The Italian Incident: Update

In News & Stuff, The Italian Incident by David104 Comments

My new nemesis. Nightly we are engaged in a battle of wills. It’s not a battle I am winning. But I wanted an adventure when I set out this year. I wanted to learn new things and lean into the fear and while my adventure has changed, it hasn’t stopped. Because man, do I fear this damn thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ Zack Arias is currently planning a One Day Workshop on the light modifiers you can make from one bedpan. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m sitting upright for the first time in 2 weeks and while this won’t be a long update I thought it was about time I updated you.

The medical evacuation came on Thursday the 28th and by 7am I was being shuttled out of the hospital in Italy and onto my own Leer jet with enough meds to keep me happy and quiet. I had spectacular nurses and they took great care of me. 14+ hours later I was in ER at Ottawa Civic Hospital in the care of family and a medical team that spoke English. Fast forward to May 04, when after swelling had gone down and there was room in the OR schedule for me, they did a marathon 12-hour surgery. I think they spent 8 hours on the right ankle alone. I made a mess of that ankle and there are bone grafts and screws in the right foot and plates and screws in the left.

Surgery went well, though elevated heart rate pointed them to pulmonary embolism, which means I’ll be on blood thinners while i recover. My cracked pelvis will heal on its own with bedrest. My right wrist, inially thought broken, seems only sprained. I’ve no idea how long I’ll be in the Hospital in Ottawa. Eventually I’ll be released to recover at my family home out in the country, and that could be 3 months. Could be less, could be more.

In the mean time Jessie is in Atlanta waiting for me and one day, when I’m strong enough to drive her home, I’ll fly down and bring her back to Ontario which is now my home-base for a while.

Coming home was amazing. The health care here is truly remarkable and anyone who bitches about it hasn’t likely spent time in hospitals and clinics around the world. Even my medical bill in Italy, which will be covered by a good travel medical insurance policy, was only about $3000. I paid more than that for 4 hours in NYC Hospital in Queens and all I got was some Motrin. I’m not commenting on anyone’s system but ours, I’m just grateful beyond words that right now I can heal without though to fighting over bills or losing everything because of one accident.

My medical evacuation was covered by MedJet Assist who were absolute gods to have pulled off what they did for me, with such patience and professionalism, and a shocking lack of red tape or fine print. I will never travel anwhere, ever again, without coverage with them.

I won’t even bother telling you how much work this has been for Corwin, who though an extraordinarily skilled manager is the best friend everyone should be so blessed to have in their corner. Dude is my hero right now.

Lastly, another attempt to express my gratitude to you all. Through this all Corwin and I have had countless emails, tweets and comments expressing concern and support. I’ve honestly never in all my life felt so overwhelmed by attention and kindness. I’m truly humbled and grateful and please don’t fill the comments on this post with more of it because honest to God I feel like I’m going to burst, but thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚ From the bottom of my heart – thank you for being the community that you are.

I’ll keep you updated, and as things settle I’ll slow down with all this talk about bedpans and will pick up the thread on more interesting discussions we were having before I decided to jump off that damn wall. ๐Ÿ™‚

Again, you have my deepest thanks.


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

  2. Author

    Carlos – Thanks for the help, man, could not have done it without you guys! Your team was amazing. Truly amazing.

  3. I’m the one who help organize your flight back home. The one no one ever see’s kindaoff like charlie on Charlie’s Angel. We here at GLOBAL JEtCare are happy to hear you are doing better. Our med crew enjoyed transporting you back home also. Keep up the fight and make everyday better than today. God bless ROCK ON!!!!

  4. with your taste for adventure, you better just keep me on speed dial ๐Ÿ˜‰
    BTW, multitrauma patients are not supposed to be as happy as you were. You should be studied.
    I still giggle about the saline story….. If only I could share some of the better ones….maybe when I retire, because the world needs to know…..

