And I am angry I still have to shave my legs and armpits. I have weird gray hairs in my eyebrows I have to corral. I have a mustache and slight beard I have to keep shaved. So my body can make hair. Post-menopausal women get more hair in weird places that grows so weird. Why can’t it stay on my scalp????

I love my gray hair!

According to my research, this is called “telogen effluvium” and this is hair loss related to stress. Apparently having a major life event, like childbirth or an illness, can cause hair loss. For some it is barely noticeable, for others it is pretty substantial. Many women are reporting top of the head as their most common site of hair loss. Mine is all over. I have consulted a hair stylist I trust (my sister-in-law – thank you Missy), a homeopath, and several sites devoted to this post-Covid experience. A friend of mine, who is also suffering from this phenomenon, told me it lasts 4-6 months. Another friend, who also had this, said her doctor told her it is becoming more and more common, even though it was poo-poo’d at first. Doctors are not treating any of this Covid issue with honesty. And it makes me even more angry. But that is for another post. This post, I am solely dealing with the aftereffects of Covid. And there are many. But I have to say, this hair thing is what is the most trying… even more than diabetes. Why? Oh boy…

It used to be…

I already stated that I am overweight. Now, to most people, this is just another attribute of who I am. I have been heavy for over 30 years. Before I was married, I weighed 115 lbs and wore a size 6. My wedding dress was an 8 to incorporate my chest and had to be altered the rest of the way down. LOL. I got pregnant on our honeymoon and have struggled with my weight ever since. When I was a teenager, I was walking to the beach and a guy rode by on a bike and grabbed a breast and said, “Nice set of ta-ta’s” to me. I was mortified. I cried. I went back to the beach house we were staying at and the father of my girlfriend, when I explained why I was crying, said to me, “Well, you are wearing a tiny bikini and a towel. Everything is out there. Didn’t you want that attention?” And I have never forgotten that. Thank you, Mr. Raymond. It was a good lesson for me. I was 15 at the time – that was 50 years ago. I have always had a poor self-image. Even when thin, my dad once said to me, “You have a wonderful hourglass figure. It’s too bad all the sand is at the bottom. Your time is running out.” I was a freshman in high school at the time. I have never forgotten that. It fed my body dysphoria. I never wanted men’s attention because of my body. I have had to tell men, more than once, “My eyes are up here.” Consequently, I never wanted to have a provocative figure. So when motherhood came upon me, I hid inside of it. Still do. Through all these stupid body-image issues, I always had nice hair. No matter how heavy I became, my hair was always nice. I was complimented on it by hair stylists all the time. And it became important to me. And this is the rub: when you are overweight, people do not see you. Truly see YOU. They scan over you, but very few see you. I can wear make-up (which I never do) and no one notices. I am now wearing a size smaller than I normally do – only my husband has really noticed. I can get new clothes, even new glasses, no one says anything except very close family or friends. I went from purple frames to grayish black. No one but my family noticed. And so here I am, dealing with losing the one attribute I felt proud about. I am regaining my health and losing weight – that is an amazing thing. But darn it with the hair loss! I am sick over it. I am trying to get it under control. A friend recently told me I had a poor self-image. She noticed I would alway say that I was unable to do things I had never tried before. I just assumed I could not do them. And that I was defeating myself before I got started. I needed to hear that. She also said, “We are both losing our hair from Covid. There is nothing we can do about it. Don’t cry about something you have no control over. Deal with it. Summer is coming. Your hair will grow back.” I needed those words, too. My husband, whom I love more every day, said, “Look on the bright side, maybe it will grow back curly like you want and you can color strands purple if you want.” God bless that man. He even offered his beard hair to me (he is bald himself). He’s such a good man. And so, I need to learn to let these hairs just fall off. Let them go. Be humble. Be strong. Be bald if that is what God wants for me. (Maybe I can get fun wigs?? LOL. Side thought…)

Let my hair go…

And the other part in all this? I know every hair on my head is counted. Every single one. God has a purpose for this. I am still growing and learning, even as I approach old age; even as I am considered old by society (yeah – just got Medicare, too. LOL. Everything at once!!). And so I am laying this all out there, from learning to be more fit and using new tools like my Fitbit and my cycler, to dealing with significant hair loss as a woman. I am learning to eat good, wholesome and locally grown foods. I am learning to “eat to live not live to eat.” And to use food as nourishment, not medicine. The Lord has all of this in His Hands. And I believe in Him above all else. I trust the God who knew me before I took my first breath, and Who counted all the hairs on my head.

Peace in all of this…

“….a single hour to your lifespan…”

One thing that is so frustrating for so many caregivers is the endless red tape that is we have to untangle to get loved ones the care they need and require. Did you know that even with supplemental or “gap” insurance, benefits that cover prescriptions run out before the end of the year? Why is that, do you ask? Because the drug companies charge so very much for their drugs. And some of them do not come in “generic” so you have to pay the extra for that name-brand prescription. And it is medicine that keeps the disease at bay – it slows its progress – it makes the day smoother for everyone. And the cost? More than $300 per MONTH. For just that one medication.

And you know what is sad? There are literally millions of people with Alzheimer’s who use this medication. Millions. And is there a cure? No; there is not. The medication just helps to slow the progress. But know this – it is a fatal disease and it always progresses. The medication just eases us all into it, until it no longer matters if they take the medicine or not. And even if you have savings or good retirement programs, if you run into a disease like Alzheimer’s, all that planning may come to naught. My mom lived in a beautiful retirement home. She had assets. But she outlived it all. She is vigorously healthy – other than this stupid disease. And now, she has literally nothing. Trying to find a doctor that takes Medicare is (a) hard and (b) finding one that deals in Alzheimer’s? Double whammy. Then add in all the expenses of these medications, and the fact that they have pretty much run out for the year (it usually runs out in October every year) and you have disaster. Because as I struggle to find a funding source, I am taking a person off her usual round of medication and only administering it every-other-day, to make it last until January. Why? It’s when the funding re-applies to her medication portion of Medicare. Our days are now back to what they were when she first came to live with us – precarious at best.

So now I get to delve back into the miasma known as Medicaid. If you have never tackled trying to get covered by a federal aid program, you have missed nothing exciting. I used to manage a welfare office, and I was in charge of 28 clerks. All they did, all day long, was process welfare applications. I used to review them for errors. And I had to go into the system and make adjustments. I had to attend meetings where new systems were taught to all of us at the supervisory level, to instruct our clerical unit. So it is not as though I am unfamiliar with governmental online programs, nor how they work. But this is day #2 that I have attacked Medicaid. Is it 5 o-clock somewhere?

And another part of being an in-home caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s – you cannot leave them alone for too long. It makes doing this a stop-and-start process. So yeah, another facet to caregiving that people do not think about.

In the book of Luke, chapter 24, verses 22-24, the Lord tells us not to worry overmuch about these things in life.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his lifespan?

And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans pursue all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.”

And frankly, my faith is what spurs me onward. So today I will put into perspective these nasty, little, pains-in-neck that are part and parcel of caregiving. As I head back to that fun website of horror, Medicaid, I will think about the leaves changing color and time passing, and God at the helm of it all. God can overcome Medicaid applications. And I am hitting up the angels on my shoulder for some help, as well as asking for the intervention from some pretty amazing Saints who have gone before me, too! We all got this!!!