2017: The Recap

2018The Misdirected 2017 Recap

By the time you are reading this, it will be 2018.

I’m actually putting this together on New Year’s Eve, 2017, during the early morning hours while everyone else in the house is asleep. But, by the time it reaches the world, another year will have passed. Our household will be on our way to Colorado to return our nephew to his parents. And we’ll be staring down the throat of another oncoming year.

Why the negative imagery? Reflexive action, I suppose. We were SO happy to see 2016 in the rear-view mirror. “Wow, glad that’s over with! 2016 was such a lousy year. We will never see anything that bad again!”

2017: “Challenge Accepted.”

So, now, I want to be a little more circumspect. Yes, I am glad this year is over. Yes, 2017 was a pretty crap year for the general public residing in the USA. But, it was actually a decent year for our household, all things considered.

The Good…

In terms of fitness, it was really a banner year.

Our fitness journey continued from 2016’s double-barrelled bariatric surgeries. In May of 2017, I actually hit my post-surgical goal weight of 185 pounds. That same month, Lor and I participated in our first ever 5K, the Albuquerque “Run For The Zoo”.

By July, I had settled in at what is apparently my new “normal” weight – 175 pounds. I was able to go into my one-year follow up at this weight, and at 25% body fat to boot. I’ve successfully lost just a hair under 130 pounds total, thanks to the combination of surgery and lifestyle changes.

July also brought me my exam for the ACE Fitness Physical Trainer certification. I have never been prouder of a “C” passing grade in my life. Since my development of Adult-Onset Epilepsy in 2004, I had pretty much resigned myself to never being able to learn anything long-term again. That professional certification means the world to me.

I was also able to meet another long-term personal goal: In September, my first novel, Inheritance, was published by Fiction Vortex. I literally have placed the novel on a shelf above my desk, just above eye level. Not as an ego-prop, mind you. (Though it certainly works for that.) Mainly it reminds me that I can do things that I had never thought were possible for someone with my disabilities.

Just to top off the year, we were able to re-enter foster care in November. We didn’t expect it and had made no plans for it. But, when a previous foster kid calls out of the blue and asks for help, you do your best to pitch in. We did, and now have a seventeen-year-old girl in our household. She is wild and unsettled and drives me crazy and I love her to death.

Other parents inform me that this is just about par for the course for raising a seventeen-year-old.

…The Bad…

Yikes, where to begin. Our country still reels from crisis to crisis like a drunken monkey. Racism and factionalism have been released to begin openly taking a place among us again. Our national governmental processes were screwed with at the highest level by a hostile foreign nation. Hundreds of our fellow citizens are being gunned down in the streets by both private individuals and bad-apple law enforcement officers.

Yet, we still manage to pay attention to the Kardashians as if they were somehow of equal importance to all this.

Personally, our families are aging and ailing. We buried family members and watched others continue wasting away. The immortal titans of our childhood were revealed to be mortal, and fragile. The very bedrock that our families are built upon seems to be shifting and eroding.

And, as a bitter topping for the crap-cake, freakin’ Tom Petty died.

…And, The Ugly.

For a year filled with success, there were sure a bunch of failures to go right along with them.

We were supposed to actually run a 5K before the end of the year. Never happened.

I wanted to tackle the La Luz trail up the front of Sandia Crest this summer. It was to be my demonstration of my personal victory over the limitations of obesity and epilepsy. Except it never happened, either.

For that matter, we never managed to go camping even ONCE in 2017. Mainly this had to do with my work with Fiction Vortex. But this does not represent any malice on their part – it just represents my inability to plan.

And NaNoWriMo was probably the biggest single artistic failure I have ever undertaken. Not only was I unable to complete the goal, but it left me so emotionally tapped out that I lay mostly fallow for the entire month of December. No fiction, no blog posts, no marketing, barely any contract work and editing. Very little contact with the outside world, in fact.

Basically, I lost two months of productivity by trying to write an entire novel in one.

So, yeah. There was that.

