- Aperture: f/4.5
- Focal Length: 22mm
- ISO: 400
- Shutter: 1/50 sec
- Camera: NIKON D7000
[Note: Thanks to everyone who voted for this image in the Photo Friday “Architecture” Challenge (09-04-14). I’ve missed all my photoblogging friends, and it’s great to be back. Feel free to drop me a line and say hello.]
At the end of May, I went to Atlanta. In the middle of June, I almost died there.
It was a routine night. I had been feeling bad for a few weeks, but I chalked it up to poor eating habits and erratic sleep patterns. I napped for much of the day on June 18, but by nightfall I finally felt well enough to sit at my hotel desk and edit some of the pictures I’d shot the day before for the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau. I went out for a hamburger and returned to my room, intending to work well into the night.
Instead, I laid down and fell asleep. I woke up gasping for breath, choking as my bronchial tubes clamped shut. Unable to speak to call 911, I panicked and stumbled to the hotel lobby, but at 2:30 a.m., the doors were locked.
The last thing I remember is my fingers sliding down the glass doors as I soundlessly cried for help.
I woke up in Emory University Hospital’s ICU with a tube down my throat. The hotel’s front desk clerk had found me on the floor, unconscious, and made the 911 call I was unable to make. Emergency room doctors, unable to get oxygen into my body, decided to intubate, which probably saved my life. After a three-week stay at Emory, I was finally able to come home.
And so, here I am, celebrating my 41st birthday doing what I love best — editing pictures.
I didn’t see a white light or a tunnel. I didn’t hear God’s voice or the beat of angels’ wings. There were brief moments when I was able to hear my rescuers, but I couldn’t feel their hands, and I wasn’t sure if my eyes were open or closed. I couldn’t speak, but I could hear. It turns out that hearing is the last sense to go before your body shuts down and your life slips away.
It was an enlightening experience, and one I won’t soon forget. I was released on the Fourth of July, and there was something incredibly moving about driving away from the hospital, away from death, and heading into a cascade of fireworks over downtown Atlanta. I felt happy. Newly alive. Profoundly lucky.
It’s been a while since I’ve written here. I tend to dole out my words to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, leaving few crumbs to throw here. Since the photoblogging craze hit its heyday and vanished, I find myself less inclined to post. But this site has meant — and continues to mean — a great deal to me, so I post into the void anyway.
The one thing Atlanta solidified for me was a long-held desire to complete a nonfiction book I’ve been mulling over for the past year or two. It will take me on a journey from Jacksonville Beach, Florida to Van Horn, Texas, and with any luck, it will be as much of a life-changing experience as the Atlanta trip was for me.
Without the almost dying, of course. I’d like to postpone that for a while.
Music: Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (lyrics)
Beat the Devil’s Tattoo by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (lyrics)
About the image
An ornate staircase leads to the upper floor of Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, which is housed within a 27,000 square foot Gothic-Tudor Revival mansion and nestled on 12 acres in Atlanta, Georgia. The house, built in 1920, was the home of Charles Howard Candler, son of the founder of the Coca-Cola Company. The house was designed by architect Henry Hornbostel. Today, Callanwolde operates as a non-profit organization devoted to teaching and promoting the visual, literary and performing arts. (Photo by Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright)