Even the idea of writing this blog is upsetting, but I guess there is some therapeutic purpose in this all, so here it goes…
To the outsider, ouldreativity is derived on a hammock strung up at the beach and perhaps a good book to compliment the peaceful reality. However, photography is a journey, it is life, and in this life there will be wonderful highs and heartbreaking lows. Unbeknownst to many, the lows will serve to form character and strength in both imagery and identity along the way. While I would love to write you a blog that was always peaceful, always happy and never upsetting, the very act would be disingenuous. The truth of the matter is that a broad understanding of the human condition is only had in the peaks and troughs of our emotional range.
Over the past couple months you may have noticed a bit of a decline in my presence in everything from social media to this blog, and there is a reason for this. I have been waiting for things to calm down before putting the pen to paper. This is not going to be fun and may be upsetting, so if you have other things to read, go check them out and come back if you have no better options.
A couple months ago, I sat on a hospital table. All signs of luxury, success, or humanity in general were not present. I wore a jacket with no shirt under it, torn up jeans, one sock and house slippers. I had no one with me, and just sat there and cried…
An hour earlier I was getting ready for the day, I was going to shower and go have coffee with a friend. I was looking forward to producing a shoot the following week, and had intentions of practicing lighting. While brushing my teeth, I heard a bunch of noise coming from the living room and went to see what the commotion was all about. What I witnessed in the coming minutes was very tough. My dog Teddy was on the ground convulsing. From what I saw he looked to be choking, so I immediately got down next to him and tried to help. I knew the situation was very bad, so I decided I would pick him up, put him in the car and drive to the nearest animal hospital. The problem is that Teddy weighs a hundred pounds, and I am not what you would describe as strong. Only seconds later, Teddy went limp, so I decided to do everything I could to pick him up and carry him to the car.
Just as I put my arms underneath him, he sprang back to life and immediately bit me in the face. I didn’t know how bad it was at the time, but the crazy thing is that I was relieved because it meant he was still with me. Over the coming minutes he slowly got up and began wondering the house like he had never seen it, which was disturbing in its own right. I was on the phone with my wife and family within seconds and all were heading to the house to help out with Ted.
With Teddy in the car, my Dad, Erin and I headed to two hospitals… one where they dropped me off, and the other for Teddy where they went immediately after.
So I sat there, on the table, knowing I was hurt pretty bad, but crying because I was scared for my dog. Take my house, my car, hell take my career and I am okay. However, my wife and my dogs are my world, without any one of them, I am broken.
Things at the hospital started to get slowly better, at first it was a friend that came and sat with me, and then a phone call from Erin saying that Teddy was doing well. I almost forgot that I was in need of aid, until they rolled me into the MRI. From there what had happened was quite obvious. He had bit me in the jaw… even worse, he bit so hard that his canine went into my jawbone and severed all the nerves in the lower part of my face. Bad? Yes, but again, I couldn’t care less, because I knew he was going to be fine.
Upon arriving back home, I learned that what I had witnessed that morning was Teddy have a massive seizure. Part of me was relieved to know it wasn’t really that life threatening, but the other part of me was worried about it happening again. We were told by the vet at that time to monitor him and that there was a chance he would never have another.
A week later, things were going well… or as well as they could, given that I no longer had feeling in my lower face. Teddy had no further issues, and so my wife and I decided to leave to Hawaii for a bit. It wasn’t the super exotic tropical vacation that you are imagining, but one based more out of necessity because of the stress that we had just been through. On top of that, I had to relearn to do things like drink without a straw. (For a funny mental image, picture me drinking from a wine glass as it pours out the other side of my mouth)
We came home a couple weeks later, and things were still good on the puppy front, and I had re-taught myself how to drink and smile again with both sides of my mouth. Unfortunately, this would not last as a couple weeks later Teddy had another seizure.
This time around, we knew what was happening, and knew to clear the area and let it run its course. While we were okay after he came out of the seizure, we were devastated in the wake that the first wasn’t a one off event. We soon determined that we would begin him on a medication regiment that would need to be kept up for his entire life.
There have been a couple events since, but they were more or less results of the drugs ramping up in his system. Certain personality and neurologic signs in him have been different which has made it completely impossible to relax in the worry that another seizure is around the corner.
It was for this reason that I decided to withdraw from most of the social and work obligations I have had in the recent months. I even grew a beard for a short time to cover up the bite marks on the bottom of my jaw. The prognosis on feeling returning in my lower face is one that could be years long, but I have learned work arounds for most things (except for eating sandwiches).
As tough as this blog has been, it is actually the Reader’s Digest version of the events that I have had to keep close to the chest in every conversation I faced lately. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel… Teddy has been getting back to his happy self over the past week. He wakes up every day like it is the greatest day ever, and my wife and I genuinely believe that is exactly what goes through his mind on a regular basis. This past Saturday brought the news that he is taking to the medication very well, and has a long seizure free life ahead of him.
Somedays I feel success after landing a large job, other days I am grateful just to lay in the grass while my dogs slobber all over me. If there is anything that I can take away from the past couple months, it is this…
Be willing to be insignificant to everyone except for those that are significant to you.
Thank you for your time.