Happy New Year. Where Have I been?


What a year 2020 has been. Usually, at the end of a year or at the start of a new year, it’s time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in the past 12 months and what you hope to accomplish with the reset of the calendar.

For 2020, listing accomplishments begins with one important one. I survived. I don’t say that lightly. I had a significant health scare back in August that has changed the way I live each day. But, more on that later.

COVID-19 had a huge effect on my work life this year. Back in March, I was on a project in Chicago. I had never spent more than a few hours traveling through that city in the past. I’d worked on projects in the suburbs, but the project I was on at that time had me working right in the middle of downtown. I was enjoying the city and the daily walk to the office from my hotel. I was on the typical Monday through Thursday travel, but found it tolerable.

During that first week in March, COVID-19 started to be more prevalent in the news and eventually it caused my company to suspend all travel. Literally overnight, I went from graveling 45-50 weeks per year to completely working at home, or as I like to refer to it, living at work.

Things eventually evolved to me ending up hanging on to my job for dear life and I let everything else slide, including this blog, so that I could continue to put money on the table.

Health Scare

This came with a cost, however. First, was my health. Working tons of hours to prove myself caused me to stress eat. This exacerbated a condition that I had been ignoring.

I always considered myself a ‘casual diabetic’. I would eat what I wanted and if I felt funny, I’d check my blood sugar and say, “wow, that’s high” and not eat that food again for a while. A short while.

My family doctor put me through some blood work in June and my A1C, the measure of your blood sugar over time, was at 10.5. A normal range is below 5.7. He recommended that I see an endocrinoloogist which I did. I was put on a different medication and, like magic, my blood sugar levels began to be much more normal and manageable…for about three weeks.

You know those prescription drug commercials where they tell you not to take a drug if you are allergic to it, well, I did and I was.

I found myself short of breath, nauseous and barely able to stand within a few days. Finally, my wife told me it was tome to go to the emergency room. I knew she was right, but I hate the idea of going to the hospital, especially during a pandemic.

The next thing I knew, I was moving up to the ICU with a blood glucose level of over 400 (4 times the normal level) and a diagnosis of diabetic ketoacidosis. It’s a life-threatening condition if left untreated, but luckily, it was caught soon enough and, after two days in the ICU, I was back home.

About two weeks after returning home, I was on a regimen of regular blood sugar testing and insulin. I also started exercising. I have a terrible back resulting from a combination of surgery when I was a kid and arthritis now that I’m no longer a kid. I reverted to a form of exercise that I practiced quite regularly in my twenties and thirties, bicycling.

I started out with short rides, but I’m now up to about 50+ miles per week and I’ve ridden over 800 miles since August. Not only am I in better shape, but this really helps control my blood sugar.

I’ve also totally changed how and what I eat and am on an insulin pump with a continuous glucose monitor.

Remember that A1C of 10.5? I had it rechecked by the endocrinologist in October and I’m down to 6.2, just above normal. I go back on Friday to have it checked once again. I’m hoping for improvement.

Enough about belaboring my health woes. I just wanted to make the point that it was an awakening that I needed. I have to much left to do.

Writing

2020 was the first year since 2014 that I didn’t publish a single book. You would think I had more time on my hands, but that is not always a guarantee of more time to write. When I was traveling, writing was my way of combatting my homesickness. For the past 10 months, I haven’t been homesick because I’m home.

With that being said, I desperately miss the writing process. I have started my sixth book in the Frank Rozzani series and will post more about that in the future. I’ll also go back to writing short and serialized stories as blog posts.

One creative outlet during this period has been music. I am a pianist at our church and was playing with the contemporary choir at mass each Saturday. When COVID-19 struck, services were suspended for a time. I turned to recording music and putting it on my YouTube channel. I also wrote music for a mass that I hope to rehearse and play with our choir once we are all allowed to return. I’m currently playing on both Saturday and Sunday with a much smaller group for limited services.

Plans for the Future

As I sat down to write this post, I did so with some thought behind my motivation. My last post on this blog was on August 21, 2020. It was a reblog of someone else’s post. My last original post announcing a new audiobook, was on July 23, 2020.

I truly miss the interaction with all of you. I miss reading and commenting on your posts. I miss passing along the great information that you share. I miss sharing original content and receiving your valuable feedback on it.

