This isn’t a photography related post other than I’m a photographer….my story of being a living donor below.
Almost two years ago John came into my life by way of an email. That email was sent out asking a few people at my church if we would be willing to take John to his dialysis appointments. You see John is blind and getting to those appointments was impossible without a little help. Since I didn’t have a valid excuse, (yes I tried to think of something) I signed up to be a part of a team that rotated picking John up at home and dropping him off for his appointments. Right away I had already givin myself a pat on the back for taking a blind guy to dialysis…not knowing something much larger was in the works for me.
The first time I picked up John I quickly learned that the blind guy with the failed kidneys had an amazing attitude and a great sense of humor. Our conversation wasn’t about how it sucked to be blind and have to go to dialysis three times a week for hours at a time, but John asking about my family and him making me laugh. Our drive was short and I helped him to his appointment as planned.
Our second trip turned out to be a bit different with me accidentally parking at the wrong medical building. My excuse is that it’s dark at 5am, all the buildings look the same and in this case my co pilot cant see. Knowing that I was in the wrong spot I turned to John and said “I guess you aren’t going to be able to help me find the right building” we both laughed at my first blind joke. I knew we were close so we got out and I helped John into his wheel chair. I forgot to mention John being blind, with failed kidneys also was in a wheelchair after his guide dog messed up and walked him off a ledge…the fall causing a pretty bad knee injury to John. You can see why I say he has an amazing attitude for his current situation.
So I pushed John in his chair to the correct building and we had to wait a few minutes until someone at the facility let us in the dialysis room. While waiting John heard the familiar voice of a fellow dialysis patient and they began talking. I half listened and honestly wanted the door to open so I could be on my way. Their conversation turned to the topic of each of their time on the kidney donor waiting list. I don’t remember what the other man said his wait was, but I clearly remember John saying seven years. I remember thinking seven years? He cant do dialysis for 7 more years! Then John told the guy his blood type…A +…It was then that I got what was like a push in the back saying “you’re A+…you can donate a kidney to John”. Certain people will dismiss all this up to chance or being in the right place at the right time (or wrong time?), but as a Christian I know it was God’s spirit giving me a path to follow. I know if it was up to me sure I’d give John a ride to his appointments, but give him a major part of my body? Face the chance of dying….leaving a wife and kids behind? Come on…God had a plan! Wasn’t my mine.
So at this point I’d known John for a total of about 15 minutes…and I’d decided to give him a kidney. Really having zero idea what that ment for me. I went home and discussed the idea with my wife and she was good with the idea. So I called John to let him know. His reaction was more subdued than I thought it would be and now I understand why. To say you’ll donate is one thing, but actually having all of the pieces come together on both sides is another. John understood this at the time as he had had someone else want to donate in the past but that person wasn’t a match for him.
Step one was a simple blood test to see if John and I were a match. I don’t remember the exact timeline, but the results came back and the nurse told me we couldn’t be a better match unless we were brothers. For me one of the more difficult things about the process of being a living donor is the time it takes to donate. There were a large number of tests that I had to go through in order for me to get the green light. All of this taking place over a ten month period. Ten months where only a few people knew what I was going through and ten months where a bit of doubt began to creep in. You’d be amazed at some of the things people say to you and honestly it seems like they think you are crazy. For the most part I had an amazing amount of support, but the doubters did make me do a bit a second guessing. When the doctors lay out the list of what can go wrong with a major surgury like this I think anyone would get a bit nervous. I even had one doctor spend some time trying to talk me out of it with out saying it directly.
Again I knew this was God’s plan and not mine. As each test I went through came back as passed I knew that at some point I’d be donating to John. Even with the doctors telling me that I might wake up for surgery and find out that John’s body had rejected my kidney. It felt like all the pieces were falling in to place and it would be successful.
With ten months gone by and all our tests passed we got a surgery date of June 18th 2013. An important month in my household and in Johns. June 19th was my 20th wedding anniversary and is John’s wife Colleen’s birthday. So Colleen got to spend her birthday at UCLA with us and my wife got to spend her 20th anniversary with me in recovery. Our surgery was a success with me waking up to the news that my kidney began to work in John’s body right away. John waking up to the same great news. The next morning I was able to very slowly walk down the hallway at UCLA and see John for the first time since surgery. It was great to see his always smiling face.
One of the reasons for writing/posting this is for me to do my part as an advocate for being a living donor. I went home the day after surgery..in pain? Yeah. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns after this type of surgery. It takes a couple weeks to really get moving again. But we are now a year out of surgery and I’m able to do all of the things I did prior to donating. I was back on the mountain bike after four weeks of recovery and back at the gym around the same time. Life for me as donor is completly back to normal. On the other side is John. Who no longer has to endure 3 full days a week of dialysis. He is no longer limited to what he can and how much he can drink. No more nights of going to the bathroom 10 times a night. He can travel now. No more 7 year waiting list. Every update I get from him is more positive news.
