Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part V: One Last Shot

Back from vacation! Despite having a hard time finding the enormous quantities of food required to fuel the machine, I managed to gain a couple of pounds. Sure, I wasn't in the gym, but that wasn't about to stop my steroid-fueled body from adding some mass. And these pounds came despite the fact I felt I was shrinking (because I wasn't in the gym getting a huge pump everyday). I had a hard time believing I was overtrained, but when I reflected back on weeks of compromised sleep, it started to make sense.

Tuesday night I awoke hungry at 4:30AM and stealthily raided the fridge, then went back to sleep for a couple hours. This is the life, eh? Though my last injection was supposed to have taken place a few times already, I felt like I was in need of a mental and physical boost. Juice! I filled a 3cc syringe right to the top with Primobolan and Test.

This will be the last one, I thought. God, how I love injecting steroids now! Is that bad? I'm really going to miss it when this is over.

I think my nuts are shrinking. Actually, I know they're shrinking! They used to be almost the size of a grade A egg, now they're half that size. So I'll start HCG in a week, along with – ah, what the hell? – one more shot of Test/Primo won't kill me. I've started the Anavar again, too.

My workout today was pretty laid back. Remember, my ribs are bruised from a softball game collision. I didn't know how much I could do with the bruised ribs; any sort of rowing just kills, but surprisingly, deadlifting wasn't too bad. I worked up to a 405 single.

I'm not sure what I'll do or be able to do tomorrow because of my ribs. Probably something light, low volume.

Week 8, Day 4

I'm pissed, depressed, resigned, yet hopeful. I made it through about three sets on bench. With each rep my ribs sent progressively larger pain signals until finally it hurt just to breathe. Damn. At that point I gave up bench and tried to do a pull-up. That hurt. I tried to do a sit-up and that hurt. Maybe I can still squat, haven't tried that.

I don't know what to do. How long will these freaking ribs take to heal? To make matters worse, my wife thinks I'm making this up! It's been three days; if my ribs were just bruised (as my wife contends) wouldn't they have healed by now?

What's up with that anyway? Shouldn't she feel a bit compassionate towards me? Hand out some tender sympathy sex? She always says that men can't handle any pain and that's why women have to do childbirth. Three years later, and she's still bitter.

If my ribs are cracked/fractured how long will that take to heal? Days? Weeks? Maybe I should see a doctor. I'd like to think I'll be better by Monday, but something tells me otherwise.

Week 9 Days 1-2

Well, benching sure messed up my ribs. I feel like such an idiot; I don't even know what is hurting. Is it bone? Muscle? Something else? Everyone has a different opinion, though I've yet to drop the hundreds of dollars it would take to consult a real doctor.

Saturday found me poking the affected area every few minutes. I couldn't believe how much it hurt just to touch it. It was so unbelievably painful that I found myself repeatedly touching the area as if questioning my own sanity.

"Ow! Un-freaking believable! It can't hurt that much. Ow! It can!" My prodding didn't chase the pain away; it hung around all Saturday like an annoying in-law. Sunday I thought I noticed a slight improvement.

Maybe the improvement existed solely in my head. I was going stir-crazy so I took an eight mile bike ride, but no weights. No weights this morning. Arg! No weights tomorrow. Thursday?

I'm hungry for iron! I want to be back in the gym, but I know that to return prematurely will only increase the time to recovery. But I'm going to go in Thursday, even if I can only do silly little isolation exercises. I'm pent up.

Progress Report

It's really hard to say what I've gained until it's all said and done. I like to be precise. That said, in the last nine weeks I've dropped 4-7 pounds of fat and have gained 14 pounds on the scale (minimum).

So that would equate to roughly 18 pounds of lean body mass, not bad for nine weeks at what many would scoff at as "dosages so low you might as well not do them." And let's not forget those nine weeks included time off for vacation and injury. I'm glad I ignored all the meatheads who think you can only gain with "at least a gram a week of Test."

The speculation that my diet was off, that my training sucked, that I did this or that wrong, that I'm an idiot... Well, guess what, armchair experts? You can blow me. You can't argue with results.

Admittedly, I'm looking slightly bloated so I'm not sure how much of this is water retention, but with my Adex dosages, it can't be much. Plus, I think I'm entering into another growth spurt right now, and I still have another injection to go.

Final Injection

This morning before work I did what might be my last steroid injection, possibly ever. I know, I know, you've heard that many times before, but just one more won't hurt me.

