It's been a while

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog. There are several reasons for this. First one being that I’ve always gotten more energy from (public) speaking rather than writing. The second being that I actually really needed to conserve my energy for about a year or so - and actually still do.

It all started this with this:

One of the cars involved in this accident was mine. Whilst driving to a friend, an accident happened just in front of me. All three of the lanes came to an immediate halt. From 130 km/h to 0. I always steer towards the side of the road in these situations and that allowed the van driving behind me to avoid a collision. He came to a halt with the nose of his vehicle close to my passenger door. Unfortunately the driver operating the van behind him, wasn’t paying attention to the road and hit me from behind while driving about 120-130 km/h in his fully loaded Mercedes Sprinter.

At first I was fine

Immediately after the accident, I seemed to be just fine. My leg was hurting a little from hitting the steering wheel, but other than that I seemed fine. Although I knew I’d have a muscle ache the day after, I counted my blessings and went home. That night, I celebrated the fact that I’d walked out of a severe accident relatively unscathed. The day after, I did indeed have severely painful muscles but if that was the worst of it, I still wasn’t too worried. But then…

I remember waking up on Sunday the 1st of April 2018 having a really bad neck pain and I was dizzy. I figured I had slept in a weird position and that this would pass. Unfortunately it didn’t. Not the next day, not during the week after, nor the 9 months that followed. On Tuesday I went into the office and everything was still spinning. My colleagues sent me home.

After a visit to a doctor and physical therapist, I was diagnosed with a concussion and a whiplash.

… and then I wasn’t

This all meant that I had to take a lot of rest. For those who know me a little, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this wasn’t easy. I am not one to sit still, but now I was forced to. I couldn’t work (wasn’t allowed by my employer either), couldn’t read, watch tv, look at a screen and low- or high-pitched sounds made my head spin like nothing else. I ended up sleeping with ear plugs and even then it was hardly doable which in turn worsened my condition. Even though I knew that eventually all would be well, it took way too long for my liking. So I developed a new hobby: I planted chili seeds and watched them grow.

And seeing as doing things half baked isn’t really my thing (also, did I mention that I had a lot of time?), I ended up harvesting about 5 kg’s of chili’s. It was so bad that the whole living room was filled with chili plants :-)

Meanwhile I was slowly re-integrating at work. I started out with 4x 30 mins spread out over the day and slowly worked my way up to 4 hours a day. As soon as I could work 1 hour in a row (this took me several weeks), I decided it was also time to go into the office and slowly worked my way back to fulltime (40 hours/week) working.

So basically you were on holiday for about a year?

Not really. It hasn’t always been easy. Just like that van went from 130 km/h to 0, so did I. There have been times where I was really down and didn’t think it would ever get better. But besides my chili’s, my dog, my girlfriend (in no particular order), there was another thing that kept me going and enabled me to slowly stretch out my days: community. Right after my accident, I couldn’t do much but I had already made a commitment to mentor some students, I had already planned some workshops (DevOps principles combined with Chaos Engineering with students), I had some speaking engagements, events, etc. and even though I didn’t think these things would go well, I noticed I got an enourmous amount of energy from it. Mentoring, teaching, speaking, engaging in conversations, that is what makes me get out of my bed, both in good times as in the less-than-good times.

Are you okay now?

Yes I am. I’m doing great. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean that I’m the same as before. I still struggle with long days - I still get headaches when I go on for too long. I get dizzy when I sleep too little and I have a lot less energy than I used to. But I like to think in possibilities and when I look back at the first weeks and compare that to now, I’ve come a long way. If anyone had told me before (and people have), I wouldn’t have believed that a ‘simple’ accident with so little visible damage, could have such an impact on someone’s life. So I guess I’ve also learned from this experience: patience, relaxation, but especially to appreciate the little things in life and not complain so much ;-)

I’m looking forward to the next year where things will be stabilizing and I can pick up where I left off. I also hope to see you out there :)

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