When Havertown resident Adrian Hickman turned 50, he decided he needed to "start cleaning some things up."
After struggling to lose weight, he underwent gastric-bypass surgery and lost 160 pounds, down from the 400 pounds he weighed before. Fresh off his successes, though, things started to turn a little sour.
A general manager for TLA Video, Hickman worked at the South Street and Chestnut Hill locations, but when the stores began to downsize in 2009, he was laid off. He had worked for the company since 2000.
Though he tried to look for work, the retail and video industry had left his skills behind.
"Like everybody else, I'm old enough that I really couldn't find work where I was," said Hickman, 55. "We just weren't getting hired. The video business, which I've worked for since 1983, has changed. Everything's online now."
So between getting his knees replaced and getting diagnosed with lung disease, Hickman turned to the Web, too.
His blog, A View from Under the Desk 2.0, is a way for him to share his thoughts on the Phillies (Hunter Pence is his current favorite), television shows and most importantly, his pulmonary rehab experiences, which offer him the structure work offered.
"I wanted something that had the social and schedule aspect of going to work," Hickman said. "I have responsibilities again. Every Wednesday, they have a seminar, and I have to learn how to breathe again. There are different things I need to eat."
Though going to Lankenau Medical Center for rehab three times a week offers Hickman the chance to socialize, his search for a restrictive lung disease support group hasn't been prosperous. He reached out to the American Lung Association in hopes of finding something to connect to others going through the same thing.
In Hickman's most recent blog post, he described his reasons for needing a support group:
I've searched high and low for a local support group in the Delaware Valley to no avail. I look for these groups not for answers as much as for shared experiences, shared support networks, and for someone who understands.
That is why this blog has morphed a bit. While I will still be posting some fun, silly, serious, and astounding general items, I also will be posting my honest and raw thoughts, hopes, and fear, in the hope that one other person out there in the blogosphere will read and find something that they can share as well.
Hickman remains upbeat and optimistic today, which is a long way from where he stood emotionally when he was first diagnosed.
"I'm not sitting at home going, 'Woe is me' all the time, which I did before," he said. "My outlook has improved tremendously. I still get down, and I still get frustrated. But the rehab has really improved the way I look at things now."
Hickman is somewhat new to Havertown after moving in with his sister in April, so he's trying to find things to enjoy again, such as attending concerts at Milkboy and continuing his blog.