Split Personality

Split Personality - The Dual Existence of Misdirected

They say each day brings new opportunities.

“They” forget to mention that a new day also brings new problems.

As my schedule has filled up with writing, family visits, and prep for my Personal Trainer exam, a few other details have been sort of left unattended to. Ignored, even. One of those little details has been the current identity of my website.

Not a week goes by that I don’t have some version of the following conversation: “Man, I went looking for info on your new fiction books, and all I found was some blog for fat people.”

Or, alternately, “I was trying to find your books on bariatric surgery, and some dude with your name is writing stuff about vampires.”

Welcome to the world of a multi-platform writer.

The Surgical Solution

The problem, of course, is that my website, jeremycschofield.com, currently exists only as a platform for Misdirected. This is where people come to find info on our surgical journey(s), life experiences, and ups and downs. Anyone looking for info on my fiction works finds…nothing.

On the other hand, anytime I talk about my fiction writing, I get a certain amount of push-back. “I don’t care about your novels, when is your book on bariatric surgery coming out? Stop wasting time with that other stuff and write about important things.”

My supporters on Patreon are even more confused: “Am I supporting your health and wellness blog, or your fiction writing?” (The answer is “Yes”, by the way.)

So, yeah, I would say that the time has come for a bit of an overhaul. Time to get things straightened out in the world of personal marketing.

Which is going to mean some revisions to the website that I have been putting off for fear of the project taking over my life.

The Literary Truth

So, here’s the skinny: Misdirected remains my main project for plugging into people who are going through or interested in bariatric surgery. There is also going to be a book talking about my experiences with bariatric surgery.

That book has just not been written yet.

See, my other project, the episodic Urban Paranormal novel Inheritance, has been taking up all my writing time. I have finally completed the storyline, and the first four episodes have already been released into the wild at Fiction Vortex.

What clearly needs to happen is that I need a home for each of these projects. I have even flirted with the idea of writing two entirely separate blogs, but that way lies madness. Instead, I will have to re-engineer the current website so that a new visitor gets deposited at a front page where they can choose between wanting info on my fiction writings and my health/wellness writings.

Given that I have completed the entire storyline for Inheritance, this is probably the time to start working on that project. Then I can write the first of my bariatric surgery books. Following which I can begin work on the sequel to Inheritance.

My head hurts just thinking about it.

Strap Yourself In

So, be prepared! Changes will be made. Things will probably break. Web pages will look funky. The days when I actually created websites as a programmer are decades behind me. I am bound to screw things up.

But, at the end of the project, we should have a lovely landing page where people can head safely to choose between my offerings. Fiction readers to the left, Misdirected subscribers to the right. Something like that.

As my fiction begins releasing as complete novels, they will be available on the website. Once the health/wellness books start releasing we should have access to those as well.

I hope.

I have some minor surgery coming up in July (battery replacement on my VNS implant), so maybe I can sketch out my changes while I am lying around recovering.

While I am not studying for the PT exam, that is.

And not editing my fellow Ash Falls authors.

And not outlining the sequel to Inheritance.

Sigh. See what I mean?

First World Problems,

Jeremy

The Saga Of The Stones (Not a Story About Iceland)

After you go through bariatric surgery, you are warned about a few things. “Take your multivitamins” your nutritionist will tell you. “Otherwise you will suffer from malnutrition.”

“Make sure you exercise 150 minutes a week” you surgeon will prod you. “Lack of physical activity is the #1 leading cause of regain.”

And your whole medical team will tell you “Stay hydrated!” They will give you a long list of things that can go wrong if you don’t drink enough, including this one: “Lack of hydration can lead to kidney stones.”

Turns out your medical team actually knows a thing or two about this.

The Path Paved With Good Intentions

I had thought I was doing pretty well on the whole “hydration” thing. I drink about 40 ounces of (decaffeinated, sigh) coffee over a couple hours every morning. After that, I try to down another couple of 20-ounce bottles of water during the course of the day. 80 ounces of hydration a day, right?

Except…well, a few things have come up in the past few weeks. We’ve started a pretty intense new exercise routine at our gym called “BodyPump”. It involves high-rep (like 70+reps) low-weight exercises for the entire body. Though we only do it a couple of times a week, it is a major drain. And I can’t say that I leave the class feeling like I am fresh and hydrated. More like I am a squeezed-out dishrag, really.

And, then, we have our semi-annual visitor. Our nephew has come to stay with us for a few weeks, which throws our entire schedule into disarray. We spend all our time hanging around with him (we like him), and tend to ignore our regular routine. Between the new exercise program and our break in routine, my hydration habits have probably been less than optimal.

