When I say that photography saved my life, that is not an exaggeration.
I woke up one morning in August of 2015 feeling a bit … odd. As I got out of bed, that “odd” feeling became full-blown dizziness to the point that I could not stand without falling over.
It was a stroke.
Trauma to my neck had caused an artery to tear, and the resulting loss of blood flow to my brain burned a tiny hole in my medulla.
That is the part of the brain responsible for much of your involuntary actions like breathing. Fortunately I did not suffer the worst symptoms. But after nearly three years my eyes still do not function well, and I have to deal with bouts of crushing fatigue and brain fog.
While my stereoscopic vision is still giving me problems, if I close one eye and peer through a viewfinder I experience a moment of relief.
Yes, the viewfinder on my camera literally is my happy place.
At a time when I was forced abandon nearly all of my hobbies, photography remained an oasis of normalcy in a desert of discarded pastimes.
But even this pastime has its challenges. I cannot tolerate using a screen of any kind for very long. Even typing this on my phone is causing the dizziness and brain fog to increase in intensity.
Not being able to tolerate screen use means that I rarely use a digital camera, I cannot use Photoshop, and I cannot scan my own negatives. I am at the mercy of the lab to both process and scan my film. Fortunately the folks at The Darkroom do a fantastic job.
So after two years and eight months of disability, and the loss of my old life, I take great joy in those times when I can pick up a camera, grab a few rolls of film, and wander a little to snap a few frames.
That simple exercise gives me hope, and a sense that life is more than the limitations imposed by a traumatic brain injury.
NOTE: All of the accompanying photos were taken since the stroke.