In fact, not only am I back and tearing into things, I’m more excited about this industry in general and our company in particular than just about anytime.
Not only that, but am having an enormous amount of fun … getting into the flow of all of the myriad of conversations, customer implementations, arguments, and more that have developed in the past few months, and beyond that am developing a nearly insatiable appetite for moving forward.
That may be all well and good, but a fair question would be to wonder just what am I coming back from?
Just before the middle of last year a set of discussions bore fruit, and I sat down to co-author the Executive’s Guide to Cloud Computing with Eric Marks (CEO of Agile Path). Everything lined up nicely – we had a publisher (Wiley), a clear need in the market, and something which we hoped would contribute to the development of our industry.
Through the course of the summer we made fine progress, with everything moving forward to a late fall / mid-winter publication date. My focus admittedly narrowed quite a bit (as anyone who has had the privilege to contribute to a book will readily attest) … but the end result was definitely worth the effort.
(I’ll talk more about this writing project at another time, but for now let me just say that I loved writing and hope to be doing quite a bit more in the future)
A Peculiar Turn of Events
Then something really odd happened. Without going through all the details (and some of them are strange indeed), I found myself literally lost.
<feel free to insert joke here – we certainly have!>
One moment I’m driving home from the airport, looking forward to seeing the family, catching up a bit on email etc., then working on the book some more … the next moment I’m driving down the road with no idea where I am, what I’m doing, how I got there, or perhaps most disconcerting of all, how to get home.
Then things got really strange.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks I was diagnosed with a macro pituitary adenoma – basically a good-sized non-malignant tumor right smack in the middle of my head, causing all sorts of havoc with vision, cognition, conversation, and much more.
At the advice of one of our daughter-in-laws (Rachel, a three time cancer survivor with an astonishing story of her own) we named the tumor, had a mini-celebration noting it’s arrival, and began coming up with some really bad jokes. One sample:
Man we’re really glad that all of these symptoms weren’t just in my mind … oh wait a minute, they are!
Right after that we figured out a course of treatment, made all sorts of obvious arrangements, and ran like mad to finish the book.
A New Start
Very early on Monday morning, November 23, Carol (my wife) and I headed down to Barnes-Jewish Medical Center for whatever would come next. By 7:30 I’d met more than a dozen of my newest best friends (believe me, when you meet someone whose job is to play around inside your head you’re pre-disposed towards being friendly), by 7:45 said goodbye to my family, and soon thereafter to consciousness.
The procedure itself was a real geek-fest (or so I’m told – I have only fleeting memories of the OR itself) – real-time location and targeting systems (able to track a wide variety of instruments within my head with astonishing accuracy) displaying everything on six 50″ plasma displays surrounding the operating table, a robotic inter-operative MRI that emerged from a garage part way through the procedure to see if any tumor remained to extract, and much, much more.
By 4:30 I’d come to, by 10 pm I realized that “I could see, think, & talk” (that left me so excited that I didn’t really sleep for a couple of days), and by Thursday morning (Thanksgiving in the US) I went home – tired, but deeply grateful.
Spinning Back Up
December was mostly about getting some rest, generally letting my body catch up with how good my mind felt, and enjoying all the family and friends that were coming in for the Christmas and New Year holidays. As a bonus I was unexpectedly able to travel to see one of our sons graduate from Marine Corp bootcamp (though by train rather than plane – another bonus in and of itself).
One funny and definitely unexpected “upside effect”: I felt so astonishingly great so quickly that I had a momentary flash of panic, wondering just what I’d written in the months preceding. Fortunately my fears were put to rest by re-reading the manuscript, which turned out to be in pretty good shape (needing only the usual late-stage edits).
With the new year – and a re-gifted ability to think clearly – comes much new opportunity, and I am definitely looking forward to helping our customers truly take advantage of all that this transition to cloud computing has to offer, re-joining industry-wide discussions in all forms, and (of course) helping Appistry continue to deliver the most complete, useful cloud application platform extant (yes I know I’m biased, but I’ll happily argue that is so with good reason … preferably over a couple of fine craft brews).
The timing with the book is pretty good – Wiley is planning on releasing it (both physically and electronically) on April 12 – and much of my upcoming work will include stuff related to Exec’s Guide.
So please forgive me if I’ve either been very obtuse, perhaps a bit contrary, or simply slow to respond … in many ways this is truly a new start, and both personally and professionally it would be hard to be more excited.
Here’s to a fantastic 2010 and beyond!
There is much more to this story. In particular faith is very important to us. As one of the uber-intellects in human history (St. Thomas Aquinas) was fond of saying “grace builds on nature”. In other words, everything was all of one piece – the great doctors at the top of their game, a fine medical institution providing them the context in which to work, and the prayerful support of family and friends. I’ll post more on this stuff (someday, someday) at my personal blog http://www.hopeitis.com.