So, it appears I am not going to die this week.  At the same time, I have obviously been wrong more than a few times during this last prep so let's just hope I'm right this time.

I am back in the gym as of yesterday.  I did cardio and I trained chest and shoulders.  If I knew workouts could be this good I would threaten my kidneys and heart with edema more often.  (I kid ... sort of).  Let's just say that the pump was PAINFUL - skin splitting would be a gross understatement.  I had to bend over and let my arms hang down to relieve the discomfort from the pump in my shoulders.  I also was throwing weights around like they were toys.  I held back because after not training for a week and basically having massive supercompensation and being fully hydrated again, it was scary how strong I felt.  It's one thing to move heavier weights like they are light but it was just plain easy and "smooth".  If every workout could be like this I would be huge by now and have a pro card.  Ok, maybe not a pro card but I'm trying to make a point here.

I now have a few veins in my ankles so the edema is basically gone.  If I am being logical here, I would say that I anticipate my kidney numbers to be good when I get labs done Friday.  I think (though I won't know for sure until I get them done) that if I was having kidney issues, my edema would not have dissipated and I would still be having issues.  After having plenty of time to mull this situation over last week while not training and wondering what the hell I have done, I have come to this:

I doubt this was actually gear related in hindsight.  I think I was quick to go it being the gear because of the edema and panicking that the gear was causing my kidneys to not function properly.  I have had a lot of anxiety around stepping on the gas for this prep and I think this manifested when I saw this water problem twice in the last 5 or 6 weeks.

In reality, what I did was over-work, over-diet and stretch my ability to deal with recovery, overtraining and not loading soon enough with a very low-calorie diet that depleted me so badly that it started to mess with my body internally.  Now, I admit that this flies in the face of the fact that I have prepped myself successfully for tons of shows and tons of clients.  I struggle with why I was over-reaching, but it seems quite obvious in retrospect: I simply wanted to push the envelope and really make this prep count after not being on stage since 2012 and especially after having to pull out last year due to shingles (among other things).

For the first time in my bodybuilding "career", I can't help but wonder if I should have handed my prep off to someone else.  I have never once worked with anyone for a prep or off season in my 34 years of bodybuilding.  I see my bodybuilding as just me and only me and this is why I have never worked with anyone.  However, had I worked with someone for this prep, I feel that they would have seen what I was doing and reeled me in, not allowing me to overextend myself to the point of such debilitating cramping. I cringe to think what would have happened had I had this situation during peak week when I would have had to load and then manipulate water.  The thought scares the shit out of me, quite frankly.

As much as this all seems logical, I still have to get blood work done to see how my kidneys are and I will do that on Friday.  I waited to get this done because had I done this last week, I almost certainly would have had scary numbers as my kidneys were obviously going to have been stressed under the circumstances.  Had I done lab work last week,  I would have had to do it again, anyway, to see if my body was improving so I held off, assuming the stress of last week and figuring that if my values were good this week after rehydrating and getting back in the gym and not holding water, I would know that my kidneys were good.  Of course, there is still the chance that my numbers aren't that good but I don't think that will be the case or I would likely have struggled to get the water issue under control and might still have edema and cramping.

I am in much better spirits this week, as well.  I am still incredibly disappointed at what happened and that I am not going to compete but I do feel better that I don't feel anything is "wrong" or that I am in danger, anymore.  Last week I was just plain scared and I am tired of being scared when it comes to prepping and all of the bullshit that seems to have come along with it the last 2 years.

I won't say that I won't ever prep for a show again.  However, if I do I will do it TRT like last year (or SLIGHTLY above TRT) and I will need to have someone keeping an eye on me to make sure that I am not overreaching.  Plus, I likely will not be public about the prep.  I have been public about my preps for 2 years and I have had problems that I had to explain so if I prep again, I would likely do it stealth and then talk about it AFTER I compete and then detail what I did for that prep.

Right now, I am going to enjoy some good workouts and the fact that I am still in pretty good condition and spend some time with my wife and family.  I will not force my next move, rather allowing myself to figure out in my own time what I want to do.  TRT will allow me to stay in good condition, have productive workouts and enjoy some gym time for a change.  In time, I will figure out what my next move is.  Obviously, my health is taking center stage and I will be checking to make sure everything is good with lab work this week and then monitoring my rbc/hematocrit/hemoglobin over the next 8 weeks as it improves.  I am certain it is in the shitter as I anticipated and accepted this was going to be the case before I made the decision to step on the gas for this prep.

Another thing that I should note that surprised me:
I did expect more of a visual change from stepping on the gas.  Maybe I shouldn't have but I did.  The only time I really noticed the added "gas" was when I would fill out and load for 2-3 days.  I would get retardedly full, strong and looked to ME as if I was carrying more size than I had in years.  Then, after a few days of dieting and depleting again, I was back to looking really no different than I did last year at slightly above TRT.  I think the only way to really make a big change to my physique these days would be to stay gassed in the off season and push for size and that is never going to happen.  I have zero desire to do that so if I am going to be TRT, gassing during a prep just won't provide me with the cost to benefit that I was looking for.

I can't say I didn't "learn" from this prep because I most certainly did.  And the one thing I always strive to do is continue to learn.  I just don't like that I learned the wrong things due to the wrong choices but ... learning is learning and hopefully my situation will benefit someone else out there by seeing what I did.