Rehab Alland, Day Twenty-One: Pros and Cons

I’m going home in the morning.

*throws playing cards during the appropriate line*

Here’s my personal list of Alland pros and cons. Your mileage may vary.

pro: Lost a lot of weight (more than 10 kilos).
con: BIG con. Crash diet. No idea how this is supposed to help finding a sustainable lifestyle.
pro: Lots of exercise.
con: Very few different kinds of exercise. I would have preferred a wider range of options so that I could find something I would like to continue at home.
con: For my joints, some of the therapies were actually painful, especially underwater gymnastics.
pro: Beautiful house and environs.
pro: With a few notable exceptions, the staff was friendly and competent.
con: Most of the lectures were on a very basic level and thus not very educational.
con: My personal situation doesn’t fit the pattern very well. Some of my problems just weren’t addressed.
con: Days start obscenely early. Some mornings you’re supposed to be present at 6.00 AM.
pro: You’re supposed to participate, but you’re not locked up. You can leave the premises and skip meals on Saturdays and Sundays, provided you haven’t got therapies.
con: You only get your timetable for the day the night before, which makes it very had to plan visits.
pro: Nice rooms, provided you’re not in a double. Most rooms share a bathroom and lavatory with one neighbour.
con: Really bad mobile phone signal.
con: The quality of the food left a lot to be desired.

Would/Will I come again? Probably not.

Does that mean I advise you to stay away if your doctor wants to send you here? Absolutely not. Just be prepared, give it a thought beforehand what you expect and what you need. Try to maintain an attitude of personal responsibility for your well-being. Have everything explained to you in great detail and take part in all the decisions. After all, you’re the person that knows best.

Rehab Alland, Day Nineteen: The House

The facility I’m at has a rich history. It was built in the 1870s as a hospital for sufferers of tuberculosis and other diseases of the lung. After World War II it was requisitioned as quarters for the Red Army. In the 1980s, when tuberculosis wasn’t that big a problem any longer, it was established as a centre for metabolic disorders, especially diabetes.

The history has left its marks. Over time, several wings had been built and subsequently demolished. Currently, the house consists of two wings that are connected on the lower level. The central wing contains a reception area, a large common room and, most importantly, the dining hall. There are other common rooms scattered all round the house. Most of them offer some kind of entertainment, like a pool and air hockey table, a Wii, a darts machine, or a foosball table. There’s also a small café, although I haven’t been in there.

I really like what they’ve done with the place. 😀 It’s gorgeous. It’s also rather large and hard to find your way around. Some people might call it a labyrinth. There are patients here who, after almost three weeks, still have problems knowing where they are and where they need to go. It’s probably an inevitable consequence of the many reconstructions the place has undergone, but it can also be a real nuisance at times. Kafka would have loved it.

Another thing people find troublesome is that due to the rather remote location, it’s really difficult to get a signal on your mobile. I’m very lucky in that respect, as my room looks out towards the closest phone tower. That way I’m getting a tolerably good signal in my room as long as I stay close to the window. Not everyone is as lucky, though.

The medical facilities have been overhauled and greatly extended only last year. As a result, you can get a wide variety of therapies, both active, like ergometer training, and passive, like massages or hay compresses. They also have a pool for physical therapy that’s large enough for swimming, and that’s open several times a week at night.

The extensive grounds are very well kept and give you lots of opportunities for long walks. If that’s not enough for you you can venture out into the Vienna Woods, which are gorgeous at this time of year.
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Rehab Alland, Day Seventeen: The Woods

Vienna Woods
Vienna Woods

The town of Alland is located in the middle of the Wienerwald, or Vienna Woods. It’s a forested area some 45 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide to the south to west of Vienna. Part of it is actually inside city limits.

The area isn’t exactly mountain territory, although technically it is the start, or end, however you see it, of the main chain of the Alps. The highest hilltops are no higher than 900 metres and the whole area has been saved from planned deforestation in the 19th century, so it’s still heavily forested. A very small part is even said to still be primeval, although I’m not sure that is true.

Alland doesn’t have any hot springs or peat or whatever highlight you might find in spa towns. Instead, their therapy is based on long walks through the woods. If you want to lose weight, that happens to be exactly what the doctor prescribed. In my case, literally.

To be honest, hiking will never become my favourite pastime; although I must say I find it a lot more enjoyable than when I was forced to do it occasionally while still in school. Maybe it’s because here I can set my own speed and choose where I’m going. I’m not slacking off when it comes to steep or otherwise difficult terrain, either.

Anyway, I took my camera on most outings and made good use of it. Hope you like the pictures. My apologies if I’ve used one or the other before in a post.

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Rehab Alland, Day Fifteen: November

Apparently people have been reading my blog, although I get very few comments.

I’ve been very busy the last couple day, mostly hiking through the woods. I’m planning a longer post about the Vienna woods, which are gorgeous this time of year, so this time I’m just including a few pictures I took, trying to catch the foggy November weather.
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Oh, and incidentally, only one more week to go. Yay.

Of course I was forewarned that there would be setbacks. Everybody makes a special point of telling you that, and yet I wasn’t prepared for it at all.

Maybe it’s the foggy weather. Or I might be coming down with something.

What I had expected was an unexplainable weight gain. Or some serious motivation issues. Wanting to slack off. That’s not it at all.

Instead, everything is hard today. It’s not that I’m especially tired or demotivated, it’s just that every move of a muscle needs just that extra bit of effort, just a little more exertion, just a little more sweat. It’s also just a little bit easier to get agitated.

The right way to deal with it is indeed to accept the limits, to still go for a walk choosing a gentler route, to not get carried away by ambition, yet still keep at it. I must not ignore the difficulties, but accept them, and concentrate on the small pleasures.

