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. Welcome back, Glad to have you back!!!

  2. So glad to hear that you are recovering Iris!!!

    As someone with depression and body dimorphia, I understand how easy it is to find ways to ignore who you are or have become. I have no idea what you have had to go through, but it is so good that you are back 😀

    I look forward to our mini-Twitter chats again!

    Adam (@SmithPlatts

  3. I am happy to see you are getting better. Please make sure to take care of yourself. I say that as a selfish request as I have enjoyed reading your rise from dietitian to a great programmer. I have followed you since your first post on your blog (cannot remember just how I found your blog though) and will keep following you.
    Learning to deal with the stress can be rough for many of us. I myself ended up in the hospital with pneumonia recently and since I also complained about chest pains, they ran a bunch of tests on me for my heart.Turns out at some point I have had a heart attack and damaged the right side of my heart. So I know from personal experience that over any coding or deadlines, you must take care of yourself. Get better and stay that way please, you are a great example of what someone can achieve if they just put their mind to it.

  4. We never spoke Iris but I followed your technical posts with interest, you were one of few that were following the same learning curve as me. Really sorry to hear that you’ve had such a rough time but glad you seem to be turning things around.

  5. Cerca di rimetterti presto, leggo spesso i tuoi articoli … sei una gran bella persona.

  6. Happy and relieved you’re feeling much better.
    Welcome back.

  7. Glad you are on the road to recovery.

    Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we know who we really are. I know… I’ve been there.

    Happy coding 🙂

    Psalm 139:14

  8. Welcome back!

  9. Insanatosire grabnica! Mai lasa munca deoparte, nu se duce nicaieri 🙂 N-am stiut ca esti din Romania; salutari de peste ocean.

  10. I’m so glad to see you’re back healthy again!

  11. I am so happy to hear you are doing better! Stay well 🙂

  12. I am glad you’re back. Take care for yourself. There is a Russian proverb “Work is not a wolf – it won’t escape to forest”. The meaning is, that work can wait.

  13. Welcome back, and glad to finally see “you”. =)

    Et votre francais reste très bon quand même!

  14. Even though I don’t know you personally, this blog post has so far been the highlight of my day.

    I once attended a session from you when you were in Belgium, and really enjoyed your energy and the way you attacked new technology with your unconventional background (it not being IT).

    Been following your blog and Twitter to remind me that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. And although I was very worried you might not make it, somehow I knew that an inspirational character like yourself would pull through eventually.

    Well done on yourself 😉 And welcome back. Looking forward once again to the stuff you put out there.

    Wishing you the best,
    Filip

  15. Wish you a speedy recovery! Happy to see you active again! Be strong!

  16. Very happy to see that you are getting better .

    Good luck for your recovering

    As Julien says your French is very good !

  17. So good to see signs of life from you. Never forget yourself even though it is so much easier to submerge one self in work.

    Get well soon and look forward to more blog posts from you in the future 🙂

  18. I’m so glad to see you’re better. Welcome back! (I kept hoping to see some light during the blackout)

    Raphaël (a fellow developer from Belgium)

  19. I’m really glad to see that you are doing better and that you are focusing on just being you. We need more girls like you.

    I know how being bullied can affect you a long time after it stopped even it you don’t realize it at first.

  20. You have touched the lives of many, including me. I was so glad to read you are doing better. Remember you are awesome the way you are 🙂 Positive thoughts flowing your way!

    btw love the hair!

  21. I am so happy to read a post of yours again! Hold on Iris, you are not alone.
    Cheers from Italy! 😉

  22. I am so glad you are recovering Iris. I don’t know you personally, but I was definitely touched by your story. Being the father of a daughter who struggles with eating issues, it felt close to home. I wish you all the best for your future…

    Kind regards

    Jeremy

  23. Nice to see you “up and running” again! Me and my girlfriend have been through a similar situation about 1 year ago and it’s been a very hard period for us but things are getting better and better just be close to people who *really* care about you and hang in there!

  24. Wow! What a story!
    I never knew you, stumbled on to your Twitter account by accident, but I am glad for you that you are recovering!
    Stay safe and healthy and lots of fun with programming, your family, and your awesome, mice eating, outside pooping cats 🙂

    _\\// Live long and prosper! \\//_

    Peter
    Just another programmer!

