May 18 Update

In News & Stuff, The Italian Incident, Travel by David74 Comments

My collection of screws and plates. Click the image for a closer look.

This is just a quick update. I’m nearing 2 weeks post-up, and am nearing 4 weeks since the accident. The days are getting better, my mind is less foggy now that my pain meds have been significantly reduced, and each day contains small victories. I’m slowing down, learning to find meaning and joy in the moments that might otherwise feel like nothing more than a string of boring seconds assembling themselves into boring minutes and unending hours.Β  The image above is my recent set of scans. Feels like one of my surgeons finally found a place for all those left over bits from the IKEA boxes and just dumped them in.

Corwin flew out on Monday and we’re spending the days working and talking and catching him up to speed on my new dreams – really old dreams that have had to become somewhat more flexible than I imagined.

Flowers and cards, books and videos keep showing up, gifts from people, many of whom I really don’t know and as my feet heal I feel my heart changing too. Still overwhelmed, it’s stretching to accomodate the surplus. For all the unexpectedness of this, the setbacks, the change of plans, and the pain, I wouldn’t do this differently. I’m losing weight in ways I’d rather not, my hair is shaggy, and I’ve long stretches of boredom. I’m limited to cafeteria food. I still pee in a bottle and wrestle with a bedpan most of the time. But I’m also truly and unexpectedly happy.

One of the most unexpected aspects of this entire thing was my evacuation from Italy. Since I started travelling I’ve held a much-valued membership with MedJet Assist. I pay something like $200/year for my policy and it’s beautifully simple: if I am hospitalized over 150 miles from my home, they come get me and fly me to any hospital in the world. No fine print. So on the eve of day 4, when my two pilots and my nurses, Tiffany and James, came into my room I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see anyone. That was at midnight. They assessed me, medicated me, and said goodnight to me. 6 hours later I was on my way to a Leer jet at Pisa airport. They were incredible. Gentle, professional, extremely capable, and – for the first time since I fell – I was in the care of people who spoke English, kept me in the loop, managed my pain and laughed with me. They are my new heroes, and when I last saw them they were leaving me at the Ottawa Civic Hospital and giving my mother a hug. I don’t know how I might otherwise have traveled home. I can’t imagine what it might have cost me. If you travel at all, let me put in my strong recommendation that you make a MedJet Assist evacuation policy a non-negotiable necessity. I always imagined I’d never use it, and if I did it would be from some near fatal gastro disease picked up in the Congo or something. I never imagined I’d call them to pick my broken body up in Tuscany. MedJet Assist is one of the most positive customer-service experiences of my life and I’m deeply grateful to them. If I could buy a lifetime membership right now I would.

More information on MedJet Assist HERE.


  1. Pingback: e-bog: A deeper Frame, af David duChemin | Jesper Vang SkΓ¦rbΓ¦k Jensen – Bloggen

  2. I had just finished 3 of your books, when I decided to visit your website for the first time. When I did, the first thing I read about is your accident, it had just been reported about on another blog.
    Your courage in the following period has stunned me, and it fundates all your statements in your books. How weird it may seem, I am somewhat inspired by your accident, well.. not your accident but your reaction to it.
    My mother died the sixth of may, after a four month time in hospital. She lived in our house and were very close to my kids and us. It has been a tough year and it all threatens my strong desire to evolv my photography and writing. The point is that your way of handling your situation, has inspired me to continue to pursue my photographic vision.
    I am very gratefull for that, and I wish you all well and complete recovery.

  3. Sweet! I have x-rays on 6/2, I’ll get to see my screws and rods in my back. I think it’s going to freak me out the first time I see the screws and rods…but whatever it takes to make me feel better! So I will have a bionic back, while you have bionic feet! πŸ˜‰