The EQ from a couple weeks ago is suppressing anyway, so what's a little Primo/Test cocktail going to hurt? But this is the last. Why? Because I'm out of gear. It's a bittersweet moment, a parting of good friends. I've been holding off because of my ribs, but I need to say goodbye before this becomes a permanent way of life.

I'm already late for work, but I go into my "steroid lair," lock the door, grab a syringe, bottle of Test, and an amp of Primo. Snapped the top off the Primo with the easy familiarity of cracking open a cold beer and drew it up. I drew up 200mg of Test, then decided, hey, what the fuck. Why not just top this bitch right off? I emptied the vial, sucking even the remaining fumes into the syringe.

A knock on the door. It was my wife. I mustered my most deep evil voice and asked, "What business do you have in my steroid lair?"

"I need to get some meat from the freezer," she said.

"I've got some meat for you right here, little girl!"

She laughed. Her eyes missed the jealous little rival quivering in my hand. I waited and let her do what she needed to do. No use in getting these two in a quarrel! Then the door closed and I was alone again. Well, as alone as a juicer can be with a syringe chockfull of anabolic goodness.

I took my pants off and pulled my underwear back to expose a glute. Damn, my friggin' butt-dimple is deep and huge, and my legs are looking pretty damn solid! I pressed an "X" into the skin with a thumbnail, kinda impressed with how solid my butt felt. I swab the faint red X, use my foot to slide a chair over in front of the window, and sit down. I take a deep breath and my anabolic lover and I become one. Ahhh.

Back to reality: The syringe is so damn full I can't properly aspirate, but I go through the motions like some meaningless ritual, pulling the plunger back half a nanometer – any further and the plunger will come out. I realize I'm watching to make sure no juice leaks out of the overfilled syringe rather than watching for the blood that would signal a direct hit on a vein. It shouldn't, but today aspirating seems about as pertinent as wearing a seatbelt on a plummeting jetliner, as easy to forget as a condom in the heat of the moment.

I push the plunger nice and slow. It would be hard to push this thick oil too fast through a 25 gauge needle, and I'm in no rush. I kind of savor this, this near-religious experience. Could be my last injection. Finally I can depress the plunger no further. I stop pressing and remember to satisfy my curiosity. Is the needle really stuck in there? I give it a test pull. The skin sticks to the needle. Hmm. I yank it out. A drop of bright red blood marks the exit like a lover's tear shed in realization that this is the end.

Not sure if I'll lift tomorrow. I'm pretty sure this injury is to the actual bone and not muscle. I'll be in the gym next Monday and making up for lost time. Maybe something will snap or crack. Doesn't matter. Can't wait any longer. Outta my way, bitches.

Week 9, Day 4

It started innocently last night. I started thinking maybe I could just squat some light weights. I grabbed my bar at home and did a few reps. Ribs felt okay. I only had a few minutes because people were coming over. I squatted down and had my wife lean on the bar to simulate some weight. Felt okay. The doorbell rang; I felt a twinge as I racked the bar.

Morning. Another bell, this time my alarm. My ribs hurt from sleeping on them. Damn! The voices in my head started to argue:

It hurts! I should just go back to bed, save it for next week.

I'll just sleep a little more.

I laid in bed a few more minutes.

Are you kidding me?

Fine. I'll go in, but only a few light sets. Train, don't strain.

Arriving at the gym, I warm up with the bar. Felt pretty good. I threw some plates on, careful not to lift them with my right arm and offend my ribs.

135 x 10 – I felt fine, maybe I can do more. I'll try 185.

Okay, but no more than that.

225 x 3 – At this point my cautious side was beat down and tossed under a bus.
250 x 3
275 x 3
295 x 3
305 x 3 – Taking a deep breath was definitely starting to hurt at this point.

We should end it here.

Okay, but just one good rep.

Hmm. Four I guess.

I don't trust you.

But I get under the bar and my eyes meet those of the guy in the mirror. He glowers at me:

I unrack it. Six plates rattle. I go down slow, perfect form, all the way to the bottom. That's one. Down again, got out of the groove, had to good-morning it out of the bottom. That's two.

And this time I listened to the voice until I reached six reps. Now that was worth getting up for! Tomorrow? Well, rib-wise benching is a completely different animal than squatting. But maybe I'll see how the bar feels tonight.

