Health Update

As I lay on the floor, my consciousness receding, my body heavy, sweat pouring off me like I was emptying myself of life itself, I looked up at my child and felt regret. Regret not at the life I had led, but that I might not be able to raise my child. I recited the shahāda just in case, because you just never know.

My wife found me and called the ambulance. After a few minutes, we were able to get me off the floor and into the nearby bed. One minute I had been raring to go, set for another Friday in the office, my day planned out and my goals set. The next, I was on the floor wondering if this was it. Life can be like that.

When the paramedics arrived, I was already thinking about whether I could make it to work or not. I was still determined to go. Meanwhile, my wife was calling my boss to let him know that despite my ill-informed protestations, I wouldn’t be going in. I accepted that so long as I didn’t have to go to hospital.

The paramedics were as usual, excellent. They ran some tests. They could barely detect my pulse. My blood pressure was very low, which is odd because I’ve been taking medication for high blood pressure since the late 1990s. They ran an ECG and found abnormalities consistent with the ravages of long-term type 1 diabetes, but thankfully, no sign of a heart attack, though I’m pretty sure we all thought that’s what it might be. They stayed for a while and carried on running tests and my pulse became stronger and my blood pressure though still low, was at least better than when they arrived. I signed the disclaimer for hospital admission on the understanding that should my condition deteriorate again, I would not hesitate the next time. Thankfully, thus far, that’s not been necessary.

It’s too early to point to any one thing, though it wasn’t my diabetes. I’m intimately familiar with the symptoms of a hypoglycaemia, and my blood sugar was perfectly normal. I had no chest pains, just a ringing in my head that I’d experienced the last time I was suddenly unconscious about a decade ago. Was it a virus playing havoc? I don’t think so. There’s no point in speculating. Some have pointed to stress. I have never been less stressed. As you all know, the last two years have been the most enjoyable period of my working life, and although I’ve certainly worked very hard, it rarely feels like effort. I only understand “overwork” in the context of activity that is not enjoyable, so I don’t think we can point to that.

What I can say is that I could probably use more sleep, so I have been sleeping more since this episode, and today I tried to do more work than perhaps I should have and suffered two ocular migraines, the second turning into a full blown migraine, so I need to easy back into things.

I’ve been profoundly taken aback by all the messages of support on Twitter, both from my friends, and those who barely know me. I feel enormous gratitude for that. I’m also looking forward to getting back to my full schedule, but I will ease back into that, listening carefully to my body and ensuring I make my health my number one priority. It’s probably fair to criticise me for not always putting my health first, but that’s always been my choice, and not a wise one at that. I will adjust my values accordingly.

It’s a testament to how fantastic my work environment is that upon regaining my wits, my first thought was irritation that I was taking my first sick day in the whole year. That’s three in two years. Anyone know knows my medical history will realise that this is quite outstanding and a better record than most. I’m also grateful that none of these three days have had anything to do with my diabetes, which I’ve been looking after better than at any time in my life.

I don’t have answers, but that’s OK, I’m used to not having answers. To be able to operate comfortably from a position of discomfort is an important part of success. I’ve got a lot better at that. I will visit my GP to make sure everything is OK and I look forward to operating with my usual energy levels very soon.

Thanks again for your support and love. It means a lot to me.

11 thoughts on “Health Update”

  1. Sending positive energy your way.. I know that telling you to slow down is ridiculous, but think of it this way: your health directly correlates to how much you can do. If you want to continue to be amazing and change the world, you need to take some time for yourself once in a while!

  2. I’m a Playstation fan. I don’t know you personally. And that didn’t matter when I decided to follow you on Twitter.

    But your presence on my feed kind of transcended gaming pretty quickly, and now for the most part you’re the model of humility, conviction, zeal and work ethic – scratch that – life ethic that I want to aspire to. Thoughtful and ameliorative.

    So as a Playstation fan, who doesn’t know you personally: I hope your kid turns out like you and I hope you are doing all you can to make that happen.

    The well wishes go without saying.

    Kyle

  3. Like Kyle I don’t know you but as a day one Vita owner I’ve been blown away by your passion for the console, your Twitter posts are funny, inspiring and entertaining. Slapping bass, pipes and #baus 😀 140 characters ain’t enough so, I wish you a well rested recovery, not a speedy one. Always better to take your time with these sort of things

    Sláinte

    Gary

  4. Hey Shahid,

    Hope you are well. I am a Pakistani( I don’t know if you are Indian or Pakistani) but its great to have someone like you being a positive role model for other young South Asians and Muslims. Get well soon bud.

    Regards

  5. I guess I’m intimately familiar with the idea of overwork only existing in the context of work that’s not enjoyable, but I guess you sort of mentioned what I was going to say anyway: whether the work is enjoyable or not, listen to your body. I hope you never have to deal with one of these episodes again and that you will continue to live on in good health and doing exactly what you wish to be doing with your life.

    Hope to see you soon,

    Rami

  6. I Goggled your symptoms, a suggested remedy is given below

    Step1- Cohiba Siglo VI
    Step2- a double esspresso / latte or tea
    Step3- a copy of Robs Report

  7. Hi Shahid,

    I hope you will get well soon. Your story inspired me to reply with my own experiences which I wouldn’t normally share:

    I had been burning out yearly and after each major project, I’ve gotten a little worse and recovery has taken longer. It is possible to work yourself into an early grave, I should know, I had blacked out, had pains all over my body, headaches, blurry vision, chest pains and difficulty breathing for months. and doctors could not pinpoint why. I went for test after test. They said I had moderately high blood pressure and cholesterol, but it wasn’t diabetes or anything like that.

    Eventually it became clear what was the cause: burnout… it creeps up on the dedicated workaholic and it is truly our biggest enemy. How can we be worth anything to those who love us and depend on us if we are burned out? What is more as we get older, we show signs of not being as resilient to it as we were.

    As I suspect your work ethic isn’t so different to mine, I think you will know this already but not listen to that little voice that tells you to rest!

    I leave you with the thought that “Less is more”, as we don’t do much work when we’re ill. I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m nagging you but I think sometimes we need to be told what we already know 🙂

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