Above the Chaos

I was gaining more confidence each time I went to the gym as June went on. I performed at least one “power” leg exercise during every workout session. This had many applications. For one, there is a section of pavement outside of Chateau that is comprised of concrete blocks on uneven ground Invariably, Metro Mobility buses will park in front of this section. I had often had visions of tripping and falling on these concrete blocks during the early days of my stay at Chateau. I would even allow drivers to hold my arm at the elbow each time I walked over this area. But over time I had regained so much strength in my left leg that I didn’t need to ask for driver assistance. There was very little chance of me losing my balance.

This also translated well to walking in public in general. I no longer worried about falling while shopping alone. This meant that I didn’t have to rely on motorized shopping carts. This increased the speed at which I could move around the store. It also meant that I could go to a much wider array of places on my own. Instead of having to wait for people to go places with me, I was now just another person traveling around the city on my own to run errands.

I was getting to the point where I didn’t have to train my body as aggressively. My muscles would start to feel tight after workouts on consecutive days. Then I got to the point where I could take off two or three days between workouts. Where before I had forced myself into the gym against feelings of sluggishness, I now was fighting to keep going in despite the fact that my body was performing at peak capacity for this stage of recovery. I was now at risk of overtraining. It was time to spend more days out of the gym enjoying life.

Finding a place to live now seemed to be my most urgent problem. Although Chateau had been very generous, only taking partial payments while deferring the rest, I was still spending too much money for rent and incurring a massive bill that I would someday have to pay down. Although I did have concerns about budgeting once meals were no longer included in my lodging, I was quite eager to see how well I could do own my own. Things might be a bit tight for a few months, but I was confident that I could make it long term.

The biggest reason why I wasn’t already out looking at apartments was that Hennepin County hadn’t assigned anyone to me. I had met with a county representative one time before he was pulled from my case. The representative texted me that he didn’t know why this was happening, but that he would keep me in the communication loop. A month later, they had assigned a new worker to my case. Het name was Kim. Kim came by to see me several times, and we immediately started establishing my parameters.

I told her that while I wanted to live in Minneapolis, I wasn’t opposed to living elsewhere in Hennepin County. Mary needed a fenced yard. That is definitely something that I could find more easily in the suburbs. So as long as I could stay in Hennepin, I could keep my services. She told me that she would compile a list of options that we could tour in a week or two.

I fell in love with the first apartment building Kim showed me. It was only six blocks from Chateau, abutted the interstate, and had a private yard. In addition to it being everything I was looking for, it was rent controlled and had 24-hour security and nursing staff. It was owned by the City of Minneapolis, so it had a controlled entrance and was exclusively for residents with special needs. Each room had a large shower where people could roll chairs in. So there were several accommodations I hadn’t even thought of!

Kim told me that there was a six-month waiting list to get into public housing. But if I would agree to be part of a resident program, I would be prioritized. In order to qualify for the program, all I would need to do is accept assistance with a minimum of three daily tasks. The obvious one would be allowing the nursing staff to administer my medications. It didn’t take long to add cooking to the list. I had to brainstorm for the third item, since laundry and cleaning were factored in for all residents, but I finally came up with getting dressed. Although I could fully dress myself already, I invariably needed help tying my shoes. So if I was ever in a hurry, having assistance would help me to speed along.

As we drove away from the building, Kim told me that my chances of getting the place were excellent, but that she still wanted me to put in applications at a couple of more apartments. I told her that that was a very reasonable idea, but I re-iterated that I wanted to start the application process on the 3rd Avenue building as quickly as possible. We got back to Chateau and filled out forms in the day room. She also made an appointment for the following Monday, so she could take me down to the Minneapolis Public Housing office. I spent all weekend worrying that I might not get the apartment.

I canceled a couple of visits to the gym that weekend because I wasn’t feeling well. So I decided to make up for it by going in on Monday. The exercise I had been doing when I suffered the stroke was the bench press. After almost three years, I had just decided to try it again. At first I wanted to isolate my left triceps by only using one hand to press. However, every time I had tried this, my arm was too weak to push the bar upward. So I used both hands instead. This was tricky because I was never sure if my right arm was overcompensating for my left.

I had just settled in to do my second set when my phone started to ring. It was Kim. She asked me if I was ready for her to pick me up so we could go to the public housing office. I realized that I had completely forgotten about the appointment.

“I forgot to write it down; I’m at the gym.”

“Do you still want to go?”

“Yes.”

“Where is your gym?”

“Roseville. Just off of 35W.”

“Google says I can be there in twelve minutes.”

“I’ll be ready.”

I did two more sets then got up and went to the front door to meet Kim.

My right foot was hurting that day. It was nothing serious; I had probably strained something while performing squats. Nonetheless my right was my unaffected foot. So not being able to put a lot of pressure on it made walking even more difficult than usual. When we arrived at the housing office, Kim dropped me off at the front door. She would drive around to the back door and meet me inside. I walked more slowly so as not to fall over.

When I made it inside, Kim met me and we were led to the office area. Here a housing worker asked us several questions and keyed my info into a computer. After he finished my electronic application, he led me to what looked like a Xerox machine. I had to lay my fingertips flat on a glass surface so the machine could take my fingerprints. It took us about three attempts to record my left prints because my fingers kept balling up. Once the machine flashed the approval light, I asked the worker how long it would be before my application was processed. He advised me that it would be around three weeks.

After we got back into the car, I asked Kim what else I could do to speed up the process. She told me that I needed to provide bank records to show assets. I suggested that we go to a bank branch on the way home. Once I got the bank statements, I gave them to Kim who said that she would drop them off by the housing authority the next day. She also advised that I would need to go by the animal control office and purchase a $10 dog license for Mary. After that it would simply be a matter of waiting. I wanted everything to be completed before the end of June, so I wouldn’t be charged for living another month at Chateau. Having done what I could do to get my housing process started, I went on to tackling other independent living tasks.

One day the staff at Chateau just announced that they would be moving me from the second floor to the fourth floor. This meant that I would be moving from a floor for short-term residents to one for residents in need of a nursing home. Had the staff elected to make this change a few months earlier, I would have been upset. As it was, I had completed therapy and would be moving out in less than a month, so I didn’t mind accommodating them. They also explained that they were trying to make more space for female patients on the second floor, so the move made sense.

The move took about an hour, and I came upstairs as soon as all of my things had been placed in my new room. I recall being mildly annoyed that several of my things had been dumped in the room. It would take some time to locate everything and put it away. I also noticed that WiFi didn’t work in my room. Since my room was on the top and at the end of a hall, it was as far away from the modem as it could get. This meant that I would have to take my laptop out to the day room every time I wanted to watch it. There was no more watching Netflix in bed.

The first time I went out to the day room, I noticed a big difference: fourth floor was much quieter than second. Whenever I was writing on my laptop, the noise level on the second floor had been so constant that I had needed to play classical music just so I could think. Most of the noise on the second floor had been yelling. There was less chaos on the fourth floor. People tended to be more infirm and settled, as opposed to those on the second floor, many of whom had just been on their own a few weeks prior to having some sort of accident.

I plugged in my laptop, fired it up, and began working on my blog. Before long, I realized that I had been working for three hours. My mind was at peace. It wouldn’t be long before I heard back from my housing applications. I didn’t know what the determination would be, but at least I was now in the system. Things would be a lot more manageable now that I was no longer trying to figure out everything on my own. I peered out the window. The cars and people on 2nd Avenue were tiny from two additional stories up. I felt miles above the chaos below.

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