Though it’s getting a little harder, considering how it’s been 2 months and counting.
I’m pretty much home-ridden now. And no matter how I had sought to make my room my ‘ultimate hang out spot’ much earlier this year, I realized it’s possible to get absolutely sick of it.
Work kept me going for a while, until I found it difficult to navigate stairs. After 3 close-to-passing-out moments in and around the office, I made the difficult decision to work from home.
Many a time, I find myself missing my normal life.
Going to work every weekday like a regular person.
Having the freedom to just get out of the house to walk anywhere I want, whenever I want.
Having regular conversations with people that do not revolve around health and “eh, what happened to you?”.
I’m still trying to psych myself into thinking that there is a good side to all these. Like hey, you still CAN work (albeit from home). You have not lost your mental capacity to write amazing code. You’re still making a worthwhile contribution to society. (As for the mental capacity to think rationally, well … that’s rather debatable now.)
And the fact that mum and I are much, much closer than before. She’s been really supportive the past 2 months and a half, taking me out for drives when I whine about being too bored at home, spending all her free time with me in the hospital when I was admitted, stocking the house with ample supplies of isotonic drinks and uh, comfort food.
Not to mention how much I prefer to be alone right now and home is the perfect place for me to get all reclusive. (And I’m still pretty much ignoring all my texts as well – sorry, friends. Really. Don’t. Want. To. Talk. About. It.)
And that every day is a step closer to full recovery (I hope). I still feel like crap now but I guess I just have to be patient.
This is the turning point. It will have to be.
I originally thought 2013 will be a much better year. It turned out to be much worse than 2012, and perhaps the second worst in my entire life. Sure, there were great moments here and there – travelling overseas and being a bridesmaid at my best friend’s wedding. But on the whole, 2013 was just … bad.
And there is no one to blame other than myself.
Losing my grandmother in April brought me down. Way, way down. During her death and the subsequent funeral, I was basically expressionless, numb to everything that was going on around me. Not because I wasn’t close to her, but because I was in shock. And everything happened too fast.
Prior to her death, I only knew she had stage 4 cancer 5 days before.
And I hated myself for it. Chinese New Year 2013 turned out to be the last ever Chinese New Year I would ever have with her. And what was I doing then? I WENT HOME early during the festivities at her place because I had a client deadline to meet, and I actually put my client deadline as a higher priority over Chinese New Year with her and my extended family. What the fuck was I doing?
And even while I was physically there, mentally I wasn’t. My mind was someplace else. Even when I was speaking to my cousins, I was basically bitching about how I have stuff to do at home, as if my work was more important than all of them combined.
But seriously, even if she turned out to be well this year, it shouldn’t have made a difference. Must someone come down with cancer before I realize that I should be spending more time with him/her?!
It’s a bloody huge wake up call. I’ve made some horrible decisions which I’m still bitter about until today.
It was this year when I realized my priorities were wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
It was only after my grandmother’s death when I began to evaluate my own life more closely, and I realized I have not been treasuring the people around me enough. How many times have I turned someone down for dinner or a weekend out because I wanted to do my work? Way too many times.
Meeting my extended family at my grandmother’s place used to be a weekly affair. How many times have I gone there last year and this year? Apart from Chinese New Year, zilch.
How many times have I promised to have dinner with my parents only to have my coding work overrun (usually due to bad time management and over-zealousness, like starting a new task at 6pm) and end up cancelling, promising to have dinner with them “next time”? I have lost count.
Here’s me announcing on Facebook in 2011 that I won’t be free for an entire month because I had stuff I wanted to do.
And here’s another status update from last year when I mentioned that I’ll be missing my grandmother’s birthday because I couldn’t finish what I had sought to do for the day.
That turned out to be her LAST BIRTHDAY.
Seriously. What was I thinking? Has my workaholism blinded me to the fact that other people exist?
Ironically, I started becoming extra-paranoid that I might lose anyone at anytime. In fact, I started to worry about every single damned thing.