  5. Author

    Thanks Tiffany. It was a pleasure being your patient. If you ever need to evacuate my sorry ass again, please let me know. I’m here for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Seriously, I’m grateful for all your help in getting me back home, and with as much laughter and bad-ass narcotics as possible. if you get some time, please send me a 12-pack of that special saline of yours. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Glad you are doing well. I love a happy ending ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. David, I don’t know you in person just through your photographs and books that expanded my mind and my vision.
    Today for the first time I visited your blog and I discover that your suffered an accident.
    Your post “Choose Your Risk” produce a deep impact on me, 11 years ago, with 27 years old, I left everithing and went to live and travel to Europe and it was the best experience in my life! (how much I miss those days!)
    As you said in light of everything, your words resonate ever deeper now.

    I don’t have any doubt about your recovering, you have a strong spirit and an incredible love and passion for life.

    Silvina (from Argentina)

  8. OK. No comments of concern or support. How about this:
    What did the nurse say when she discovered a rectal thermometer in her pocket? “Oh, no! Some @$$hole has my pen!”

  9. David — I’m truly amazed at how upbeat you are through all of this. And all I can say is best wishes for a full recovery.

  10. Thanks for the update David, glad that you are now truly on the road to recovery. I know that you will return to full health, but take this time to relax, reflect and heal…thats all important now…thinking of you!

  11. Glad you are OK David. This post made me think of my Mom. After fainting an ambulance brought her to the same Queens hospital I suspect you were. Laying for hours in pain and with her her calls unanswered, ever-feisty Mom called 911 for help. She apparently wasn’t the first. It went straight to the hellhole’s switchboard. Took me two days of threats and cutting red tape to get her to a decent hospital.

    I know you are starting to better understand the hackneyed cliche that time heals all wounds. That is true of physical as well as emotional ones.

    Get well, stay well and relish life’s curve balls. You don’t need to hit a home run to appreciate a good pitch…

  12. David,
    If you’d like Jessie sooner in Ottawa, I’d be happy to drive it up there for you. I just finished a year in Australia camping out of a Nissan X-Trail, so I’m pretty familiar with what you were doing with Jessie. I have abundant flexibility as I’m retired military so my schedule can be tailored to fit your needs.

  13. Now you’re in my neck o the woods – Ontario!!! Will be looking forward to seeing where all of this takes you, and still looking forward to the next book coming soon too! Nice bed pan comp. lol

  14. Hey David, don’t underestimate the astounding acoustic properties of the bedpan also – the amplification and resonance they provide to even the meekest sound defies the laws of physics. You may have to switch your DSLR over to video to really capture “vision and voice” ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Hey David, glad you made it safe and sound back onto Canadian soil. Sounds like a long road ahead for recovery, you really messed yourself up :-). I hope things go speedily well and that your family spoils you a bit.

    You are so right about our healthcare system, couldn’t agree more. Spent last year arguing with cancer and did all the treatments, scans, injections, etc and thank God it did not cost me for each thing. We would be living on the park bench now if it did!

    Take care!!

  16. I am so glad to hear that you are recovering! As an American who has lived in Italy for the last two years, I have a whole new appreciation for a different way of doing things with regards to healthcare. I’m glad that you have gotten the care you need without stress to you or your family about how to pay for it.

    Now, since you’ll be sitting a lot in the near future, does this mean that there are more books on the horizon? ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m a big fan of your writing on photography! I picked up Within the Frame a month ago and love it.

  17. the bedpan modify coupled with a cushy toilet seat as light ring might usher a new era in photography! best to ya!

  18. David, wish you all the best, you sound great…

  19. Bedpan Ring Light – That’s I whole image I don’t really need at lunchtime.

    (PixelatedImageLOG anyone?)

    ***Exits quickly stage left****

    (oh that came out wrong!!)

