This isn’t an easy post for me to write. I hadn’t planned on writing it yet, but then on October 2nd, 2015 I gave a talk and while I knew what is in my slides, I didn’t realize I was outing myself while I was speaking. I guess I was just in the zone. This is what happens when you don’t rehearse and know your lines verbatim. You wing it and say what works in the moment.
Shortly after I developed my vestibular disorder, I began working remote, from home. Even before that, my employer accommodated me by letting me work from home if I ever had a really bad vertigo day. For the last two years, all my work has been remote, until this month. I’ve now figured out that I have a way of working that best meets my productivity and health needs and when I don’t get to work like that I get cranky, frustrated, and highly inefficient.
When I speak with people about my chronic illness, there is often confusion on it. Many people think, “your pain [or dizziness] is just in your head” and that I can just let it go or ignore it. Yes, my disabilities are invisible, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t very real. When we meet people who are deaf, we can’t see what is physically wrong with them, but we believe them when they say they can’t hear us. Why don’t we believe people with other disabilities?
Society has many ills. People are fallible and get themselves addicted to unhealthy things all the time. It may be overeating, under-eating, gambling, alcohol, or drugs, but each of these people is dealing with a pain that their particular addiction gives a little bit of relief from. We recognize that these addictions are diseases; we spend millions a year advertising and partaking in various treatments for them. We recognize that people who have these addictions need to take life a day at a time; there is no magic wand for addiction. It is a constant struggle. But many of these addictions are just covering what the real problem is, mental health. As a society we don’t talk about mental illness. We don’t admit that is too is a disease that takes a daily fight and this needs to change.
I live with a person who has a very severe allergy to fish and shellfish. So much so that going out to dinner is extremely hard. She carries an epipen in case she is exposed, and it can be as little exposure as walking into a restaurant having a fish fry. I have malignant hyperthermia, an extreme reaction to anesthetics. It’s genetic and my kids have it from both parents. My father has a pacemaker. For us, one of the coolest things to happen in iOS 8 was the ability to add the “Emergency” information, including links to call an emergency contact to the lock screen of the iPhone.
That got Sara and I thinking, what could we do with an Apple Watch?
It always starts at my cheek. It crawls behind my eyes and tugs on my nose. Unmonitored, it will push tears out then start chipping away at my teeth. It threads a needle through my left eye and pulls on the string making me lose focus and balance.
For the last eighteen months, I have been working remotely from my home in Wisconsin for a startup located in San Francisco. This has been one of the greatest adventures I have had in my life; learning a tremendous amount about the world of startups, better coding practices, how to make a remote environment work, and about myself. Today I want to share what I feel are best practices for myself & the teams I’m on working with to get the most out of being remote.
I have been a vegetarian or vegan for a nearly 10 years. I first chose to be a vegetarian after having read The China Study. My family has a history of heart disease and cancer, and I was following the same path as my father who had a heart attack at 41. The China Study claimed that animal based protein was a major catalyst in these “western” diseases. In hopes to avoid my father’s path, I embraced this new diet. It wasn’t difficult as I didn’t eat much meat and it was mostly chicken.
I’m pretty lucky. I have a solid career and reliable income. I also have health insurance through my employer, unlike millions of other Americans. However, something happened this week that scared the hell out of me. I caught pneumonia.
In the Beginning…
For ten years I have been dealing with chronic pain in the form of daily, debilitating migraines. Unlike some people who get migraines every couple of months that may last a few hours to a few days, my migraines show up every. They come in swaths of anywhere from as few as three and up to as many as eighteen in a single day and they would last from 15 minutes to three hours.