Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sickly Me

Yeah.  I've been sick, the kind of sick I have rarely been - maybe twice before in my entire life.   I hear of other people getting a stomach virus fairly regularly, and I wonder why I don't get that kind of sick.  I just get colds.

I pride myself on having an "iron stomach" in that I can eat anything and keep it down. Oh, I have been so drunk a couple times that it caused me to involuntarily purge my stomach, but that's a different thing.  And even that has been a rare occurance for me.

Discomfort in my stomach had been coming on for a couple days.  I was feeling constipated - a full feeling that wouldn't go away.  But I wasn't feeling sick, and wasn't in any pain. so I kept working out and kept eating as I normally do - I guess I do over eat as a routine, especiallyl considering how little exercise I usually get.

But I recently changed things up, and two weeks ago got myself an inexpensive  membership at a gym and started to work out, just tread mill walking at this point until I am able to handle more.  My first goal is to walk/run a 5K in March.  Later in the year I will attempt a 1/2 marathon.  At first I was thinking of doing the 1/2 marathon in March but reality has be revealed to me, and I must make a more modest goal this first time out.

It has also become obvious over the past few years how much I have gotten out of shape.  Over a decade of sitting on my butt for 12 or more hours a day, while doing internet things has caused my physical prowess to diminish.

I am currently receiving ssi for my mental health disability, but I do not expect it to keep coming indefinitely.  I will have to get myself a job eventually, and I know that at this point, the only jobs available to me will be menial labor.  For me to do menial labor, it will be necessary for me to improve my level of fitness.  I know that at this point, just working a 4 hour shift of wiping down tables at a fast food restaurant is currently beyond my abilities.

So, the current plan is to get into shape enough to take on a job, and then take myself off ssi and get myself a modest apartment.

I guess I'm telling all this about my workout plans because this stomach problem I've had has interfered with my workout routine.  Today will be the third day I have not exercised.  Hopefully tomorrow I will feel  up to it.

So, yeah.  Yesterday I spent the morning at McDonalds, eating breakfast and connecting to their wifi.  Then I had lunch there instead.   The discomfort in my stomach, went from feeling full to feeling pain.  It felt as if my stomach was going to explode.  I went to the gym which is just a block away and got on the tread mill, hoping that a workout would help.  It didn't.

So, after a failed work out attempt I went to the Vons in the same shopping center and got myself some generic Tums and a bottle of water.  Water is the best for washing the uglies out of your system.  And I took some Tums in hopes of relieving the stomach pressure I was feeling.
But my misery was only increasing.  I was feeling queezy. And i was beginning to sweat.  Slowly I made my way to the bus stop.   A bus was already there but I didn't take it.  I just wanted to rest on the bench for a while.  I drank more water.

For some reason I just knew that my iron stomach was not up to the task before me.  I gave in, and turned my head to the side to cough, knowing what might happen next, and it did.  I blew chunks - not once but several times.  I felt slightly better for doing so, but then it got worse again.  30 minutes later another bus came, and I did not get on that one either.  I didn't want to vomit on the bus.k

I got up and started walking back to the shelter.  Cold sweats and pain.  There are many restaurants in the area, and the smell of cooking food would be carried by the wind right to my nose, and it did not help.  It all smelled horid, and caused me to feel weaker.

I finally made it to Target.  Thankfully their restrooms are right off the entrance.  There, the diareah came.  Shortly after that I started blowing chuncks again, and again, and again.  I couldn't recall eating that much, but obviously it was all in my stomach and not very well digested.  At one point I left the restroom and bought another bottle of water and took it back to the restroom, where after a few sips, I became sick again.   The water really was helping me purge.  I think I would have been even worse off without it.

After things calmed down, I left Target and headed back towards the shelter.  I got to about another block when I started feeling sick again.  Luckily there was a Starbucks and I already knew the code to the lock of the restroom.  There I vomited even more and wondered if this was going to help me lose weight.

Eventually the sweats subsided and I was able to make it the rest of the way to the shelter.  At the shelter, the facilities are not conducive to feeling better - just a few portapotties and a dorm room full of grumpy old men.   I did not vomit again after Starbucks, but I did have to make a couple more runs to the portajohns.  Slowly I started feeling better.

I got out my computer and started messing around with that, hoping to take my mind off of everything, and in a few minutes I nodded off at the keyboard.  When I awoke, the pain in my stomach was gone, though I still felt bloated.  I decided then to just get in my rack (a top rack) and sleep.

All I've had to eat so far today was 1/2 a banana, and a bottle of water.  When ever i put something in my stomach I get a little bit of pain but it subsides and I haven't gotten sick.

