I have made references to my iOS app in a lot of my previous posts, if you refer to my post on Why can’t I cancel a local notification in my iOS app? (in Swift), it mentions some of the posts that I wrote on how I solved the problems I have came across. It’s been a year since I have been working on it and I thought I would write a little bit about the background and share my journey of building my first mobile app and it all came to be.
Prelude: the land of blue skies and sunshine
The year was 2013 and these were some of the key aspects of my life,
- I was a bit of a fast talker and people often told me, my English ascent was pretty flat for a man from India
- I kept fit and I did regular runs with each run being over 8-10 km
- I had a very loving girlfriend and we had plans to get engaged to be married in 2014
- I had a job that I loved and enjoyed
- After years of living in a place sharing with flatmates and all, I was finally living in my own apartment. I do not live with my parents, I was the only one from my family who had moved to Australia
- I enjoyed my breakfast every morning where I would have peanut butter toast, I would hold the knife in my right hand and toast in the left hand, to spread the peanut butter on the toast. (There is a reason why I am mentioning something so basic, read on to find out)
- My masters research thesis had been accepted and all I had to do were minor corrections, to get my postgraduate research degree
Life was going pretty well and I was quite happy and content with everything around me, the story of my life seemed to have a smooth linear progression and everything felt on track. However what I did not know, was that it was all “clam before the storm”, the dark clouds were gathering and bringing a massive storm with them, a big twist in my story.
The Twist: Dark clouds and storm
One of the Saturdays in the last quarter of 2013, I caught up with two of my friends for a late lunch in Surry Hills (Sydney) – great lunch and conversation and I said bye to them and told them it was great to see them. After that the next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital and my girlfriend telling me, “hey you were in a car accident, and you have suffered a head injury and are now in the hospital”. This was a week or so after I caught up with my friends at Surry Hills!!!
So what happened?
Now, this is the part of the story that I either know from the people around me or the police report. Apparently, after saying bye to my friends at Surry Hills, I got home, messaged my girlfriend and then went out for my usual run. During my run, I was crossing the road, when the light was green for pedestrians to cross, and at that time, a drunk driver broke the red signal(ran a red light?) and hit me. It was a hit and run, so the driver knocked me out and ran away, thankfully, there were others around the area who managed to call emergency and the ambulance(paramedics) came to rescue me. I had several bruises/scars and 2 deep cuts from where I had bled out (a lot), one of those cuts was on my head, which played a part in me suffering a traumatic brain injury. As a result of the head injury, I suffered from this condition called Post Traumatic Amnesia (PTA) a state in which my brain just couldn’t make any new memories. So to put that into context, if you have seen the movie 50 first dates, there was a character called 10 second Tom in it. Well, I was similar to him while suffering from PTA, except I was “5 second Bhuman”, so I would say something and 5 seconds later, I would forget what I said and I would repeat myself. That is part of the reason, why I could not remember anything for a week(or more) after my accident. So from the time, I got to the hospital, I had gained consciousness and I was aware of what I needed to do on a daily basis, but I just could not retain any memories. So yes, I would eat, I would brush my teeth, etc , I just could not remember anything. It was also a state, in which I would say what came to mind (no filter), so the three things that I kept asking the nurses at the hospital over and over, while suffering from PTA, were
- Where are my parents?
- Where’s my girlfriend?
- And finally when they were both there, when am I going back to work?
The nurses, were almost shocked, “they were asking my family, why does he like work so much?” It was funny as I sent an email in that condition to one of the company directors (weird calling him that, he is like a year older than me) saying “I am in the hospital and I will get out tomorrow and come to work”. Thankfully at the time my girlfriend stepped in and emailed him and said “Bhuman has had a serious injury, and he won’t be able to get to work”. Two weeks into the hospital, when my sister was in the hospital elevator, some guy who worked in the hospital, asked her “You are Bhuman’s sister right? has he gone back to work?”!