When my favourite cousin flew to Vancouver, I was left there wondering whether the airport send-off be the last time I see him. When any of my parents go to the dentist/sees a doctor for any reason, whatsoever, I’d be worrying up a storm. Worry, worry, worry – that was what I kept doing.
Health-wise, it’s been major roller-coaster ride which hasn’t yet ended.
(At this point, let me pause to add a little disclaimer: Cousins and relatives, after reading from here on – please do not approach my parents with questions. I just want to be left alone. Thanks.)
I have a chronic autoimmune illness which went into remission early last year after I painstakingly fought it for a year and a half since late 2010. It relapsed early this year after a bad bout of flu, brought upon by an entire week of late-nights to meet a client deadline (same old story). Needless to say, my immune system into a decline for the rest of the year and since then, it’s been a never ending cycle of falling sick – getting well (briefly) and falling sick all over again.
Being someone who has had chronic illnesses since 2008, I should be no stranger to “pacing myself” and “taking rests were necessary” by now.
Apparently not. I still went at full force. It was only from the later part of this year where I started to slow down a little – but somehow, my immune system just wasn’t holding up even with my slower pace.
Recently, faced with a couple of spotty lung x-rays and abnormal blood test results, I am now at a point where I realize I may have just done irreversible damage to myself.
I always pride myself in loving what I do. Even today, I remain just as passionate for entrepreneurship, the start-up scene, and what I do in general – which is a myriad of writing code, designing, web marketing, giving talks about gamification – all the things I love.
Whenever anyone asked me whether I was “undergoing stress”, my answer was usually a straight-out no. And I wasn’t lying. I actually enjoyed it.
But still, there is still something called “overdoing it”. Passion can be a silent killer that blinds you from reality, and you don’t realize that you’ve overstepped the mark until you get hit from behind.
And from the looks of it, I’ve overstepped the limit.
2013. It was a huge (probably, much needed) emotional, physical and mental jolt. The cumulative effect of everything that has happened this year has drained me entirely. I’ve lost all motivation for everything. What I love to do, suddenly doesn’t seem as appealing. I’m just completely demoralized at how I’ve just lost complete control of everything – my own health included, which I cannot stop worrying for right now. I’m just so angry at what I’ve done.
Yet somehow, I’m rather amazed at how I can still put on a close-to-normal front when facing other people. Although from the looks of my recent Facebook posts and this blog entry, that facade is fast disappearing.
I have to start re-evaluating my priorities.
I love my work. But I also love my family, my friends and myself.
2013 has taught me way too much:
1. About the importance of treasuring the people I have around me and not take it for granted that they will always be there.
2. That if I lose my own health, I basically have nothing. And it WILL be a long struggle back up.
I used to think I was superwoman, or an “Energizer Bunny” – a nickname given to me by many people. But today, I know who I am. I’m a human being. And like everyone else, I am not infallible.
I will bounce back eventually. I’m certain about that. The only thing I’m not certain about is when.
As for 2014, I only have one resolution right now. To stay alive, and to live as if 2014 will be my last year on Earth. (Okay, that’s two resolutions.)
In no particular order;
1. A rush of warm water down your throat after a vigorous cough.
2. Taking a really good shit. The type that comes out all at one go. Not the occasionally ‘plunk plunk plunk’s that are ridiculously small with the effort needed to force them out.
3. Speaking of which, also getting a ‘Eureka!’ moment in the midst of (2), which qualifies as a double pleasure.
4. Having dark chocolate slowly melting in your mouth.
5. Taking off on a jet plane.
6. Long bus rides in a public, empty bus (extremely rare in crowded Singapore), with your favourite music plugged into your ears and a good book in your hands.
7. Hopping on a bus and going wherever it takes you.
8. The sense of satisfaction after solving a complex coding problem with less than 20 lines of code. (Only the geeks will get this.)
9. Having Starbuck’s Java Chip frappe during a rainy day.
11. The rush of adrenaline when giving a public talk. (I’m starting to get used to this.)
12. Being surrounded by people you love, every single day – both at home AND at work.