The Shining Goals of 2018

I have no desire to jinx us all by talking about how 2018 has to be better than 2017 or anything like that.

That said, I do have some intentions and goals for 2018.

Misdirected will continue on its merry way for 2018. Now nearing 2 years out from surgery, we will be focusing more and more on lifestyle and diet maintenance, social and emotional issues, and other community-specific thoughts. Given that I am now a Personal Trainer we will probably include some exercise-based content.

The rest of my Fiction Vortex team will be finishing up their Season One novels in February and March of 2018. I am looking forward to getting those novels published and into the hands of our readers. And just wait till you see what Season TWO has in store…

Speaking of Fiction Vortex, Fictionite has launched and is gaining traction as we speak. I am pretty excited to be acting as an ambassador for our awesome fiction-sharing app. (Starting at the Albuquerque Comic Con, January 12 – 14, 2018.)

I am going to get my Patreon site out of Neutral and moving forward once more. My patrons have been essential in making sure that I am able to create blog content, market books, etc. Imagine what we will be able to do with, say, double the amount of patronage…

And, of course, I will be completing the next book in the Brian Drake series in 2018. In fact, the first episode of Inheritance: Executor will be arriving on Fictionite in March of 2018.

You’d better go download Fictionite now, in fact. You’ve got a lot to read through to get ready for Season Two of Ash Falls.

Have A Safe, Happy, And Blessed 2018,



The Loneliest Job Of All

Though the image references Alzheimer’s, the message applies to all caretakers.

First, thanks for the emails, Tweets, and Facebook posts. Last week’s major seizure was totally unexpected, and I appreciate everyone’s concern and encouragement.

What was most interesting to me, though, was the amount of support Lor received. Messages ranged from “You go, girl!” to “EWWWWW! Do you really have to…?”

The short answer is yes, she does. Lor does periodically get to essentially change the diapers on her middle-aged husband.

Let’s talk about the role of a caregiver for a moment, shall we?

The Anchor Below The Surface

I might not be writing this today without the help of my caretakers over the years.

Seriously. As a person who has dealt with not one but two disabilities (epilepsy and morbid obesity), I have a certain perspective on this. And I simply could not enjoy the life I do without people willing to make my life possible.

Without Lor’s assistance, my ongoing recovery from obesity would not have been half as successful. She has acted as a fitness coach, a cheerleader, and a drill sergeant.  Meals have been prepped. Visits to the gym and to the doctor have been scheduled. Dire threats have been issued about the potential results of bad food choices. Lor has alternately led the way, stood beside me, and gotten behind me to power me over obstacles.

Anytime I have begun to drift away from new lifestyle practices, Lor has kept me in place – an invisible anchor below the surface of the stormy seas of my waxing and waning enthusiasm.

My success in beginning to overcome obesity is entirely due to her help. But even that pales when compared to what caretakers have done for my other disability.

The Never-Ending Struggle

It is one thing to work in concert with someone as you help them overcome an obstacle. You can encourage success and share the pain of failure as you work toward a common goal. At the end, you can look back and congratulate yourself on helping someone reach what they could not do on their own.

It is something else entirely to be acting as the caregiver for someone who is never going to “get there.”

Those caring for loved ones with degenerative conditions have the loneliest jobs of all. The only thing you can do is to try to improve the quality of life within the constraints imposed by illness.

These are the people who get to turn over bed-ridden parents regularly. Who have to schedule their lives around patients who can’t be left unattended. They might end up watching as a loved one withers away from cancer or Parkinson’s. Some are no longer recognized due to the effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

And, yes, these are the folks who get to clean up after seizures and other humiliating losses of bodily control.

Caring for someone with a degenerative condition is no joke. Though Lor shoulders the majority of the burden for my care, it requires assistance from a whole lot of other people. A team of caregivers, if you will.

And, in the end, what does all this effort result in, anyway?

Return on Investment

Well, Misdirected, for one thing.