They say if you write down a list of things that you want to do and share it with others, you develop some accountability. Here is my list for 2021

  1. Have a discussion about your COVID-19 situation. What did you do during this period? What didn’t you do? How has your life changed? I’ll have a post on this sometime in the near future to get the discussion started.
  2. Discover why I write less when I have more free time? Your ideas will be welcome.
  3. Talk about my concept for the new Frank Rozzani book. It’s proving to be the most ambitious and longest of my books thus far.
  4. Write some short stories and serials.
  5. Promote my work more. (I apologize in advance)
  6. Revamp my wordpress site.
  7. Revitalize my newsletter.
  8. Finally – READ MORE and WRITE MORE (much more)

I’ve missed all of you and will be checking out your blogs, commenting and starting to re-blog the good stuff. Somehow, I still have over 3,000 followers, so I want to make the most of them.

46 thoughts on “Happy New Year. Where Have I been?

  1. It was not a good year for many of us but yours was double difficult. Glad your health has improved. I look forward to your posts now that you are back at it. Take care and I hope 2021 is a much better year for you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sorry to hear about your health issues Don, but so happy to see you back and full of vitality once more. I hope you achieve all your goals and wish you a very happy 2021 and a healthy one too. xxx

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  3. Happy New Year, dear Don! May 2021 be a great creative year full of more peaceful atmosphere & good health! I was wondering where you have vanished from the blog space. Welcome back, dear Don! πŸŽ„πŸ§¨πŸŽ‰ Cin-Cin! Greetings! Maria!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That was certainly a wake-up call for you, Don. I am so glad you have found a way to manage diabetes in a more natural way. 2020 was rough on everyone. Learning to social distance, missing out on gatherings that we so casually took for granted before was difficult. But we all survived and I am grateful. I hope you the best going forward and it’s great to see you back!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. WELCOME BACK!! I have Diabetes also. Had an A1C of 7.8, I think, back in June 2020. When tested in Dec, it was back down to 7.1. I got a new pool over the summer & now have to access it via a ladder! So LOTS of exercise between in & out on ladder & actual swimming. Also got new camper in Aug. I literally live in it all summer till mid Oct. So lots of in & out to the house for potty & food since I have no potty in camper. (Pop up camper) I had a 400 reading in Dec, but only a headache from it. I check my sugar every morning & am on 3 oral meds for it. SOOO glad you are doing better & are getting back into your writing!! I have missed your books & blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Don, I am SO sorry I’m just now reading this. When I said I’d fallen way behind on my blogging over the last year, I wasn’t kidding.

    First and foremost, congratulations on taking charge of your health issues and beating them into submission. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes, too, (a little over a year ago), and went into a blind panic, since it’s what killed my father in a pretty grim way. Being the OCD soul that I am, I went overboard on cutting back on my diet, and dropped 34 pounds in THREE weeks. This is NOT a good thing, and actually resulted in my falling and smashing my head into our ceramic tile floor. (Can we say “serious concussion,” boys and girls?) Not to belabor the point, other than to say I’m still having some problems with the parts of my brain that have NOT come back online yet, I just want you to know that I totally understand what you’re going through with the diabetes.

    I hope you, like me, know that this is usually a manageable disease, and if we do all the right things–which it sounds like you’re doing, in spades–it does NOT have to kill us. Any time you want to chat about the frustrating world of diabetes, just drop me a line. I’ve developed strategies that are working for me, and my (stupid) weight loss brought my A1C levels back to normal. (I DO NOT recommend my approach!) I’ve managed to maintain that, though I haven’t been able to see my doctor in months, because I’ve been isolating. I have three issues that put me in a high risk group for COVID, and I don’t want THAT to be the reasons I shuffle off this mortal coil, either.

    I’m so happy you’ve found a regime that works for you and are getting healthy again. That’s excellent news! Also, please know that your presence was missed around the blogging world.

    Wishing you MUCH luck with your new writing ideas, too. (Like many of us, I barely wrote at all during 2020–too much stress, I think, among other things.) But we have a chance to get back to it in 2021, if we can retrain ourselves to focus on what’s important to us. I know you can do that, and I’m going to be working on doing it, too.

    In the meantime, STAY WELL, my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

      • As well you should be, Don. You are doing everything right, even remembering that exercise is also a huge factor. (I don’t bike, but I have a FitBit, and manage to walk 2-1/2 to 3 miles a day in the house. πŸ˜€ Looking forward to getting back to some serious hiking soon.)

        Also, it sounds like you are working on reducing your stress levels, which was something that really started doing me in by my 8th month of total isolation. Stress releases cortisol which wreaks havoc with glucose levels, so good for you for working on that, too. I

        think getting back to writing will help both of us greatly, too. Boy, have I missed it! Since my concussion, I can’t focus for as long as I used to, but I’ve learned how to pace myself so it doesn’t bring me to a complete halt. Losing touch with our creative side is not good for us emotionally or physically. So glad you’re back at it again! πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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