And down that path lies madness.

Eruption

It began one night late last week. At about 9 pm, I stood up to head to bed. Suddenly, I was aware of what felt like a cramp, deep in the right side of my abdomen. It felt as though someone had inserted a metal bar into me. No matter what I did to stretch, nothing worked to release the pressure.

Finally, I shrugged it off and went off to complete my nighttime routine, hoping the pain would simply go away on its own. However, during my ritual nightly visit to the bathroom, something unusual happened.

Nothing.

No matter how I strained and pushed, I could not pee no matter how hard I tried. I knew I needed to. I just couldn’t manage to get the job done, as it were.

Now, I am a man in his late 40s. I have been through some of the more…exotic…issues that accompany my aging physiology, including prostatitis. But this just didn’t feel the same. I finally gave up and went to complain to Lor. She immediately questioned my hydration for the day.

Now, as it turns out, my fluid intake for the day had consisted of…one cup of coffee. All day. No more. She suggested I down some fluids. I spent ten minutes taking in 20 ounces of water, hoping to get things moving.

Then all hell broke loose.

Suddenly, I was no longer suffering from a sore spot in my abdomen. Now, I suddenly felt as if someone had inserted a red-hot poker into my abdomen and shoved it all the way through my lower back.

The Night That Would Not End

Chatting later with others that have suffered from kidney stones, I was able to determine that this was a pretty normal set of symptoms. At the time, I was positive that no one had ever experienced pain on this level. From 11 PM till 1 AM, I kept up an ongoing argument with myself about whether or not I needed to go to the emergency room. I was quite certain that my appendix had burst, or something equally dire.

However, at around 1 in the morning, I was suddenly able to produce about an eyedropper’s amount of urine. Some of the painful internal burning subsided.

I immediately drank a little more, hoping to flush out whatever was causing this ailment.

The pain returned.

I kept this cycle up, also taking a shower four different times, hoping the heat would help with the muscular pressure. (It did, a bit.) Finally, at 4:30, my exhaustion overcame my pain and I fell asleep on the couch.

At 7:00 AM Lor came and woke me up, ready to take me to the urgent care center. I made one last attempt to go to the bathroom…

And succeeded, producing a bowl filled with an evil-looking orange fluid. I spent the next two days seated on the couch, trying not to move due to how sore I was.

Except, of course, during my frequent trips to the bathroom.

Hydrate Or Die

So, did all this occur due to a week’s worth of bad habits?

Almost certainly not. I have probably been failing in my hydration goals for weeks now. Certain people have suggested to me that downing 40 ounces of fluid first thing in the morning should probably not be counted toward my 80-ounce a day goal. It apparently needs to be spread out over the day, not all done at once.

If I wasn’t a believer in hydration before, by God, I am now. I may never leave the house without a Camelbak again, just to avoid another night like that.

My PSA for the day: Avoid Kidney Stones.

I tried it, and you won’t dig it.

Still Sore, Four Days Later,

Jeremy

The Week That Got Away

The Week That Got Away

A few of you sent tentative questions wanting to know what happened last Friday. Was I on vacation? Had Misdirected switched to a weekly publication schedule when you weren’t looking? Had some other mysterious event befallen me?

In truth, it was a series of events…strap in and I will bring you up to speed.

Puppy Gymnastics

First, meet our new exercise program:

The ghosts of Samson and Frankie watching over her little doggie bed…

Her name is Delilah. She is a 6-month old Chi-Weenie, and no I didn’t come up with that breed name. On the 9th through the 11th of June, our local Albuquerque Humane Society ran an event where they were attempting to “empty the city shelters” by adopting pets for only $5. We visited, and Delilah was the result.

At six months old, she came to us very confused about life in general, and about house rules like potty-training in particular. So she has completely destroyed our daily schedules, including gym attendance.

However, she herself is a profound exercise generator. A few weeks ago I was speculating about how to get over 10,000 steps a day consistently. We have found the answer. Socializing and playing with a new puppy has kept us above our daily step goal every day, with one marathon of a day putting us at nearly 14,000 steps. She hasn’t been great for our weight-lifting routines, but boy is she good for the heart. In more ways than one.

The Inheritance Marathon

Inheritance Book Cover

Speaking of long-term exercise, my longest-ever writing exercise is over. I finished writing Inheritance last week. It has now been handed off to my editorial review team. Who will undoubtedly find so many issues with it that I will effectively have to re-write it. I couldn’t care less.

