It’s been too long since I’ve updated you on Anthony. Since then, he’s recovered from the strokes he suffered at the beginning of 2016 and seems to be doing well. His speech is still not back to what it was before the strokes, but he is working on it.
I have some other cool news about Anthony. He’s been working with Second Story Cards to put out a series of greeting cards. Full disclosure, I started Second Story Cards, a greeting card company that gives men and women experiencing homelessness an opportunity to tap into their creative side and make fun, and occasionally, irreverent greeting cards.
For Anthony, this means a great deal. While he’s able to earn money selling the Street Sense newspaper, he’s just barely able to pay his rent, buy groceries and pay for other incidentals. Additional income would help him ensure that he is able to keep his apartment, and hopefully, some day move into an apartment with a private kitchen and bathroom – right now he shares those facilities with approximately 22 other men who live in a communal housing building.
Anthony’s first cards are shown below. The website is not fully up and running yet, but email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you out. Cards are $5 each, or $20 for 5. Stay tuned for more of Anthony’s cards!
The year has started off with both Anthony and me spending way too much time around doctors! I had a scheduled surgery to repair my labrum, the part that connects your bicep to the rotator cuff, on January 7th. It’s been almost three weeks and I am doing ok. I’m still in some pain, especially when I do my exercises but honestly it’s been way better than I thought. The biggest challenge, besides simply not being able to use my dominant arm, is sleeping. I have to sleep sitting up. I rented a recliner from Rent-A-Center (nightmare experience by the way) which has proved to be worth the pain of dealing with them.
Anthony has had much more critical issues. He has been hospitalized twice in the past two weeks. He suffered a stroke in his left parietal lobe. He was released about five days later and was doing ok until earlier this week when his speech worsened and he demonstrated a few other signs that the stroke was potentially progressing. I called 911 for him and he returned to the hospital where he has since been released. He is doing ok, but needs speech and physical therapy to help aid in his recovery. All of this was going on during Snowzilla to make matters more complicated.
Anyway, I continue to be in touch with Anthony daily and always pass along all the warm words of encouragement I receive from you. This has been a particularly hard month for him financially as well as he hasn’t been able to work most of the month due to hospital visits and recovery. If you would like to help him with this month’s rent, you can make a donation here.
Always on time, Anthony was waiting for me outside the Starbucks at 22nd and K. Wearing his black and gold Steelers hat and matching backpack, he greeted me with a giant bearhug. We stepped inside, grabbed a coffee and took over a table in the corner. We had about 40 minutes until he needed to be at his doctor’s appointment.
We made two bets. The first one was whether he weighed more or less than the last time he and I went to see his doctor which was last July. If he weighed less than his previous 276 pound weigh-in I would pay him a dollar. If he was more, he owed me a dollar. The second bet was about smoking. Anthony had quit for about a month, but admitted this morning that he had started up again. I bet him that the doctor would tell him that the number one thing he could to positively affect his health was to quit smoking.
Overall the doctor said Anthony was doing ok. His blood pressure was high, then again it always is, but his other lab work looked ok. Except for his sugar. Anthony has been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. He’s been on medicine now for two weeks and is working on avoiding foods that spike his sugar levels.
As we walked out we both had the same amount of money as we did when we walked in. Anthony had lost weight – he was down to 263 pounds. But the doctor in fact did tell him that quitting smoking would have the largest positive impact on his health.
We made another bet for his check-up in August. If Antony loses 8 pounds to reach 255 pounds, I will pay him $2. If he’s above 255 he owes me $2. But, I wanted to make it a little more interesting. I agreed that if he loses 15 pounds by the August check-up, then I’ll make it $100. That would be money well spent in that it would be a solid start on getting his weight under control.
I’m getting tired of seeing Anthony in a hospital gown. I’m sure I am not as tired as he is though. He’s been in and out of the hospital since we started Anthony & Me. This time he was admitted due to some problems related to his feet, but G.W. Hospital ended up keeping him a few additional days due to his highly elevated blood pressure. Thankfully he was finally released last week.
While he was in the hospital he was supposed to have a meeting with a potential housing provider that we learned about through our superstar outreach worker Elizabeth. They rescheduled for today, but unfortunately the person from the facility either forgot about the meeting or didn’t have it scheduled because she wasn’t there.