If not for the assistance (and insistence) of my Mom back in 2008, I would never have received my Vagus Nerve Stimulator. The VNS has been the single most effective treatment for my seizures to date. Before the VNS I had clusters of seizures every single day.

If not for the support of my best friends I would not have gotten over my depression and suicidal urges.

Without the encouragement of my Father, I would have been afraid to try to “increase the size of the box” of my limitations.

Without Lor’s constant, daily work to facilitate my life, I would be sitting in a corner, staring at a television.

Instead, I don’t have enough hours in a given day to keep up with my projects. When I am not working on my novel, I am studying for my PT certification. I spend time working in advocacy and support for those with epilepsy and those going through bariatric surgery.

And, of course, I write the words you are reading right now. About 100,000 of them every year, in fact – on Misdirected alone.

None of this would happen without caregivers.

If you are a caregiver, sincerely, thank you. You are shedding light into very dark corners. And, on behalf of those of us whose conditions make us unable to communicate any appreciation to you, let me say this:

You are single-handedly changing someone’s world for the better.

How many other jobs give you that opportunity?

Stay Strong,


This Is Your Brain…

An Illustration of "Broken Brain"

It had been a great series of days. The Run For The Zoo 5K was checked off on my bucket list. I made my goal weight, only 10 months after my bariatric surgery. Finishing the entire first draft of my novel Inheritance was just about done.  I felt as if I was riding a great wave of momentum.

Which, of course, is when my “condition” chose to rear its ugly, unwelcome head.

Still No Cure For Epilepsy

8 AM yesterday I was chatting with my father about our plans for Mother’s Day. At 9 AM I was collaborating with the Ash Falls team about upcoming releases. All seemed right with the world.

At 10 AM, my left arm started twitching. I stopped what I was doing (As I always do anytime my body starts doing something unusual), and told Lor I was going to need my magnet.

My what, you ask? Those of us with a Vagus Nerve Stimulator implanted in our chest can run a kitchen magnet over the site of the implant to trigger it, hoping to forestall an oncoming seizure.

Unfortunately, we were too late.

By the time Lor got back, it was a full-blown seizure. A bad one. Seizures, as you may or may not know, come in varieties. Normally my seizures involve lapses in consciousness, called absence seizures. My eyes are open, I remain upright, I can even be steered around, but no higher brain function is present. I can’t communicate or make self-directed movements. As they say, “the lights are on, but no one is home.”

Afterward, I rarely can remember what has occurred. This is why having a full-time caregiver is a necessity – the number of ways you can injure yourself during a seizure is mind boggling.

And yesterday’s interruption was no absence seizure.

The Involuntary Workout

By the time Lor was back from the kitchen, it was too late to hold off the seizure.

She gave me a swipe anyway, hoping to shorten its length. I was in no position to say thanks. My head was tilted to the left, and I could feel a trickle of drool running out over my lip and down my face. Most alarmingly, my left arm was now extended straight in front of me, solid as a rock, the muscles in my forearms visibly jumping and twitching. It felt like the most intense isometric exercise I had ever performed.

See, the “felt like” part is what really freaked me out. Normally, I am not conscious of my seizures. While my seizures are taking place and freaking out everyone around me, my mind has usually been turned off. Not yesterday. Yesterday, I got to sit and watch as my body just took off without me.

In subjective time, it felt like I was trapped in that position for hours. In “real time”, it was all over in less than 5 minutes. But 5 minutes of non-stop, full-blown muscular contraction is enough to fatigue just about anyone. There is a reason that HIIT training only goes for intervals of 30 to 60 seconds with rest breaks in between. Anything more is not normally possible.

At least, not while there is someone at the controls.

The Calm After The Storm

Once we thought that the storm had passed, Lor directed me to the shower. She got to babysit me and direct me to use soap, wash everything, brush my teeth, etc. Why? Because after a seizure I don’t always remember, and will sometimes stand under the water until she turns it off.

She then got the lovely task of taking my clothing and the seat cushion I had been sitting on to the washer. Oh, did I forget to mention that “involuntary muscular movements” frequently means incontinence as well?