  20. Fine, I won’t comment about about great it is to hear how things are progressing and how much we all hope it continues to go well. Instead I’ll lodge a complaint that you haven’t blogged enough photography and what f/stop and camera I should use to shoot my next session… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  21. Dude, you’ve obviously got more than one angel looking out for you. I’m a believer that when someone is destined for important and great things, not even Death has a right to take you. You’ve made an undeniable change in the lives of so many people – whether they’ve embraced fear and dumped a crummy job for something they love (not just photography), or just thought a little more before snapping a photo. The ability to make a person stop and think changes who they are forever. It’s not Messianic (I wouldn’t be so bold to offend you with that), but you have proven to be something of a messenger to large community of people who tire of a constant rhetoric. At it’s core is your mantra “gear is good, vision is better”, but it goes beyond that, to something more spiritual and just a bit instinctive – the urge to be daring, embrace failure, and actually live our lives the way we’re supposed to.

    That’s important stuff, David, and that’s why you’re still here. You’re not done yet, and a higher power knows it.

  22. Glad to hear the humour hasn’t been knocked out of you by your accident – get well soon!

  23. David,
    Relieved your surgery went well and that your usual good cheer and positive outlook remain undiminished. The journey you started this year has taken unexpected turns but for someone with your fortitude, all will be well.
    A nod to the healing powers of arnica gel, for soreness, stiffness etc that perhaps you might use further down the road when/if the docs approve.
    Sending you wonderful wishes–

  24. So glad to hear how you are doing and that you are recovering well. Hope you get back on your feet soon.

  25. Thanks for the update. glad the surgery went well. your sense of humor is apparently unaware of what you are going through, it speaks volumes about your spirit. As for that bedpan, perhaps Jessie needs a hood ornament.

  26. Hi, I heard what happened to you from Zack, I am one of the few who can say I know what you are going though… I broke my pelvis, ribs, hand, pubic bone, shoulder and fractured my skull from a fall… I do believe things happen for a reason even bad things happen to good people, regardless of why this happened I know for a fact this will change you for the better… PT is the best, good luck with you recovery…

  27. David – glad to hear you’re doing better, and have such a positive attitude about it all. All the best for your recovery, and as always, you’re proving to be an absolutely inspiring force to all of the rest of us. Thanks for just being you.

  28. Glad to hear that you’re on the mend. You are very lucky to be Canadian, I thought of that when it became clear how much medical care you are going to need. Our American system is one reason I’m sticking with the corporate 9-5.
    It’s great that you get to go home and recuperate with family, that’s so much better than a hospital room.

  29. Just a random fan and unseen student wishing you a speedy recovery. Sounds like quite a fall you took. Your photograph with this post is just exactly what I would expect had i thought about it! The experience told without words. Keep us informed.

  30. Good to hear of your improvement, it wont be long and you’ll be back in action. Your sense of humor is your greatest gift.

    Hang in there man, am praying for your speedy recovery.

  31. Thanks for taking the time to write the update – it’s always good to read what you write. Thanks for continuing to teach and share your perspective on life in the midst of your own pain and suffering. You have so many good things to teach us, even/especially while you’re stuck in a hospital bed. Keep up the good teaching! Your hospital room is your temporary classroom and us fellow pilgrims scattered around the world have much to learn.

  32. As with many others, you have so changed my trajectory as a photographer in such a positive, life changing way that posting, praying and encouraging you is the least we can do!! Can’t wait to see what God teaches you during this tough time (and all the e-books you will write!)

  33. I’m amazed at how well you seem to be handling this all, I’m sure I’d be a big baby given what you were dealt. Be well, heal fast!

  34. I was almost holding my breath waiting to hear from you after surgery. Glad things went well. Glad you are able to sit up now. Take it one day at a time and celebrate the triumphs, no matter how small. Recovery can be slow going with foot injuries but you’ll be back out there before you know it. I have had bone grafts and screws in my foot, too, so I feel ya’. You have been such a wonderful inspiration to so many with your incredible photographic talent, and I hope that collectively your followers and students can give back a little of your own inspiration to get through this hurdle in your life. Try to stay positive no matter how tough it seems at the moment because things will greatly improve over time.

    Hang in there and be well.


  35. David – about a year ago I somehow found your blog or books or both. Since then I have been obsessed with thinking about vision. I loved the way you described in one of your books your approach of arriving at a place and listing all the emotions and ideas that the place stirs. Then, and only then, going off to capture those ideas. I can only imagine that your images and ideas of bedpans and light modifiers are the result of, what must be for you, this type of ingrained behavior. As you are humbled by the out pouring of support from your community, we are grateful for what you give to us.

