Jul 282015
 
 July 28, 2015  Posted by at 1:39 pm Life of Iris  Add comments

It was my dad that convinced me to start my web server again, and enable the social media accounts that hadn’t been deleted during the mandatory (?) 30 day wait. I actually had no idea that he was reading my blog, but somewhere between the many code snippets, tutorials and videos I had shared my journey from my first ‘Hello World!’ to the last post written a few hours before I was rushed to the hospital and radio silence followed before all my accounts were removed.

For days I’ve thought about what to write and how to write it knowing well that every word, sentence and post would be criticized and be around forever- caught and cached. However, this post is for you, a person that wondered, worried, cared, then or now. I was aware of the many tweets, skypes, calls and emails once I regained consciousness, my parents told me. I wanted to reply to you, but I just couldn’t. I needed to be forgotten, and fight on my own.

Lying on my back outside, trying to grab a few rays of sun before the storm rolls in. Accompanied by my wheely friend Mr. IV

Lying on my back outside, trying to grab a few rays of sun before the storm rolls in. Accompanied by my wheely friend Mr. IV

It hadn’t been a secret that my health had declined over the last year or so, and endless visits, rays and blood tests later I wasn’t any closer to knowing what was going on. Besides the physical problems it was slowly peeling away what I had built up and so carefully layered. Composure, happiness, faith, me. It’s such a slow process you hardly even notice, only when it’s too late you realize you don’t know the person looking back at you in the mirror. 95 pounds, tired beyond belief, empty and weak. If I’m not me, then who resides in this body? And where did I go? I had always thought I would know when I was working on a depression, but the physical problems masked it so well, and denial is such a convenience.

Things started falling apart, and I know I changed and you probably noticed and even tried to warn me or reach out early on. Jobs ended, sessions turned bad, builds broke, economy went red, always late, always tired. I couldn’t keep it together. I was raw, layers peeled. Not much was needed to dent it, or break it. But then ‘much’ happened. Not ‘little’, but much.

I broke, mind and body. But my body breaking first is what saved my life. Not really drinking, never taken any drugs, not on any meds or herbal remedies, had my hep vaccines on regular basis, liver failure was never on my mind. The doctor had once mentioned that the liver tests were a bit of, and he had to retake them. I was scheduled to take do so a few weeks later but never made it, instead a week later rushed to the hospital unconscious with a failing liver.

WP_20150624_20_28_04_Pro

A failing liver will give you pretty legs like this, lovely swollen, impressive poor wound heeling and coagulation, itchiness that drives you insane and more.

Over the week I was hospitalized the aspartate aminotransferase (ASA) shot from 600 to 5000, and all the other values followed. I was on monitored IV 24/7, and blood samples taken 4-5 at the time 3 times a day. Every day they said it should get better tomorrow, only to get surprised that the values got worse. At this point a liver transplant was a very real possibility, and I discussed with a dietitian having a gastrojejunal feeding tube* inserted if my weight didn’t improve since my BMI was 16.8.

double machines

After the machine failed and triggered the alarm for the tenth time in a row I ‘hacked’ it and was able to re-wire to the second one, restart or pause. Who made this system? Buggy as hell.

A phycologist and psychologist team (I had interestingly enough only female nurses and doctors besides a male paramedic nurse) would come and visit daily, but I refused any medication at any level worried about it masking symptoms or possibly worsen the state of my inflamed liver. I force fed myself, drinking those awful energy dense drinks I had so easily served geriatric patients five years earlier when I was working as a dietitian myself. Dad flew over (my grandmother suffered some heart problems during this period and mum had to go to Romania, and I refused to let her fly home). We walked, talked, and I picked flowers. And he convinced me to try to eat a pulled pork hamburger.

Dad wanted a pretty picture so he could send some evidence to convince mum not to head home and stay and take care of her mum in Romania. Notice what I was spooning at night :)

Dad wanted a pretty picture so he could send some evidence to convince mum not to head home and stay and take care of her mum in Romania. Notice what I was spooning at night 🙂

I don’t know how, but somehow I slowly recovered enough to be an out-patient and therefore head home to Sweden. I signed myself out of the hospital against recommendations, knowing that I would be able to eat and sleep better at home and promising to get blood tests done first thing in the morning at the hospital. At this point I was able to stay awake a few hours at the time and walk longer distances unassisted so I decided this was the right thing for me to do and that I could make the journey home by buss. That Thursday evening at 8PM I took the buss home, and endured a sleepless night questioning my decision.

