I am all percoceted up.  I don't typically respond to percocet - never really have - but this time, it was a God send and ... that is coming from a guy that doesn't believe in God.

First, unless you have had a bad case of shingles you might think it's really not that big of a deal.  I have and even after 14 years I remember it like it was yesterday.  In fact, part of the reason I remember it so well is because I had shingles so bad that I live with PHN (post hepatic neuralgia) which is incredible nerve pain due to the Zoster Virus damaging the nerve branch so bad that it not only couldn't regenerate but has since been confused between pain and itching every 20-30 seconds of my life - night or day - for 14 years.  And I have accepted that I will take this pain to my grave.

A typical shingles outbreak can be dealt with and most recover in as little as a 3 to 6 weeks if they get it early enough and get the anti-viral medication soon enough.  Even then, the immune system is a trainwreck to even get shingles in the first place so after recovering from the shingles outbreak, it is imperative that you recover your immune system to 100%, as well.  It is the latter that is more concerning to me, to be honest. 

I know I caught it early because I haven't yet had any blisters.  Fortunately for me, I know exactly what it feels like and was smart enough - this time - to get into the doctor asap.  I will likely recover quickly and my case won't be that bad (I hope) but I am watching to see if I still may break out with blisters or not.  And you do not need blisters to have shingles though having them makes the recovery that much longer and makes the likelihood of nerve damage higher.

For those that do not know, the pain is excruciating.  I have lived with nerve pain since the first time I got shingles at about a 4 on the pain scale for the last 14 years.  You just learn to adapt and you accept that the pain will always be there.  I have tried all kinds of medication and nothing ever worked so I just deal with it.

The pain yesterday was a 9 and it hit fast.  I knew I didn't feel "right" in the afternoon for a couple hours but just figured (like I did last time) that "it's just prep - deal with it".  Over about 3 hours the pain kept building to the point that it was nauseating. The pain today is about a 6 but with heavy pain medication.  As long as I don't let anything touch it or move too much, it remains about a 6.  Obviously, without the pain meds it would probably still be a 9 or 10. 

I am taking the anti-viral religiously as this is the most important part - well, that and not putting any demands on my body and resting/recovering.  I am in this situation due primarily to the stresses over the last month or so, but I would be lying if I said I didn't think this was also somehow still related to the beating my body took from the last run of the fat burner.  I will never know for sure but I am convinced of this.

Everything was great and running so easy a couple of months ago for this prep and then things went downhill starting with the fat burner health problems, followed by the stress of Mrs. Skip's mom's surgery and battle with colorectal cancer and the trip that we took to Michigan.  We ended up staying another 2.5 days and I was not prepared with food and supplements and ended up taking those days off and just eating the best that I could.  Upon return, I noted in a coach log that I slept for 2 days at roughly 12 hours each night due to extreme exhaustion.  I also was cramping so badly in my calves on the trip back to Colorado that walking was difficult.

I was able to get back on track after a couple of weeks and was progressing well again with my prep - though struggling to make sure that I didn't lose any time because time was short.  Still, I noted several times that I was confident that I was going to be able to be ready and was doing just that.  Then, Mrs. Skip's friend was tragically killed in a car accident the end of last week.  Though I didn't know her that well, Mrs. Skip did and was very close to her.  It has been devastating for her and she has struggled to deal with it and I think this took a toll on me, as well.  

You don't really recognize the level of stress you are dealing with at the time.  We might be aware that it is there but we stay focused, compartmentalize and push forward.  Then, when the body breaks down we sit there and wonder how we couldn't see the signs all along and then question why we would push through at the risk of our health for nothing more than a commitment to ourselves to finish a project that we started as best we can.  It's just something we do as competitors and it makes it that much easier to push forward when so many people are so supportive telling you things like, "If anyone can do this, you can", or, "Keep pushing and stay focused, you've got this", etc..  You know you can keep pushing but the question we don't typically ask is whether it is worth it to do so or not.

It isn't.  At least not in my situation it isn't.  I am doing the smart thing and pulling the plug on this prep.  

To continue to push through would be jeopardizing my health, risking more nerve damage and I have to accept the fact that things have been going downhill for the last 5 weeks and that all of it just isn't worth it.  I have Mrs. Skip to support at least through this week as she deals with the funeral of her friend and all of the questions surrounding that, that we as human beings question in times like this.

Even if I felt that I wasn't jeopardizing my health, I will lose at least a week of training and likely two if I get lucky and that is if I don't break out with blisters.  I am currently 4 weeks out and have not one day to lose.  1 week, let alone 2 is a deal breaker at this point due to the obstacles of the last 5 weeks.

This is an incredibly difficult decision simply because everyone reading this understands the commitment, efforts, time and money involved in a prep.  And yet the decision is easy in that the pain is excruciating and is only controlled right now with heavy pain medication.

There is an irony here:  This entire prep was to prove that I could still get on stage in incredible condition and holding a lot of the muscle that I built over the years , while maintaining TRT dosing (slightly above TRT as of about 2 months ago that I have been transparent about) and maintaining HEALTH.  To continue with this prep and jeopardize my health would be in stark contrast to my original message and quite hypocritical.  Though my health is jeopardized due primarily to stress, there are still lingering concerns that the decision I made to run the fat burner for the 3rd time was not healthy, either, and has likely played an indirect part in getting me to the point that I am right now.

To continue with the prep would be irresponsible, bordering on absurd.  And for what?  To show up much less than 100% of what I can be even with using TRT dosing.  The message would be lost and I would have proved nothing.  I know I can do this and do it successfully; I just can't do it now with the string of events that I (we) have endured over this prep.  Will I do a show in the future - next year, maybe?  Quite possibly, yes.  My priority right now is to get healthy as quickly as possible and get the shingles under control and past that, I have not considered anything, yet, at this early stage.  

I will have plenty of time to mull everything over as I rest and recover at least for the rest of this week, if not next.

I want to thank everyone for the continued support during this prep not only in regards to supporting my prep but also for the numerous messages about my Mother-in-Law, her cancer battle, her recovery from surgery and for supporting Mrs. Skip, as well.  I have passed along every single message I have received to her and she appreciates it, as well.

If anyone doesn't understand my decision, I feel sorry for you not understanding what responsible decisions are and for not having your priorities in line.  At the end of the day, if absolutely no one supported my decision to do the right thing and focus on my health, I wouldn't give a shit.  It isn't about anyone else outside of me and my family.