Christian Heilmann

Keeping it dry

Thursday, September 20th, 2012 at 10:47 pm

If you thought this post is about scripting patterns and methodologies I have to disappoint you – it is about a personal matter. As a rule, I do not post personal life things here as this started as a professional scratchpad and will remain that way. However, as this personal matter does in a roundabout way affect my work life, I thought it a good idea to disclose the information.

Losing my touch

So here goes: the other day I woke up and couldn’t feel my ring finger and pinky. Well, I could, sort of, but it was as if they are asleep and just tickled a bit. That makes you wonder. When a day later it didn’t get much better I wondered if it got better or I just got used to it (I am very good at adapting to annoying things when they happen continuously). So I went to the doctor and had myself checked over.

My doctor rocks. He is this wonderful crazy scientist type who speaks three languages (at the same time) and practices a variety of different medical methods. He also has a very dark sense of humour – we go along very well.

Turns out I couldn’t feel my fingers as coming back from Campus Party Berlin I feel asleep on the plane with my Nexus 7 in my hand. I had pinched a nerve and it was damaged. Now, a normal doctor of the NHS ilk would have given me a paracetamol and sent me on my merry way but mine thought it better to see why a simple tablet in my hand can cause such distress to my nerve system. If you think about it – our brains are mostly nerves and when they get damaged that would mean worse things.

So we did a blood test and when the results came back they looked like some kid on sugar rush had a go at a chemistry set and mixed everything that wasn’t meant to me mixed. It also showed that apart from the gingerism I also inherited another thing from my mother: a deficiency in my nerve system.

So to counteract this and lengthen my happy life on this planet I am changing my lifestyle. More vitamins, more iron, zinc and other bits and bobs and above all less caffeine and less alcohol. Whilst I didn’t drink excessively my blood picture showed a lot or as my doctor put it “you drink like a Londoner”. In essence the deficiency I have means that whatever bad thing I do to my body has a tenfold effect.

Shaken and stirred

So here is the thing that could change my professional life: I am not drinking any alcohol at the moment and will most likely not do that for quite a while.

As someone who lives at conferences and meetups the temptation to have a drink is high but I really will not. So if you meet me don’t be surprised when I go for a lime and soda or water when the rounds come in. I will not judge you for drinking and I am also still happy to buy a round, so no worries.

Is this the end of my socialising at conferences?

Here comes the interesting part though. You might remember the Twitter storm in April when Ryan Funduk’s “Our Culture of Exclusion” complained about the culture of drinking at conferences and thus excluding people who do not partake. The Twitters more or less painted IT conferences as Frat House parties where people who do not do the keg stand get hazed out and much more nonsense.

Now, ever since my doctor scared the living daylights out of me, I attended Reasons to be Creative in Brighton, England, Mozcamp in Warsaw, Poland, went to an all inclusive Robinson Club in Mallorca, Spain and the Smashing Conference in Freiburg Germany.

All of these had free drinks and I didn’t have any. I also didn’t get any grief for it or felt left out. I actually had a great time and found it interesting to see other people who are not the social type come out more and talk to me and have very interesting things to say.

Yes, this might be because I am a speaker and people know me, or, as Lea Verou put it “you do and say things sober that other people need to be drunk for” (whatever that means). All in all I have to say though that even as one not drinking I find conferences and after parties a great thing to go to and having chats with people. In most cases I didn’t even have to explain why I don’t want a drink when people offered, and in the few that I had to explaining that I am trying to live healthier was all that was needed.

So, no, our market is not full of brogrammers and you have to be the one to drink others under the table. And seriously, I have much more reasons not to hang out or socialise with people who’d fit the brogrammer stereotype than the drinking.

So cheers to all of you who I met and to the ones I will meet soon :) If you got something to say about this, let’s have a chat on Google+

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