The hospital was amazing, and fantastic staff. But hospitals still creep me out and I can't stand the smell. This hallway gave me the creeps (beds made for new arrivals- everybody had a room)

The hospital was amazing, and fantastic staff. But hospitals still creep me out and I can’t stand the smell. This hallway gave me the creeps (beds made for new arrivals- everybody had a room)

First thing in the morning two of my bosses/line manager knocked on my door and we had a longer conversation. Stupidly enough I agreed to work, and deliver my deliverables over the next few days. I couldn’t code, stay awake, eat, or stop crying and intermittently vomiting. Blood tests on the Monday, I still hadn’t been able to work. What can be classified as a full on mental breakdown occurred in the doctor’s office at the mention of liver transplant (not that one was needed, just that if my values turned that would be our next aim). My first thought was ‘how on earth am I going to be able to deploy?’ and then I suddenly realized how messed up my thinking was. My escapism,- work. Using and abusing my passion for coding to avoid thinking and feeling. He had not expected such a show when a baby blue haired girl in a white summer dress and heels came in sipping on a meal replacement drink. I left with a few weeks of work to recover (he wanted me to take a month or more, I said let’s start with two weeks) and an appointment to see my doctor for pancreatic tests and checking my blood clotting factors (which were improving but still a problem), feeding tube discussions but most important to finally consider options to manage my depression.

Recovering. A weekend visit to my parents in Stavanger (Norway). I got to spend some much needed time with two of the people I love the most in the whole world (my sister is of course one of those)- mum and dad. Stavanger is perfect for relaxing, beautiful and pretty much nothing to do there  on weekends since everything shuts down.

Recovering. A weekend visit to my parents in Stavanger (Norway). I got to spend some much needed time with two of the people I love the most in the whole world (my sister is of course one of those)- mum and dad. Stavanger is perfect for relaxing, beautiful and pretty much nothing to do there on weekends since everything shuts down.

Since then I’ve taken time to recover, and come to terms with the fact that I need to find myself, and treat her better. I’ve also had to come to terms with becoming unemployed. Still being under my work probation period my absence and lack of delivery the last few months meant they had no choice but to let me go as my skills could not be evaluated for long term employment and Swedish laws do not allow probation periods to be extended.

But.

Let’s end this sad story.

It’s in reality a happy story in disguise.

My values are within normal range, I’m eating on regular basis and I have even gained a tiny bit of weight, the majority of the symptoms I have had for almost a year have virtually been non-existing since the values went down. I’ve been hired for two large projects for the club and restaurant industry in a few weeks, and I’ve finally signed up for Math C & D, Physics I & II – a step in the direction of getting a grad degree as an engineer (slowly,- next to work J ).

Most important though, is that I’m smiling and laughing again. And I’ve found myself again, and I won’t let myself get lost again. And I’m sure you noticed my hair isn’t like this anymore:

No longer blue, mood or hair. I'll keep the colors in my closet and syntax highlighting. I need to be me.

No longer blue, mood or hair. I’ll keep the colors in my closet and syntax highlighting. I need to be me.

When we moved to Norway, escaping communism in Romania in 1989, we moved to a tiny town called Flekkefjord. We were pretty much the only foreigners there and I was heavily bullied. I won’t go into detail, but it was bad. I had long dark hair to my hips, and ‘the witch’ was what I was called due to my long raven hair and distinct nose. So as soon as I was ‘allowed’ to color my hair I chopped it off, and colored it orange/pink, got piercings, tattoos, started smoking and drinking (which I was shit at so that didn’t last long). If they wanted weird, I would give them weird- but on my terms. And for almost two decades I kept coloring my hair and caking on makeup, but frankly now I just want to look in the mirror and see myself and be proud of being me,- the way I am and the ways I am going to be. Piercings out, tattoos lazered of, face bare.