I should eat something, but I'm kinda scared to.  I should be able to resume my workouts tomorrow.   Right now I'm hanging out at Starbucks and surfing the net and trying to rest.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Being Homeless Is Difficult Enough

There is a commonly held belief that homeless people remain homeless because being homeless is easy.

Excuse me while I laugh, and then get really pissed off.

It has gotten old, this seemingly futile effort to explain to people the difficulties of being homeless, and why no one in their right mind would choose to be homeless.

The physical, psychological and emotional toll on every human being who becomes homeless is extraordinary, living homeless for any extended period has additional costs to the person, and actually overcoming homelessness is the most difficult thing a person will ever accomplish in their life.

Unlike jail, where 80% or more of inmates have been to jail more than once, most people who become homeless once and successfully overcome it, never become homeless again.  Those homeless people who continually cycle in and out of homelessness, the "chroncially homeless" account for less than 20% of all homeless people.  What I'm saying is, being homeless is actually worse than being incarcerated.  The hell that is homelessness is something no person ever wishes to repeat.  (yes yes, I know that some homeless people say that they like being homeless, that they choose to be homeless.  But remember what I said about "people in their right mind".  There are a lot of homeless people with severe mental health issues, emotional issues, that clouds their judgement and distorts their sense of reality)

Just look at the faces of people who have been homeless for an extended period of time.  Do they look healthy?  Refreshed?  Capable of enjoying life?  Or, do they look weary, haggard, exhausted? 

For the homeless there is no real place to rest, ever.  Even living in a shelter is stressful.  Forever carrying one's possessions, never having privacy, every service given to you requiring to wait for hours to receive, and often the promise of services is broken.  It is easy to lose hope and trust in those who say they will help.

Then come those people who believe that the homeless have life too easy, so in their quest to rid the world of homeless people, they take measures to make life even more difficult for the homeless - believing that such efforts will give the homeless motivation to overcome homelessness.  (sometimes these efforts appear to work, but actually they only cause people to leave the area (temporarily), not leave homelessness.

Consider all that it would take for a homeless person to overcome their homelessness.   To gain employment would require a homeless person to be well rested, so to perform the work assigned to them by their employer, would require them to be showered, wearing clean clothes every day, to secure reliable transportation, to be able to feed themselves regularly, etc.  And then to maintain this pattern of living while sleeping on the streets, not just until the first paycheck comes, but for 3 months or more while they attempt to save up enough money to move into an apartment.  And consider just how difficult it would be for a homeless person to secure an apartment when potential landlords ask for a list of previous residences, and references, and a credit check.

Still, the cops come and harass the homeless on a regular basis.  They tear down homeless encampments of people who are trying to create a stable life for themselves, so that they may overcome their homelessness.  And that's just when the cops do things fairly.  I've also seen cops who stop and question homeless people merely because they are homeless, (which is nerve racking in itself) and then once determining the person to be indeed homeless, the cop  confiscates the person's ID, not give it back, or breaking their ID, redendering it useless.   This allows the next cop who stops this homeless person to take him to jail, (for not having verifiable identification).  The first of many problems caused by this is that a person needs ID so to secure employment.

It is time for all of society, if it is truly desiring an end to homelessness, to reverse gears, and to stop tearing homeless people down, and to begin lifting them up - to provide more opportunities to overcome homelessness, not remove their hope, to create a clear path out of homelessness, and not build more obstacles.

The latest effort of the San Diego Police is indicative of this.  Being that there are not enough shelter beds in San Diego for all the homeless here, the law says that the city must allow the homeless the right to sleep on public property.   So the city has religated that privledge to sidewalks from 9pm until 5:30am.  BUT, the police, believing that sleep on sidewalks is too good for the homeless and must be made more uncomfortable, have declared that homeless people cannot use tents while they sleep - this measure makes the homeless even more vulnerable to harassment, by the police, by hateful citizens, by street predators, by theives, and by the weather.   As nice as the weather is here, there's enough fluctuation in it to cause illness in those exposed to it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

The No-Pain-No-Gain Caveat

There is an exception to the rule of workouts.  Not all pain is good pain.  And, not knowing the difference can kill you.  More likely, though, it will just ruin your interest in the sport of physical fitness.

For me, I could never really enjoy workouts.  Although I was gaining somewhat from them, there was just too much pain associated with it.  What I didn't know, and what no one else understood, was that the kind of pain I was experiencing was not normal, and not healthy.  Add to this, my family's standard negative reaction to anything I did, the psychology disappointment only reinforced the physical discomfort I was experiencing and boom, that was the end of workouts for me.  As a young teen, even when I tried to explain to my family that there was something wrong, the chose to not listen but instead pelted me with accusations of laziness, lack of character, lack of discipline, stupidity, etc.

