Tim is an outspoken veteran in his early sixties. In addition to his time in the army, he also spent 21 years as a professional painter and even gained experience as an equipment operator. He returned to California in December 2016 after 42 years. Tim wrote that he stayed with some lifelong friends of his when he returned but “things didn’t work out and ended up homeless”. Five years later, he is still adapting to the changes within his home state and trying to find a place to call home.
Around April 2021, Tim noticed that he was having a hard time breathing and he was retaining water. He says he put on so much water weight, he “swelled up like a big balloon for about a month”. He did what he could on his own to fix his health issues, but it only got worse. When it became too much to handle, he called 911. The hospital prescribed him medications to help with his breathing and water retention. After a week in the hospital, he was feeling better and was released back to the streets.
The swelling resumed almost immediately and impaired him from being able to walk 10 feet. He even needed assistance rising from a seated position. Then, one day, Tim found himself stuck out in Redding’s blazing summer sun with no shade in sight. He had been jumped by a few “kids” who took all he had, even most of the clothes he was wearing. Nine hours later, burnt to a crisp, Tim was found by Shasta Community Health Center’s Dr. Patton and referred to the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program.
“Thank God and everyone that has helped me.” - Tim
He expressed appreciation for the motel rooms, food, medication management, transportation, and medical appointments. Tim was especially thankful for SCHC’s social worker, Sarah Till, who assisted him with obtaining a new CA ID and social security card as well as applying for Cal Fresh and Medi-Cal. Tim was able to lose the water weight and keep it off with the prescribed medications and lifestyle changes. He remains motivated to be more independent and follow through with everything he needs to do to stay healthy and acquire housing.
Tim is also adjusting to his recent sudden hearing loss. While in the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite program, he was able to meet with an audiologist and learned that he had total hearing loss in one ear and retained only 10% of his hearing in the other ear. Unfortunately, there were no signs that his hearing could be recovered. While the news was disheartening, Tim was able to order a set of hearing aids which should enable him to sense some background noises. Tim believes that adapting to his hearing loss will “be a learning process”. He is unsure whether he will ever truly adjust.
As someone with PTSD, Tim must rely on his senses to reassure himself of his surroundings. With one of those senses suddenly unavailable, his PTSD has been aggravated and he must find new ways to cope with the hypervigilance. He has been working Nation’s Finest, Redding’s premier Veteran’s Services Center, to build mindfulness techniques to help him recenter himself. Tim also tries to focus on the positives; he emphasized how the medical respite teams “let me know people still care & I’m alive!”
“Sometimes people need to know that someone else cares and will listen.” - Tim
Tim always appreciated the fact that Pathways to Housing’s Care Coordinator, Sara Martin, sought to make sure all his needs were met. He wrote, “everyone was on their A-game. If I needed anything I just had to ask, and they would do whatever they could to make it happen.” We understand that illness and injury take a toll on one’s mental wellbeing. We strive to treat each patient with the utmost patience and respect so they may have the support they need to make a full recovery. Nothing makes a situation worse than when your efforts are met with misunderstanding or contempt.
We try to meet our patients wherever they are in their recovery and move at their pace to encourage patients’ autonomy and accountability. Tim’s advice for future patients is, “when you’re sick, get help, and do what your told by the ones trying to care for you.” Sometimes in life, we are faced with harsh or confusing changes. Although it may be difficult, it is important to follow the recommendations made by one’s provider to meet one’s health goals. By that same token, being kind and patient with oneself during times of change is equally important.
“Thank all of you for your time, understanding, your kindness, and compassion!” - Tim
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