…And Here We Are Again

Jason Aldean Quote

I had a blog post ready to roll this morning. A charming little piece, talking about back-sliding and goal setting. Just the thing to inaugurate our re-focus on all things fitness here at Misdirected.

And I woke up this morning to a Facebook report from a close friend who had been at the Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas last night. “Active shooter situation Mandalay Bay dozen or more shot shooters on 32nd floor…confirmed one officer down with GSW to neck.”

The Morning Brings No Answers

His post was dated seven hours ago. First, I confirmed that he was ok – he was still posting to FB as of a couple of hours ago, so I can breathe a sigh of relief that someone I really care about – someone who has been a surrogate son to Lor and me – is currently out of harm’s way. I quickly checked to see if my cousin, who also lives in Vegas, had checked in. Using the Facebook “Safety Check” he, too, had declared himself safe. Another sigh of relief.

Then, turning to CNN, I found out that a whole lot of other loved ones are not OK this morning.

Deadliest Mass Shooting in US History.” I won’t repeat the details here. I am no journalist, and you can get far better info than I can give you. But, once again, a single person (apparently) has decided to act upon their rage by attacking a large group of innocent people.

I don’t know what this person’s motivations were. In truth, I don’t particularly care. There is no motivation that justifies attacking thousands of people whose only crime was being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Yes, that sounds like Queensryche, and no, I don’t particularly give a damn about that either right now.)

One man. More than 8 rifles. Thousands of fans enjoying Jason Aldean.

And now we have more than 50 people dead, and better than 400 injured.

And, today, my own perspective has shifted. These weren’t just random strangers I feel sort of vaguely bad about. My own family members were among those in harm’s way last night.

A Harsh Slice Of Reality

And the damnable thing is, I am a gun owner.

My guns are securely locked up in a gun safe miles away, but they are still mine.  I am part of what gets referred to as “gun culture” in the U.S.

You know, the same culture that works tirelessly to protect the rights of people who want to haul multiple rifles into a hotel room in Las Vegas.

I am sure that, as the days and weeks roll on, we are going to hear about the various laws that are already on the books that this shooter broke. The new gun control laws that would have had no effect, the existing laws that weren’t properly enforced…all the usual tropes and quotes that emerge after another mass shooting.

Yeah, there’s the rub right there, isn’t it? “Another mass shooting.”

And, in response, the families of nearly 500 people will be asking why something wasn’t done to protect their loved ones.

Kurt and Jeremiah, I am so thankful that you are safe.

But half a thousand other families have nothing to be thankful for this morning.

The gun control debate is about to get rolling again, and I am no longer sure I am on the right side of it.

Pray For Las Vegas,

Jeremy

 

VNS: Very uNexpected Surgery

Welcome to this special Wednesday edition of Misdirected!

I know – two days late, right? But I have been busy. Like busy, busy. Like the kind of busy a bee would aspire to if it aspired to be a busy bee.

Holy smoke, how can someone fit that many uses of the letter “b” in three sentences?

Anyway, to draw back the curtain a bit, here is what has been happening since the last time we visited…

A Little Background Music

As most of you know, I suffered from massive, life-changing clusters of seizures from 2004 until 2009. These seizures were so debilitating that I required 24-hour care. Like, diaper-changing kind of care. My parents actually both took early retirement from their professions so they could commit themselves to being my full-time caretakers – presumably for the rest of their lives.

Thanks to a very forward-thinking neurologist, we discovered a potential treatment – the Vagus Nerve Stimulator. It is an implant that is surgically inserted into the chest, with two leads attaching to the vagus nerve in the neck. Every 5 minutes (or so) an electrical impulse gets fired off from the VNS, up the vagus nerve, and into the brain. This impulse somehow regulates the electrical activity of the brain, bringing over-excited neurons back down to a normal state.

It sounded like science fiction to me. At that time, fewer than 10,000 people had this procedure performed on them. But further research performed by my mother seemed to support my neurologist: this thing worked. Especially in cases of “temporal lobe epilepsy with intractable clusters of seizures.”

I will give you three guesses what my official epilepsy diagnosis is.

In March of 2009, I had the implant installed. By the end of the year, I was already no longer suffering from clusters of seizures. I still have seizures, but they are no longer day- or week-long events. I have a seizure, I recover, I move on. And I have an almost normal life.

Almost.

The Price of Loose Skin

Now, the VNS is installed at the top of the left breast, almost directly above the heart. This gives the implant a steady shelf to operate from and gives the leads emerging from it an almost straight shot up into the neck to attach to the vagus nerve.

So, the human breast is a muscle (the pectoralis major) covered by a sheath of fat and skin. (This is true even for men, boys.) A pocket is carved into the tissue on top of pectoralis, the implant is installed on top of the muscle, and the whole thing is sewn back up. Within a year you have a lump on your chest underneath a fairly impressive looking scar. 8 years later, the scar isn’t even that noticeable.

Now, you did notice what I said the covering of your breast is, right? Skin and fat.

You know, the kind of fat I just lost about 120 pounds of thanks to my bariatric surgery last year?