  4. Hi David
    I’m so glad to see all your positive feelings. Hope you will get well soon… πŸ™‚

  5. David,
    The Irish have a saying, ” A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet.” I”ve been a stranger, but from the recent moment I first began to read your thoughts, advice, meanderings, philosopical pearls of wisdom and rants, I’ve felt like you are that friend. I concur with what you say; you say what I feel and believe; but so much better than I can express it myself. I am sorry you felt it necessary to demonstrate so dramatically why we should live life NOW. Yes, Life is short; I set that topic as an essay for my Chinese students just after the 2008 Sechuan earthquake. They surprised and moved me with their understanding and engagement. One sent me a link to your article a couple of weeks ago and I read, then immediately forwarded it to all of those classes. I have extracted and pasted a paragraph from “Life is short” to my Skype profile message. (with credit) having decided that you are one to follow. Then I read of your fall. Mate, we believed you; read the feedback; you didn’t have to reinforce the message. (though we are now all true believers in travel insurance; I’m hoping Australia has a guardian as good as Medjet Assist). Thank you David, for sharing your wisdom, humour and love wsith us. You have the respect, support and prayers of many + one ex-stranger. Follow the wing-walkers motto, “Don’t let go of that grip till you’ve got another” We need people like you David. Get well.

  6. David: So glad you are getting some time to reflect. Hard to take the time in “normal” life, whatever that is. I still subscribe to “everything and everyone happens in my life for a reason.” Love the recommendation and as I start to venture out, I will definitely make sure this is in place. Take care and heal well. So grateful you are alive and with family and friends – best medicine on earth.

  7. James – We are all grateful for your dragging his crippled ass home. Thank you!.

  8. Author

    James! Ladies and gentleman, James is one-half of the dynamic duo that pulled my crippled ass out of Tuscany and dragged me home. Tiffany was the other and the two of them are my new heroes.

    Thanks for checking in, James. I think of you guys often and remain more grateful than I can express. Thank you!

  9. hahaha! At least you’re important for being Ernest! ;c) So now we find the real reason for your accident: Did you try to outrun the tortoise after a nap that went longer than expected? hehe! Stupid joke, I know. Anyways, quite an interesting name you got, David! Sure puts you up there with other interesting people! ;c)
    And glad your operations went well!

  10. great to see you quite better david!
    i really hope you’ll come back italy soon.. i mean as soon as possible once you’ll be BRAND NEW!
    Take care David!

  11. Duncan, you don’t know the half of it. My full name is David Ernest Hare DuChemin. Now you know. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the laugh, buddy. πŸ™‚

  12. I could (and should) do a profound heartfelt best wishes and speedy recovery comment. But I’m actually gonna go the pre-school route;

    “David “Ernest” duChemin! Pfffff-bwahahaha! You’ve got a funny middle name man! ROFL!”

    Now, where did you say you left Jessie?

  13. Thanks all right – for a long time you can blame it on the meds……

  14. Author

    Hmm, re-reading that last comment I wonder if I might not have worded things just a little better. Oops. πŸ™‚

  15. Author

    Eli, if this incident proves anything, it’s that my screws are not all in the right place. But as far as loose screws, it’s nice to be in good company. πŸ™‚

  16. Glad to hear things are starting to look up for you. If I ever have the chance to start traveling on even a semi-regular basis, I’ll have to check out MedJet Assist. Thanks for the tip.

    I originally heard about your accident over on TPN and have started following your blog since then. So, at least in a little way, your accident has helped me, as I like your insights and even your rants! Take care and keep healing!

  17. Glad to hear you are using your unexpected downtime to plan the future and catch up in the present.

    Keep healing and keep up the good spirits.

  18. David, you should tell the X-ray guys that their EXIF data are all over the place…what R16 & L16…only F16…will see you hopping around next year in Italy. Take care.

  19. Godspeed on the recovery and upcoming therapy. Your wonderful attitude will help.

    Maybe this opens an unexpected door for you. Your open mind will see it.

    Forgot to mention in my post from “No Such Thing as Better” that you are one of those select pros that I follow and learn from.

    All the best and try not to mix up the rine bottle from the apple juice.

  20. You thought you were screwed before… Now look at you!

    Glad you’re feeling better.


  21. I’m very glad te hear that things get beter with you. But you must know that it still is a job for them, and their are not emotional envolved.
    Good luck David.
    Ronald Abrahams ICU-nurse and photographer.

  22. Nice screws…
    So how do we send you things?
    I understand you dont want to put the address on the website, you have my email from the login so send the address and i will have something going your way

  23. Pingback: Today’s Shared Links for May 18, 2011 – Chuqui 3.0

  24. David ~

    You have provided us with possibly a lifesaving example and tip. I’m signing up for the family policy, that is a deal that can’t be under estimated for those that travel, especially abroad.

