Thoughts While Recovering from Surgery

Given my goal of sharing more of my day-to-day thinking, recovering from wisdom teeth removal seems like a good time to write another post.

Thoughts While Recovering from Surgery
My life as a chipmunk

On Monday of this week, I had my four wisdom teeth removed, which has sent me into a long post-operative recovery process in which I’ve (mostly) avoided work, focused on rest, and had a lot of time to think. Given my goal of sharing more of my day-to-day thinking, now seems like a good time to write another post.

Thought #1: SO MUCH PAIN!

First, let’s talk about the surgery itself. I returned from a weekend camping trip with Kandace pretty optimistic and generally uncaring about my upcoming procedure. We stocked up on ingredients for soup, bone broth, yogurt, jello, pudding, and several other odds and ends we thought I’d need throughout the week (including a very ridiculous looking ice pack wrap). I took the instructed Valium tablet the night before and morning of the surgery, so I was in a pretty carefree mental state heading into the dentist’s office. They sat me down in the chair, started asking about my weekend, and that’s about all I remember before falling asleep.

I vaguely remember starting to come to as they were still operating on a chunk of my mouth, which (credit to the drugs) probably should’ve caused more alarm than it did. But they soon finished up, walked me out to the lobby where Kandace walked me to the car. I don’t remember much of the ride home aside from staying awake by talking (which I’m sure was completely incoherent). Once settled at home, I switched out the gauze in my mouth (which had become a bloody mess), started taking meds, drinking my first cup of lukewarm soup, and fell asleep.

The constant throughout the week has been a sine wave of pain, the soothing effects of pain meds, falling asleep on the couch, and waking up in another wave of pain. As much as I’ve been told to take it easy, I’ve hoped to make progress on some personal projects like learning Swift, experimenting with Apple’s AR stack, and prototyping some product ideas. But it’s been difficult to do so when navigating the pain-relief-sleep cycle.

Thought 2: Notion as a Second Brain

One project I’m starting to make decent progress on has been adopting Notion as a comprehensive knowledge management system. I’ve been interested in the idea of digitizing the the knowledge systems in my life like projects, tasks, notes, and other important areas. Throughout the day, I’m building, combining, and managing thoughts from across so many domains, whether they be product management on Quest, short term rental business ownership on Airbnb, health and wellness goals like workout tracking, or just capturing random serendipitous notes on potential gift ideas for the important people in my life. As David Allen (creator of the Getting Things Done knowledge management system) says, “Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.”

So I’ve been trying to build a digitized store of knowledge in Notion. It’s been a process. I’m learning a ton from YouTubers like Ali Abdaal, Thomas Frank, and Tiago Forte. One of the great things about Notion is how customizable it is. It almost feels more like a no-code / low-code productivity development platform than a productivity system itself, so it’s been fun to architect the system that works for me. But I’m still incredibly early, and ironically, for a system built for productivity, I’ve definitely spent more time trying to build a productivity system than populating it with content for being productive. So it’s still early times, but I’m enjoying it.

Thought 3: Augmented Reality Development

As a platform product manager, I think it’s incredibly important to stay focused on the developer experience. Something that’s really stuck with me since working at Riot Games was their value of putting “player experience first”, having a deep sense of empathy and admiration for their target customer. As a product manager working on Quest, our target customer are the developers building on our platform. So just like playing a lot of League of Legends to keep up with the game, I want to develop a lot of AR / VR experiences to keep up with the life of a developer building businesses around the tech.

Apple’s AR stack should be a fun challenge of picking up Swift, SwiftUI, ARKit, and RealityKit. While I have a decent background in Unity, I’m finding myself focusing more on non-gaming, UI-driven problem spaces lately. Ideally, I’d focus on WebXR as the most universal platform, but it always feels like the web is just a bit behind the state of the art. But I’m sure I’ll spend some time with it as well.

My goal will just be to explore the space for now. Hopefully as I work on some small projects, it’ll help uncover some new perspectives on XR developer pain points. But also, more than anything, it should just be a fun way to play around with new tech.

Wrapping Up

In a recent professional coaching assessment I took, I was told that my sense of resilience is one of my strengths. It seemed somewhat obvious to me at the time, but I really do try to focus on gratitude and optimism about the future when I go through personal hardship. So I guess that’s why I find myself in a generally positive mental state despite current physical circumstances. I’m thankful to have a life where I can afford this kind of dental care without more disruption to my life than missing a week of work. I’m thankful for the downtime to take a step back from the typical weekly grind and focus on a few personal projects. And I’m thankful to have a place to share some thoughts online and for you having read through this latest stream of consciousness.

Now back to staring at myself in the mirror contemplating the possibility of looking like a chipmunk / the Nutty Professor for the rest of my life 😅