Where Have I Been Lately?

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Where Have I Been Lately?

It's been a long, strange few months for me and I thought I'd at least make an attempt at explaining what has been going on. A few months ago, I hurt my toe. Full disclosure. I'm diabetic and one night I worked a 12 hour shift at work and rubbed a bad blister on my right big toe. I call it a blister, but blister doesn't really do it justice. I heard some doctors cll t a cyst. I've had one of these before and it took a while to heal, but I thought I knew how to treat it. Money is tight because I am going through a separation.

About a week or two after the injury, the engine in my car went so while it was getting worked on, I had to take the bus back and forth to work. I'm lucky to live in a town where there is bus service, but the nearest bus stop is 3/4s a mile from where I live, so for two weeks, I walked to and from the bus stop every day. Still, my toe was doing OK. Not getting any better, but not getting any worse. I treated it, wrapped it and did all the things I thought I should do it to it so that I would not miss work with the bill coming in for my car.

I got my car back, but my toe began worsening. In the span of just a few days, it went from what I though was manageable to something that looked really bad. What's more is that I was feeling sick. I had a fever, cold chills, nausea and just plain did not feel good. One Saturday, I had to cut short a visit to see my kids and come home and lay down. The next Sunday, it dawned on me that the sick feeling I had and the toe were related, so I finally went to the doctor. Looking back on it, I see now that I was really stupid not to see a doctor way sooner, but with the separation, the car and needing money, I was just focused on the weekly pay check coming in.

So that Sunday, I went to a nearby urgent care and since then, nothing has been right. They admitted me into the hospital immediately and told me that my toe was infected and that it mad moved to my foot. It doesn't make sense to me now, but one thing i was worried about was losing my foot. That may have played a role in me not going to the doctor sooner, although logically I realize that makes no sense at all. But now there was something else. The infection had actually got into my blood stream and I now had sepsis. So the worst case scenario for me, which had been losing my foot, was now losing my life.

Long story short. They saved my foot, treated the sepsis, but I did lose my big toe and my fourth toe on my right foot. All in all, I'm pretty lucky all things being equal. I was in the hospital for a week and have been on bed rest for almost six weeks at home. I was wearing a wound van until today. A wound vac for those that don't know -- and I had never heard of one until I had to wear one -- is attached to the wound by the dressing with a tube. The van, as my sister so aptly put it, sucks the evil out of my foot and goes into a canister on the van which has to be within five feet of the patient the whole time.

It's been a pain in the ass dealing with it and, as I said, they just decided today I don't need it anymore. The wounds are healing nicely now and the hope is that within a month I can go back to work. So, yeah, it was a bit silly of me to delay the obvious so that I wouldn't miss any work when it just kept me out of work longer in the end.

Call me a cautionary tale.

Since then, I've been keeping my diabetes in check. I haven't had a Coke in seven weeks. Cokes were my downfall. I couldn't just have one, Some people have issues with smoking; some with alcohol. Mine has always been junk food. A Coke and a candy bar a few times a day did me in. I was able to pretend it wasn't as bad for me as it was because I was not gaining weight. Some people said I looked too thin. But my blood sugar would rival the batting average of Wade Boggs and Tony Gwynn, f you'll allow me to go old school baseball on you.

But it's put a real damper on not just my day time job, but my photography as well. It's been more than two months since I have taken a photograph with my DSLR. There are still pictures on the camera from March, which is unheard of for me. But there's more. In a blog a few months ago called "In Anticipation of a Steamy Summer," I talked about shooting the Norfolk & Western J Class #611 steam engine. For a year it was two hours away from me getting restored in Spencer, NC at the North Carolina Transportation Museum. I was really stoked to see it, but since I have been home from the hospital, it has made a test run and then went back to Roanoke under it's own power.

And I missed it because I need to keep my foot up. (And, of course, a lack of funds de to not working.) Now it's coming back down to Spencer next week and i will miss it again. Yeah, I'm bummed out, but all in all, it's not that bad. A few weeks ago, the doctors weren't sure I'd survive my blood infection. Times are tough. I learned when I went into the hospital that I have real crapy insurance. It's not paying much at all in the way of medical expenses. I' set up a Go Fund Me site and friends have been very helpful in donating so that I can get through these months without any income coming in. (This is not a sales pitch, but the link is http://www.gofundme.com/tpet84 "Joe's Medical Expenses.")

Now I admit I was pretty naive when it came to amputations. I hadn't really thought about the actual process too me, just never wanted one myself. But I thought they took the toe, it took a few weeks to heal and you went on your way. But, of course, it's not that simple. They have t take bone and tendons out too. My foot basically looked like a slab of meat when they were done. It depressed me for weeks realizing it wasn't as simple as I had thought. So in order to help folks understand the process, I took some pictures. Well, really, my sister took the first shots because I really couldn't stand to see my own foot. But lately, I've been using my phone to document the process.

But I didn't want to just have the shots open to anyone who was not expecting to see a deformed foot, so I put them in a password protected gallery jason my site. So if you want to see the for in various before and after situations, go to my Joe the Photog site (http://www.joethephotog.com) and find the gallery called "Private." The password is


So now it's June and I hope to be able to go back to work next moth. In any event, I'll be back on my feet during my least favorite time of the year not just for photography, but in general. But I'll be back on my feet, both feet, which is certainly a great thing. Hopefully there will be new photographs coming soon!