48 hours

Posted by on Jul 25, 2011 in Articles | 6 Comments

Well, it’s been an interesting 48 hours. Last Saturday at 5:30 in the morning I had a major heart attack while doing a workshop on the Oregon coast.  By 6am I was in the local hospital, 6:30 in an ambulance to a big hospital and by 7:30 under the knife in the process of having a stent put into one of my coronary arteries.

Now, Monday morning, I am flying my way back to Vermont, not feeling physically that much different. Tests show that there is no lingering damage to my heart, no lessening of function, no lasting physical effect to my body.  Considering that more than a third of my heart muscle was effected I am blessed to have come out of it so well.

I am slowly coming to accept that this was, for all intents and purposes, inevitable. I have a horrific family coronary history that includes death, heart attacks and multiple bypasses. I had spent the last 40 years trying to beat the odds, to draw an inside straight, to defeat the house but in the end the house always wins and the bastard finally caught me.

I hate that bastard; hate it with everything I have. I hate what its done to my family; hate what its done to me. And I hate that I now live in its shadow, a shadow I will never, ever be able to shake, a shadow no amount of light will ever be able to fade.

I must thank Brenda Berry who was teaching with me at the time for getting me to the hospital and sheparding me through the first scary hours. Then again if you despise me you can blame her for the fact that I am still here.  And to Claire who now eases me back to my prickly self and keeps my doors open for me. And thank you to my students who made the best out of a chaotic time. They substituted two of my critiques for two of Brenda’s and had a great sunset to photograph Saturday night because I was nowhere to be found. They made out pretty well in the end.

So now I look for my normal, wondering where it might be and if it will still feel like mine.  I know a tincture of time will settle my confusion of thoughts and emotions but I am impatient for resolution. Perhaps the bastard still needs to be fought. Perhaps the bastard still needs to be kicked into the dirt.

Perhaps a winning hand is still in the cards.



  1. Monte Trumbull
    July 25, 2011

    I am so sorry to hear about your heart attack and glad to hear that you came through it in good condition. I wish you the best recovery and hope that kick that bastard!


  2. Mary Doo
    July 25, 2011

    Hi David,

    I am so very sorry to hear about your heart attack, while grateful that you have recovered. I believe you will feel better and get well completely, as you are on my prayer list.

    By the way, thank you for the wonderful “turning pro” workshop. It felt like a retreat. While things and emotions are calming down as one gets back to “reality”, the knowledge learned is invaluable, and I will never forget this wonderful workshop.

    Take care – God bless,

    Mary Doo

  3. Gail Watkins
    July 26, 2011

    I am so glad you are doing well enough to rant. Tell Claire I am praying for her… oh, and you too!

    Seriously, I am thankful Brenda is such an efficient person and you got the help you needed in such a timely manner. I am confident once you get through this little hiccup you will find a “normal” that works for you and allows you to continue on living a productive, satisfying life.

    God bless you!


  4. Nancy Camel
    July 26, 2011

    David, you may not remember me but I took Advanced Nature Photography with you in MIssoula through the RMSP. I too had that family history, though not as bad as yours. I exercised and watched my diet. But in 1999 I started having atrial fibrillation and didn’t like it one bit–slowed down my momentum. And the meds were awful. I had no energy. I went to the Cleveland Clinic in 2005, where I had a thorough check out followed by open heart surgery that cured my Afib and repaired a mitral valve. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/default.aspx I am better than ever and take no medications for the heart.

    I highly recommend going to the Cleveland Clinic, rated as the best heart care center in the world. Don’t let that “bastard” get you down. There are so many new procedures, technologies and medications now for the heart. Best of luck to you.

    Nancy Camel

  5. Pete Cross
    July 26, 2011

    Yes, I imagine the only thing you have no control over is what the genes have dealt you from your ancestors!!
    I am 79, been a serious amateur since age 15, and put my landscape/geology background and profession (teaching)aside in 1998 at retirement …….only to pick up my real passion of being a part-time health and fitness personal trainer. Nothing as satisfying at this time in my life than helping others attempt to keep the bastard at bay for as long as possible and maintain a fitness level that allows one to pursue activities that make the quality of life as good as it can be.
    Enough of this preaching…………. I have followed your publications, photos, publicity for years and hope to fall under your tutiledge in a coming workshop. Accepting whatever limits our bodies seem to have (that are real, unalterable limits) that are not just our self-imposed mental limits!)……..and then creating short-term goals where we can still give to the world our talents until that day when time is up…………..that, I know, is how your are going to respond as soon as time and rest and rehab gets you thinking of the future again.

    Good luck to you, Dave. We need your return to what you do best!

  6. Patrick Kriner
    July 27, 2011


    Have not talked to you for some time. Barbee informed me of your heart attack and, although an unfortunate incident, things worked out well. I am hearing other stories from friends about these thing happening on trips, vacations and workshops and marvel at where we have come with medical science where things that had a tragic end in the past, can now be treated and allow you to continue with your life, albeit under a constant shadow. God speed, I pray for a complete recovery. All the best to you and Claire.

    Patrick Kriner
    Sylvania, Ohio