Road To Recovery 10th of April
I’ve been going to Portland Trail Blazer games with my dad since I was a young boy and I captured the above photo as part of a black-and-white film class assignment during the short-lived prime of Brandon Roy’s career. I’m posting this image not just because I’m particularly fond of it but because of what I now have in common with the former All-Star.
After many months of waiting and deliberating, last Wednesday I finally had microfracture surgery performed on my right knee to repair cartilage damaged during a snowboarding accident two years ago involving a shard of plastic punching a hole into my knee. You can read about it in all its gory detail here.
A few short months after the accident, I returned to relatively normal activity and even ran the Hood To Coast with great success. Shortly thereafter, however, my knee began to ache at inopportune times and would swell after minor physical exertion. I soon reluctantly cut running, soccer and snowboarding one-by-one out of my life in the hopes that my knee might repair itself given time. Unfortunately, the symptoms persisted and I began looking into getting an MRI, which I found would cost a pretty penny to say the least, and lacking sufficient insurance coverage I gave up for some time.
Last September, a sliver of hoped emerged while photographing a friend’s wedding in Boise. Another friend of mine attending, who works in the healthcare industry, let me in on a little secret. It just so happens that the non-profit hospitals in Oregon have financial assistance programs for individuals with qualifying incomes, and due to the expense of getting my business running over the last two years, I was able to qualify for one hundred percent coverage. In this day and age of insanely high insurance premiums, this boon renewed my faith in the healthcare industry, and within weeks I had an MRI free of charge that revealed that the plastic shard that gouged my knee also took a chunk out of the cartilage lining my femur.
Currently, the most popular and successful procedure used to repair an injury of this nature is known as microfracture surgery. It’s a form of arthroscopic surgery in which a surgeon makes several tiny incisions around the knee and inserts camera-guided tools. These tools remove the damaged junk cartilage and drills tiny holes into the femur down to the bone marrow so that blood containing stem cells will bleed forth, clot, and solidify into what is known as fibro cartilage, an inferior proxy, but better than nothing nonetheless.
It is the very same procedure that both Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers, hoped would return them to the basketball court. Alas, for them the surgery was not a resounding success, and to this day they still struggle with the injuries that microfracture was intended to correct. About seventy-five percent of athletes who have microfracture surgery, however, are able to return to playing within six months on average, and within two years are often able to reach their pre-injury level of play.
After I received my MRI results, my doctor suggested that I increase my activity level to determine if my symptoms would worsen before taking the next step. Despite only having very mild discomfort after several weeks of running I did experienced a greater occurrence of painful jolts that convinced me that my condition could only worsen if I increased to the level of play I want in my life. After consulting other friends, family members and professionals I opted for surgery, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision after my doctor showed me the images of what he removed: several huge chunks of partially dissolved cartilage that have been floating around in there for the past two years.
Post surgery, I’m happy to say that I haven’t felt so good since before the initial injury despite my recovery requiring I be crutch bound for six weeks. The possibility of running pain free once seemed so remote that it took a huge toll on the internal workings of both my personal and work life, and I feel as though that stress has greatly dissipated. Whether or not the treatment actually has any real-world, long-term effect is yet to be seen, but I’m fairly confidant that if you’re a Portlander you’ll be seeing me running down one of your neighborhood streets within the year grinning ear to ear. —— KC
Bust Town 22nd of March
Suffice it to say while building a business from the ground up it’s not unnatural to experience some downtime, especially in the first couple years. As a Portland-based photographer, I’ve learned that the winter can be most trying. Listening to the rain patter against the window while waiting for the phone to ring, incessantly checking my email inbox, readjusting my budget to stretch my bank account a little bit further, and calculating approximately how much I will have to put on my credit card until spring and summer rolls around.
Last winter during one of the more difficult stages of this little endeavor, I was offered an unrelated opportunity to make some side cash. My friend’s father represents a wholesaler of high-end women’s shoes and every year he drives to Las Vegas and San Francisco for a round of conventions where buyers shop for the latest trends to stock in their stores. Instead of actually attending the convention, he rents two hotel rooms, one to stay in and the other to set up as an exclusive showroom that select convention attendees are invited to browse. Unfortunately, he suffers from severe back pain, which is obviously aggravated by heavy lifting involved. That’s where I came in. Knowing that I was a struggling artist, he asked if I’d fly to Las Vegas and help dismantle his showroom, repack the bazillion pairs of shoes in large suitcases, and take the wheel for part of the drive to San Francisco where I would promptly board another plane and fly back to Portland in time for a wedding I had to photograph.
The drive from Sin City to The City By The Bay takes about ten hours but we had two days to make the drive and decided to find a hotel for the night. Enter lovely Tonopah, Nevada, Queen of the Silver Camps. Located halfway between Reno and Las Vegas, the town of Tonopah was once one of the largest boom towns in Nevada. During my visit, its dilapidated storefronts and snow crusted sidewalks were more akin to a ghost town. For the night, we stayed in the historic, newly renovated Mizpah Hotel, the one remaining beacon of hope at the center of town, which once put up dignitaries and celebrities from across the country but is now more of a pseudo tourist destination for retirees traveling across the country in their RVs.
After checking into our room, I decide to stretch my legs and explore the town’s other attractions. To my displeasure the Central Nevada Museum and the Tonopah Historic Mining Park were closed. It was about a half hour before sunset and I was bored, so I instead decided to grab what photos I could and quickly forgot about them, uninspired by the take.
It’s always fun finding old forgotten photos on my hard drive. It may not be the same as finding bent boxes of prints made in college but it carries the same weight, especially with ones I didn’t originally find a connection. Giving a photograph and yourself some time to age and mature does wonders for the viewing experience. Times were tough when I took these photos, for me and this town. At the time I think I felt a little like Tonopah looked. Maybe that’s why I didn’t like them. Except we were going in vastly different trajectories. I see that now and I appreciate the perspective a year’s worth of growth has afforded.