    Now please – stay off those physical walls while you continue to climb those mental ones.


  36. I was so shocked when I read about your incident. I recently read your book, Within the frame, and enjoyed it enormously. I wish you a very quick recovery and best of health.

  37. Oops – my daughter reached over my laptop ajd the above is the result of that! Anyway – it would be a fun challenge!

  38. Ok, @Rick, bedpan as a ringlight? Fantastic idea, for shits and giggles I may have to purchase a metal bedpan (a new on of course) juf

  39. I heard whispers that Jessie is eying up that bedpan for some kind of secondary, emergency gas tank.
    All the best in your recovery

  40. I can only speak for myself but suspect that many, like me, have benefitted from your encouragement and positive attitude. So it is too small a repayment to share our encouragement and support as you go down this unexpected side-trip on your life journey. Maybe you will come up with a side project in the process?

    It’s rad and a testament to what a great guy you are that you interrupt your status updates on Twitter with notes about others who face longer recoveries.

    Wishing you a fast return to normal toilets, LOL!

  41. David,
    Never forget: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

    good luck from DC my friend.

  42. ha! humor will take you through a few rough spots. and friends and family will help with the rest. still looking forward to my workshop,

  43. Good news. Get well mate.
    What happened to the nikon you were shooting BTW ? I mean, those things are advertised as being tough as nails (or as my mother in law for that matter). If it survived the fall, you might want to tell nikon about it ๐Ÿ™‚

  44. Thanks for the update – keep laughing, and you can handle anything. I echo your sentiments (and those of other commenters here) on our great Canadian healthcare system. We wouldn’t want it any other way, eh? I’m sure this is a special mother’s day for your Mum, knowing that she could have lost you. Take care!

  45. terrific:). glad you are home, close to home and recovering with sense of humour intact if not your ankle…

  46. Get well soon! We, Canadians often bitch about the system but really we have the best healthcare we can possible get in this country. You don’t realize it until something goes terribly wrong. Last winter, I broke my kneecap in half due to slip and fall. They put my patella back together with pins and wires and now, three months later I am walking almost like nothing happened. I imagine you will need a lot physiotherapy like I did, but you will be on your feet soon. You will need have plenty of patience and will (along with some good pain killers) but you will make a full recovery. Take one day at the time… Good luck!

  47. HI David, glad to here things are on the improve. We missed you in Venice ๐Ÿ™ but tried to stay i the WTF spirit.

  48. hey david, great to you see you on the road to recovery and your humour intact. Wish you a speedy recovery and may you be rid of this sort of pan-o-rama soon. cheers from India.

  49. So happy to hear you didn’y lose your sense of humour! Can’t wait to see the many uses for bedpans…(jk!)
    Stay strong and have happy healthy healing.
    In Christ.

  50. and for photographers, I always thought ‘panning’ meant something else altogether!

    rest up dude ๐Ÿ™‚ … and imagine all the great books you’ll be able to catch up on!

  51. Glad you are doing better after surgery. I can really understand what you say in your post…I am an RN in the US for 25+ years(our health care system is horrid and horrifically expensive), have worked as a flight nurse and do volunteer work in Asia, so know a bit about the need for travel insurance and medical evacuation. Also, I have been home caring for my wife and blog partner who is healing from being hit as a pedestrian by a drunk, and hit and run, driver. She is just walking a few steps after eight weeks in a wheelchair….(knee and ankle surgery)….it will be a long recovery for her…and you. But, hang in there….and look ahead, not over your shoulder…the past is past. Your view of the world will be much closer for a while…but you still have great vision.

  52. Thanks for the update. I am kicking myself that I did not take you up on your offer for coffee last summer in Yaletown. Hope you make Vancouver your home again. I can attest to our medical having gone through two cancers and not paying a cent and still not paying for CT scans every three months.
    Keep that positive attitude David. And thanks for giving me the Vision..

