2023 has been a challenging year. I hesitate to write about it because my problems are small compared to many. Also, you never know who reads these things. I don’t want to get too personal and be judged. But, I also own this personal blog so I might as well, at least from time to time, share more about my life. It’s cathartic as well.

This year began with a drastic job change. This alone wouldn’t normally be a challenge, however due to things unrelated to my skills and work ethic, it was humbling, to say the least. This was only the beginning of my year in which I apparently was the star of a new Twilight Zone episode.

While navigating why and how certain things were happening I contracted COVID-19 for the first time. It was like I had heard. Rough. I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed at one point.

Prior to 2023 as COVID-19 first appeared I would marvel at how there was an unspoken expectation to keep pushing as if nothing was happening. Sure, at times cities shut down, but for many, the world had to keep going. We still needed to make money. We still needed food.

On one hand, this can be seen as inspiring. A deadly pandemic can’t stop the human race. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but wonder, “When will we catch a break?” Is it normal that, besides seeing masks, most people I interacted with acted like it was a normal day each day?

Of course, this was only my experience. I know for example if you were/are in the restaurant business, it definitely was not a normal day each day.

But again, it’s how people around my little world acted. Maybe this is why the human race is a dominant force on Earth. We are able to block out horrible things.

Which reminds me of something similar; mass shootings. In America at least, these are so common that I fear we’ve grown a little too numb. We’re numb to mass shootings, numb to wars, numb to poverty, numb to hunger, numb to partisan politics, numb to greed, and numb to deadly viruses. We keep going with all of this going on like zombies.

During my week with COVID-19 I stayed in bed a lot. Not out of laziness but because I knew it could help me get better faster. I knew that the world was still spinning and I had to get better fast. There’s no time to be sick. And being away from the day-to-day for too long… well… who knows what could happen. At a minimum you get behind, or someone could wonder, “Why did he take 2 weeks off when he contracted COVID? I worked through it! Doesn’t he know we work from home now?” There’s sometimes an odd contest like that even if people don’t mean for it to come off like a contest. So, I made sure I got better within less than a week by sleeping, eating, and drinking a lot to get stronger fast.

As the year progressed I watched my kids quickly growing up before my eyes. With growing up comes challenges that test you as a parent. One entered Kindergarten and has had some trouble acclimating to a new reality. My other child started out on a similar path but has improved greatly this year. Both kids lean towards the neurodivergent side (2023 buzz word usage bonus points). I’m being vague for various reasons, but the point is that naturally, having children isn’t stress-free.

Then I mistakenly monitored the situation with the economy and layoffs. The smart thing to do would be to stay off social media and not read the news. But first, I like to be informed. Also, I have a website related to Talent Acquisition and Employment and so I wanted to write about the big tech layoffs and related things. The only problem is it’s depressing. 10K, 20K there, 11K over there being laid off. I’m proud to be a person who feels deeply and wishes peoples’ lives didn’t have to be turned upside down by these events. There’s got to be a better way to do business.

Inflation hit at some point as well. I have to be vague here once again, but in my opinion, inflation has nothing to do with the President or even the fact that Congress doesn’t function. It’s something else. Yes, in part COVID and supply chain issues, but also, something else. Something you’re not allowed to talk about.

Mid-year came and I shifted jobs again, but this time for the better. Although better, it was a lot of effort. It involved building something from scratch.

I don’t want it to sound like every time things are new or get a little tough I’m complaining. I’m a workaholic. I’m not lazy. Working hard was cemented into me from a young age. I’m grateful to my Dad who had me help him on construction sites growing up. I watched and participated in what true, hard work really is. I know hard work. Also, being on job sites with him taught me how to paint houses, and even how to do basic home repairs myself. I’m grateful. So, it’s not laziness that I have, it’s a sense of tiredness.

While on a work trip in May, Allison had a medical scare. I had one day left on that trip and got a scary phone call in the middle of the night. Neither of us was sure what was happening. I knew one thing, I wasn’t going to stay literally on the other side of the country if she was going to the hospital. I pushed for an immediate flight from Seattle back to Atlanta. Luckily that happened, and luckily Allison was OK.

I went back to preparing for important work-related things immediately.

Next, (about 4 months later) I woke up at 2:00 AM with what felt like very strong heartburn. I had felt this before. I was sure it was bad acid reflux. I took Tums and paced back and forth from 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM. I couldn’t sit or lie down because it hurt too much. I explained what was happening once Allison and the kids woke up, but still I thought it was just really bad heartburn, possibly mixed with bloating or something like that. I let my employer know I needed to take the day off and kept pacing. I think I did lie down and nap for a bit. But, nothing was working to reduce the pain. In fact, it was getting worse.

I went to urgent care hoping it was something small and they would know what to do and give me medicine. But, first of all, don’t go to urgent care. Each time I’ve gone, or someone I know has gone, they either cannot help or charge way too much. Anyway, they couldn’t help. They charged me (of course) and told me to go to the ER.

I went to the ER and what happened first was interesting. I had to stand in line. In great pain. An elderly man and several others were in line behind me. I debated, “Do I let the old man behind me go first?” That’s not the interesting part. I was OK standing in line because I told myself, well, this is the American Healthcare Dream! So, it’s to be expected. 🙂 The interesting part was that a high school coach and football player walked in and cut in front of everyone. I’m sure the teenager was hurt. Obviously a football injury of some sort. But, he wasn’t bleeding and didn’t look like he was in pain. He was chill. I just feel like if multiple other people, many likely in pain and scared as well, were standing in line, they should have too.

I got checked into the ER and then sat and waited. Now the pain was unbearable. I sat hunched over. An hour after I first walked into the ER, a nurse came and asked what was going on. Then a doctor. Then I lay there for a couple more hours but I felt better knowing I was at least near medical professionals. Plus, I got a blanket and sweet non-skid socks. So, how could I complain?

After a few tests, it was determined that my gallbladder was very angry. It was swollen and likely had gallstones. Before the sentence even fully got out of the doctor’s mouth with my choices I was nodding yes, take it out. Get this thing out of me! I’ve been in severe pain for 12 hours.

After changing rooms twice, I finally got really good pain medication and had the most glorious night’s sleep. In fact, one amazing thing about my hospital stay is that it’s the most rested I’ve felt in a long, long time. At least that one night before surgery. After surgery they stopped giving me as much pain medicine so I got uncomfortable again and the restfulness ended.

Since getting my gallbladder removed there’s been various stressful situations which I will again be vague about and not go into detail to protect myself and others. Plus, between food and housing prices (not caused fully by the government but by something else) being high, wars overseas, and wondering how my kids will be able to afford to live when they are adults, it has not been the best year (to say the least).

Of course, good things happened as well this year. Just being with the family on the weekends is of course great and re-energizing. I also have a wife who lets me go off and record music, or code a website. She puts up with a lot; and takes care of a lot.

There are over two months left in this year; we haven’t even hit Halloween yet. Fall is just beginning. A lot of good or bad could still happen between now and 2024, but I hope not. I hope the rest of 2023 is uneventful. I’m worried it won’t be. I don’t think we make good decisions as a society. Our lives revolve around money instead of love. But, who knows. Maybe in January I’ll be blogging about how silly this post was.

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Billy Wilcosky