Mum wanted to practice dusk photography so i put on my new dress I had sewn earlier that day and we went for a easy hike in the night. She has gotten way better than me at photography and I'm a bit envious :) And yes, I'm back to my natural hair color for the first time since I was 13 + sans war paint.

Mum wanted to practice dusk photography so i put on my new dress I had sewn earlier that day and we went for an easy hike in the night. She has gotten way better than me at photography and I’m envious and proud 🙂 And yes, I’m back to my natural hair color for the first time since I was 13 + sans war paint (AKA makeup)

Because, I am the luckiest person in the world having people like you around, even if just over 140 chars online or late Skype calls across timezones, having found my biggest passion – programming, having a healthy and loving family and two awesome cats that eat mice and poop outside. I don’t need more, but I’ll reach for the stars regardless and I’ll keep sharing my journey and stories, good and bad, in-between our common passion,- that of logic, creativity, creation and world domination through code.

I’m going to reply *to every single one of you* that pinged me, but it’s going to take a week or two, if I haven’t please ping me again as I might not be able to recover my Twitter account etc. As I try to enable my accounts again so will the communication channels open again. But I believe I managed to tweet out my phone number so that is an option, just please remember I’m GMT +1 😉

Lots of love <3 Thank you for being my heros, ladies and gentlemen.

 

*When studying dietetics (I’m a Lic. Clinical Dietitian) we had to try a feeding tube for a few days, and I got a bad reaction to the nasogastric tube so I knew that would not be an option.

 

  132 Responses to “Return and recovery”

  1. Awesome to hear you are doing better, speedy recoveries.

  2. So glad you’re feeling somewhat better!

    All the best from the UK!

    🙂

    Rob

  3. I’m happy to hear you are doing better.

  4. OMG Iris it is so great to see you better and happy!!

    I wrote you a thing on twitter but I’ve always been a big fan of yours, you have an awesomely positive attitude and passion that is so rare to find, and didn’t even yell at me when I directed you to horrible video capture software 🙂

    Can’t wait to see what you do next, I know you and it will be great!

  5. Welcome back! I’m glad you are better.

  6. Iris, you’re a beautiful person. Also, thanks for contributing to Pluralsight. Learning to code here.

  7. God bedring, Iris!
    Recover well, Iris!

  8. Great to see that you’re on the mend.
    Pace yourself, and take your time. You can achieve anything, just don’t try to do it all at once. 🙂

  9. It’s wonderful to see that you are doing better. You look great without the colors, tattoos, and makeup. In fact, I’d say you look extraordinarily beautiful. Working on a degree is a worthwhile endeavor and you won’t regret the accomplishment. I wish you a long and happy life fulfilling your greatest dreams and aspirations.

  10. Good to hear you’re back to your new self 🙂
    Yes, that “new” is on purpose. I hope to read many more good blogposts about your adventures.

  11. Thrilled your back! My best wishes, Iris.

  12. I am really happy that you are getting better.

    I followed your journey since that podcast with Scott Hanselman and was always fascinated with your passion and energy that you put in your projects and life in general.
    I hope you will regain that energy and I wish you all the best on your journey ahead.

    Greetings from Lausanne,
    Oliver

  13. Glad you are on the mend

  14. So happy to see you back on form Iris. Keep up the positive attitude – seeing this side of you is really refreshing 🙂

  15. I was worried when I checked in to twitter to see that you hadn’t posted in ages and that the last post in your timeline mentioned you’d been in hospital :(. I’m very happy now to see that you’re back, recovering and that you’re looking after yourself ahead of your work. I wish you a great time full of the things you enjoy.

  16. I was saddened to hear of your troubles Iris and couldn’t be happier to hear you’re in a better place, physically and mentally.

    I admire your strength and candour, especially coming back in the way you have.

    Enjoy Corfu – I love that place, worked there for 2 summers.

    I look forward to catching up the next time we meet.

    Take care of yourself

    Aaron

  17. Nice to have you back; get better!

  18. Hi Iris,

    I’m so glad to see you are on your way to full recovery.

    I found your site about 3-4 months ago, and you were doing some kind of wind down based on the illness.Things looked really bleak but at the same time it was so inspiring how you found the strength to keep plugging on despite the ill health. I prayed for you to recover and be healed completely.