Next time you see a caregiver for a disabled person, give them a hug. Take them to lunch. Buy them a fruit basket. If you haven’t been one, you have no idea what a miserable, thankless job it can be. How Lor does it with a smile I will never know.

The rest of my day – originally slated for production of fiction – got spent napping and staring at the television. Seizures leave me in an addled state for much longer than it takes me to recover the ability to speak. Lor started watching the second episode in a series we have been watching, and after the first two minutes, I made her stop. Not only was I not remembering the first episode, I was confusing the series (Amazon Prime’s Bosch, highly recommended) with the movie Mullholland Drive. I probably should’ve stuck with cartoons.

An entire day of productivity, flushed down the drain thanks to misfiring brain cells.

How Raw is Too Raw?

I get asked frequently why I write about the things I do. Isn’t it uncomfortable, just laying it all out there for the whole world to see?

Well, yes. It bothers me to know that the audience of Misdirected knows that I am not always in control of my own brain. Just like it bothered me to confess that my eating was so out of control that I had topped 300 pounds.

But, that is sort of the point. The longer things like Obesity and Epilepsy remain forbidden subjects, too embarrassing to talk about, the longer it will take us to address them.

I have hope for those of us with these forbidden conditions and disabilities. Once upon a time, breast cancer was a subject no one talked about. Today it is a trendy subject. Pink ribbons blossom everywhere to fund research and support for those suffering from the disease. It is possible to drag these things out into the light and begin working on them.

But only if someone starts talking about these conditions first.

As for me? Back to the gym today. I refuse to fall back into gloom and despondency just because I have had a setback. I may only feel safe doing cardio today, but, by God, I am going to do what I can.

As for you? Hug your Mom on Mother’s Day this Sunday. Do something nice for a caregiver. Drop a buck into the pot at the Epilepsy Foundation or the Obesity Action Coalition or the National Fibromyalgia Association and support those who are suffering from one of these “hidden” diseases.

And I will just keep on dragging this stuff out into the light, and make people a little uncomfortable when they read about it.



Raw Like Yesterday’s Road Rash,



How Far Away: Arriving At Long-Term Goals

Creating Meaningful Long-Term Exercise Goals
Image Courtesy of girdwoodsummer.wordpress.com

Yesterday (just like every day) I was hitting the books for the ACE Personal Trainer certification. I have just reached the concept of building a plan for new clients. The #1 core around which you should build a new training plan? Long-term goals. Your client should have a reason they are coming to the gym every day, or they won’t adhere to the program.

This struck me, because the main reason I hit the gym every day is fear of re-inflating. I am not sure that counts as a long-term goal. All “stick” and no “carrot”, if you follow me.

Putting Down The Stick

Now, a few weeks back I did decide that I had to change my workout routine to get ready to head back to Stone Age climbing gym. So that counts as a long-term goal, I suppose. But what happens after the first visit to Stone Age?

I also added the C25K program to my workout in preparation for the upcoming Run For The Zoo. Full disclosure: I am never gonna make it to running all 5 kilometers before the event next month. We’ll be signing up for the “Fitness Walk” section of the event instead. I am very disappointed in myself, but the arthritic knee will just not hold up while running 3.1 miles straight. I suppose this leaves me with a long-term goal for next year.

But, at the end of the day, I am not an athlete. I am a writer – an artist, if I can say that without coming off like a twerp. Where do I find a goal that actually moves my artistic side, but is still somehow fitness-related?

The Trail To The Sky

In my backyard, as it turns out.

For years, Lor and I have looked up at the Sandia Mountains and speculated: Wouldn’t it be cool to hike the La Luz?

For those not in our area, the La Luz Trail starts in the foothills above Albuquerque. It then climbs over 3,000 feet straight up (well, a 12% grade) to the crest of the Sandia Mountains. The Trail is an 8-mile endurance test through 4 climactic zones, with some of the best views anywhere at the top (at 10,378 feet above sea level.)