    PS – in the business, we call your injuries “jumper’s feet” although usually associated with parachute accidents, not photographers!

  25. So glad to see you are doing better David {physically and emotionally}. Those x/r’s look all too familiar to me, as I too had Ikea left overs {that’s hilarious}. I know exactly how you feel, but the human body is an amazing thing and the healing process has begun! It is not easy yet, but with your determination and spirit, you will be past this and on to something else that is simply amazing, just like you! Thanks for the tip about Medjet Assist, what a great service.

  26. yowza! pains me to look at- theres no symmetry or motif nuances in that pin pattern at all! you’ll undoubtedly be on a first name basis with the american TSA in no time. get well soon David- Nate Parker.

  27. Very good advice on MedJet, my uncle had to be flown out of costa rica after being attacked, it cost him $26,000 and had to paid upfront before they flew him back to the states, my other uncle had to wire the money and his health insurance would not pay a cent of it.

    I’m glad your spirits are up David, you’re truly an inspiration. Get well brother.

  28. thanks for keeping us involved. I recently had some back surgery. Not minor stuff, but nothing like what you are enduring. You’ve helped me keep my perspective. Thanks for that. And thanks for the Medjet Assist advice. They are about to get a new customer.

  29. Smiling inside and out for you David. Thank you for the updates on your progress. The Ikea comment made me laugh out loud. Soo happy you had the MedJet Team on your side when you needed them most! Keep rockin your recovery. πŸ™‚

  30. Thanks for the tip. I almost had a fall in China and my BFF did have a fall (but not nearly as serious as yours) so we’ll both look into MedJet Assist.

    The IKEA reference is classic. LOL. Glad to see you have a sense of humor despite such difficulty. I love that you are able to find happiness amidst this. That is really hard. Really hard.

    I wish you continued recovery. Thanks for sharing your story.

  31. I’m so glad you’re healing and feeling more cheerful, David! I suspect that along with the healing that is taking place, the reduction in the pain meds has also helped… my experience the depression that comes as they wear off “almost” makes the benefit not worth it!
    We have subscribed to MedJet assist for several years–short term for each trip we take, as we don’t spend our year traveling–ever since a friend told us a horror story about having to get an ailing parent home to the States from Galapagos, to the tune of over $30,000!! Her family has had an annual membership to MedJet Assist ever since, and her story makes membership a given for us.
    Keep healing!!

  32. From your X-rays, you really comminuted your talus and calcaneus, and your Docs did a wonderful job of getting those mini pieces back in position.
    That was some fall!!
    Great that you had really talented Orthopods taking care of you.
    When you are able to wt-bear you will be so happy. Wishing you continued uncomplicated recovery.

  33. OK, this brings back memories (though mine was only 10 day in the hospital and 2 screws in my tibia) and I can’t help but share this arcane tidbit of medical terminology – I saw my records later and found they had given me a “screw fixation”.

    I was SO bored with only 10 days – my first time away from home, at college, missed my friends terribly – how wonderful to at least have access to friends via the web now.

    I hope you are getting some massages – that and food were the best – and visits. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  34. with screws like that, get ready to be a frequest visitor to that secret chamber at airport security!!!

  35. Hello David,
    this is the first time ever since I started reading your posts – must be for three years now – that I am not at all inspired by the photograph you use ;-). Never ever I want to need beeing screwed like this. Fine that you feel better and have small victories.

    Cheers, Jens

  36. wow, your collection of screws is really impressive. As well as your attitude to these days you spend in the hospital actually. Hold on David πŸ™‚ I am sure it will be ok πŸ™‚

  37. David,
    I am impressed; that’s alot of pins and screws – and from the photo they look like they are just thrown in there… I had to laugh about your IKEA-joke πŸ™‚
    I am glad to read that you are getting better, that you have reduced your pain-meds says alot – good luck getting up and around. I hope someone will bring you some nice homecoocked food, cafeteria food is boring after awhile (but easy to get out in the bedpan)… πŸ˜‰
    I love that you recomend MedJet! We have something similare in my country, and I have been a member since I became a nurse – but as you – I am sure I will never get the use of them πŸ™‚
    Best wishes – Trine

  38. Looking at the images I am encouraged. I have seen many x-rays with a larger collection of parts (if you can believe it) in my previous line of work. Following the accident and recovery I have been in Worst Case Scenario mode (having seen it play out more times than I can count) with regards to the recovery process.
    Here is to some amazing healing and rehabilitation and a good chance at resuming “normal” ambulation afterwards!
    So encouraged to see that your spirits are lifted, especially after the last few posts. It is just amazing to read through the other comments and see what an awesome community we are all part of. I am proud of everyone’s awesome and inspiring comments, and the gifts and all that. We will need to keep that up for a while, recovery is a long road.

