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Guy Scharf

You have my complete sympathy! I had to back off how much equipment I carried a couple of years ago, but because of angina. OTOH, I have always been an amateur and not professional photographer, so I've never carried as much as I see some pros carry.

I had emergency cardiac bypass surgery last week. While recovery from that is going well, an old problem of bleeding in my right eye has recurred. The prognosis is unknown and has me contemplating the role of photography in my life. If vision in the right eye does not recover, I certainly cannot continue photography in the manner I have all my life. At the moment, I am just resting in the possibilities--everything from selling off all the equipment through finding a totally different photographic expresssion to finding a way to continue those aspects of photography I love best. I am trying to look at this is a great opportunity for development and exploration rather than as potential loss.

Doug Plummer

I am completely in awe of your equanimity in the face of a far more serious health crisis. I was in a vicious emotional spiral about whether I was still going to be able to have a career that I dearly love, yet in all likelihood I was going to recover quickly. The part of me in pain didn't know that at the time however. Thank you for putting a different perspective on this.

Tim Matsui

Doug, that totally sucks, I'm sorry. (Says the guy whose hamstrings, IT bands, and hip flexors are locking into a sitting position).

If you're shooting 35mm, some gear suggestions for getting the stuff off your neck (or one shoulder, which I had to do: ditch the Domke) are Kinesis belt system and the Newswear chestvest.

I've got a few suggestions for RAW processing people here in Seattle. I've worked with the first two and will vouch for skilled, hard work but just met the third a couple weeks ago and haven't worked with her.


Check 'em out, hope it helps.
tim matsui

Laurel McConnell

So sorry to hear about this Doug! (just read your ASMP email). I literally feel your pain... I'm only 29 and can't carry cameras around my neck anymore. I guess on the flip side, there has been many many new industries pop up to help out the digital photographer, from ergonomic products to post processing to workflow and computer systems consultants. Best of luck and lets all get better soon so we can go out and SHOOT MORE! After all, that's what "photographers" are supposed to do, eh? ;)

Robbie Mander

Oy! I, too, can literally feel your pain -- some days more than others. I have a 30 year old fusion from T4-L3 and a subsequent injury to L5-S1 and more degeneration above and below. That's actually what got me back to doing photography... I became too disabled to work in my former field - ophthalmology.

Sounds like you're on the right track with the physical therapist -- having one who understands a /your/ physical demand is absolutely key for long term successful rehab. My PT has also been wondrous in suggesting things ergonomics-wise. He is certainly better than the 'industrial hygienists' I've had occasion to work with professionally.

I have to say the Relax the Back Store has gotten huge chunks of hard earned change from me over the years, too. The obvious things, like an Aeron chair (worth every cent, IMO) and a desk *built to fit* (try Underhill's), a chest-vest and a 'swiss army' type wheeled bag go without saying. Something less obvious would be a "Zero-G" recliner and either a tilt-top table (which is next to me and I can park the keyboard for my desktop or my laptop) or an adjustable angle lap desk (from which I am writing now). There is likely going to be times when even sitting in the Aeron isn't going to do it. The Z-G recliners have perfect physical geometry to distribute your body loading from feet to neck. After my last 'invasive' back surgery I literally lived in one for about a month because I couldn't sit upright, nor could I lay down. I highly recommend the electrically adjustable one for home, but also have, most wonderful things, a 'lawn chair' version made by LaFuma which has the same geometry and folds comfortably into the trunk of a smallish car to have a 'body neutral' place to rest when you're out and about. I could go on (and on and on, I'm told) but working with my physical therapist and getting a variety of body neutral seating options has been more beneficial than any other 'ergo-centric' suggestions I've encountered yet.

Well Wishes!!

Doug Plummer

Boy, have I been hearing the war stories! Some of you have really suffered. I am gradually improving, too gradually for my taste, but I'm an impatient sort. Right now I'm on Valium and Prednesone, the latter is strictly stopgap, since it'll wreck my adrenals if I'm on it for more than a week. But it nails the inflammation. Any NSAIDs make me sick.

My first lifestyle change is giving up the morning newspaper. It's always been a ritual to catch up on the doings of the world for an hour first thing. But I can't be sedentary in the morning anymore. Now I get up, and go walking. As I learn what I ought to be doing, I'll probably become one of those people who have to do an hour of bodywork before anything else in the day starts.

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