I'm using my diabetic diagnosis as an example. Because it was a wake up call for me.
Up until five years ago, I'd sometimes sit at a desk and just work straight through until it was time to head home. I'd grab a snack on the way into work, and grab a snack on the way home but in between, there were days when I'd only get up to get a drink or go to a meeting, I was in the flow all coders experience and was focused on only one thing: shipping.
And when I got home, I'd be on the computer working some more.
Then around this time, 5 years ago, I spent an entire month where I was just completely ill. I was always thirsty, always hungry but couldn't keep anything down, and I was just feeling like complete crap.
Then after a doctor visit regarding being sick, I was sent for blood work.
And my blood sugars came back as 36.
Here I was, not only discovering I was a type 2 diabetic, but I was also getting rushed to the hospital for a week of emergency insulin treatment.
During that week where I sat in a hospital bed, I felt angry and betrayed by my own body. And I wanted my life back.
- I was sick of being tied to a computer of some sort, checking email or tweets or company forums at all hours.
- Sick of staying late and pulling all-nighters.
- Sick of ignoring invitations from friends for get-togethers.
- Sick of missing holidays with family because of tight deadlines.
- And finally, I was actually sick, I had made myself sick with something I'd have to live with for the rest of my life.
I had given everything I had to a career that promised me a better life, byt my health, my relationships, and my happiness had been steadily declining for years and had now reached a breaking point.
At the end of that week, I came home with a pocketful of needles to inject myself with multiple times a day, and a meter to monitor my blood sugars, and a new outlook on life.
Suddenly, I couldn't just do what I'd always done before, I had to change my schedule around, I had to get in balanced meals, and I had to destress (the stress was the big one, as I soon learned that any stress and my sugars were through the roof.)
Taking Those First Steps
When I first got sick, I decided that there was nothing more important than having the life I wanted and being healthy again.
- I started reducing my work hours so I could focus on my home life and my life over all.
- I stopped checking email outside my scheduled hours.
- I left my phone on Do Not Disturb and in my pocket during social events.
- I actually stopped working after 40 hours each week.
- I started to watch what I ate
- I started eating more regularly
- I stopped eating takeout for two meals a day.
- I spent more time with my daughter.
- I started making sure to go to bed at a scheduled time and get up at a set time.
- I went to the gym, or went swimming or went for walks a few days each week.
- I've learned to listen to my body when it says it's hungry, or tired, or when it's telling me I need to check my sugars and maybe take an extra dose of insulin.
And guess what?
I was still keeping up on my work. In fact, I actually started getting more done because I was able to better focus on what needed to be done.
By improving the quality of my life, I had more energy for everything — including work.
Now, it's five years later, and I've been injecting myself with two different kinds of insulin several times a day and also pricked my fingers to get a sugar reading since that time.
The steps I've followed above since that week in the hospital have helped save my life.
And, most importantly, I've learned not to spend all day sitting in front of my desk and just coding.
And I've been losing weight, getting healthier both physically and mentally, and I've been able to enjoy life.
Maybe the circumstances that spurred me to make a change are extraordinary. But the changes I made didn't require extraordinary skill or effort.
All I needed was information and resolve.