An outdoor adventurer, gardener, and avid reader, Paul is enjoying his retirement in the City where he grew up.
Without support from Lowell CHC, he’s not sure any of that would be possible.
Most days, you’ll find Paul out of doors. “My two biggest passions are gardening and hiking,” he says. “There is no place I would rather be than in the forest.”
In his mid-70s, Paul still lives in the Centralville home that his family purchased in 1942, where he diligently tends the garden beds first planted by his grandmother.
Paul’s passion for the great outdoors has helped him transform his life. So has the coordinated, compassionate care he’s received at Lowell CHC.
It’s hard to believe there was a time when Paul could barely walk across a parking lot, let alone hike miles in the woods or bend down to weed his garden. For years, he had ignored a host of health issues, many stemming from untreated substance abuse.
All that changed when he found the Health Center.
Growing up, both of Paul’s parents worked in the mills. He attended Lowell Catholic, where he describes himself as a “trouble-maker,” turned bookworm. “As soon as I discovered a love of reading, I was off!” Paul remembers joyfully.
He attended Boston College, where he got swept up by the anti-war and social justice movements of the 1960s.
“We were going to transform the world into utopia,” he remembers.
Paul’s plan was to head to New York for graduate school, but the growing conflict in Vietnam changed that. A conscientious objector, he signed up for the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which sent him to Chicago to work at a mental health center. When the war ended, he continued this work back on the East Coast.
His life took a hard left-turn when his marriage ended abruptly. The shame and depression that followed was debilitating, and Paul began to turn to substance use to ease the pain. The problem only worsened when he moved to New Mexico.
“I was functioning,” he remembers. But, as the years passed, his addiction began to take over. “I could tell I was in trouble. I was withdrawing, missing work.”
In 2004, Paul’s father died. He decided to return home to Lowell to care for his mother. It was time for a fresh start.
“I said, ‘I got myself into this – I’m getting myself out of it.’”
Paul made good on his promise. But years and years of drug use, smoking, and alcoholism had damaged his health. At one point, he ended up in the emergency room, unable to breathe. It was another turning point.
After he was stabilized, the doctors at the hospital recommended Lowell CHC.
“From the beginning, I just felt comfortable, that I was going to get better – that these people at the Health Center were on my side.”
Paul’s care team helped him understand all of his conditions and what he needed to do to get things under control. This support gave him renewed motivation.
“I decided I wanted to be healthy – I had to be obsessive compulsive about my health.”
By making drastic lifestyle changes, he lost 35 pounds, eliminated his type-2 diabetes diagnosis, and greatly reduced his reliance on medications. He has maintained his sobriety for 10 years. Thanks to the incredible team at our Dental Center, even his smile is brighter than ever.
Paul knows sticking to his healthcare plan will give him more time for the things he loves – like discovering new trails on his daily hikes. He also knows that wouldn’t be possible without the thorough, personal care he’s received all these years at Lowell CHC.
“I’m very, very grateful. I am convinced I would not be here today without the Health Center. This is where I need to be.”