After 35 years of life, I have a few things to say.

Tag Archives: challenge

IMG_1097And I’m off and running.  Day 1 and my book is started.  1772 words so far and I might do a few more pages tonight.


pumpkinsHappy Halloween everyone.  I hope your weekend will be filled with scary movies, amazing costumes, and mouthfuls of teeth-rotting candy.  The one day of the year when you can dress up and pretend to be someone or something other than yourself.  Well, you can do that any day, but this is the only day you can do it and not get weird looks.  You have to laugh at the thought of what aliens would think if the one day they visited to observe us was on Halloween.

More scary than Halloween costumes and movies is the fact that the Nonfiction Writing Challenge starts tomorrow.  I’m not sure I am prepared to start, but I am excited and ready to get going on my first book.  If you haven’t been following along with my story so far, I’ll give you a preview.  When I was 4 or 5 months old, I was adopted by a loving family, but very soon after settling into my new life, I got very sick and was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus.  Because of this, brain surgery was required to save my life by installing a shunt to relieve the pressure in my brain from Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) build up.  Without this surgery, I would have died from brain damage when my brain was crushed against my skull by the outward force of the pressure.

As you can imagine, just one brain surgery did not fix me for life.  Over the years, I had to undergo many shunt revisions, from malfunctioning valves to separated drain tubing, and even shunt replacement at least twice.  When I was 20 years old, I had been under the knife a total of 15 times I think and my family was ready for a different solution, one that was more permanent.  We learned about a new procedure that could rid me of a shunt altogether, called an ETV (Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy).  This procedure is not for everyone with Hydrocephalus and you have to meet certain criteria for it to even be a possibility.  Lucky for me, I was a perfect candidate for this surgery, so for the first time in my Hydrocephalus history, I wanted to get surgery.

In December 2000, I went into surgery voluntarily and healthy, to have my shunt removed and the ETV performed.  Since I went into the hospital healthy, two surgeries had to be performed.  First, they had to remove my shunt and induce Hydrocephalus so that my ventricles filled with CSF and swelled up.  They had to do this so that they had the room to perform the ETV.  I spent a week in the hospital after the first surgery, just waiting and monitoring my pressure, waiting for the pressure to rise.  Once it was high enough, I went back into surgery to get the ETV.  My book will have the details of all this, but long story short, the surgery was a success, and I sit here now, 15 years later, shunt free and headache free.  The ETV is still working and I am grateful not to have had to get any more surgeries.  I’ve been meaning to write this book since the ETV, but now is the time and the story is even better now since I have had 15 years without a problem.

OK, maybe I am prepared to start this book tomorrow.  🙂

Thanks for reading.  Hopefully I will have the complete story for you to read in a month or so.

Happy Halloween.


Since I can remember, I have wanted to write a book.  I have the stories to share, but I have never taken the time to put them down on paper.  Well, I think now is the time to get started.  Why now you ask?  Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I have just recently started blogging again and it feels good, so I guess it has inspired me to look back on what I really want to write.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am no stranger to hospital stays and surgeries, and I have the scars to prove it to the ones who don’t know me.

At a very early age, I was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus.  I have been through many surgeries, a few shunts, and lots of hospital food trays.  Today, I have zero shunts, zero headaches, and have been surgery-free for 15 years.  This was made possible with new cutting edge technology and the surgeons willing to try something different.  I want to write a book telling my story, not only as a historical record of my journey, but also to give families hope that there are success cases out there.  I am here and healthy and I want all the parents of hydro babies to know that their kids can grow up healthy like me.  Hydrocephalus doesn’t have to control their lives.  I just feel like my story can help in some way, to show the possibility of a positive outcome which doesn’t end in headaches and more surgeries.  It’s time for me to share.

Another reason I am ready to start now is that I found out about a novel writing contest in November.  Even though I am not looking to write a novel at this time, from the site of that contest, National Novel Writing Month, I found another challenge just for me, The Write Nonfiction in November Challenge. I’m going to do my best to finish my book in a month, but more importantly, I am going to start my book in November.  If it takes longer, so be it.  The challenge for me at this point is just to start.  Anything more is icing on the cake.  Wish me luck.

I hope you stick around and read my work when it is complete.  I will try not to make you wait too long.



Today is the last day of Week 2 of our 12 week Half Marathon Training Plan.  So far, we have ran close to 25 miles, 12 last week and 13 this week.  It’s going pretty well so far, but I am still doing short walking breaks during the runs, firstly to give my heart a break because it gets up to 187 bpm, depending on my pace.  Secondly to give myself a chance to get some water.  I feel that my heart is getting stronger by the day, and since my weight is dropping as well, it is having to work less to keep me moving.  My breathing is pretty much under control with the help of the Albuterol inhaler.  I no longer wheeze when I run, which I am sure eases the nerves of the person running next to me.  Hopefully I no longer sound like I am going to drop dead at any moment.  I honestly feel better too.  The process is slow, but baby steps is the key to getting me into better shape and event ready.  I am looking forward to crossing the finish line, no matter what the time.  I will be proud of myself just to be able to call myself a Half Marathoner.  Bring it on Week 3.

Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon - 4/12/15

Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon – 4/12/15

Today was the first day of our 12 week Half-Marathon training.  The plan actually started yesterday, but since Mondays are “rest” days, today was the official start of this adventure.  Two miles was all that was required today, so it was a quick trip to the gym to knock it out and then head to the hot tub.  The weather was perfect for outside running, but since I need to work on pacing myself, the treadmill will be my best friend for awhile.  Not to worry though because tomorrow is going to be nice too, and I plan to get the bike back on the road for the first time this year.  I hope to see the trees passing me by at 16 mph during lunch tomorrow, while the wind blows through my beard.  🙂

My wife and I signed up for the Raleigh Rock & Roll Marathon many many months ago when we were feeling, ummm, for lack of a better word, I’ll just say crazy.  We were on a high from doing some other races and thought that signing up so far in advance would give us plenty of time to get ready for it.  Well, as the high wore off and other priorities took over, so did training.  You know how that goes.  Anyways, awhile back, we decided that we bit off a little bit more than we could chew, so we opted to training for the half marathon instead.  Now that we are 12 weeks from the event, it’s time to get busy training.  On top of starting to run again, I have also joined my wife in eating low carb, hoping to trim down a little bit before April.  Cycling will help with that as well, so the plan is in place.  Now for the execution, that’s the hard part, at least for me.

The particular running plan we chose has rest days on Mondays and Fridays, run days of Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays (long run), and Sundays (recovery).  Wednesdays, as well as some Fridays, and an option on Sundays, are cross train days.  I will probably be cycling 2 to 3 times a week also, sometimes on run days and sometimes on CT days.  With all this and also eating better should help prepare us to run/jog/walk/crawl/finish our first half marathon.  The best part is that it is a Rock & Roll event, so there will be bands playing at every mile. Smash Mouth is the headliner, so I assume they will be at the Start/Finish Line.  There is no shame for us to have downgraded to a half marathon, even though we signed up and paid for the full 26.2 miles.  It was only $10 less to sign up for the half, so we will only lose $20 total, and that’s well worth it if it means we survive to the finish line.  Our future may have a full marathon in it some day, but not this year.  We are too busy of a family at this point in our lives to commit to the rigorous training schedule required for 26.2 miles.  Maybe after we retire, who knows.  For now, the half is the goal, and for me at least, it is a major challenge, and I look forward to conquering it in Rock & Rock style.  Wish me, and both of us, luck on this new adventure.


Simon A.

My new adventure!!!

My new adventure!!!

Yesterday was my first ukulele lesson at the music store.  My brother-in-law and I went there a little early and tested out the current stock of acoustic guitars while we were waiting for the lesson to start.  I found the 2 that I had been looking at on my previous visit.  They were both calling my name and I had a very hard time choosing between them.  Both of them felt like good matches for me, but in the end, I decided to go with the Epiphone over the Fender.  There were just a few differences, and those differences helped me make my choice.  The neck on the Fender had a glossy finish, whereas the Epiphone had a smooth polished finish.  My thumb slid back and forth better on the Epiphone.  Although I loved the natural wood colors of the Fender, the Sunburst paint job of the Epiphone looked even better in my eyes.  I know that color is not the most important attribute, and it wasn’t in my case either.  I really liked the sound quality of the Epiphone, as well as the on-board tuner and pre-amp.  The strings on both were really low, so that was not a deciding factor, but there was enough positives for me to make my choice.  As you can see the from the picture, it fits me well and I do believe I will enjoy it for years and years.  I’ve already started practicing with it. If anyone has any pointers for a very beginner, drop me a line.  I can use all the help I can get.

The ukulele lesson was ok, but the guitar shopping was the highlight of the trip, if you can’t tell already.  Ha Ha.

Hope to be playing around the campfire this summer.

Simon A.

For a few years now, I have been biking regularly and periodically running. Back in 2011, I completed the Couch To 5K training program and ran a few 5K’s. Over the next couple of years, the running thing has slacked off a few times and came back. My wife and I ran a few more 5K’s this past year and she smoked me in all of them. I’m more of a cyclist than a runner anyways.
Last April, I signed up to volunteer at an Olympic distance triathlon as a rescue kayaker for the lake swim leg of the event. It was an amazing event and I thought to myself that maybe someday I would be able to do that. I am a great swimmer, but without regular access to a pool, I hadn’t swam in quite some time, except at the beach. Even though I knew I had to get my swimming conditioning back up to speed, I wasn’t worried about the swim as much as I was the run. The Olympic run distance is a 10K. I had always done 5K races and could hardly even do that far.

I did some research and found out that there is a shorter triathlon distance, the sprint distance. It ends with a 5K run. I thought to myself, “I can do that.” The bike portion is less than 20 miles, no problem for me, and the swim is shorter as well. As luck would have it, I found a sprint triathlon that is local, and is at the YMCA that my wife and I are currently members. How sweet is that? I can train in the pool that will be used for the actual event, the biking portion is on roads that I ride all the time, and the 5K run is on the trails that my wife and I jog and take the dogs for their walks. It’s the perfect opportunity for my first Tri. It’s short, local, familiar, and far enough in the future so I have time to prepare.
So I signed up for the All American Sprint Triathlon in Thomasville, NC on April 26th, 2014. It consists of a 250 yard swim, followed by a 13 mile bike ride, and ends with a 5K run. My 10 week training program started Sunday, 2 days ago. I am not going to be able to do the program day for day what it says, but I am going to get in the distances and the durations of exercise recommended. So what if my days are swapped around, depending on pool availability, spin class schedules, and time for the treadmill? The important thing is that I am doing the work and I am going to be ready to Tri.

Today is Day 3. Since the snow is finally melted and the weather is supposed to be 60 by lunchtime, I am going to try to get in a 17-18 mile bike ride in today. I also plan to do spin class tonight, followed by yoga class. I swam 600 yards last night and did a water fitness class also. Things are starting out great. Stay tuned for more updates. Hopefully soon I can run a 5K continuously again, and swim at least 100 yards continuously. It’s a work in progress, but I am psyched for this triathlon and no matter what happens, it will be a PR. 🙂

Simon A.