In Repair: My Hospital Stay, in Photos

January 17, 2012 § 17 Comments

For the past 17+ years, I’ve been dealing with Crohn’s Disease, an intestinal disease that causes inflammation along the digestive tract. I was just a kid when I was diagnosed and it’s never been easy to deal with, but I’ve really had no choice. It’s been a part of my life for more than half of it. I’ve had flare-ups over the years, been on innumerable medications, have even been hospitalized a few times, but so far I had been fortunate enough to avoid surgery. I started to experience another flare-up in October and it worsened over the course of the next two months. I had a narrowing known as a stricture in my sigmoid colon that was the cause of all of my troubles, resulting in weakness and weight loss, inability to eat anything without feeling queasy, occasional fevers, abdominal pain, nausea and more. My GI doctor felt that the time had come where surgery was the only answer. This stricture had to be removed.

So, I was told that on New Year’s Day, I would be admitted to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, with my surgery scheduled for Tuesday the 3rd. I then had the idea that I would document my hospital stay, using film from The Impossible Project of course. My Impossible teammate Anne was good enough to give me some of the new PX 100 UV+ film and PX 70 Color Shade film. I brought along my Polaroid Silver Sonar SX-70 and some flashbars and kept them close to my bedside for the duration of my hospitalization. What follows are the photos I took during that time.

This surgery has really knocked me flat. The plan was to remove about 2 inches of colon and they ended up having to take out 8 inches. My surgeon was exceptional, as were the nurses and patient care associates at Mt. Sinai. I’ve also been fortunate to have visiting nurses helping me to recover since I’ve been home.

For the longest time, I didn’t talk openly about my struggles with Crohn’s because it can be embarrassing. In the years since my diagnosis, however, I’ve met so many people who suffer from Crohn’s Disease and its sister disease, Ulcerative Colitis that I have become more comfortable with it. If you know someone who is dealing with either disease or has questions, point them my way and I’ll give any advice I can.

Take care of yourselves.

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§ 17 Responses to In Repair: My Hospital Stay, in Photos

  • catarina says:

    you’re very strong. altough i had no idea about the issue, i’m very happy for you that things are getting better!
    the most embarassing it may be, talking about how we feel is always a good option and usually will help dealing with que issue.
    take care 🙂

    ps. seeing how you photographed all of it is really inspiring!

  • Toby Hancock says:

    I’m so glad to hear you’re on the mend.

    Thanks for sharing these excellent pics. What a great idea. You’ve worked miracles given the limited subject matter.

    Take care and get well soon.

  • Ashley says:

    Amazing, Pat! Fabulous photos and commentary. Whereas I’m fortunate enough not to suffer from the aforementioned illnesses, they still rear their ugly heads daily with many of my loved ones. Props for speaking out — we’re very proud of you! Xoxo

  • Jo Ann Fugazzotto says:

    I was surprised to hear you had the surgery, since it was only a few weeks before that I was hospitalized for a flare. You had emailed me and said you were doing well at that time. I am still on the mend from my episode, but I am in discussion with surgeons about doing a similar surgery to yours. Keep me posted about your recovery and what I can expect. I wish you a speedy recovery and a huge amount of time before you have any Crohn’s related problems. Jo Ann

  • Aw Patrick. I have a friend with Chrons and it seems like such a difficult thing to deal with. So glad you had the surgery, hopefully it’ll help! Thanks for sharing your journey, great photos!

    Here’s to a speedy recovery!

  • Jan's camera says:

    Hi Pat, I hope all goes well and the surgery helps. Thanks for sharing the photos

  • Sheila Hartley says:

    Hey Pat! Hope you’re feeling better. Love the pictures. I’ve seen your parents a lot since I started working at Curry Hardware in Quincy, and your mom was telling me about your surgery. I only vaguely remember when you were diagnosed. My brother suffers from UC, he got diagnosed at 18/19. It’s been a roller coaster for him, and for our family. Wishing you a speedy recovery!

  • staceywei says:

    Great photos Pat! I hope you have a quick recovery!

  • Mia says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Patrick! I hope you feel better soon. I have this fear of developing some sort of digestive illness, having chronic issues…it helps to know how folks make it through, it alleviates some of the fear, if something were to happen, that things are usually manageable.

  • Laura Harper says:

    Pat, I go to Columbia with Amy……I want to wish good health to you, and think this documentation is so cool. It reminds me of my hospital stay last year. I wish I could have taken more photos, as I had never been to the hospital before and found the week I was there totally fascinating. I think it is cool that you thought it was fascinating enough to want to document it. Great way to expend some creative energy and distract yourself from worry. And playing cards with Amy doesn’t hurt either! Get well fast! Good luck. 🙂

  • Thanks to everyone for the comments. I appreciate your support, and wish you all the best as well!

  • viria says:

    I hope you’re recovered soon 🙂

  • diana says:

    This is so amazing. Reading this sent me chills. I went to get emergency surgery on New Years Day, and found out I had IBD. I had inflamed kidney, pancreas and colon since it was never taken care of from months of pain.

    It is really uncomfortable but the more people are educated the easier the struggle is. I hope you don’t mind, but i shared this on GI Monitor, a social network for Crohnie’s. Take care and keep us updated on your recovery.

    • Thank you Diana! I appreciate the kind words. I’m happy to hear you’re better as well, and of course I don’t mind you sharing my post! I figure the more upfront we are the better people who don’t have these afflictions can understand what we’re going through!

  • Brooke Castro says:

    Patrick, These photos are amazing. I had no idea you were dealing with this. I know from friends that it’s an incredibly painful disease. I hope the surgery brings you relief and that your recovery is going well.

    Wishing you all the best.

  • Emily says:

    As a fellow individual who struggles with Crohn’s, these photos were incredibly eerie and hauntingly familiar. Thank you so much for sharing, they are absolutely beautiful. Stay strong, you are my hero.

  • patrick,

    wow, what a great series of images…add that to the fact that you were dealing with a severe medical issue and I can totally get how important photography is to you. It is there in the shots, and in your words.

    Thanks for sharing…I think a book of this, even if it’s for yourself, would be awesome.

    Keep getting better!

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