  39. Author

    @Noel – No, I was just guestimating. I pay for the two-year membership so I think it works out a little cheaper.

  40. Keep up the good attitude man. That’s the hardest and most important part.

    Thanks for the updates. It must be odd living your life in public, especially since it’s a relatively small circle with really passionate people.

    Heal up, and thanks for the tip about MedJet. Really good to know about.

    Keep it up man. Looking forward to the new book.

  41. So did MedJet Assist just increase their annual membership to $250 just after your endorsement? Heal fast!

  42. “We can rebuild him”…did I just date myself? Be well(er)

  43. Thanks for the update! Makes my rods and screws in my back look high tech compared to your feet. Get better real soon.

  44. wow… won’t airport security be fun for you now! very impressive! glad to hear you so upbeat and positive. keep chugging!

  45. Glad to hear you’re finding those small victories along the road to recovery David, and thanks for sharing the info on MedJet.

    It’s often hard to decide on insurance, but this sounds like a sure thing (kinda like taking the SPOT along on a climb).

  46. I know vision is better. But you have some interesting gear there. I also see some sponsorship opportunities there. Maybe you could hook up with the medical supplier for those parts. Stick a logo/link on your blog here. I’m sure there’s and angle. Seriously, you are in our prayers for a speedy as possible recovery.

  47. Gives the phrase “you’re screwed” a whole new meaning doesn’t it πŸ™‚
    Glad to see a brighter glimpse in your post and with each passing day I hope it continues to get a little easier. Sending you well wishes.

  48. Hey David,

    Been keeping up with your progress. So sorry that this has happened, but really appreciating what you’re learning and how you’re growing through it.

    We’re headed to Kenya for a year, and I really appreciate the tip re: Medjet Assist. Sounds great. I hink we’ll get the family package.

    Hoping for a speedy recovery so that you can get back to the things you love.


  49. You are going to have fun with the TSA the next time you travel to one of your exotic locations by air…which I hope is soon!

  50. Thinking about Freeman Patterson’s exercise of shooting in an assigned limited space such as a few sq ft in a yard or on a house porch. Maybe I am fabricating details but the gist is to apply limitations in a familiar locale in an attempt to see the world around you in new ways.

    So I can’t help but wonder what you would shoot each day with your phone camera from your hospital bed? Hmmm..a challenge–bed pans, blood pressure cuffs, & needles?

    Glad to hear you are on the mend and looking for joy in the now.


  51. Wow. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen so many parts in 1 x-ray….I think we should add bionic man to your resume πŸ˜‰

  52. Thanks for the update David! Glad to hear that you are doing better (emotionally and physically). And thanks for the MedJet tip!

  53. Glad to hear you start on the healing process after surviving such a serious fall. Wishing you a speedy and full recovery!

  54. Thanks for the MedJet tip. I see your scans and I am amazed at the human body and its ability to heal. Full and speedy recovery wishes are wending their way to you in Ottawa.

  55. Love the leftover Ikea hardware reference. Hilarious! It pretty much looks like that in there. What a blessing to have that MedJet Assist policy. Nice ti NOT have to worry about something that could’ve been so much more stressful.

  56. David

    I admire your ability to always find the silver lining in what could be a really bad situation. Glad to hear you are feeling better bit by bit each day.

    Keep smiling!


  57. Wow David… beautiful collection of pins and screws you have there. But sounds like recovery is doing more than just strengthening your joints, sounds like it’s strengthening perhaps even more important things within. Keep your chin up guy. And bravo to the MedJet folks.

  58. Thanks for the updates and glad you are on the upswing. The mischievous part of me wants to crack a joke about them grafting ms grotto parts into your feet. But I won’t.

  59. Checking them out now, thanks for the tip. I fully expect to see your face and story on their website in the future!

    Keep the faith bro.

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