Saturday, July 2, 2016

8. Hamilton Inner Bay

Hamilton Inner Bay

"Hamilton Harbour, also known as Burlington Bay, lies on the western tip of Lake Ontario, bordered on the northwest by the City of Burlington, on the south by the City of Hamilton, and on the east by Hamilton Beach and Burlington Beach." -Wikipedia, 2016

By the time I started painting this picture I had already had more than three (limited) flares of Wegener's; Meaning that the disease had not affected my major organs yet and I could be treated with alternative medications.

I was involved in some research using different medication to manage Wegener's and was either taking a real drug or a placebo at the time of my first major flare. You may ask yourself "If the disease is so dangerous why take part in this type of research?" and the simple answer is that if I am used as a test subject now many people in the future may be spared and I am more than willing to take a small risk to me now if it can help thousands later.
Up to this point, Wegener's flares start out with little red spots on the skin of my legs and feet. In a few days these turn into blisters and my joints start to swell.

About two weeks till the flare peaks from there. Remember earlier when I said I had back surgery with no pain pills and thought that hurts? That was not even close to having a Wegener's flare-up.

Every joint in my body hurts at the same time, I am in so much pain I cannot think straight.  Recovery time about three months and then I would have a few week of peace and another flare. 
Ok, so I am in the research program taking a test drug/placebo and I start having flare.

Wednesday: Little red spots and I hurt everywhere, visit the hospital a team of doctors including my specialist look me over not positive this is a Wegener's flare. Wait 12 hours see my doctor again the next day and spots turn into blisters and my feet look like hamburger meat.

Yep, this is definitely a vasculitis flare, but this is progressing very fast. Ok, stop the trial get the real medication and start taking it for two weeks; Remember, at this point I am still in great pain, I am taking 1 Advil 600 every 4 hours, 2 Tylenol extra strength every 4 hours, and hydromorphone twice daily (a synthetic Morphine that is 8 time stronger).

All this, and it feels like I am taking nothing.

Two weeks goes by, I can hardly move. Can’t sleep more than a few minutes at a time in a chair. The pain, at this point, is incredible and I start thinking about ways to get off the bus, this is torture.

Then, as I am getting ready to go to a doctor’s appointment, I start to cough up blood.  One advantage of being on a trial drug is you have direct contact with a nurse 24 hours a day 7 days a week , so do I go the emergency or doctors clinic? Both are at the same hospital but at opposite ends, so not a major difference.

Nurse said come to the clinic we can always take you to emergency when you get here. Ok, get in, things have settled a little get chest x-ray and back home.

Get a phone call 10 pm Friday night. My doctor just got the X-ray report and has arranged for me to see a lunge specialist Saturday morning at the hospital.

November 21st 2015, I am admitted into hospital with bleeding lungs and injected with 1000 units of Prednisone for 3 days and start 1800 units of Cyclophosphamide (Chemo).

Let me tell you 1000 units of Prednisone is like drinking all the coffee you could fit into a super tanker in one go. I was bouncing off the walls, talking a mile a minute. I think I said more stuff , and faster, in those three days than I did in 10 years of teaching. Then they put the chemo in. Wow I had no idea you could go from fast forward be to full reverse in such a short time.
So now I am tired, feeling pretty low and, according to the X-rays, still getting worse not better; But then I get notice from Fine Arts America I have sold my first two prints.

Funny how a little positive energy goes such a long way.

I found out later that my aunt bought two of my paintings while I was in the hospital and even today I don’t think she can truly know how helpful that was for me at that time. 

A professional is a person who performs a task or service, for money, that most people could do for free if they had time to learn and improve.

At the point where I thought my life was over, when I was planning my funeral, I sold a print of a small painting of a pile of rocks in a little bay in Lake Ontario; And I got to start at life again and become the professional artist DAB.


  1. I just got caught up with your story. Wow, very moving. And it's fascinating how art keeps intertwining into your life. It is like it is a PART of you. You were meant to be in the arts, and the affects from it radiate into you; generating uplifting energy and encouragement and health.

    1. Thank you Retta for your comments, Life for me has been ever changing but usually once I stop fighting the change, things seem to improve