Week 9, Day 5

Last night I did a couple of reps with the bar on the bench. It hurt my ribs even to unrack an empty bar. Thankfully, the evil voice in my head kept silent. Decided to just go in and do arms this morning. I felt like such a chump going in and doing arms. How embarrassing is it for a self-respecting, compound-exercise-doing vet to walk in and just start doing curls?

Anyway, I hung my ego in the locker next to my dress shirt and strode into the weightroom. No one was in the squat rack. Figured I already looked like a total ass, so I added insult to injury and set up shop there. Me, curling in the squat rack, what has this world come to? Almost wished I had some clown pants and sunglasses so I'd look the complete fool.

I also tried to do some lying triceps extensions but that really hurt the ribs even with light weights. I moped around until I discovered standing triceps extensions on the cable machine didn't hurt. Where there's a will, there's a way!

I was headed for the showers when the voice spoke up.

What? You're kidding, right?

Fine. Unracking is what causes the most pain, so I had my partner help me. Did a bunch of reps with 135. Didn't hurt too bad.

Okay, but 135 again. Feels okay if I go slow, hurts if I gun it. Good enough. Hit the showers. I'm sure it appeared I was giving myself a breast self-exam in the shower as I explored the injured area with my fingertips. It hurt more than when I started, but not that much more.

At work, I felt like I have a slight pump in my pecs.

No, let's leave well enough alone.

Okay, a couple more sets of 135.

So I drive to another gym. I walk in and everyone looks at me. Yes, the mirror says I'm jacked, and my muscles exhibit that unmistakable pop and fullness that can only come from steroids. (Sorry natural guys, it's true.) And I'm going to be doing 135? This isn't my day.

Maybe a little more wouldn't hurt. I lay on the bench between each set doing the breast self exam.

205 x 5

225 x 5

245 x 3

265 x 3

Ha! Next week, you crazy bastard!

Afterwards I did some bent rowing, which to my great surprise, felt fine. Then I tried hanging on the pull-up bar. That hurt like hell.

Shrunken nuts be damned, I'm holding off on my HCG. I always get a nice boost from HCG and I want to be recovered. I know a guy that hasn't been off in over a year, so it's a good thing I'm out of juice. I'd be in grave danger of getting sucked into a never-ending cycle if I had more gear on hand.

Week 10, Day 1 – I am not immortal.

Well, the doctor says it takes four to six weeks for fractured ribs to heal. And you thought I was just being a pussy. Ha! Two ribs fractured, right beneath the bottom of my pec muscle.

I feel vindicated. I'm not just being a pussy. I wonder what would've happened if I hadn't had a big slab of pec to cushion the impact that caused this? Obviously, I'm not supposed to do anything in the weightroom until the ribs have healed. Some silly advice like, "Don't lift anything more than ten pounds."

I try and hold back a laugh when the doc tells me this, but doing so hurts my ribs and a snickering gasp sneaks past. The doctor looks at me funny. I want to explain to him that my blood is somewhere near super-saturated with illegal anabolics, in very real danger of precipitating out when I'm accidentally bumped in a crowd or change lanes too abruptly in traffic. I want to explain how I'm in the middle of the big strength run-up on this ass kickin' cycle and can't afford to stop lifting right now.

Instead, I silently curse the silly laws that bind my tongue, nod my head, and keep my mouth discretely shut. Some people don't understand those of us who don't subscribe blindly to "the book" or believe everything the media force-feeds the (m)asses. Let them shake their heads in bewilderment; I don't need them to understand.

So now I have to determine how hard I can push it without inhibiting the recovery process. I really wanted to go back and hit it hard on bench tomorrow, but I'm unsure what that would look like now. Can I strain? How heavy can I go before ribs weakened by a fracture just break? I've been in touch with my "inner doctor," but even he has no answer. And let's see, so far in the danger-to-my-health game: Steroids-0, Softball-1.

Today I did squats. These really didn't hurt my ribs. But then I had a huge lower back pump going and decided to offset it with sit-ups. Unfortunately, sit-ups really aggravate my ribs. Reluctantly, after it started hurting to breathe, I left the gym. I don't understand how I can squat and be fine, but doing sit-ups or simply hanging on the bar like a piece of wet laundry freakin' kills me.

I'll try to stop talking about my ribs now.

Week 10, Day 2

Today is a new day. I'm trying to stay positive despite some of the setbacks I've encountered in this cycle. I really couldn't decide last night what to do for bench today. It's been over two weeks since I've touched anything heavy on bench. I feel like my wave has passed by.

