Was 2014 a good year?

I tweeted this on December 30:

I’ll get to the cancer portion later, but my reason for embedding that particular tweet was “good riddance 2014.” Yes, I’m glad that year is over. Why?

Let’s see. In 2014, I shut down a company (my 4th failed startup). I started Atlanta Tech Blogs as a project, and now it’s turned into a nice niche service business. I mentored a half dozen or so startups at ATDC. Seeing their progress and success has been very rewarding, as is helping entrepreneurs work on how to build a great pitch every Friday at Pitch Practice. I started teaching Digital Marketing for the new kid in town, General Assembly. Shameless plug: I’m teaching “Blogging for your brand” next Thursday night January 8, at the General Assembly location 4 doors down from Dancing Goats. And, towards the end of the year, I helped bring an idea to life that may have some fun and lucrative future prospects. I hope to share more on that later.

Despite the shutdown of c|d8a, from a business perspective, I learned more in 2014 than I ever have. So chalk that up to the “good” side of 2014. Economically, not so good due to the aforementioned shut down, but all our needs were met, and we are faithful believers that they always will be. God has so generously provided for me and my family that sometimes I have strongly correct myself when I get that awful envy bug.

On the personal side of things, mainly my health, I’ve certainly had better years. In April & May, I had two gallstone attacks. Then one gallbladder removal. We chose to get that out of the way quickly, because a week later I traveled to Poland and Czech with my son as part of the Atlanta Boy Choir on a trip we will never forget. Pain overshadowed by an incredible Father-son experience.

Then two attacks of choledocholithiasis. What? You never heard of choledocholithiasis? Living under a rock I guess. Well, neither had I until the 3rd week of June. That’s when I discovered that, after your gallbladder is removed, there’s half a good chance you may still have a gallstone in your “common duct”, which connects the liver and pancreas to your stomach. This condition can only be described by picturing I-75 (bile duct) and I-85 (pancreatic duct) merging into the downtown connector in midtown Atlanta, and the connector is 100% completely blocked by an overturned cement truck. So everything on I-75 southbound and I-85 southbound is stuck and going nowhere. They start feeling that mess up in Cobb (liver) and Gwinnett (pancreas) pretty quickly. Most excruciating bodily pain I had ever experienced (at the time).

Simple endoscopic surgery to remove it, but that came at the tail end of a 4 day 3 night hospital stay, most of which was enhanced by the strong presence of morphine.

I ran the Peachtree Road Race a week later. With my daughter. My 10th. Her first. Pain overshadowed by an awesome daddy-daughter experience.

If you’re counting, that’s 2 surgeries this year. Flashback to November 2012, when I had a malignant tumor removed from my bladder. I’ve been all clear for over 2 years since, until December 15, my final checkup of the year, at which I had hoped to hear the doc say, “come back in a year” instead of the current semi-annual schedule. Nah!

Ring up surgery #3 for 2 days before Christmas, which turned out to be a huge blessing, since our health insurance gets completely jacked up as of today. Please, don’t even get me started on the “ACA”, which is anything but affordable. But I digress.

That made for a very interesting Christmas. First, the knowledge that the bladder cancer had returned. Laying that on my wife and kids was not fun at all. The surgery, for me, was a non-event. Yay general anesthesia! But the following 24 hours were worse than the choledocholithiasis. I kid you not. That led to a Christmas Eve visit to the ER. That’s how bad the pain was. Knowing that this surgery was to remove bladder cancer helps you understand the corresponding location of said excruciating pain.

Enter “cathie”, my temporary life saving, pain removing partner for the next week. One of my best friends had surgery in college and couldn’t go afterwards. He screamed until they gave him his own “cathie”, after which he said, and I quote, “that was better than any sex I’ve ever had, before or since.”

We had to leave our kids on Christmas Eve. We ordered in Chinese. I got home at 10pm and went straight to bed.

A couple of days after that surgery, we had a Christmas with just us, very, very few decorations, and very few presents. I was fully reminded of the Grinch’s sentiment as all the Whos down in Whoville sang just the same.

Christmas is about the birth of a dirt poor son of a carpenter in Bethlehem, promised hundreds of years earlier throughout Scriptures, born for the sole purpose of dying on a Roman cross as the ultimate, perfect sacrifice offered by God to a sinful world. Christmas is not about presents, decorations, or even those fun, silly Christmas songs.

And then on the sixth day with “cathie”, our relationship was over. And there was much rejoicing. Pile on top of that unbelievable physical relief the news that everything they removed during the surgery was benign, and this kid was one very happy man. That’s when I posted the tweet. At that moment, though fully relieved of pain, discomfort, and bad news, my opinion of 2014 was not friendly.

After a few days of relaxation, reflection, and refreshment with my family, and writing this my first post back on Blogger after 6 months blogging personally on Atlanta Tech Blogs, I now look back on the previous year with a strong sense of incredible learning experience. Pain is a superior teacher. Combine pain and failure, and we learn very quickly. Add great experience, fun experimentation, and a dash of success, and you have a solid year that I can look back on and honestly say I learned so much. 2014 was a very good year.

And this was Christmas…

What do you think?