Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Two weeks Post Surgery

Simon - Before & After Surgery
It's now been two weeks and two days since surgery to repair my faulty mitral valve.  The actual procedure was called a right side thoracotomy as opposed to the more invasive sternotomy which spreads the sternum down the middle.    I wasn't too thrilled to have the standard procedure which required at least   6 weeks for recovery.   Today I drove for the first time heading over to Duke to have my incisions looked at and get a post operative talk with my surgeon.  Alas...I get over there only to talk to one of his assistants.  He pulled out all the sutures and removed any of the tape covering my new scars and now I have a very sensitive right chest making the drive home a little uncomfortable with the seat belt pulling across it.   Probably won't be doing too much driving for a week or so.   
My surgery might have been less invasive, but in reality I still have 10 incisions that need to heal.  The surgery involved some robotic use due to the complexity of the procedure, so there were holes made for various tools.   In the previous blog entry, I posted a picture taken by my surgeon of the repaired valve.  I have a 35mm annuloplasty band which surrounds the valve and sutures which secure the leaflets or flaps of the valve such that they close completely between beats.  Time will tell whether the surgery was a 100% successful as some leakage of the valve is not uncommon even post surgery.
Right now I'm feeling pretty good.  I walk 2 or 3 times a day, the longest of which is about 2-1/2 miles.  I'm also weaning myself off all the drugs that I have had to take...painkillers last week...diuretics this week and I'm now down to only baby aspirin and a drug to maintain my hearts rhythm.  It's not uncommon for heart surgery patients to develop atrial fibrillation, so hopefully I won't encounter that as a problem.   
I'm needing more sleep right now and I can't stand up too quickly otherwise I feel like all the blood rushes from my head preceding the possibilty of my blacking out.  Obviously I don't want that.  My next meeting is with my cardiologist and followed up with 4-6 weeks of heart rehab...probably through the end of July.  Hopefully by then I will be back on the bike.  :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Succesful Production Monday!

Two days post production and I have a newly repaired Mitral heart valve.  7 hours of surgery though as it was very large and floppy.  Minimally invasive which will make recovery a lot split sternum.  Very sore this morning, but walked a mile in the first 24 hours after surgery.  Another 1/2 mile this  morning caused me to break a sweat.   Unfortunately we weren't able to get a before photo of the mitral valve, but we were able to get an after shot of the  repaired valve.  Somtimes the best laid plans don't always work out, but since it was a robotic camera, the only way to get the before shot was to have the more invasive surgery, something I certainly didn't want.   Hope to go home on Saturday

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Followup series continued: Broken Heart Diaries!

Next week I am planning to showcase a before and after photograph of a mitral heart valve that is in need of repair and the resulting image of the skilled surgeons elaborate fix. Obviously I asked for volunteers and due to the fact that no one stood up, I felt it necessary to stand in for the subject matter. As it happens, my own mitral valve was found to be leaking and it seemed the perfect opportunity to participate in my own project. What an adventure!?!  How many people get the opportunity to view the inside of their own heart! Obviously as a disclaimer I will not be taking the actual photographs, but will be directing ahead of time and editing the best images. This is what I do best.  It's not going to be the easiest shoot of course and we will be on location at Duke Hospital for 6 days including an overnight of preproduction.  It's probably the most expensive production to date and we are budgeting well over $100K for the project, with post production and followup to last potentially as long as 6 weeks. However, the possibility exists that I might be able to work on other projects as soon as 3 weeks.  Fortunately Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina has signed up as a sponsor and will cover almost all of our expenses and fees.
Although there are several concerns and risks about the shoot, my biggest fear is the possibility that I will find myself loving Duke basketball.   I have been assured that this is only a temporary side effect and usually only afflicts those with more severe UNC affiliations.  Another concern is that Blue Cross is likely to ask for a financial return on their investment starting in January of next year.

Not sure when the next post will be, but looking forward to a few weeks of recovery where I won't have to drive.  The postproduction notes did say that light house work will be fine after a week at home and my  wife and business manager has assured me that it will be fine and dandy to do so.
If you want to see the procedure that I will be undertaking, please feel free to visit this link. Obviously there are variations that are possible, but this is the hopeful outcome.  WARNING: Not for the squeamish!!

The above image was taken the today before starting the project combined with a Transesophageal Echocardiagram of one of my valves.  Main production kicks off early Monday morning with post the rest of the week.  Hopefully back in my own bed by Friday.   Lucky enough to get one more bike ride in today as well.   Happy Mother's Day too!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Drop of Golden Sun!

Somewhat tongue in cheek, I was out and about this evening to potentially capture the SuperMoon as it rose over the capital city. I read with interest several nights before a commentary about another image that was misrepresented as real with the moon rising in the North and about 20 times bigger than it actually should be from the perspective. As a journalistic enterprise, I thought it wrong to not characterize the photograph as an illustration rather than a documentary image of the event. So I decided to create an illustration that challenges what is real and what isn't with something that is obviously a parody. I was amazed at how many were fooled into thinking that the image was staged with actors, but didn't even question the validity of the rainbow! By the way... the rainbow was produced with a special hose just off camera that allowed a fine mist to create a rainbow in the sunlight.:) There was a deer in the shot...a doe..a female deer way far in the background with a long long way to run before I was able to catch it. As for me, it's a name I call myself, so as if pulling this image together with needles and thread wasn't easy, I certainly enjoyed working on it while drinking the tea with jam and bread. Moral of the story is...don't believe what you see or read. It is all a manipulation. There is nothing wrong with it, but be sure to be aware.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Oak Island, North Carolina

Obviously the best place to get a view of Oak Island at sunset is the bridge over from the mainland. Unfortunately one has to park the car and brave the traffic by walking up on the median. Always wary of cellphone users, it makes things a little hairy, but worth the effort as the sunset this night was spectacular. I don't often photograph sunsets, choosing to appreciate them more than work them. Sometimes you just have to sit back and just enjoy. This night I was able to do both.