Jay Shirley

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The Daily Practice

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Dealt a blow.

Published: 06 Aug 2012

Two days before last Christmas, through no fault of my wife’s, I slipped and fell walking through the house. Seriously it wasn’t her fault, I just like to blame someone other than myself. I was just walking, but immediately something felt wrong.

I kept delaying looking into it and would try to run through the pain. It wasn’t working. I eventually gave up on running temporarily and started down the path of figuring it out. I thought I maybe just tore some cartilage and that was the problem. The doctor who referred me to the orthopedist thought this, too.

Once surgery was started, it was apparent that the damage was significantly more severe. There was cartilage damage through the entire knee and in one spot no cartilage at all. The treatment is really fascinating. It’s called microfracture surgery, where holes are drilled so bone marrow seeps out and some replacement cartilage grows in place. It was a surprise to wake up to, but hey, a full recovery? Excellent!

Except my expectations were soundly executed.

I went into surgery expecting to be able to walk the next day. No big deal. Now I’m in a rigid brace, my leg is immobilized and I can’t put weight on it. For a month. The rigid brace is uncomfortable and it’s impossible to sit at a computer without straining.

The brace will be part of my life for the next 6 weeks. After that I will not be able to run for 6 months.

Any time expectations are shattered like this there is a huge amount of left over emotional baggage to deal with. Now I’m dealing with the hit to my productivity and my spirits.

Getting back on the horse is hard with a busted saddle.

I really am trying to get back into the groove. I’m struggling to find the motivation I had just last week. I was really blitzing through new features, enhancements and bug fixes. Last week I felt unstoppable.

This week I’m languishing, even though it’s only the third day since surgery. I just feel that I have a huge hurdle to leap over to get back into the groove, except I can’t leap.

As I sit and try to get stuff done I find myself awkwardly positioned and end up distracting myself. I’m struggling to figure out how to be comfortable and productive. It’s a balancing act I haven’t figured out yet.

And the outcome…

Last week I was amazingly passionate and excited about TDP. I loved working on it. Now today I find myself questioning everything. Is it a viable product? Is it something people really want to use? I even ask myself, “Are people just using this to be nice to me?” It’s completely absurd.

I know that TDP is a viable product. I know because I’ve been using it for a year. I know because other people use it.

I have to cope with the lost direction and momentum, though. I have to ignore the negative voice in my head that isn’t helping me. I normally don’t have any self-doubt; I simply don’t allow it. I struggle to deal with it.

How to regain my momentum and vanquish my inner demons? I’m not sure, but here’s what I’m going to try:

  1. Start my morning out by writing what I want to accomplish. I can’t do this at night because I don’t know how I’ll feel in the morning.
  2. Spend more time reading. Lately I’ve been reading, but only Coders at Work that is topical. I’m spending more time reading Vonnegut. I get motivated when I read interesting things.
  3. Doodle more. I like to doodle. It helps my brain relax a little bit. I need to doodle more, I think. I can doodle anywhere and it’s hard to be uncomfortable while doodling.
  4. Talk to people. Since I’m mostly independent, I am sitting in a vacuum all day. I don’t have a captive audience of coworkers. I’m still not able to drive, but I need to figure out a way to talk about ideas I have.
  5. Do something new. I need to do something new. That always excites me. Even if it’s something silly, just doing something new will help me.