It is no joke, either: every year people lose their lives climbing the Sandias. You need to come prepared, or just stay home.

Since I have been getting more and more comfortable with and interested in producing my own photography for Misdirected, this seems like a no-brainer. Climb the mountain, take some photos, take the Tram back down to the parking lot.

What, I am certainly not going to walk all the way back down, right?

Mission: Accepted

So, what does this mean for long-term goal planning?

First, we obviously need to be able to walk 8 miles. So we need to start working some endurance into our exercise routines.

Second, the trail is steep. So, I am going to need to get off the treadmill and onto an elliptical and stair-stepper at the gym, to start working up the calves and ankles.

Thirdly, the depressing reality of doing anything with epilepsy: planning for what happens if something goes wrong. Lor is pretty buff these days, but she still can’t carry me several miles downhill. We will need to create contingency planning and schedule regular check-ins with folks who are not currently on the Trail, who can get help up to us if we need it.

Lastly: gear. Do I have hikers capable of handling this trail? (Answer: No.) Am I prepared to carry several pounds worth of water, snacks and first-aid gear in a backpack 8 miles uphill? (Answer: Maybe.) Some time needs to be spent in the foothills working out these details before we learn the hard way on the Trail.

So, there it is: a meaningful long-term goal for my exercise training at the gym. Time to switch things up and start working out with my eyes set on the summit of the Sandias.

And sorry, Vixen, but I am afraid you won’t be invited on this one. After the first two miles, I would just have to carry you the rest of the way.

I Would Rather Carry 8 Pounds Of Food And Water,





A Tiresome Intrusion: Epilepsy Follow-up Care

It’s about that time again. Once every 6 months or so I get to head in and have a chat with my neurologist about the disability that isn’t obesity: Epilepsy.

Guess what day tomorrow is?

This Is The Song That Never Ends

I don’t chat much about epilepsy these days. My battle against obesity has so many more facets to it that it just makes a much more compelling story.

Epilepsy, on the other hand, is just sort of there. Like those unattractive freckles, or the paint in that one room you never got around to touching up, it is simply an unwanted part of your life that you learn to work around. There will be no great success story about it like there has been about overcoming obesity. Every step forward is merely an incremental increase in seizure control. The disease then fights back by mutating and developing into new symptomology. Not exactly the stuff of compelling storytelling.

What Does Not Kill Us, We Learn To Live With

But, at the end of the day, epilepsy probably shapes more of my day-to-day life than obesity ever did.

I still can’t drive a car legally. I have to check in multiple times a day with someone to let them know I am still in control of my mental faculties. My memory is filled with gaps – both long-term and short-term. I take a handful of brain-altering drugs twice a day every day to control seizure activity. This on top of the metal implant installed over my heart that tries to regulate electrical activity in my brain.

But, still, every once in a while, an invisible entity takes over control of my brain for a period of time. Afterward, I just wait for the mental lights to come back on. Then, I go about my business as if nothing ever happened.

It is a weird, weird, condition to live with.

Oh Wait, That Wasn’t Me

During seizures I will sometimes stare at my keyboard, unable to remember how to type. I have been known to “remember” things that never happened to me. My latest seizure development is spatial confusion: for short periods of time, I think I am somewhere that I am not. Just a few days ago I was convinced I was in my apartment in Las Cruces, and couldn’t figure out why the front door was in the wrong place.

I haven’t lived in Las Cruces for 10 years.

So, yeah, I prefer talking about weight-loss. Thanks to bariatric surgery I can now control my diet, control my exercise, control my progress in combatting my condition. Control is a really big concept to those of us suffering from a seizure disorder.

So, don’t think for one minute that epilepsy is no longer important to me, or that I have stopped paying attention to it. Far from it. But at my bariatric appointments, I get to see how far I have come. I get to fist-bump Lor and get congratulated by the medical staff on how well I have done.

Tomorrow, I may just get a slight change in medication dosage, in the hopes that a minor change in my seizures might take place.

Which would you rather write about?

Not Super Enthusiastic,