I was blessed to have about two weeks of fairly normal life after the side-effects of the second chemo treatment three weeks ago mostly wore off. I’m working more than part-time but not quite full-time to keep the health insurance and not over-due it. The week of chemo and the week after would make it hard to try to work more than that. They have been great about all this and reminds me again why I’ve stayed with a small company all these years (almost 23). It feels good to be back into the code and solving problems again. As my previous blog mentioned, I’ve also grabbed at a chance for more “normal” life since the second chemo with attending some art events, a bit of photography, checking out my July show venue (see the Facebook event I just posted a few days ago) and going to church the past two Sundays. The third chemo was this past Wednesday and completed without incident. I’ll have an MRI in about two weeks which will determine whether we continue with three more chemo treatment, one every three weeks, or switch to radiation and complete the remaining chemo treatments after that. As I write this, the side-effects from Wednesday’s chemo are setting in, fatigue, worse neuropathy, and some pretty severe knee joint pain. Just keep having to telling myself they will start to go away in a few days.
Before the third round of chemo, I’d been slowly getting back to walking and some strength exercises. After the initial surgery back in March, I was walking about a half mile straight about every other day. Unfortunately, the second hospital stay near the end of April and the first chemo round soon after that weakened me greatly, but my strength is slowly returning. I attended SQL Saturday on June 8. This is an IT conference I’d been really looking forward to and, fortunately, it ended up falling on the last Saturday before the third chemo so I was at my strongest. That can be a double-edged sword though. The building where lunch was served is about a quarter mile away and because of the parking on Otterbein’s campus and a farmer’s market that was going on, driving to it would have been difficult. I walked it. That was a mistake. The half-mile, even broken up by eating lunch and a couple of breaks sitting on benches along the way for a minute or two, was too much for me. I just could not recover and left after the session after lunch, which really bummed me out. I recovered after a nap when I got home and then a good night’s sleep, but I realized I really overdid it.
There’s a concept in software development called gold-plating. This is where the developer starts adding features that the customer in no way requested and will, in all likely hood, never use. It’s a waste of time and over-doing it. Not to leave out photography, the best example I have seen of over-doing it is called “over-cooking” in the HDR Process. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In simple terms it is the combining of multiple exposures to bring out the details in the darker and lighter areas of a scene. The easiest example to understand this concept is a sunset. This technique allows the details of the foreground, which would be in shadow if you exposed for the bright sun, to be visible. The problem is many photographers, especially when they first start working with this concept, over-do it. It causes the photo to look hyper-realistic, beyond what the normal eye can see. Worse, taken even farther, the technique can cause halos to appear around the edges of objects in the scene which are distracting.
I try to avoid both forms of over-doing it in my full-time job and photography, so I need to remember that over-doing it won’t really help my strength come back any sooner. When I first started back to work in mid-May, just walking the distance to our bathroom two to three times a day could wear me out. Since I’d been feeling better, I’d been walking part of the parking lot at work at lunch and had been adding a bit more on each day, but that was just too much distance at the conference. I also want to say thank you for everyone who encouraged me. I’ve had doctors and friends, who know the saga of what’s happened over the last two months, be amazed I’m even back to work, let alone back to walking and starting to do strength exercises. As many of them have said, “baby steps”. I didn’t learn software development or photography overnight and many mistakes were made along the way. I just need to remember that now.
About the photo: “Revealed” - HDR is a hard concept and there is some subjectivity. What some people call “over-cooked” can be argued by the photographer to be their style. This is my take on HDR done well, producing a pleasing realistic scene without any halos around the edges of the hills or the clouds. This trip was also a lesson in not over-doing it as I described in Managing Expectations. Badlands National Park, South Dakota 2018.