The Little Engine That Could
After restoring my body with rest and waiting out a hurricane at the sweetest Airbnb called The Blue Horn in West Virginia, I packed the dogs back into the car and made my way back to Savannah to find that all the roads leading home were flooded. We slept in the element one last night and returned home the next morning to a busy work schedule. Over the next 3 months (September 22-November 23rd I would somehow shoot 8 elopements, two weddings and two engagement sessions while also working part time as a “house manager/personal assistant” for a family ( I had to quit this job after my body hit another breaking point on November 5th). I’m going back through my galleries and my i phone photo history to chornicle all of this, and I I just keep saying “how in the world did I do all of this while I was in the pain I was in? DAMN I AM SO STRONG THIS IS INSANE”.. because I really can’t explain or understand how I am able to pull all of this off.
I think the most fun thing for me here is to show you some of the photos I took first during this season of excruciating pain and instability, and then share with you photos and the story that was going on behind the scenes so I could muster up enough energy and strength to take these photographs and provide for myself.
All these weddings were shot in Savannah, Georgia last fall. I am so grateful to my friend Miles and my roomate Dayna for helping me bear this load and keep my business rolling WHILE also living with me and the pain I was facing. TRUE FAMILY.
Behind the scenes and behind the camera, things were extremely unstable in my body and I spent most of my free and functioning time on the phone with social workers and lawyers and the insurance marketplace to try to secure myself insurance. I also put a lot of effort into getting orders for flexion and extension CT scans for my Cranial Cervical Joint.
After pushing my body hard to continue working my day gig and shooting weddings (by this time I had shot the first 8 elopements through Elope To Savannah and one engagement session), my body told me she just couldn’t take anymore on October 1st, so I quit my job and my roomate Dayna and I went to Fort Pulaski in Savannah and she took these photographs of me. They are the most beautiful representation of the pain I face in my body, and the sweet relief I get from the ocean.
On October 3rd, I decided to make an appointment for an saline IV infusion at a new infusion center close to my house in Savannah. My segway ride two blocks over sent me into another dystonic episode which started as soon as I rolled in the front door of the infusion center. These “episodes” look a lot like seizures and are extremely scary to experience as well as witness. First my neurological system gets overloaded from my brainstem down, I feel my body slowly welling in vibrations until every muscle head to toe starts spasiming. I experience EXTREME cognitive dysfunction and speaking clearly becomes extremely difficult while I am standing. From there, I usually get extreme pressure in my brain and my lower back and the back of my neck feel like they are catching on fire, my orthostatic intolerance kicks in and I have to immediately hit the ground and lay as flat as I can. The “seizure like” shaking doesnt stop, but once I get on the ground I am able to speak clearly and logically.. which is hard for people witnessing these events to understand. The pain is unlike anything most people will ever experience.. it’s enough to send your body into shock.
While this episode was happening in front of the entire staff of the infusion center, I was not given any help or anything from the staff except " you are not allowed here, we are not here to treat this, you obciously have a drug problem and we are going to call the cops.” I was stood over by the staff while this episode happened and was told that if I did not find someone to come get me within 15 minutes they would kick me out. I am clear enough to state what is going on with my body, that I have a genetic connective tissue disease and that this is NOT drug related and DO NOT CALL an ambulance. People have a hard time understanding what does not make logical sense.
I drug myself from the entryway floor by myself to the waiting room couch two rooms away and immediately called every safe person I knew. My cousin Elena picked up the phone, and her boyfriend Noah dropped everything and came to my rescue. He carried me out of the infusion center, drove me home and carried me up our stairs safely to my couch. My best friends Mackensey and Keli made it over a few hours later, and were shocked to witness the state of my physical health and to hear how I was treated. As horrifying as this experience was, I am so grateful it happened because it was a wake-up call to many of my friends that I really did need more help and more support and that I really really need medical attention. They started to join forces with the community and Savannah Community Acupuncture jumped on board and hosted a fund raiser for me that would later be exactly the amount of money I needed to pay for the CT scans I needed for my brain.
Continuing to try to stabilize my body while working proved to be extremely hard. After that traumatic episode, I had a few days to rest and shot an engagement session and a wedding the following weekend. Three days later I’d shoot another big wedding an engagement session the next week and had enough energy to hang out with some friends who came into town. After pushing my body to do all of this during the month of October, I had another dystonic event in Forsyth Park on October 29th (which was also extremely terrifying, and my friend Miles came and rescued me), and one the following night at home. I woke up the next day and decided to try to go to the Emergency Room.
I called the doctors I knew and had hopes they would meet me at the hospital and help usher me in for the testing I needed, but it proved to be another traumatic and disheartening hospital experience. My neighbor Hannah literally princess carried me into the emergency room, and her and Miles did their best to help the physicians understand the severity of my condition and were met by an undereducated medical staff. Trauma after trauma after trauma after trauma.. and somehow I just kept pushing on. It would take another month for me to get a doctor’s orders for the CT scans I needed to get into see Dr. Henderson, and that month proved to be one of the hardest I had yet to face.