My heart operation and why I was wrong about the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor

Ten days before last Christmas I was diagnosed with a Heart Condition called Atrial Fibrillation. Three days later I caught Covid. And three days after that, on a Sunday night, I was rushed into hospital at 2 am with really really bad stomach pains.  The Doctors at the hospital wheeled me to a high-tech room where I had a CT scan, where I was sent through a tube that whirred and whizzed and looked for things that weren’t right with me.

As I was pulled out of the tube,  through a glass window in a room next door, I could see a nurse and a consultant, staring ashen-faced and pointing at my results on a computer monitor. I motioned at them to ask if I could see the results but they shook their heads and said no. 

Things seemed like they had gone badly. I asked them what they had seen, but they said they couldn’t be sure, and that the results had to be sent away to a virtual expert to be analyzed. I was told the results should be back in the next five hours. As I was wheeled back to my hospital cubicle I was sure that the news would be bad.

This was my lowest point.  As I lay there in the dark waiting for the results, all I thought of were Rosie my wife, and my three daughters, Meg, Lily, and Hetty. It was Hetty’s 14th birthday that day.

The demons in my head were running riot at this point, and I listened to every footstep in the ward thinking it was going to be my results. 3 long hours passed when a nurse popped her head through the curtains and cheerfully said ‘everything’s fine with the CT scan’ you can go home now.  I could have kissed her. It turned out that what they saw on the CT scan were just image artifacts, just little distortions in the imaging software.

I have no confirmation of what was causing my pain, my suspicion it was a reaction to covid or the new meds i was on. 

My doctor later told me the nurse and consultant were worried my arteries were ripping from my insides – but I was fine, apart from my Heart. 

Atrial Fibrillation, is a condition where your heart rhythm is irregular, like a bad jazz drummer rather than a clock. It can also beats higher than normal. In my case, my heart had been going at 130 beats per minute night and day, which caused me to be shattered by about 2 pm each day.

If you have stumbled across this video searching for Atrial Fibrillation then don’t worry too much. Atrial Fibrillation is really common and can be treated. You will be fine. 

Luckily for me, one of my cycling buddies, Dr. Tom Johnson is a top heart surgeon. He was able to talk me through my diagnosis and steer me away from panic. He recommend another top heart surgeon Dr Ashley Nisbet who specialized in treating atrial fibrillation. Tom also told me not to worry, that I would be fine. 

I’m no medical expert but it seems there are 3 main treatments for atrial fibrillation

  1. You can go on meds, typically beta blockers and blood thinners
  2. You can have a cadioversion – which is where they shock your heart to get it back in rhythm
  3. You can have a atrial ablation – this is where they stick wires into your heart, from your groin, and zap the cells causing the erroneous electrically signals

It was decided that an atrial ablation would be best for me and just for fun,  I also had a Cardioversion as part of my procedure. 

You’re probably thinking ‘what the heck has this got to do with the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor’?

Well here’s the thing. Having a heart operation is an emotional process. You go through a whole gamut of feelings, and things that you took for granted suddenly before become hyper important. 

A few weeks before my operation I was on the bobwp podcast, and he asked me about Gutenberg and how many in the WordPress community were upset about how it was implemented. I rather blithely answered that I never really felt part of the WordPress community or that I could impact the development of WordPress, so I personally didn’t feel that emotional about how it had upset people. 

I look back at the answer with lots of regrets. Before and after my heart operation my family and my friends were there for me in spades. My WordPress friends have been amazingly supportive. This support network is everything. 

WordPress is far more than just a piece of software. What made WordPress great and dominate the market was the community, the family of people who care deeply for what it symbolizes. WordPress was never the best content management system, it was never built on the best technology. What made it the best was the WordPress family. And i realize now that neglecting this family has been a huge mistake. 

I love Gutenberg, but I now see how damaging the way Gutenberg was implemented has been. WordPress has managed to turn some WordPress evangelists almost away from the platform that they once loved. Thoughtful, kind, and bright people like Paul Lacey, who is now a good online friend of mine, all because of our joint love of WordPress. 

Paul reached out to me after my YouTube video was published, and encapsulated things very elegantly

I think WordPress was a software designed for a community. Now it’s a software designed to accommodate a community. It’s primary objective that made it a success has changed. It’s still a very high priority, but the word priority was never meant to be a plural.

Paul Lacey

Matt Mullenweg, the founder of WordPress, is now trying to take steps to rectify the fissure in the WordPress community, and some really great people like Anne McCarthy and doing sterling outreach work.

But in many ways, the damage has been done and it’s going to be hard to win back those people who feel let down.

Let’s hope that Gutenberg has been a salutary lesson for the WordPress leadership team and that in the future they put the WordPress family front and center of every technology decision.  If they don’t then WordPress won’t keep winning. 

As for my heart operation. Everything went to plan. It took about two hours, and I was able to go home that night. 

And Although my heart rhythm went crazy for my first check-up, it’s been ticking like a clock for the past 10 days. 

Finally, I want to thank Tom Johnson and Ashley Nisbet. These are humble but brilliant and incredibly talented people. If you want to see how brilliant, click here to see an atrial ablation operation. I recommend you don’t watch if you are about to go for the procedure. But I repeat don’t worry, you will be fine. 


One response to “My heart operation and why I was wrong about the WordPress Gutenberg Block Editor”

  1. Hey Jamie. As I get to.. uh, know you better ( don’t worry I’m not some psycho nut job…) I run across this post. Well written, from the heart (no pun intended) and great cross-over mention to Gutenberg. Glad to hear you’re doing well. Looking forward to your next Block News install. God Bless you and yours.

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