On Being Sick

Well, I got it. Whatever kind of virus it was it entered my body and took over. Just as I was getting ready to begin my most intensive photographing schedule 'SMACK' I got slammed in the head and chest. What began as simple sore throat exploded into a full-bore major flu. I tried Ecinacea to hold down the advance. It was the first time it did not work (or it actually may have helped and passed it through my system faster). I made a mistake by going out with my friend Peter and having a few beers and cigarettes in a smoky bar (real smart!). That seemed to seal it into my system.

It started by rasping my throat. It felt like thousands of rough little files all scratching and irritating my air passage. I was lying in bed last night and when I took a breath it felt like small loose bags of slime where being rolled over my vocal chords. I could hear the tide of phlegm roll as I lay trying to sleep. My chest was in awful pain.

I finally fell to sleep. I awoke and thought that it was morning, just before day break. I got up to use the toilet. I almost fell over from the pain in my throat and my head. The more I awoke and tried to gain control over my body, the more I realized that I was out of control. My head felt like a hollow ball in a vise. The pressure was increasing as I tried to gain conscienceless. The more I tried, the more the pain increased. I thought my head would burst and it would all be over. If so, then perhaps the pain would subside.

I thought of my father and the immense pain he must have felt when he had a stroke. I recall seeing him just after it happened. I was 16. He was lying on the floor. We helped him up onto the bed. As we lifted him, he was dazed and confused and could not move much. I recall him trying to look behind himself. I got a clear feeling that he was trying to see what had hit him so hard in the back of the head. "What possibly could had come out of the wall and hit me so hard?" he wondered as we lay him down on the bed. This was the premier night of his new life (and mine). One that would take over and ultimately, through an act of courage by my father, by the man that he used to be, come through and end it all.

All of this ran through my head as I walked from the bathroom back to bed. I noticed that it was only 3:34. "Good" I thought "still time to get some good sleep and feel better in the morning". Wrong. I rolled all night, the intruders had taken over. It was everywhere. I had no control. Rather than give into it and accept it I fought it most of the night.

Images of my father kept coming as I tried to sleep. I also recall as a child having reoccurring nightmares when I was sick. This pushed into play that uncomfortable remembrance and it too took over just as the virus had, just as the stroke did in my father. I was out of control, alone, and several thousand miles away from any comfort of my loving wife. I felt like calling her but I could not get up. Did I have a stroke? Was this what my father felt just before his life was over? I felt sure it was.

After several hours of horrid dreams and sweat pouring out of my body I tried to get control. All I could do was to keep recirculating the thoughts of the virus in my system, the thoughts of my father, the thoughts of myself. I decided to try to come to terms with the way he left me. I realized that I was angry that he got sick, suffered for two years then committed suicide and left me without giving me opportunity to know him man to man. Somewhere I got the mental control and strength to confront him. I imagined myself face to face with him (or he appeared face to face with me) and I (we) tried to resolve all this built up tension that I've been storing in my brain cells for the past 26 years.

Suddenly everything went quiet. There was a dark screen. Slowly an image of him appeared again. He was sitting in a chair wearing a white shirt. He looked the same as I recall before his stroke, and before they cut open his head and removed the tumor and part of his brain. The difference was that I could look into his eyes. I could see the man. I could see more than a father figure. I could see the person.

No words, no hand shake, no hug. Just looking. Looking into each other's eyes. This silent connection (I am just realizing as I write this) was an apology from the great creator, which he is now a part of. It was a connection that has been missing for me for many years. It could and will never be known on a physical level, but now I understand it, on a different level, but yes, I understand it. I feel it.

It is amazing the power of the virus that is in me and its ability to teach me, and to allow me to be able to come to grips with something that I have never understood, or never quite faced in that way. Again another lesson. I would not have resolved this issue with my father in the same manner if it were not for the virus and use of the camera and this writing to help to give form to these thoughts, these ideas, these dreams and these nightmares, and finally this resolution.

This gives more credence to my idea of 'The Therapeutic Camera'.