Saturday, April 09, 2016

Well that wasn't a lot of fun.

But here I am back and I'm on the correct side of the grass. I don't want to dwell on the procedures, just some stuff that I think you might find interesting.

The whole experience was sprinkled with uncomfortable moments but really no 'scary' ones. I guess that's because this is the third time I've been through it. I had great confidence in the people working on and supporting me, they all knew exactly what they were doing. I lucked out with the surgeon. The originally scheduled one had some medical problems of his own (hope he's OK...) and his replacement, Dr. Chepeha, turned out to be an internationally famous surgeon who specializes in the more difficult procedures like mine. By the way, he's the nicest guy you want to know: listens, understands, and tells you in plain English what's going on.

The one really bad time was waking up in ICU. Apparently I gave them some exciting moments, tearing out my IV among other things, but those moments disappear into foggy memory. I distinctly remember someone telling me I should be tested for sleep apnea and some time later, someone telling me to ignore what I had heard. Still, I'm not sleeping well yet. Better now that I'm in my own bed.

On the Head and Neck Surgery wing in TGH, I saw people far worse off than I. Once I got into an actual room, my roommate had a trach' tube and couldn't speak. I told him he had been an ideal roommate until they took it out and he could talk again! There were others, '...there but for the grace of God...'

So due to the extensiveness of my surgery, my jaw and neck filled with fluid (it's called edema) making me look like a giant chipmunk. Dr. Chepeha told me that's because of a 3-letter word that starts with "F" and rhymes with "Cat". Yeah... but the good news is that it will likely go down but maybe not completely, and because of it, I've lost 12 pounds as of this morning! Why? Well I can't open my mouth all the way and combined with nerve damage, food has lost a lot of appeal for now. If I'm smart, I'll use this experience to change my eating habits. Just eating slowly, as I have to now, gives your stomach time to say "enough!" so you eat less.

a couple of days after surgery. iPhone selfie.

See the resemblance?
(Graphic found online but I couldn't find whom to attribute it to) 

When they let me out, I stayed with a friend, Alison, in Thornhill. I don't know how to put into words how she went out of her way to make sure I was comfortable and catered to. For about a week longer than anticipated. When I protested, or when my family did, about all the things she did and how she opened her home to us, her response was, "don't take the joy out of it for me". I don't know your middle name, Ali, but it's probably "Giving".

I would be remiss in omitting mention to all the friends (you choose your friends!) and relatives (you don't choose them! LOL) who cared and went out of their way to be there for me. My sister, Barbi and her husband who were constantly there and even took me down to the hospital on 'the day' at 5 am; people who visited me who really have an aversion to hospitals, my kids, and my mom, of course, who at 94 kept insisting on being there. Also Dr. Ron who doesn't know how to take "no" for an answer and who dragged me out when I didn't want to but needed to. Love all you guys. Wish I could mention you all.
Oh yeah: "Did they get it all"? No. But they didn't expect to. Metastatic thyroid cancer is different from most of the other varieties, as Dr. Chepeha said, it's guaranteed to spread and rear its ugly head over and over again, which means ugly and complicated treatments, but it's manageable and probably won't kill me in the end. It is what it is.
So here I am. Back home, writing again, soon to be shooting pictures again, annoying everyone with my blathering and images that mean more to me than you. Hope I can keep doing that for a long time to come.


On April 16th, I'm participating in the Cops for Cancer event at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. I've teamed up with my friend Sean Shapiro and will be having my copious curly locks shorn publicly to express my support for cancer research. Not only my support, but YOURS! The whole idea is to raise donations for the Canadian Cancer Society. 

I didn't know what to put down for a goal so I think I set it too low. Don't let that daunt you: please take the opportunity to donate to this critical cause. Here's a link to my personal page on the Cops for Cancer site. Please visit it and make a donation, every dollar counts.

(as I write this, I've reached 86% of my goal. Help me get over the top!)
And yes, I'll post bald pictures after the fact! Come to Yorkdale Shopping Centre, Southwest entrance for Noon on Saturday April 16th and shoot some embarrassing pictures!

Now about Photography

Many of the people I know in this game have done exceedingly well over time, but it especially came together now. I missed all the fun!

The Richmond Hill Camera Club, my 'alma mater', cleaned up this year. Not only did they win the "Glennie" (nothing to do with me!) international competition this year, they won EVERY CATEGORY. Unbelievable. 

Next was the GTCCC 2016 Inter-Club challenge. Here's a summary of the results:

Prints: First place, Richmond Hill Camera Club.
Digital Pictorial: First place, Richmond Hill Camera Club.
Natural Things: First place, Richmond Hill Camera Club.
Nature: First place, Richmond Hill Camera Club.
Stu Freedman Trophy for best camera club in the GTCCC: Richmond Hill Camera Club.
In case you're wondering, I didn't skip any categories. RHCC swept the whole thing.
As a side note, Stu Freedman died in September and a moving tribute to him was presented at the awards ceremony by Ron Goodlin. Stu essentially founded GTCCC and mentored many photographers through his 75-odd years in photography (I knew Stu and in fact was related to him through marriage, but because I grew up in Montreal not Toronto, I didn't have the pleasure of being taught by him).

But that's not all, folks. Dr. Ron Goodlin took the honours as "Photographer of the Year" in the GTCCC, beating out fellow RHCC member Rob Kline by one single point!

Ron will be up here in Haliburton in May, to talk to us about wildlife photography – make it a point to come up if you can.

Haliburton Highlands Camera Club

I'm no longer the President of the club: now I'm the "Past President". I stepped down to allow other people to leave their fingerprints on the club (and do the work!). I'll still be active, but I'll get to pick and choose the projects in which I participate.

Competitions have always been near and dear to my heart. I believe that they represent the strongest tool for improvement because they take you out of your comfort zone and open your eyes to imperfections in your work, so you can strive to improve them. That's not to say that I want to stick my nose into the operation of the process, just that I want to change the mindset of the club members, to get them to participate more.

It will be tough to beat the RHCC powerhouse in open competition. But there are some strengths up here, especially in the Nature classifications and we should give them a run for their money!

The GALES go marching on!

At this writing, there are only half-a-dozen slots open for the Gales of November workshops. It's the best opportunity some of us will have to spend time in a premier photography location, sharing experiences with top photographers, without spending thousands of dollars. Book now to reserve your space. Here's the link to the dedicated web page where you can check out the details!

Parting Shot

Have you ever known me to post a blog without a photo for you to look at? 

While I was recuperating, my camera was too. I took it in to Sun Camera Service for a cleaning and a tuneup, all ready for the season to come. I highly recommend them, by the way: pricing is reasonable, quality of work is awesome and their customer service and turnaround time beats the manufacturers' sites hands-down. If you're no longer in warranty, why send your equipment in to Nikon or Canon, when you can get a better job in half the time and for a lower price? Here's the link. Tell Nick I sent you.

Here's the story. While sitting on the couch in Alison's living room at 6am one day, unable to sleep, I saw the staircase in the hall, illuminated by light from the skylight up above. I took a couple of shots with my trusty iPhone and then did some work on this one in Photoshop.

One key thing I did was to use Perspective Cropping to square it up. Then retouch some small stuff, tweak the colours, apply Topaz Impression and Texture Effects and there you have it. I envision the same shot with a dancer, perhaps in ballet gear or maybe a brightly coloured skirt, coming down from top right. I may try to add that in at another time.

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