Some time later, during my first attempt to join the Navy, it was discovered in an X-ray that I had scoliosis - curvature of the spine. Any time I move bones rub against bones and is most definitely painful.  This is not the kind of pain they are talking about in the "no pain on gain" mantra. There is not getting over this kind of pain, this kind of pain does not go away in time.

I also noticed that when I worked out with weights that my body shape was growing asymmetrically. One side of my chest was growing larger, muscularly, than the other side. The one side of my back grew more than the other.  One of my legs has more mobility and flexibility than the other.  One shoulder is higher than the other. And as I continued to workout, this lopsidedness only became worse.  Even after explaining this to my father, the only thing he did was chide me for being a quitter. On the other hand, he never suggested help on how to remedy this particular problem.  Sadly for me, the only way to "connect" with my father was within sports. He had no interests outside of sports, and didn't bother trying out anything that I was interested in.  At the age of 14 or so, I beat him at a game of chess.  He would never play chess with me again after that. (thanks, Dad).

It have become aware of a great many things in the past few years, about my life growing up in my family. Of particular note, my parents were actually aware of my skeletal deformity, slight though it may be, since my birth. They figured that just denying this little reality of myself was better than teaching me how to overcome it. Actually, denial is one of the hallmarks of my family. This might actually be working for them, as they make their way through life, but for me and my particular issues of Aspergers and physical limitations, denial of these realities nearly killed me - instead my path through life became unnecessarily difficult.  To this day, many decades later, I'm still struggling against all this crap from my child and teen years.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Chores At The Shelter

There are shelters that require chores be done, there are others that don't.  The difference is usually with intent.  If it's a straight up shelter, with no extracurricular  activities, then there are no chores.  They warehouse you for the night, and kick you out in the morning.  The other kind of shelter is the 'program' shelter, where they attempt to rehabilitate the homeless.  To the people running rehabilitation shelters, "chores" seem to be the cornerstone of their program.  Yes, some facilities offer both situations.  But, more and more shelters are turning into rehab shelters.  The public at large is no longer satisfied with just giving the homeless a roof and three sqares a day.  Now, expectations are higher.  People, rightfully so, want more for the homeless, ( and for themselves), they want an end to homelessness and are expecting shelters to work towards that end.

There is a bit of a conflict though, with faithbased shelters.   For the longest time it was believed that rehabilitation wasn't very effective, and that only a religious conversion could truly remove someone from the cycle of homelessness.  So, faithbased shelters decided to not work on ending homelessness, but to attempt to convert the homeless to christianity.  These shelters have also used the conversion aspect as the focus of their fundraising. For these facilities to change gears and work solely on ending homelessness would affect their bottom line.  They also aren't so keen on admitting they were wrong in their approach to homelessness.  In their eyes, to admit to being wrong about homelessness is to say their God is wrong.  For many shelter administration,  that's just not possible.  Luckily, other institutions, with the support of the government, are moving ahead with better, and proven results.  Faithbased shelters are no longer the only game in town.

But I digress.

The shelter I'm staying at requires chores of the participants.   It really isn't a rehab shelter in the strick sense of the word. But certain work about the place has to be done.   My chore this morning was to chean the shower facilities - 2 rooms on a trailer with 4 shower stalls in each room.   Sometimes the stalls can be a real mess, with feces and or drug needles being the worst of it.  This morning, it wasn't so bad.  Still, all surfaces need to be cleaned, horizontal and vertical.  We have plenty of cleaning fluids and spray bottles and towels for wiping things down, but the facilitiy does not have a mop.  Why?  I don't know.  But it sure needs it.  It would sure make cleaning all the hair out of the shower stalls easier.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Day of Rest

For my workout, I'll be on a schedule of 2 on and 1 off.  So, to day is my one day off.  Tomorrow I'll work out again.  I already feel some benefits of being more active - but as for meeting the goal of running a half marathon in 3 months, well, that remains to be seen.   I will most definitely run the 5k, but we'll see how much progress I've made in a couple months to see if I'll be up for the half marathon.  Still there are many running events here in San Diego.  Another half marathon is August.  I'm sure I'll be ready by then.

Life in the Veterans Homeless Tent is becoming tedious.  So many people with so many problems all crowded together in one place always causes friction.  Most of the guys staying in the tent are my age or older, and they are a grumpy group, which probably has more to do with age than with being homeless, but it still don't help matters.  There are a couple guys in the tent that are certifiably crazy, talking to themselves, hearing voices, shouting or screaming suddenly for no apparent reason, etc.  The food being served is bland and often repetitive.  Oatmeal gets old really quickly.