For over a year I’ve done very little and, for several months, even less than that. I can’t even go to the pub now without provoking a health crisis.
The reason I’ve come to such a pass is that even the lowest level of activity screws with my heart, can trigger angina, and causes it to generally malfunction – it feels like a wet leather bag sloshing about in my chest, and while I can breathe OK, in that the air goes in and out, it doesn’t benefit me in the slightest, I might as well be breathing for someone else for all the good it does me. And I have a tendency to faint, though that could be my heart meds.
None of which has been helped, in the slightest, by my cardiologist just fucking off (see my complaint to Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral).
And all of this is doing me, psychologically, a great deal of harm.
So, the past few weeks, in between writing angry blog posts (I might have a new cardiologist soon – whether that gets me the very early appointment I need remains to be seen), I’ve been giving the matter a lot of thought.
The first priority, if I don’t get an appointment next week, is to order some Digoxin tablets. These will support and hopefully improve my cardiac function, and – if it goes according to plan – allow me to have some level of activity. It won’t change the prognosis, but nothing’s perfect.
What I want to do is get back into photography (I haven’t taken a serious photo since 2008). One problem is that my DSLR outfit is heavy at 2.6kg, and if I use my powerchair it would tend to make me a fairly conspicuous target for the sticky-fingered brigade. I do – putting it in a way that won’t get me arrested every time I go out – have the means to protect myself, but really there’s no getting past the fact that I’m very ill, and very weak, and it’s best not to tempt providence.
So I bought a Canon SX30 IS bridge camera with a huge zoom, 24-840mm (as detailed here), and the maximum zoom is about what I’d get attaching my DSLR body to my scope, but without the bulk and the tripod. Even with a case and a flashgun (I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve needed one and not had one; most of the time the built-in flash is fine, but not always), it comes in at half the weight of my DSLR outfit.
So far, so good, and I had planned to put my powerchair in a taxi, and head off to Royden Park (53.363287,-3.13525 on Google Maps, for those of you who don’t live around here), to photograph the wildfowl and have a look at the walled garden.
Then it occurred to me that it had been raining pretty consistently for months, and the place would likely be muddy, which would cover my chair in crap and might result in a taxi driver telling me to bugger off instead of bringing me home – neither is particularly desirable. That left the question – can I do it on foot?
An obliging taxi driver could get me to within yards of the lake (though the road is for authorised vehicles only, it’s not gated, nor are any penalties posted), and from there it would be doable.
I’s have to use my crutches (both, not just the one I normally get by with, as my legs are very weak), which makes having anything hanging off my shoulder, like a camera case or bag, a bloody nuisance as it’ll bang against my left-hand crutch, and a photographers’ backpack is just too inconvenient (great for transporting gear, not so convenient when you want to get at it). The answer appears to be a sling pack, and I’ve picked up a new LowePro SlingShot 100AW for less than half price. For those unfamiliar with the concept, a sling pack rides on your back when not in use, but swings round in front to access the contents via a zipped hatch.
The bottom section takes my camera (it’ll also hold my full DSLR outfit, a bonus), while the top section, where a normal person might carry a waterproof and/or a snack (or more photo kit), will enable me to take along all my meds – just in case it all goes to hell and I wind up in hospital, though I’m hoping that if I take things very slowly, I’ll get away with it.
So, unless we get a sudden heatwave to dry the ground, I might take a chance.
I use a neckpod** which takes the weight and stabilises a camera very nicely, especially my Oly with the 70-300mm lens, but it’s almost as inconvenient to transport as a tripod, as it won’t fit inside the SlingShot (or the TLZ 55AW), so I’ll have to strap it to the outside. I’m hoping the IS system will take care of business at the long end of the Canon zoom, but I’m not overly confident, it’s asking a lot.
If you’re not a photographer, this is the long zoom problem. Consider a 100-yard stick (made from a substance that doesn’t bend and weighs almost nothing!), mounted on a pivot 3 inches from the end nearest you. You move the short end the tiniest, almost imperceptible, amount – the far end moves a foot! That’s how badly the tiniest camera movement can affect a long zoom (or even a long telephoto prime lens). (Pedant’s note: I know it’s not actually a foot, and I know there’s a formula for calculating exactly what it is – I don’t care – it’s just an illustration).
I was also, briefly, considering getting a bag big enough to take my cameras/lenses and laptop, but decided that my need to sit in a pub, looking at my pics, was nowhere near as important as keeping the weight down. And not looking a total arse!
I’d planned to go to the lake on Thursday or Friday of this week, but yesterday, Monday, appears to have been the sole sunny day, if the forecast is right. Tuesday and Wednesday are due to be cloudy but dry (and Tuesday is!), and Thursday we’re back to rain again so, in reality, I’m looking at next week. Rain permitting…
And then I thought, what the bloody hell am I thinking? Seriously, if I go to the pub, just walking to the Gents is a challenge – this is never going to happen – not on foot anyway.
But, god damn it, I’m going to try!