A week after I arrived in Alland we’ve settled into a routine of some sort. We get up for breakfast at 7.30 unless we have checks before that. Then therapy, lectures, lunch, more therapy, a walk, supper. After that, we mostly hang out in one of the common rooms and chat or play games.
Most of us have already lost several kilos. All is well.

The door that leads nowhere.
The door that leads nowhere.

Of course, there are setbacks. Nearly everyone has already had days where they’ve actually gained weight. Sometimes it’s really hard to make do with 1100 calories. Sometimes I just want to get away from it all and just lock myself in my room and be on my own. That’s part of it.

Luckily, the other patients know exactly how you feel in that situation. You wouldn’t believe how liberating it is that for once I’m not The Fat Guy, but simply a member of a group of peers.

Mind you, I have no reason to complain about my friends or colleagues. I’m used to asking and getting special considerations if I need it. And yet, here I don’t have to ask, because we’re all (roughly) in the same boat. Makes for a nice change.

I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to post daily updates. Soon I’ll be running out of topics. Many thanks to everyone who has read these pages and given me support.

Goodness, I’m tired. (Oh my Gosh! I’ll be darned to heck!)

SKA Alland Pond
SKA Alland Pond

I don’t know why, but I found it incredibly hard to stay awake today – and during one of the lectures I failed miserably. Awkward. It’s not that I didn’t get enough sleep last night, although the day started *way* too early for my. I don’t think blood taken at 6.30 is any better than 8.30 blood, but for some reason they keep insisting on that absurd time.
Maybe I overdid things a little yesterday.

The place I’m at isn’t exactly a hospital, but it comes close. The main difference is that they only treat chronic cases here instead of emergencies. This gives the medical staff a lot more time for each patient and allows for therapies that wouldn’t be possible in a regular hospital.

SKA Alland Grounds
SKA Alland Grounds
However, about the same rules apply. While you’re here, you’re on sick leave from work. The house has a certain responsibility for your well-being and therefore imposes a number of rules we have to follow.
Most importantly, we are supposed to be present at meals and are not allowed to leave the premises at all. (Well, technically, but we must not stray too far.) The house will be locked down at 10 PM every day, so you better be inside by that time.
Weekends are the exception from the rule. If your responsible physician agrees, you are allowed to skip a meal or two and go out.
I took the opportunity and went home today. There is a washer and a dryer patients can use, but I strongly prefer doing my laundry at home. That way, I could get rid of some stuff and bring a few things I had left at home the first time. And I could see a dear friend. Luckily I hadn’t been here long enough to be overwhelmed by the sounds and hectic life of the big city, so I enjoyed the day. I still tried not to eat too much, although it was a little more than I get here. We compensated by taking a pleasant walk through the city centre, so that’s all right, I hope.

SKA Alland
SKA Alland

Part of the therapy we’re getting here are all kinds of lessons that are somehow related to obesity or metabolic disorders. Today, for example, we had one about nutrition and one about the effects a large amount of body fat has on the organism.
The “teachers”, mostly physicians or other specialists they have on the staff, are doing their very best to make the time entertaining as well as educational, and I’m happy to say they are doing a pretty good job. Unfortunately, they need to start on a very low level in order to reach out to most of the people here.
I have a very low tolerance for ignorance. Not in the sense that someone fails to be in possession of a certain bit of information. No one knows everything there is to know, and everybody’s education is necessarily full of huge gaps. I’m aware of that. But how can people be morbidly obese for decades – no one gets it surprisingly overnight – and not have the faintest idea of what they’re doing to themselves and how?*
There are people here who need it explained what the basic food groups are! Or why a healthy metabolism is necessary for a healthy body. After all, a high glucose level or blood pressure doesn’t hurt. Neither can they tell, approximately how many calories a bar of chocolate has.
If you’re healthy and don’t know the answers to those questions, don’t worry. In fact, be glad that you never had to learn them. But it’s another thing entirely to remain ignorant of these things while this very ignorance is slowly killing you, or contributing to it. And it’s not even a head-in-the-sand thing. Instead, you hear things like “My wife does all the cooking.” I’m sorry, I didn’t know guns were dangerous. My wife does all the shooting.

On a happier note, I got a visit from my lovely big sister today. We went to the nearby town of Mödling and even ventured into the dangerous halls of a restaurant, the Casita. I had saved up some 500 calories from my diet over the week and it’s a tapas bar, so the portion sizes fitted my needs. I had three delicious meatballs and some alioli, and I’m certainly going to re-visit when I can actually have a real dinner.

* Maybe at a later date I’ll do a post on habits and addictions and explain why knowing isn’t the same as stopping.

On Friday I was surprisingly called in to see the head physician. Dr. Mario Francesconi appears to be somewhat of an authority when it comes to metabolic disorders, so I was quite thrilled to the the opportunity and meet the man.
Apparently my case is one of the more promising ones, so he made himself available personally to discuss my options. He was very direct as to the chances I have of losing all the excess weight I’m carrying around, which are about zero. I knew that already, although not physician has ever told me that clearly. We had a rather satisfying talk, touching on topics from medication to surgery, as well as the chances and dangers. I’ve been summoned back for a second talk the day before I leave, when we will decide on further measures I could take after I get home.

SKA Alland
SKA Alland

As to therapy, I had half an hour of ergometer training. It showed that I’m used to riding a bike, as I could work with a much stronger resistance than the rest of my group. Seeing others struggle where I’m doing fine helps me seeing myself differently. I’m not the complete wreck I sometimes think I am. Things could be much worse.
One thing I find irritating is that the staff automatically assumes that you have done this before. Even if you ask, you get very little in the way of explanation or introduction. Of course, I keep insisting.
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