This is a big one for me, folks. When I started writing Misdirected all those years ago, it was a daily journal of my gaming activities. I had no idea that it would begin a chain of events that would lead to me completing an entire novel. But, it has done just that, and I couldn’t be happier. Even if I never sell more than two copies (I have two parents, remember), I will be able to go through the rest of my life knowing that I actually sat down and wrote an entire novel. This is huge for someone who couldn’t put a sentence together ten years ago.

Once again, if you too are suffering from a disability, keep pushing those boundaries. You never know how far you will get until you try.

The ACE Fitness Iron-Man

I also finished my course of study for the ACE Fitness Personal Trainer course last week. I got myself revved up, sat down for the practice exam…

And flunked it.

I even got a consolation note from the ACE Fitness on-line study system: “That’s why we call it a practice exam!”

So, yeah. I now have just over 30 days to get my real exam scheduled and to take another practice exam, this time (hopefully) passing.

Needless to say, I am glad I already finished Inheritance. I won’t be doing any fiction writing of any kind in the next month. I am going to be busy.

Studying for this certification may be the hardest thing I have ever done. I have never been an athlete. I have never had any aptitude for biology. I always watched bodyworkers like Lor with a certain mixture of awe and jealousy.

Becoming professionally certified as a personal trainer could not be further out of my comfort zone.

But, if Misdirected has taught me anything, it is that there are a bunch of people out there looking for support and advice. And the ACE PT certification is my first step toward feeling comfortable providing advice from a professional background, rather than just shooting from the hip. Personal experience and internet research can only take you so far.

So, yeah. Here we are. Wish me luck as I study constantly for the next month. I have a feeling I am going to need all the luck I can get.

Hitting The Books Like I Used To Hit The Girl Scout Cookies,

Jeremy

The Weight Train Starts Rolling Again

My weigh-in this weekend presented an unexpected surprise. I have been very consistently maintaining somewhere between 182 and 184 pounds for weeks now. So imagine my surprise when I stepped on the scale yesterday and saw “180.0” blinking at me. This represents a 3-pound loss since my last weeks weigh in. I had sorta thought my extreme weight loss days were behind me now. Maybe not.

The Fitbit Badge Experience

Along with me being surprised came my Fitbit’s excitement about the whole situation. Apparently, when I began using the Fitbit back in November I was at 211 pounds. Now that I suddenly reached 180 I have earned a 30-pound weight loss “badge”. These virtual pats on the back seem to exist mainly to have something to share with friends on Twitter and Facebook, rather than having any real use in the Fitbit app.

 

Earning this badge didn’t really strike me as important initially. I had already earned my “Weight Loss Goal” badge a few weeks back when I hit 185 pounds, after all. When one has lost over 120 pounds, 30 of that total doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

 

But, on the further reflection, 30 pounds is actually quite a bit. For a “normal” person, 30 pounds might represent their entire weight loss goal! After all, 30 pounds might represent a decade and a half of creeping weight gain. Gain two pounds a year for 15 years, and suddenly you are 30 pounds overweight. 30 pounds lost, to that person, might represent returning to their previously healthy weight.

 

For a different example, another 30 pounds of weight loss would move me from “overweight” to “normal” in the eyes of the evil overlord of weight loss: the BMI chart.

The Terrible Tyranny of BMI

 

Now, let me be clear: I have no real interest in dropping another 30 pounds at this point.

 

I am already down to size Medium tops and a 36-inch waistline. For someone who started at XXLs and a 50-inch circumference, this seems like a pretty good place to be.

 

Also, in one of the more annoying side effects of bariatric surgery, the more I lose, the worse I look. I am already swimming in a sack of empty skin. Dropping another 30 pounds would only make that situation worse. Every day I look in the mirror and contemplate the possibility of another round of surgery. It would take four different surgical procedures just to remove all this flopping skin hanging off my body everywhere.

 

But, still, the temptation remains. The fact that I hate the BMI chart does not change the fact that, deep down, I want to defeat it. It has denigrated me my entire adult life. Why wouldn’t I want to strike back against it?

Watchful Weight-ing

 

So, what am I going to do about weight loss moving forward?

 

Nothing much that I am not doing already.

 

I am already exercising 6 days a week, especially since I have renewed my love/hate relationship with the Fitbit. I did fail to log activity last week on Friday and Saturday, but that is due to my involvement with our new puppy. The steps are accumulating, let me tell you.