The aftermath: post accident
So this was a pretty big life event so there were bound to be some aftereffects, starting with
- I was in the hospital for a month, and to be honest it wasn’t all that bad, especially in the light of what followed, the time in the hospital was actually not all bad.
- Once discharged from the hospital, I was sent to a rehabilitation centre for head injury patients, and it was a very very bad experience for me. I had to live there for 3.5 weeks and those were one of the worst 3.5 weeks of my life. It was a different kind of trauma, but what was awesome about it was that for the first 2 weeks, my roommate was this guy who looked a little bit like Walter White, no seriously he did!! One of the Mondays when he came back from spending the weekend at his place, he had shaved his head and then OMG, he totally looked like Walter White!!! Ahh, that was awesome!
Now onto how the injury effected the aspects of my life that I mentioned earlier
- I was a bit of a fast talker, and people often told me, my English ascent was pretty “flat” for a man from India: My Indian ascent was a bit more apparent as one of the nerves on the left-side of my face was bruised. Overall my speech was nowhere near as fast and I had more difficulties(speech impediments) in my speech initially . The ascent is not all that important, but I suppose it is a change that was a result of the accident, also I do not think my speech difficulties are as noticeable anymore. How do I know that? well, I have spoken to complete strangers at times and asked them after 5-10 mins of the conversation if they see anything abnormal about my speech, none of them have said they noticed anything out of the norm. I think the fact that I can hold the conversation for 5-10 mins with a stranger is an achievement in itself. Anyway so I do not feel the speech is exactly what it was before, i.e. the speech impediments are still there but it is certainly better than what it was for a few months post accident.
- I kept fit and I did regular runs for over 8-10 kms: While I could still write recursive functions, I had forgotten how to walk i.e. my balance was affected, so I could not even put my pants on in the morning without sitting down. So I had to learn how to walk again. It took me many many months to be able to run again, I will talk about that in part 2 of this post.
- I enjoyed my every morning breakfast, where I would have peanut butter toast…: The head injury also affected left-side coordination, so the use of my left leg, left arm was not as efficient as before, so I could not put peanut butter on my toast without dropping it. If I held the toast in my left arm and the knife in my right arm, I would just drop the toast, at least once. I kept trying it anyway, I kept dropping my toast, until eventually I got the hang of it.
- I had a very loving girlfriend and we had plans to get engaged to be married in 2014 : Not long after I got out of rehab, we started having some relationship issues which lead to a really messy breakup. She is a great girl, but this accident was something completely unexpected and it takes time to adjust. So nothing against her, I suppose fate played it’s part.
- I had a job that I enjoyed: Well, I still have the job. However I was assigned to a different project, because I was out for 3 months during the busiest working time of the year, so they had to get someone else for my role.
- After years of living in a place with flatmates and all, I was finally living in my own apartment. I do not live with my parents, I was the only one from my family who had moved to Australia: I still live in that apartment and my parents had a nice place to stay while they were here. Someone had to live with me 3 months post accident, as for the first 3 months after a head injury there are certain risks owing to which recovering patients can’t be left alone.
- my masters research thesis had been accepted, and all I had to do were minor corrections, to get my postgraduate research degree: Believe it or not, I actually finished those minor corrections and got my degree. I suppose for most research students, the last part is always a bit of a drag, I mean you have done the work, published the papers, written the thesis and then minor corrections? In either case, I have my degree and thanks in part to my supervisor.
- I met someone at a local meetup and we are working on an app together in the health and fitness space. I am very excited for where this new venture takes me.
- All my friends in Sydney made regular visits to the hospital to keep me company. I consider myself really lucky to have such great friends. Those outside of Sydney, sent me stuff, their well wishes etc.
What happened next?
So this huge twist in my life almost makes me think that when the story of my life was being written, it was M. Night Shyamalan who wrote it and you know what? it’s really ok! I mean it could be worse, had George R.R. Martin written the story of my life, I would have died a bloody gruesome death when the car hit me. (Red Wedding anyone?)
Anyway, in 2014 a series of events lead me to begin work on my first mobile(iOS) app, which I talk about in part 2. You can read it here.