  53. Thanks for the update…..wishing you an even speedier recovery and to be home soon.

  54. Don’t mock the bedpan. They get a bad rap but in the end you’ll be glad it’s there. No pun intended. Sending good thoughts your way.

  55. You know we nurses only save the cold metal ones for the patients we love – the plastic ones are for the others ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad to hear you’re progressing well. Keep wiggling those toes!

  56. Thanks for the update. We wish you well as you go through the highs and lows of recovery!

  57. If you want Jessie sooner than later, I can always drive it up for ya. I kinda need to visit IKEA in ALT, anyways.

    (doesn’t even cost $100 to fly back, so…)

  58. Stop being a pita and gushing and hurry up and recover, finished all your books and am bloody bored now ๐Ÿ˜‰

  59. Sign me up for Zack’s bedpan light modifier workshop! He’s been in my head since last weekend anyway. ๐Ÿ™‚ you have the best attitude of anyone I know (or don’t know). I’m glad for the update, I was wondering about all of the logistics of getting you back here. So glad you’ve got an excellent health care system to get you through this.

  60. All I have to say is bedpan beats catheter my friend, aye? I was so thrilled when they took my cath out on Friday…so uncomfortable. And hey,bedpan lighting? SWEET! Can’t do that with a catheter! ๐Ÿ™‚

  61. Sounds like this will be an insanely challenging, engaging and fascinating year for you, David. You will have some very difficult days in the ‘new normal’… but it is what it is… ‘good’ and ‘bad’. You just have to transition from this one day at a time in your healing process.

    P.S. Next time you may want to use a reflector on the bedpan to maximize the natural light better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. David, it is sometimes hard to see the good in things that happen but the truth is there is always good. everything happens in the right time and for a reason. I’m sure you’ll be able to find the bright side of this incident and come out of it strong and ready for new adventures. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Sephi

  63. I thank all that’s good for your terrific attitude. What a rough hand you’ve been dealt, and yet, I know you will come out on the other side with grace and joy and yet another wonderful perspective on things that I hope you will feel compelled to share. Your vision is important – you say that all the time – and I maintain that it’s just as important – even more so – at times of waiting and healing.
    So please mend well, and I wish you even more strength than you had before.

  64. I know that was NOT the adventure you were looking for this year, but I hope it will just be a bump in the road (a rather big bump I guess) and you will be able to continue your journey after your recovery!

  65. I’m so happy to hear you are doing well. It’s interesting to think about this in the context of the conversation we had over lunch in New Orleans. We really don’t know how much time we have left and we need to live life to the fullest and stop waiting for the right time to take that trip or pursue that dream. Thank you for being an inspiration to us all.

  66. I totally echo your “Yay Canadian Health Care” – so glad you’re getting rest and good care and are healing – still praying for you here. Hoping you T1 is behaving nicely too!

  67. Sign me up for Zack’s one-bedpan-light class!!! How great that you can have a sense of humor through all this. That’s what keeps us going – humor! All the best to you as you continue to heal.

  68. Glad to hear you’re on the mend, one day at a time is the key. Keep us posted will you.

  69. Ok, no more well wishes. But David, could you tell us more about the bedpan light modifiers or ask Zack if Chase will let him do this workshop on “Creative Live”?

  70. Nice to hear that you’re on the right way. Wish you all the best for the next months. I hope that everything will be fine at the end of all of that !!!

    all the best

  71. The visuals of that future Zack Arias workshop made me laugh out loud. I have been happy to read that your sense of humour is still strong. I’ll be thinking of you as I head out on a 3-week trip tomorrow and every time I put eye to viewfinder I’ll ask myself “What would David do?”
    Be well.

  72. We’re going to use you, you know, here in the US, as an example of good medical care. Just fair warning! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Glad to see you’re recovering well, sad to have missed you in Texas (was hoping for a Dallas stop!). Prayers and chants and well-wishes coming your way….

  73. ๐Ÿ™‚ <— (That's me "not commenting" on how we all care about you and are happy you're home, fixed and safely healing.)

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