I'm writing this while sitting outside on my patio. I'm enjoying the beautiful weather, the mountain view, a cup of tea, and a few moments of quiet. My retrievers are napping at my feet, happy to have me home.
Right now, my arm is covered with three large pain patches, which is the maximum number a person can safely wear, or so my doctor tells me. (Twelve hours on followed by twelve hours off … never to exceed three pain patches at a time.)
My bionic arm is turned up to the highest frequency it's currently programmed for. It's a frequency I rarely use because the high frequency, in and of itself, often hurts. I've already taken prescription strength ibuprofen, a narcotic pain pill, and cocooned my shoulder in heat.
And still …
The pain is breathtaking – awe inspiring really.
I've asked myself, more than once, the question I've recently heard from some of you.
Why am I doing this?
Why am I so determined to live my life behind a lens?
Why am I photographing a season of nonstop baseball games for a local high school?
Why do I do something I know will only cause me substantially more pain?
On Saturday, I was at the baseball field when a visitor stopped by to watch a portion of the game. The visitor was a woman I knew from the local sports community before my car accident. I also saw her during the first few months after my accident. At the time, my life consisted of nothing more than surgery after surgery. Since then, our lives have moved in different directions. We've been out of touch for several years.
There she was though, stopping by to catch a few moments of a local high school game. The first words out of her mouth when she saw me were, "You've got a camera in your hands again!" She said this with a huge smile on her face, genuinely thrilled to think I'm able to resume this part of my life. Photography, she knew, was a huge part of my life prior to the accident.
Her words echoed in my mind for the remainder of the day. Memories rushed back of years, and years, and years of traipsing everywhere with my camera around my neck. Recollections of the hundreds of baseball games I've attended over the years, all with my camera by my side, also came back to me.
I thought back to the day I received my current camera. I didn't know if I'd be able to even hold it, but I bought it anyway. I bought it because I knew if I did, I'd find a way to use it come hell or high water.
For the first time since the accident, I've realized the stubbornness determination which exists inside me.
I've also realized I'm capable of enduring more pain than most people have the ability to even conceive of. The pain is always there, wanting to stop me in my tracks. There are moments when it does, but then I forge on. I do so, not because I'm strong or "inspirational," but because to do otherwise is unthinkable.
I've gained a new perspective on how much I hate being told I'm disabled and/or that I'll never be able to do certain things again. Since the accident, I have refused to accept the words "can't," "don't," and "never again." I hear these words. I listen to them, I acknowledge them, and then I go about my life as if they were never spoken.
There are around one hundred people involved with the team I'll be photographing for the next several months. Out of all those people, only two are aware there's anything "wrong" with me. To everyone else, I'm a normal person. I'm a photographer. They don't know I'm "disabled." They don't know the pain I live in, or the increased pain I experience when I use my camera.
I wear long sleeved shirts to cover my scars and pain patches when I'm in public. I've learned to use my left arm, and hand, in ways to make my motions seem normal even when they're not.
I'm a fake.
I'm an impostor.
And yet, it's a victory of sorts because they don't even know.
I'm fighting, daily, to have a semblance of the life I was "supposed to have" prior to the accident.
Living my life the way I want to live it causes me increased pain.
But what kind of life would it be if I gave up the things I love?
What kind of life would it be if I let my pain, my injuries, my disability, dictate how I live my life?
And so yes, there are times when the pain is so intense – even I second guess my choices.
But it's a fight worth fighting …
It's the life I was meant to lead.
© Twenty Four At Heart