Sick & Privileged Thoughts

A Tuesday afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas. Being sick is such a pain in the tuckus. The thing about being an adult—being a sick adult—means that you don’t get a day off. I’ve still had to work today. There’s a deadline looming tomorrow and I had to finish a project. Even when my head is swimming and the urge to give back last night’s dinner into the closest recepticle is strong, I still have to find the mental capacity to write code and think logically. Let me tell you, it’s none too easy.

This morning I slept in until six or so. I knew I was getting sick last night so, when I awoke and my throat felt as if it was coated in concrete, I popped open the work laptop and started emailing. First, I had to reschedule my one-on-ones with my team, make plans for my DevOps guy to take point on the interviewee we have coming in today, and reschedule a few meetings. Then, I got to work writing code.

I just finished the functional bits. What would have taken me two hours at most under normal circumstances took me almost five this morning. Logic is hard; to think if X happens first, then Y must happen, but only if Z condition is met and A hasn’t happened yet is hard to keep in my head when I feel like my face and senses are stuck in the middle of a fish bowl. But deadlines must be met and clients made happy and I can’t expect my team to do the same if I don’t also.

Sometimes I wonder if this is all worth it. Don’t get me wrong; I love my job. I love being a manager, a VP, a programmer. I love the people I work with. I love it when I’m able to help someone see a coding problem in a new light. I love it when I can make a problematic situation turn into a solution. I love it when my team works together and accomplishes—no, exceeds—their goals. There’s a deep sense of satisfaction when things work well.

However, most of my days are non-stop. I try to code when I can. You see, I have a bunch of managerial things to do, estimates to give for clients, lots of emailing and administrative tasks. Yet, I still have the same amount of coding to complete as I did when I was a Senior Programmer. In essence, I work a lot of hours. From the end of August until Christmas, I was working eighty plus hours a week. It was untenable for the long run. And now, even after things have slowed down, I’m still working long hours. I get paid well for it but it comes down to the question, is it worth it?

I feel almost guilty asking these questions. I am very privileged. I’ve had so many opportunities given to me. I’ve worked hard to get where I am but a lot of it is luck and timing. To be able to think about these questions, instead of having to wonder where my next meal is going to come from or whether or not I can afford to go to the doctor, is to be in an extremely lucky place. Not a day goes by that I don’t think how much worse it could be.

Yet, I would not be human if I did not ponder these things. What will cross my mind on my deathbed? I wonder if I will regret not writing a novel or the hundreds of stories I’ve had pop into my head this past year alone. Will I be thankful that I spent every week for four months working eighty hours? Will I care that I followed coding standards and wrote the code that powers some pretty cool data visualizations? You know, on my deathbed, I doubt anything I wrote—code-wise—will still be around!

What do I do? I’m not financially stable enough to take time off. And, I don’t want to go back living hand to mouth, no matter how memorable those experiences were. But, I also don’t want to work so many hours that I forget what it’s like to interact with anything other than a screen. I could do without the stress too. Finding the balance is hard.

What I need to do is just hire another developer. To do that though, I have to convince the owner of the company to loosen the purse strings. Wish me luck…