Sick Week

Recently, a friend of mine took a week off for learning that he called “Think Week”. I was reading his post and his preparation and felt a little jealous that he was in a place to take a week off, be free from schedule and responsibilities, and able to do all this great learning. I saved many of the articles to read later, and wondered to myself what it would take to get a week off. It’s hard between work, commitments, and family…

And then last week happened. It was supposed to be a very full week ending in a trip to Summit. I had a number of meetings with founders, meetings with important contacts, and 4 different speaking engagements planned. But instead, I didn’t do any of it. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I cancelled my entire week. I had no choice. I was sicker than I ever have been. I wasn’t completely non-responsive on email, but pretty close.

It was a strange experience. I wish it was just a common cold/flu. But instead, it’s a mystery disease that I’m still figuring out. Going through this process reminded me how little we still really know and understand about medicine and treatment. The first doctor told me it was just a virus and to go home and drink and rest. I had a strange rash, sometimes fever, and no appetite. After a couple days of throwing up, the second doctor decided we’d try something with antibiotics and see if that made things better. He was hopeful it would, but since he wasn’t sure what I had, he told me that if it didn’t work, we’d have to do a lot more tests. It’s amazing that in 2017, the best we can do for many conditions is “try this drug and see if it cleans things up”.

Even once I started the antibiotics I could barely get out of bed. I’d plan ahead for anything I had to do once I got up (“ok, go get a cup of water, drink it, heat up the soup, drink more water, go to the bathroom, go lay down”) to get as much done as I can at once, and keep my steps to a minimum. Finally after a few days the antibiotics started working and attacking whatever was affecting me. A few days later I finally felt better enough to get up more often and slowly re-enter the world. In my bedridden state, one thing I did enjoy was Stranger Things 2 though it was quite scary in moments.

By the end of the week, I was starting to think about the real world again. I am very thankful to people like Ben Rubin who were able to jump in speak where I couldn’t, and to others who found other speakers and rescheduled. Mostly I feel very lucky to have so many supportive people around me — both on my team to pick up the work and meetings (thanks Seth), and especially in my family to cover for me not being able to be there for them.

But I learned something important. When I could barely walk to the bathroom, all other urgent issues really weren’t that urgent nor important. I’m so thankful to have access to the care I could get (even with the mysteries), and have only that much more respect for everyone who struggles with issues every day. And as I get back to normalcy, I’m going to remember to take a breath and a pause on the urgent issues of the day and remind myself not to get caught as caught up in them…