    Thank God. You are getting better and by God’s infinite grace your healing will be complete and permanent, in body, mind and spirit.

    Please take your time to recover. Your natural look is so beautiful and brings out your natural strength. I guess that was probably what was so striking about your previous look, in that it looked really fickle and flimsy but closer inspection revealed someone much deeper and stronger. Your natural look does the opposite it doesn’t hide but shows your strength and character from the get go.

    Please forget about work and all that pressure for now and gain your strength back first. Wait to become solid first before stretching again. Don’t stretch while in a semi-plastic state. You are definitely on your way to FULL recovery. Many people have check out from a simple cough or sneeze which due to some inexplicable coincidence burst some blood vessels in their brain. Only the living are happy, can work, can code, can praise God. The fact that you are alive and are beating this illness means God still has a lot for you to do. Please take a break. You will not starve or lose you value. In fact this time out gives you more quiet time to dedicate to an area(s) of interest and get really deep into it which would not be possible when you are on the clock trying to meet work deadlines.

    I’m so happy for you and your entire family. They are really blessed and I’m sure they have been praying for you too.

    Sorry for rambling so long, but I’m so happy to see you again.

    Above all give thanks to God at all times and for all things.

    BTW: I’m a software developer in Nigeria.

    Jide Ogundipe

  19. Iris, we’ve never met in person, but we have several friends in common. I’ve been following your journey from afar and it’s been truly inspiring to see your energy and love for programming. I’m so incredibly happy to hear how you are recovering now and doing better. In many ways, your energy is infectious and shines a light in this community.

    I’m sure this was a tough post to write. I understand the battling depression issue and not recognizing yourself. My issue is on the other end of the spectrum of being overweight and living unhealthy that way. When I first heard the news about you, I immediately reached out to Richard Campbell to see if there was anything I could help with. He assured me you were in good hands and I’m glad to see that was the case.

    Long story short, keep embracing yourself. No matter how you may feel about yourself at times, you’ve impacted so many lives in such a positive way. The development world needs more people like you with your attitude and love for programming.

    So, from a stranger who’s trying his best not to sound creepy or sappy, welcome back!!! It’s great news to hear :D.

  20. Good to have you back

  21. Hope you get back in health as soon as possible, and wishing you the best of courage to get over this very difficult life stage.
    There are many people inspired by you, not necessarily manifesting their presence, but your example can be a source of light, so keep sharing and keep fighting, as you are strong enough to win this struggle and get back to your dreams!
    All the best!

  22. Glad you’re back 🙂

  23. Glad you’re back and feeling better!

  24. Whoa – wild ride!
    Such a relief to see you being alive and kicking, Iris! Thank you for sharing your experiences. It takes serious guts to do so, and I think you’re awesome!

    Have a nice _relaxing_ weekend 🙂

  25. OMG! What a terrible journey you have been on, and what an excellent blog post. So glad you have come out the other side of it. I am shocked that the people you worked for were still pushing you to work during this time, I know we all need to earn money, but our health must always come first, and that of employees too.

    Charles

  26. Hi Iris,

    It is the first time I contact you, and I am sorry I did not earlier. But after your last post before your ‘break’, I realised how much I was hooked to your blog. And the idea of you not being around anymore felt like a real loss. Having no news from you was also scary. So when I came across a tweet from you tonight, I was like ‘No way! She’s back!!!’ I am glad you shared you’re story with us. And even more glad that your passion for coding is still intact! I am looking forward to your next challenges, tips, tricks, discoveries and stories. But overall, I wish you all the best and thank you for being back. And thanks to your dad too for getting you back online. Take care of yourself. Looking forward to reading your posts. XX

  27. So glad you’re back! Really, I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. We missed you. I wish you all the very best

  28. Welcome back Iris, glad to see you are recovering!

    Btw, Stavanger is a pretty great place to enjoy weekend actually 🙂
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HO5BHQw4sDY

  29. our common passion,- that of logic, creativity, creation and world domination through code. Thank you for not giving up.
    Thank you for writing what I’m thinking.

  30. Iris,
    Am glad you are back.
    I wish you all the best…

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