 

I am already eating 1,000 – 1,200 calories a day on a low-carb diet. I have no intention of trying to reduce that amount any more. That way lies madness. Not to mention potential malnutrition.

 

And, the simple fact is that I am about as healthy as I have ever been at this point. I can do things today, at almost 47 years old, that I couldn’t do at 17. Run two miles, for instance. I will probably never be a power-lifter again, but I am much more interested in functional muscle development at this point anyway. I would rather be able to hike for 4 – 6 hours, rather than bench press 250 pounds.

 

So, if more weight loss comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I intend to just keep doing what I am doing and see what comes of it.

 

I am tired of constantly replacing clothing anyway.

 

Chasing Puppies Is High-Intensity Aerobic Exercise,

Jeremy

(Almost) Hawk Watch Trail

First, thanks for all the support and encouragement from last Friday’s post! There has been quite a bit of positive feedback, for which I thank you all. On Friday itself, I literally had to walk a bit around the neighborhood before bed in order to drag myself across the 8,000 step line for the day. I silently committed to myself that I would do better on Saturday as I fell asleep that night.

Except, I didn’t. Saturday, as it turns out, was full of stuff. The kind of stuff that totally ruins exercise planning. I spent hours visiting with my family across town. Then, even more hours hanging out in a marathon online gaming session with my brother. By the time bedtime rolled around I had managed only 5,000 steps for the day, with no reasonable way to recover.

Well, I thought, there’s always tomorrow…

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Sunday is supposed to be our “free day” for the week. You know, we relax our dietary restrictions a bit, don’t hit the gym, give ourselves time to recover from the previous week.

Well, my recovery had been performed the previous day, so Sunday was going to have to be spent picking up the slack. I began to plan our assault on the wilderness as soon as I woke up Sunday morning.

I have probably failed to mention, but we’ve begun to amass a collection of “day hiking” gear since our last foray. In a previous post I mentioned the items that I thought we needed for future day hikes. Since then, we have been getting buried in donated gear. Not one but two hydration packs. A GPS unit. An emergency locator for when I get lost in the woods. Even a pack size first-aid kit. Other than shoes, we now have just about everything we need for day hiking trips.

But we hadn’t had a chance to try out all this nifty new gear yet. I woke up Sunday morning and began prepping all our cool new stuff. When Lor got up a few hours later, she was also ready to head out the door and into the woods. We gathered up our stuff, patted Vixen on the head, and locked the door behind us, then drove over to the Tijeras Canyon.

What Is Your Definition Of “Moderate?”

Again, I used the Sandia Mountain Hiking Guide to pick our destination. I selected “Hawk Watch Trail” for our day’s excursion. Hawk Watch Trail is an offshoot of Three Guns Trail, which winds through the Southern end of the Sandias from the Tijeras Canyon until it meets the  Embudo Trail in the foothills above central Albuquerque. Hawk Watch sounded interesting, terminating at a point where researchers studied raptors in the area. It was listed at 4 miles in length and “Moderate” in difficulty.

Someday, I need to meet the person that writes the Hiking Guide. As it turns out, their definition of “moderate” involves steep switchbacks ascending 1,500 feet from the base of the canyon to a plateau 7,400 feet in elevation, overlooking the Tijeras Canyon and the plains South of Albuquequrque. Visibility was pretty awesome, though – we were able to see all the way to the Polvadera Mountain near Socorro:

“Moderate” difficulty notwithstanding, we were not up to the task of making it all the way to the top. We should have started our hike much earlier in the day. Two miles up the trail we were sun-blasted, drenched, and wobbling. We were finally forced to admit that one of us was going to wind up plunging downhill into a cactus if we kept this up. Being stubborn, we didn’t return back down the trail. Instead, we followed an unmarked trail that sort-of looked like it would wind up back at the trailhead.

Two hours later we finally made it back to the car.

The After-Action Report

The bad news, of course, is that we didn’t finish the trail. The whole canyon area is very dry, with almost no cover, and by mid-day it gets totally sun-blasted. We may need to consider moving our hikes further up into the Sandias, past the tree line.

That or hike indoors, which sort of defeats the purpose.

The good news was that, by the time we had hit the bottom of the trail,  I had already dinged over my 8,000 step goal for the day.  The GPS unit worked great, the hydration packs were a life-saver, and I didn’t have to use the emergency beacon or the first aid kit. So, overall, a win for our little expedition.

But I have some serious doubts now about tackling any of the Sandia Hiking Guide trails that are listed as “Difficult”.

My Quads Are Feeling It Today,

Jeremy