So, what happens when you remove the material making up the majority of the pocket that your VNS sits in?

This:

VNS Sideways
No, the VNS is NOT supposed to be able to do that.

When I woke up one morning a couple months ago to find that my VNS had turned completely sideways and was popped up under my skin like a circus tent, my immediate thought was “Maybe I should see a doctor about that.”

So, I demonstrated the problem to my neurologist last month. He turned a very unusual color, swallowed hard, and immediately started making phone calls.

And, so, here we are – with me scheduled for VNS replacement on Friday. This week has been spent getting blood tests, meeting anesthesiologists, etc. All the normal precursors to surgery.

A Week On My Back

Now, it isn’t as bad as all that. A VNS is a battery-powered device, which means I was going to have to get it replaced sooner or later anyway. Usually at around the 10-year mark, which is only 2 years from now. So, in one respect, I am just advancing the timeline by a couple of years.

On the other hand, this is happening right in the middle of one of the busiest periods of my life. My novel is getting ready to be published. I am scheduled for my Personal Trainer certification exam next month. I have my 1-year bariatric follow-up appointment in 12 days!

Just at the time I am wanting to spend every day at the gym to make sure I am in the best shape possible, I am going to have to spend about a week on my back.

This does give me a chance to really sit around and study for the exam, so that is good. I also have a lot of Fiction Vortex correspondence and reading to catch up on. But, seriously, I am faced with the possibility that I may go in for my one-year follow-up no longer at my lowest weight.

I am torn between irony and embarrassment, really.

Someone (probably me) will let everyone know how the surgery turns out, either on Friday or Saturday. I expect no issues or complications – the procedure itself takes less than an hour. We should be back to our normal publication schedule on Monday.

After all, I will have nothing else to do, right?

I Am Spending My Life In Waiting Rooms,

Jeremy

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

…And Looking Forward to 2017

Wallpaper from 7-themes.com

Welcome, friends and neighbors, to the last Misdirected post of 2016.

Been a heck of a year, hasn’t it?

I am looking forward to 2017 with a considerable amount of hope. Compared to last New Year’s Eve, the contrast is like night and day. I am lighter, happier, and more productive now than I was last year, and any year before this for a long, long time. Mainly thanks to an aggressive neurologist and the team at ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics.

Now, it has not been easy. I still have to shake off my disappointment after seizures. I still miss pizza and beer. I still look in the mirror and sigh wistfully over the “apron” of deflated skin I now wear around my waist. And I am still baffled at how eating an ounce each of deli meat, cheese and nuts make me feel like I have swallowed a cow. But my quality of life has never been better, and I choose to focus on that.

I may not be able to run a marathon, but I can walk 5 kilometers. I may not be able to bench press my body weight, but I am able to lift weights again. I may not see the person I want to see when I look in the mirror, but I certainly like the person I see better than the one that was reflected at me back on December 31 of last year.

So, what does 2017 have in store?

Big changes here at Misdirected, for one thing. I won’t spoil the surprise for you, but on Monday things are going to look real different, I can tell you that.

I am also going to be moving away from the embedded ads, I think. I intend to convert the site over to support via the Patreon system, essentially crowd-funding the continued existence of Misdirected. I love the Patreon system, and actually am a patron of a couple of my favorite bloggers. More details to come.

Episode #1 of “Inheritance” will be releasing on Fiction Vortex in February of 2017, followed by the remainder of the novel, one episode per month throughout the year. I am seriously quivering with joy at the prospect of producing my first novel, and love the concept of being a part of the cutting edge of producing episodal fictional content. The other 3 stories that will be written as part of the “Welcome To Ash Falls” Storyverse are already excellent, and I can hardly wait to see what the authors have planned for the rest of their tales. Fiction Vortex produces great stories by excellent authors – if you haven’t checked out an episode or two yet, I strongly suggest you go read a few episodes now, and get all warmed up for the release of the Ash Falls stories later in 2017.

I will be producing non-fictional content as well, of course, and will keep everyone posted as these articles are released. This will be the year that I shift gears and begin producing regular content under my own byline. I feel like I have completed my apprenticeship working for ghostwriting agencies, and am ready to move on to consistent creation of my own material.

I also intend for this to be the year that “Learning To Live In The Dark” is finished. This is the book I have been working on for a couple of years now, dealing with Adult-Onset Epilepsy. My current intention is not to seek a publisher, but to self-publish it once it is completed, and I will keep everyone posted on its progress and eventual release date.

We have travel plans for Nevada, Arizona, and South Dakota tentatively on the books for 2017. Depending on the success of Inheritance we may also sneak in a visit to Oregon, so I can spend some time near the locales where my novel is set. We will be participating in our first 5K event in May, and should both hit the “100-pounds lost” milestone in 2017.

It looks like it is going to be a full year.

Thanks again to all my family, friends, and followers here on Misdirected. If it wasn’t for you, I would be jotting all this down in a journal and never sharing the experiences with anyone. I sincerely appreciate you allowing me to be a part of your lives.

Be Blessed In 2017,

– Jeremy