*Warning: This will be a very personal post. Why such a personal post? I guess it’s time to get it ‘out of my system’ *
A gap of 2 years. And what a gap it was…. So much happened.
TL;DR: in November of 2020 I had a bad base of covid. In May of that same year I lost my father to COPD. In August of 2021 I lost my mother to cancer. In September 2021 I started as a CTO at Valo Solutions. On my first day as CTO I learned that the company I worked for, Valo Solutions, would be acquired by Staffbase.
The loss of my parents
And suddenly it was just me… I mean, of course I’m not alone in the world, but there is always, even if you don’t need it, don’t want it, and realistically can’t even use it, a type of safety net there, by means of having your parents.
My father has been struggling with his health for years and years already. He had a heart attack, a subarachnoid hemorrhage, 2 TIA’s, and a bunch of other things. For years I had in the back of my mind that I could loose him in the blink of a second. But he kept staying around 😄 . Until the first half of 2020, when things progressively went worse. I visited him in the Netherlands in the hospital earlier that year after him having breathing problems (not related to covid). And while he sort of recovered from that, it was clear that he would never be walking fully again. He simply couldn’t pump the oxygen through his body. Things went worse and worse, and then when I heard that he would be taken care of in a bed in the living room in their apartment, it was time for me to jump in the car and drive down there. I arrived on a Wednesday, had a long deep talk with him on Thursday, thanked him for who he has been in my life, that he supported me in everything I did, and on Friday evening, by his own request, he selected to have palliative sedation. Just before the health care professionals arrived, I was able to play for him the piece of music he selected to play on his funeral. It was a piece I wrote earlier that year. It was a surreal moment.
Palliative sedation effectively means that they will administer a sleeping agent, of which you know you will never wake up anymore (technically they can stop it, and you will wake up, but that is not the goal). It allows people, who physically struggle to stay alive, to float away softly, without pain. The days after him falling asleep were difficult. Very difficult. We did turns, my mother staying awake for a few hours besides him, then me a few hours, etc. We did not want him to be alone in his last hours. We talked to him, we hugged him. The next Tuesday he, with my mother, me and my wife besides his bed, took his last breath.
My mother, she was strong. She had breast cancer more than 10 years ago, had a full masectomy, and she found her live spirit back after that very difficult time. After my father passed away it was really -really- tough for her, as I was living abroad, and wasn’t able to visit her easily. Fortunately she had a really strong relationship with her sister, and those two hung out all the time. In June of 2021 she bought herself a fancy e-bike, and together with her sister she went on a biking vacation in the nothern part of The Netherlands. They had a blast of a time. Until she fell in a bathroom, probably on a slippery floor. It hurted her so much that she decided to visit a doctor when she returned, and scan showed that something more was going on. It took like 1.5 weeks to receive the diagnose, but it was confirmed that the cancer had returned, full-force. It spread itself to the lungs, and most likely to other places too.
I made plans to drive again to The Netherlands, and she already moved in with her sister and her husband as the could receive better care there. I spend a few days with her, helping her to the toilet, we talked, and even preparing her funeral together with her. Picking the music, again a piece I wrote earlier, that she wanted to have played as the last piece during the service. We made the cards that are sent around to family, talked about flowers, talked about the service in general, who would speak, etc. It was again surreal. Here am I talking to my mom, at the table, about what will happen when she’s gone. After 2 days she couldn’t do it anymore. I saw her fading out. The pain was intense, breathing was difficult, she couldn’t eat anymore. Again, like with my father, she asked the doctor for palliative sedation and we waited for the health care specialists to arrive with the equipment. They hooked up the pumps, inserted the needle, turned it on. She looked at me, held my hand, and said: bye birds, bye flowers, bye trees… she looked us all in the eyes and fell asleep… Early in the next morning she passed away.
In the video below you can see both my mom and my dad (and a very young Erwin at times)
How am I, 2 years after COVID
I have recovered, but I’m not the same person as I was before COVID. I lost a lot of energy, and never fully recovered from that. It changed me in life goals/priorities, but I guess the loss of my parents helped a lot with that. Anyone who has been through that will recognize that. Things are just ‘different’ somehow. In the end, after returning from the hospital (which was a life changing experience) I needed 6 weeks to get back to work, my muscle power never fully returned, and any serious exercise is a no-go.
A thing that I don’t really scream from the rooftops, but which do affect me who am I as a person, is that I have Ulcerative Colitis: an chronic inflammation of my colon. For that I have to take immunosuppressive medication, which in turn increases the risk of me acquiring other illnesses, like for instance COVID. The result is that I’m currently already on my 5th COVID vaccination. I made it my number one goal to -never- have COVID again, at least not in the way I had it in 2020.
Me stepping into the role of CTO took away a lot my time and energy. Going through a merger of two companies is not easy. Strategy updates, people changes, process changes, tool changes. It affects you. I basically haven’t been working much on PnP PowerShell lately when comes to coding. Fortunately I’m not alone with PnP PowerShell, there is Gautam, Koen, Veronique and the work they do is incredible. We’re on the brink of releasing an updated version of PnP PowerShell which is based on .NET 6 (the current version is based upon .NET 5 which will be out of support very soon) and more things are in the works! Now that the merger between Valo and Staffbase is basically complete (with a few things still happening here and there) I also hope that I will have a bit more time here and there to work on PnP PowerShell. As the ‘father’ I have to make sure that my ‘offspring’ is doing well after all 😉
If you were at ESPC 2022 in Copenhagen recently, you could have seen me speak about PnP PowerShell already (my first in-person conference in 3 years!), and there are more conferences upcoming where you will see me! Looking forward to see you! If you see me walking around, say hi! I love to hear from you!