But I've lived long enough to learn that you just have to do the best you can no matter what. That's the only thing that gives me satisfaction at the end of the day. That's the only way I can look back and not feel regret. I think it would be pretty easy to justify taking four to six weeks off to let my ribs heal, but that would be too easy. I'm not one to go down without a fight. No freaking way.

At the gym I warmed up with the bar and then 135. The actual benching felt pretty good, though I had to maintain a very deliberate and steady tempo. And each time I laid down on the bench, I was rewarded with a blinding stab of pain.

215 x 8
240 x 6
265 x 4 (Tough)
305 x 1 (Gunning for 2)

At this point I had moved from no pain breathing to some pain. I was disappointed in only getting one with 305 and felt I needed something to make me happy. And 315 always makes me happy.

"Load up 315," I told my partner.

"Are you sure?" he asked, kind of shocked.

I guess we both had visions of my rib snapping and flying off, spinning across the gym in a misty red arc, but "It's only ten more pounds" I reasoned. I love the clang the six plates make when you slide them on, the rattle as you lower the weight. It's right up there with injecting steroids. Slow and steady, 315 went up. I felt a rush of endorphins. All was well again.

One thing I'm really happy about is that I don't have any weight training-related injuries or chronic soreness right now. Last cycle, and even prior to that, I've gotten to the point where joints were getting really sore, especially on bench, which forced me to back off. Now I'm on a joint-friendly stack, training horizontal pulls as much as pushes, and generally listening to by body. Seems to make all the difference.

Week 10, Day 2, v. 2.0

Yep, I went back at lunch, fully intent on getting some work in on the back. My back was totally unsuspecting and would never have agreed to this, so I sort of had to pretend I was just driving around and ended up at the gym. "We'll just swing in for a couple sets," I reassured it.

So me and my back suited up and went into the gym. There was one bench not being used for benching, just some hot, spandex-clad, skinny blond with her high beams on doing bench dips. She looks like one of those princess-types, so I glanced around to make sure I didn't flatten her tiara with a careless step.

I slid a plate on the unused bar as quietly as I could. "I still have one set left," she snapped. "That's fine," I replied, sliding another plate on, "your nipples are really showing." (Fortunately, the safety circuit tripped and this last statement was only audible in my head.)

Some old guy came and chatted her up while she finished, chatting back all the while. I'm not here to chat up the ladies, I'm here to kick ass. And kick ass I did, setting a new PR (225 x 4) in the bent barbell row (standing on bench).

I was impressed. Maybe I am getting stronger. About a set in, some 6'5" football player walks in looking for a bench. Unlike Ms. Headlights, I follow the code and asked him if he wanted to work in. He did, and I was rewarded with an impressive display of easy strength. He just casually cranked off reps like nobody's business with some serious weight. It was his light day. I'll never be that tall and I may never be that big or strong; I just have to do the best I can do with what God has seen fit to give me.

Today I did my best.

Week 10, Day 3

Last night I had to clear a flowerbed of weeds and woodchips. I was in a hurry, and I discovered that garden tools aren't necessarily designed with stronger-than-average people in mind. My daughter just got a set of garden tools, so she dug "worm houses" with a little rake and shovel and filled them with worms while I busted my butt. For some reason, shoveling always gives my back an achy pump. I think my lower back is strong, though perhaps lacking in the GPP department. I think I need some hypers incorporated into my routine.

Thursdays are sort of an easy day for me: deadlifts and calves. Deadlifts are fun, calves are easy, so it's a pretty low-pressure day. I usually do abs too, but those still hurt enough for me to avoid them. If I lose my abs, I can always just claim to be a boobless, suitless powerlifter with an abysmal total. On second thought, I better keep my abs.

I think my ribs are mending, but I might just be getting used to it. What is pain but an electrical signal? I'm tuning it out. Only a tweak here or there on deads, a couple of gasps last night in the garden though. I was thinking about this when I stumbled on somewhat of a paradox.

I almost never take painkillers. I took a couple when I had my wisdom teeth out because the doctor said I had to, but I stopped after the first day. I think I took Ibuprofen once for something, but I've always hated taking drugs. Didn't even like the idea of it. It didn't even occur to me to take anything for the ribs, because painkillers don't fix anything and more importantly: painkillers don't make you any bigger.