Anthony called me from the bus ride home. “The good news is I know exactly where this house is located and it is a great location,” he told me with an enthusiasm in his voice that I hadn’t heard for weeks. But it faded away as quickly as it had returned. “The bad news is the program manager didn’t show up…so now we have to come back later this week or next week” There was a long pause and then I heard him sigh. “It’s like it never ends,” he muttered.
I hope to know tomorrow when the meeting is rescheduled.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to meet up with Anthony and take him to my podiatrist. A doctor of mine for several years, he agreed to see Anthony. The doctor doesn’t take Medicaid but he didn’t hesitate to offer to help. What a nice guy. I will let you know how his appointment goes.
So, Anthony gets out of the hospital, we go get him checked out by his physician later that week and then we meet with Elizabeth, the rockstar social outreach worker we have been working with to help get him housing.
Elizabeth had great news. Anthony has passed the basic qualification requirements for housing. And not just any housing. Now I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity for my friend. It’s a single room – so he doesn’t have to share it with others – which is important to Anthony. Next, it’s in Columbia Heights! For those of you who are not familiar with DC this is a great neighborhood with excellent access to public transportation.
A few days after my last post about how Anthony’s health seemed to be doing better I called him only to find him admitted at George Washington University Hospital. His blood pressure was dangerously high and he was not feeling well. A customer of his saw him sitting near the spot where he sells the paper and, after seeing that he didn’t look normal, asked if he was feeling alright. He wasn’t…and they called an ambulance.
I learned about this the following day. My office is only a few blocks from the hospital so I walked over on my lunch break to check on him. I was his only visitor he told me. While I was there with him he opened Continue reading →
Before I get started today, just a note to let you know that I have added some ad banners on the blog. Yep, there’s one just above where you’re reading now and another one over on the menu to the right. All proceeds go to help support the Anthony&Me project. If you see an ad that interests you, I encourage you to click on it as each click results in micro-revenue for the project. Thank you for your support!!
Anthony and I met up this morning for our bi-weekly meeting. First we went over to a doctor’s visit that he had. It seems that his blood pressure is getting more stable although it is still considerably higher than what the doctor would like.
We then headed across the street to the Whole Foods for lunch. We circled the hot and cold food bars surveying the various offerings until we both honed in on our prey. I made Continue reading →
It seems I got behind on my blog updates, but last week I met up with Anthony for our regular biweekly meeting. He was in pretty good spirits-in fact he told me he had encountered a bit of luck. Apparently a few days earlier he had found $205 (two $100 bills and a five) on the street. “I’ve never found anything like that,” he told me. Anthony used the money to pay for a hotel room for the weekend so that he could get warm and shower.
We walked over to the New Orleans Po’ Boy shop on 19th Street to grab some lunch and catch up on our progress. I went with the Cajun barbecue which I somewhat regretted later – after I saw they had a muffaletta sandwich. Oh well….Anthony didn’t Continue reading →
Greetings from sunny Miami! I’m here for work for a few days. After the frigid week we had in DC last week this is a welcomed change. You’d be surprised how just the sight of sunglasses, flip flops and swaying palm trees can unfreeze you from winter’s grasp.
I was struck by how many people there were begging around my hotel last night. I tend to think that DC has a large population of panhandlers, but this was at San Francisco or New Orleans levels. I’m not sure if they were homeless, but if they were I can understand that as surviving outdoors in South Florida does seem like a brighter option than Washington and places north.
I met Anthony at his corner on Tuesday morning. His bright yellow Street Sense vest makes him easy to spot. His face was tired and almost melancholy. He spotted me and the edges of his mouth perked up as we shook hands.I asked him how he had been feeling and he said he felt OK. In spite of this, I felt he was a little down though. I probed a little deeper and he shrugged it off and changed the subject. “How is the writing coming? You meet your goals?” he asked.
We decided to go get some lunch first and then discuss our progress. I’d promised Anthony that I would take him to Ray’s Hell Burger over in Rosslyn – a place that I normally would say has the best burger I’ve ever had. But this time was a disappointment. It fell short – the quality seems to have slipped there. On top of that I was feeling guilty taking him to a burger place when I know that he needs to eat healthier given his recent visit to the hospital.
Anthony ordered the Soul Burger – a six ounce all beef patty topped with bacon, swiss Continue reading →