Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chest surgery adventure, Day 3

We're on day three of the chest surgery photo adventure.  Alex had his surgery yesterday around 10:30 a.m., and everything went very well.  There was a mall near the surgery center, so Olex and I entertained ourselves while we waited for Alex.  We found a Chik-fil-A and had some lunch, and it dawned on me that I hadn't eaten Chik-fil-A since I was two days post-op from my own chest surgery in Plano, Texas on January 5, 2005.  Apparently I only eat Chik-fil-A around chest surgery events.  Funny coincidence.

We got Alex back to the hotel around 4:00, where he settled in nicely and quickly fell asleep, but not before I snapped this celebratory photo of him feeling very excited about his new chest.  Once he fell asleep, I took my first 4 x 5 photographs of him post-op.

Alex, 3 hours post-op and settled into the hotel

He is healing remarkably well.  This morning he even walked outside and sat in front of the hotel for a while.

One day post-op, sitting outside

Today, after he woke up for his midday pain pill, he had enough energy to pose for a few photographs.  I took his portrait sitting upright in his bed, his hoodie unzipped to show his binder and drains.  I am so excited to see how these images turn out.  There is something very beautiful about the way the light falls on him from the window by his bed and about the redness of the drains against an otherwise white background.  I am really thankful he is letting me be so involved with his chest surgery and allowing me to photograph him all along the way.  He seems pretty excited to see all of the photos, too.  I took this photo through my ground glass after I had exposed a few sheets of film of the same shot.  It's a little fuzzy, but it's making me pretty excited to see the real photo.

Alex through my view camera

It has been interesting for me to see how much I do or don't remember about my own surgery process while being here.  I find myself somewhat subconsciously mimicking the way my mom, her partner Chris, and my friend Amy (all of whom were with me for surgery) acted towards me.  It is amazing to see how familiar this whole process feels to me, despite the fact that it has been six years since I went through it.  Yesterday in recovery, I spoke with one of the nurses quite a bit about Alex's surgery and the experiences of other patients, and at one point I told her how surprised I was to hear that many of Dr. Garramone's patients report hardly needing any pain medication following surgery.  This was shocking to me, as I was on intense pain meds for several days before weaning myself off and switching to Advil.  She told me that over the past six years, there have been great improvements in the tools and procedures used to do this surgery, which often result in less pain and easier healing.  I know everyone handles pain and surgery differently, but it was very encouraging to think that great strides have been made in such a relatively short period of time.  

I am honored to be a witness to Alex's process and am glad I am here with him to help out in any way I can.  So far, we have been having a wonderful time and all is going well.

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