  25. Glad to see you’re fighting your way back. I wish you all the best for your recovery … and a lot of good food to eat 🙂

    Cheers, Alex

  26. Skönt att höra om ditt tillfrisknande Iris. WB! 🙂

  27. Welcome Back!

  28. I am so pleased to read this and that everything is improving! Its a crazy journey this life, you never know what it’s going to throw at you, the only thing that really matters is happiness. I wish you all the best. Stay awesome

  29. Welcome back and may God recover you soon and well! 🙂

    Happy to hear good news!

    Warm greetings from Romania!

    Multă sănătate și toate bune!

  30. Good to see you up and running again! Most important thing is to believe in yourself:-)

  31. Hey,

    Great to hear you are recovering now. Sounds like you’ve had a really rough time of it.

    You’re evidently mindful of how your story will be perceived… The fact is depression happens occasionally and it’s not like you chose for it to happen.

    Wisdom in hindsight is relatively easy and there will doubtless be critics who choose to lord that over you. They are in the minority though. The overwhelming majority of us are in fact rooting for you!

    Best wishes for your continuing journey.

    Joel

  32. Keep your “self” well first, then, fight the good fight.
    Coding is a mantra, deep meditation.
    I started my journey coding around 1980.
    Take care,
    of yourself,
    so you can keep taking care of others.

  33. Glad to hear that you’re getting better. I was super worried, and it didn’t help that all your accounts and blog went down without info. Totally understandable!
    If you need to talk, hug, whatever, ping me and I’ll see what I can do.

    Love,
    Andreas

  34. Good to see you getting well. Welcome back 🙂

  35. What a breathtaking life story,

    You really are an amazing person, and what a great parents you have!

    You are truly loved!

  36. I am so glad to see you back. When your site went dark, I was seriously concerned. May your recovery lead to many years of health and happiness.

  37. We have never met, but you know my husband, Jeff Fritz. Jeff and I have been keeping you in our thoughts and prayers (as have our 2 daughters who have ALWAYS thought you are AMAZING!) I am so grateful to see you are not only healing, but that you are rediscovering the amazing person you must be!

    You look absolutely stunning in the dusk photo your mom took. You look so peaceful and full of grace in that shot. I hope that is a feeling you carry with you for all of your days.

    -Mrs. C#Fritz

  38. Iris,

    Welcome back, glad to see you are on the mend.

    🙂

  39. Great to see you back. Get well soon and hope you have a speedy recovery!

    Erik from San Francisco

  40. Hi,

    I’m very happy you are alive & well. I found out about you in the past few months, and checked out your videos, blogs, etc.
    You’ve been an inspiration for me in my own studies.
    It was through eLearning courses and PluralSight that I found your study group meeting video on YouTube.
    It gave me the idea to setup a sharepoint website & try to start a study group at my work.
    Your beauty & knowledge inspires others, thank you.
    Keep your health up, I wish you well in your journey.

  41. Welcome back Iris 🙂 Get well soon!

  42. Thankfully you’re well and back on track!!
    We haven’t meet, but I saw you on build a few years ago and have been following your blog for a while. Saw your sad blogpost some time ago, and been thinking about it ever since.. If you’re were making it. How you were… and now I’m just really happy that you make it alright!! Glad to see you recovering so well. Stay strong!
    All the best wishes now and in the future!!
    Deani

  43. I am happy to hear from you. (♥_♥)

    Greetings from Guatemala, Central America.

  44. Wow! What a ride! I have been building software for a while and I had started getting a bit bored with the trade. When I discovered your blog and your work I was amazed.

    I have been so inspired by your journey and I am thrilled that you are feeling much better! Wishing you nothing but joy.

    Much respect from sunny South Africa!

  45. Iris Classon Return and recovery – It was my dad that convinced me to start my web server again, and enable the social media accounts that .

  46. Take your time, focus on yourself and your wellbeing … get well. Wholly well; We’ll wait.

    You look beautiful, and your story is that of an inner beauty that can’t be masked.

    All The Best,

    — Don

  47. God bedring IRIS du er den vakreste blant alla programistar!)

  48. I’m glad to see you are okay and on your way back!

    You’re awesome and a great inspiration!

  49. Glad you’re recovering, hope you get back on track soon.
    Take care Iris.

  50. Since this week Windows Azure Recovery Services have been put in preview modus. TechMike2KX s Blog Iris Classon Alexander Vanwynsberghe The .

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