I read that 18,000 people die a year waiting for kidney donors. It’s possible that might be a member of your family or someone you work with. It might even be someone you’ve only known for 15 minutes like me. There are thousands of living donors each year and I’m just one of them. I’m writing to spread the news and hope someone reads this and might concider donating. AND if you think you can’t donate because you aren’t a match that isnt true. UCLA has a program where you can donate to another person and the person you originally wanted to donate to moves to the top of the list and gets a needed kidney.
I’ve posted a few times about my love for the Flipboard app. and I’ve been putting together a magazine there for a while now. All that flipping got me added to their main menu.Details
It seems I often run into the same dilemma …I want photos but I don’t want to stop riding to shoot them. When visiting places with grand views like Sedona and Flagstaff it makes sense to want to shoot photos to capture the beauty of these places…but then they also offer amazing mountain bike riding. If you shoot only a few shots you get home and wish you had shot more. Or if you stop and take too many shots you wish you were keeping your “flow” going like the other riders you are with. I did my best to find a good balance this time. Not many shots from Flagstaff as we were shuttling to the top and “racing” down. Couple cell phone shots in here and I’ll let you sniff them out.
-Click any image for larger view-
Took me a while…but I’m finally on Instagram.Details
I don’t think its a secret that I carry the Flipboard flag…in fact this is my second time writing about the app. You can read how the stormy love affair began by clicking here. This time I’m writing because I feel like if you are a Twitter user who isn’t using Flipboard you are missing out. It’s like I’ve been keeping a secret about this amazing Christmas present Flipboard created for you and I can finally let it out and tell you about it. So let me do my best to highlight what I am talking about. The screen shots below are from my ipad and I’m sure the experience is great on any tablet…..
• Click any of the images below for a larger view.
So whats the big deal? Well if you like magazines and I know you like some kind of magazine, then your Twitter feed is displayed like one as shown below. If the post has an image then the image will help bait you into reading more…
….want to read more? Click it…ahh the full view right there in Flipboard as shown below with the full article. ( I cropped the photo in order to show the photo and text sample here)
Perhaps the person just Tweeted a photo only? Oh a photographers dream! But you’ve been viewing them on your phone? Shame on you! Look at the image below..Full screen photo goodness the way the photographer wanted you to see it.
Video you ask? Yeah that too…just click play. Oh there is so much more….
Want to reply to the Tweet? Follow the person who Tweeted? Yeah its all right there too…
Want to toss something from your Twitter feed into one of the magazines you already curate on Flipboard? Yeah just hit the plus symbol, click your mag and add it.
I’m sure I’ve left a few gems out of this…But it’s time for you to test drive it yourself and add your Twitter feed to the Flipboard app. Post a comment if I’m wrong..but I doubt you will..you’ll be too busy starting your own magazine.
I’ve been back and forth on this shot..open it, edit it, close it…then I come back another day and go through the same process. Often never finding a final option that I really enjoy. Removing the “normal” colors and going with an orange tone actually works for me. I’m sure on another day it may not have done it for me..today it did and this one made it’s way to my Flickr account.
Canon 7D with Tokina 12-24 f/4 lens
Single Boling 600 watt strobe fired via PocketWizards
Edited in Adobe Lightroom
Please click image for the large view…Details
I had the privilege of spending time with Crisis Aid International on my recent trip to East Africa. While it can be easy to dwell on the hopelessness and despair that are constant realities in this part of Africa, I didn’t want all of the photos I shared to only portray that part of life. I’ve found in both of my trips to Africa that the people never seem hopeless and usually have a joy within them that is hard to to explain.
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Had a chance to spend the day with privateer Colton Aeck as he goes through his final preparations for the 2014 Supercross season.
Some of the sponsors working with Colton:
TREMX.com, Tri-County Powersports, Pasha Racing, Tech One Designs, FMF, Race Tech, Renthal, Focus Apparel, X Brand goggles, Works Connection, Rekluse, DUBYA Wheels, Maxima, DT-1 Air filters, 6D helmets, All balls racing
Click images below for larger view…Details
I’ve written about Nick in the past. Since we met via Twitter I thought it’d be appropriate to write and address if it was creepy or weird meeting someone via Twitter. Turns out in this case it wasn’t. You can read that post here. While Nick has since moved back to his original stomping grounds of the East Coast, we still keep in touch via social media and I’m sure our paths will cross in the future.
In his short time in California he played an important part in helping out with one of my favorite shoots….shown below in the water tower shots. You can read about that shoot here.Details
Travis is someone I stalked…err…met on a mountain bike website that we both frequent. Once I found out that we were both in the same town, it was an exchange of a couple emails and a phone call and we were off on our first photo shoot. It’s been great to not only get to know Travis but also watch his skills improve over time. We’ve collaborated on a number of photo shoots and took the time to make a mountain bike video too. I have some ideas for new stuff to shoot with Travis this year and I can’t wait to take those to beyond just ideas.Details