I haven't been in the gym for almost 2 weeks.  
One reason is I road-tripped to Michigan with my son to pick up the car that my Grandmother left me when she passed in January.  The other reason is when I am training consistently, I don't have any downtime to be able to really think and reflect on what I want to do moving forward.  Like everyone else, I am busy, and when I am busy I focus on getting things done.  When I focus on getting things done, I don't have much time to really THINK. 

I thought I would be pretty beaten up psychologically at this point but I am not.  I have done this long enough that I accept this is just something else that happens, I deal with it and move on.  I have done this for over 34 of my 48 years.  I have come to realize a few things in the last couple of weeks, though, after getting more time to reflect:

1. I am not done prepping.
I was told by someone close to me that I have the knowledge and experience to figure this out and be able to prep without the issues I dealt with.
I agree.
However, I will not do it gassed, anymore, as I have already stated.  

2. The risk to reward just isn't there to go above TRT.  Last year I was able to get into incredible condition and didn't have the issues that I had this year so I know that I can still do it.  I just need to be smarter and this year I just plain overdid everything.

3.  I want to take some time and do an off season.  I haven't done this in a while because I don't like gaining weight and I don't like being fat.  However, because I enjoy the structure of prep, I plan to treat the off season much like a prep and stay lean but over maintenance to grow but not get fat.  This will be the first time I have done a true "off season" in almost 8 years.

4.  I don't know if I will compete next year but if I do, I will not be public about it.  I have already had too many issues the last 2 years and this next time I will do it stealth.  I have done this in the past and enjoyed not being in the spotlight having everyone ask how ripped I am and constantly watching to see how I am doing.  I always enjoyed "sneaking" into shows in the past and then discussing what I did AFTER the show was done instead of leading up to it.  Plus, if I have issues again during a prep, no one will know about them and feel sorry for me. LOL

I have recieved my lab work and there are no indications of any kidney issues, at all.  The last week prior to the lab work I did use an electrolyte concoction combined with 2.5 gallons of water per day.  More importantly, I was directed to not train or do cardio.  Even though I was allowed to eat what I wanted (within reason - there were parameters but I could still enjoy things not bodybuilding-diet related) and within  3 days I had veins throughout my calves and ankles and was surprised at my condition considering I hadn't trained in almost a week. 

I cringe to think what my electrolytes and even potentially what my kidney numbers looked like 2-3 weeks ago but I am grateful that the numbers were good from these current labs.

Admittedly, my rbc/hematocrit/hemoglobin numbers were out of range but I expected that.  Thing is, they were nowhere near as out of range as I had anticipated. 

I have no plans right now to have my throat/stomach checked as I have had no recurring issues.  I have not had even one problem with passing food since this episode and understand that I have dealt with this issue for 15 years.  I was informed by my Doctor that I did not need to have a checkup unless the problem comes back and I have issues passing food again.

I think I am better with the situation now because I have no anxiety that I caused myself any lasting problems.  I was concerned the last 5-7 weeks and felt guilty pressing on with the prep.  Now that I am done and moving forward, my mind is in a better spot than it was (and where it was, was not good).

I will not ever stop doing what I love doing and that is training and staying in great shape.  I just have to work harder at being smarter if I decide to prep again and this might also end up being the first time I work with someone.  I have never once worked with anyone, ever, but I got some good advice that had I been working with someone, they might have been able to keep me in check and keep me from overreaching and I believe that is quite possible.  Even if it doesn't "help", it certainly won't hurt.

It will just be REALLY weird to pay someone to do something I have always done for myself.