1 year on from COVID:    Brain Surgery, Lockdowns, Burnout, AFQY, 


We've just marked the 1 year mark of the global covid journey back in March, I remember the dates well as AFQY March 26th was the second day of lockdown and originally it was cancelled, then converted (aka pivoted) to online. This is a reflection on the ups and downs, the learnings and lessons.

Sources:  RNZ/Vinay Ranchhod

Going online wasn't the only pivot we made, we also for the first time had speakers, as AFQY (The Original) traditionally never had speakers, but we had a host of 10 speakers and we used breakout rooms to provide real-life-simulated networking by randomly putting groups of 4 into breakout rooms.

Brain Surgery

After the first lockdown, we finally got notice that my wife's Brain Surgery had been scheduled - it communicated in August 2019 that is had to happen within 3 months, so it was "late" from November, hence why we were rushed in post lockdown, which is relevant to the story as you'll hear some of the treatment we received was unfortunate as we were "Elected Surgery" - note we didn't elect to have a Brain Aneurysm, nor did we elect to be late from Nov 2019 to June 28th 2020, however wee were treated dismally by some based on this label - which all adds to my mental state and further layers on top of what was already hard.

I thought I would sitting beside her bedside doing work on my laptop while she recovered, instead I became security, nurse manager, and was on nerve racking high alert 24/16.

To give some understanding, a four hour surgery was 9hr 51min and 27 seconds before I knew what was happening a near 6 hours overtime wasn't a good start. It continued with various things done wrong from a scale of accident to incompetence such as dropping an eye patch stretchy elastic on the good eye while open watching and walking away without fixing it or apology to refusing charted pain meds and offering panadol days after a massive brain surgery... go figure. I'm writing the full story out for my sanity as I still get upset and think, "How could you do that to someone recovering from brain surgery", perhaps the comments like "Oh she's elective surgery, tsk" and ignoring her needs.

The point is I was super stressed and on high alert for the next things and everyday there was a 'next thing', which broke my tolerance and heightened my response state.

Who knows why, but her recovery has been fraught with continued challenge, migraine headaches, insomnia (Good sleep is the best for any recovery, so insomnia somewhat freezes recovery in insomnia...), and the slow cycle of trial and change

Lockdown 2021

As we relaxed into 2021 and thought we were past the worst of it, we were all taken by surprise with the last lockdown. With 6 events in play and a monthly cycle, we were growing and had the foot down every moment of the day - and then while in fast forward, we got thrown back and all events had to be changed, either going online as we did for the first AFQY WOMEN event, or postponing as we did for the first AFQY EXEC Roundtable event.

AFQY EXEC Roundtable:

An AFQY EXEC Roundtable is designed to allow senior exec's under pressure of making bid decisions on spend that will have great impact on their business, the opportunity to discuss their challenges and share their successes under Chatham House Rules related to a subject, in this case Security was the focus supported by our partner SMX who rode through lockdown and provided full support as we faced Level3 forced changes - thank you!

Being our first AFQY EXEC, we wanted it to go perfectly, nothing in life does anyway, but add in. aLevel 3 lockdown in Auckland and the event was in Wellington on Level 2 - which meant no more than 10 people at a seated gathering, if they would come anyway... 

So we shifted the date. Over 30 people were booked in to the 15 person event, almost two events worth over time. Between date changes and internal changes at the attendees organisation - one org went through a series of 4 people, one by one they each had to attend internal major meeting. So imagine trying to keep that pedal down and politely, persistently dealing with 4 changes. A simple change out, but each required a series of  "No, I understand, no problem thanks for letting me know as soon as", to "If you'd like your org represented, is there someone else who can attend in your place?" and in some case regurgitating the full story to each - again to do a good job, not perfect, but good job for the client and for AFQY business reputation...

The result was excellent, but it took a fair bit more doing, another series of ups and downs. This is resilience, this is determination, this is getting through.


I didn't understand what was happening, I thought I was just depressed, which I've been through before and have come through so I thought I knew how to manage it, but what worked before didn't work this time. The fact I couldn't manage it when I had told myself "Now you know how to manage it you wont ever be sucked into those doldrums again" so it hit a little harder the second time, but I kept on going.

Up early, working on the home office, letting my wife sleep when she could