A personal story this time, I hope you don’t mind. And I know the header photo is not an Instax, but it represents quite well how I feel, so I allowed myself a bit of freedom. Last week I was hospitalised (only for one night) and I decided to capture this on Instax. I hesitated to share it here, but there is a relation to my photography. So let me explain.

About four years ago I suffered from a herniated disc in my back, which means that the inner part of the intervertebral disk bulges out, putting pressure on the root of the nerve leading to my right leg and foot. Apart from a lot of pain, this also caused some paralysis in my big toe and my ankle. Often the body can heal from such an injury, but sometimes it doesn’t. So after about five months the neurosurgeon and I decided to remove the bulging part of the disk via surgery. The surgery was technically successful, the paralysis mostly removed, but the pain remained.

As part of my recovery process I started walking. I had always enjoyed hiking, but during the first months with the herniated disk it was almost impossible. I made a schedule to train my walking/hiking abilities but every 4 to 5 weeks or so I had a relapse. After a while I was advised by a therapist to walk slower, as I always tried to achieve a ‘normal’ pace of about 5 kilometers per hour. However, that didn’t work out very well, hence the therapists suggestion to slow it down. At first I felt really weird walking in such a slow pace, so I decided to bring a camera on my walks. I figured it would help me in a couple of ways:

  • It would allow me to pace myself, and to stop every now and then without looking silly.
  • Looking around for photo opportunities would help me take attention away from my body and frustration about not being able to walk as I did before. Instead of focussing on achieving a certain speed and distance, I would focus on photography.
  • It would give me a positive reason to go outside: Instead of walking as part of a recovery process I was going outside to create images.

This is how and why I started with photography, and I fell in love with it!

We are now a couple of years later, and the pain still hasn’t disappeared or even decreased. An MRI showed that scar tissue has formed at the location of the nerve-root. So instead of a bulging disk, it is now scar tissue putting pressure on the root of the nerve, causing a similar pain. Because of this I decided to get a neurostimulator, a sort of pacemaker in your back, that can partly remove pain signals going from the nerve to the brain. The procedure is two-fold: First the electrodes are implanted in the back and connected to an external pulse-generator. Second, if the system reduces the pain enough, a small pulse generator is implanted in the body. Last week I was in the hospital for part one.

And then finally, here is my Instax photo essay covering the hospital visit:

My bed for the coming 26 hours, with the hospital-gown you have to put on for the surgery.
Hooked up: after surgery with the external pulse-generator connected to the wires coming from my body.
The boxes of my neurostimulator with the remote control for the pulse generator.
My man making sandwiches for me as seen from my bed. I had to lie down for 24 hours, was not allowed to elevate my upper body, so taking photos was a challenge. In the front you see the side of the bed with a few of the controls.
A more close-up version of my man and the stack of sandwiches. 🙂
Back home, where we remove the identification bracelet. BTW, the left image is a double exposure.
Flowers from my colleagues!

I guess during this short stay in the hospital photography served the same purpose for me as I described in the beginning: it gave my mind something else to do. In 10 days I will go back for part two, but then I will be allowed to go home on the same day, so it will be less hard. Fingers crossed that it will help for the pain!

As taking photos from a lying-down position was difficult, I had a little help from my man with some of the photos. All Instax images were made with the Fuji mini 90 Neo Classic on Fuji Instax Mini Mono film.

(The header image was made with a Nikonos V on Kodak Portra 400, more on that in a different post)

Thanks for reading!

6 thoughts on “An Instax Story Of My Hospital Visit

  1. Very sorry to hear about your injuries and pain, Aukje. All the best with your recovery!

    I do like it that you tried to make photo opportunities even when in the hospital.

  2. sorry to hear that, I know very well what that means because I’m the owner of 2 bulging discs. It took almost 2 years to recover (no surgery). pain is always around the corner but I’ve learnt to live with it.

    good luck!

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