Why I Took a Short Break from International Conferences

Yesterday I published the following tweet:

A friend of mine asked me why I took a break from international conferences, so I decided to share the reason for that.

So let’s get a little personal…

Half a year ago I deivered two talks in Techorama confrerence and my story begins right after I finished my first session.

One of the benefits of being a speaker is hanging in the speaker lounge with other fellow speakers. In most conferences there is such a lounge, so after the talk I went there. When I opened my laptop, I discovered a very strange billing e-mail. It was sent to me by a hospital and the bill was for Oron, my child, for a visit in the trauma emergincy room. I had no calls from my wife or any communication from home so I was very shoked. One of my speaker friends even indicated that I looked like I just saw a ghost at that moment.

One of the things that you probably don’t know about me is that before I became a developer I was a medic. So when I saw the e-email, I started to try and reach my wife and my parents and got no answer. It took around one hour up until my wife got back to me. By that time I was very frustrated and started to check whether I can book a much earlier flight cause I sensed that something was worng. My wife tried to calm me down and said that Oron was playing in school and he fell and broke his arm. It was a severe fraction so he is going to have a medical procedure with anesthetization to return the broken bone to it’s place. She didn’t want to notify me about the accident because she knew I’m speaking in a conference and that even though I’m doing that for years, I’m still anxious before every session. If there wasn’t for that e-mail, I would have known about the accident only after the procedure was over. She also sent me pictures of the broken arm and from my medical experience I understood it was really bad.

I felt horrible!

Here I’m in Belgium in a conference before a second session and back home my kid is in hospital before a medical procedure. And I can do nothing, absolutly nothing. Also, I couldn’t find a earlier flight, so I’ll be back home only next day’s evening. You can’t imagine the depression you feel when such a thing happens.

The time arrived for my second session and I tried to stay proffesional and to deliver it as best as I can. But, while I was on stage I knew that my kid was having the procedure and couldn’t concentrate. At the end of the session I felt that I failed both my family and the crowd. I failed my family because I wasn’t there in time of need. I failed the crowd because they came to see a session and probably didn’t get the whole experience I’m trying to deliver in sessions.

I went to the speaker lounge and talked with my wife again. The procedure was succesful but Oron had to have a cast for around two months. Today I can say that Oron’s hand healed well and he returned to play basketball in his basketball team.

This is the reason I decided to take a break from international conferences for a while. I needed to calm down again and to let things sink a little bit before I go on stage again. This is why I declined a few conferences that accepted some of my talk suggestions and you probably didn’t see me in conferences lately.

If you got up to here I can tell that I’m getting back to speaking. My current first conference is going to be Code Europe. If you are looking for conference/Meetup front-end talks you can contact me again and see if I’m available. Hopefully the next time I’ll be abroad nothing will happen at home.