As you know, I don’t get personal on my blog, facebook or anywhere else really.

I’m all about photography and putting photography forward, however, today’s blog post is going to be personal.

July 2011 I had noticed the summer months living in Colorado were much like living in MN. It was always humid and hot and I had a dry  mouth. I clowned and said I looked like Tyrone the Crack head as my lips were always dry and chapped. I was teaching an outdoor workshop and drank six bottles of water with in a half hour. Darn humid days!

August came and it was still hot and humid and nasty. I tend to sleep during hot humid days so I increased my sleeping just to not be so hot. I also noticed that a lot of people started to get on my nerves more and more. I developed a “zero tolerance” attitude and decided to cut people off that angered me. This seemed fair. August and much of September was much of the same, sleeping and irritation and hostility. I had severed ties with long standing clients and managed to get a few new ones but couldn’t figure out why so many people were being morons all of a sudden. September was much of the same.

October came and I just started getting sick. Really, really sick. I had no energy so I slept about 12-13 hours a day. Anyone who knows me knows that I sleep about five hours per day, anything more than seven hours and I’m too tired to think. I also decided to try new drinks and sodas. As a result, I found myself going to the bathroom more and more through out the night which as a result, I slept more hours and taking more naps through out the day. Middle of October came and  I tried even more drinks and realized that I had to get more sleep. I spoke to some models and set up a few workshops and went on with life. One day I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed my skin was literally sagging on my bones. About a year prior I had cut out all sugar cola’s and drank more water. After looking at myself and seeing that I lost about 100lbs in about three weeks, I knew I not only had cancer, but was dying from it. I began to write notes to my children apologizing for not being able to see them graduate and grow up and get married. I apologized to my wife for leaving her to raise the kids by herself and left all my passwords and instructions on what to do with the computers and things like that. October 23rd 2011 was a Sunday. Earlier in the day I had done two shoots, one was a shoot for a model for her own pay site, another was a test shoot with Jessica for a workshop. By this time I was sleeping 22 hours a day and didn’t remember much of anything. The following morning I was going to go to the Dr.’s to get final word that I was dying. I didn’t want a big deal to be made from it, so I was going to go by myself. That night was terrible as my leg kept cramping and hurting big time.

October 24th, 2011 my wife woke me up at 0858 and told me she made an emergency doctors appointment for me that day. It was at 0930 so I needed to get dressed so we could go. I was angry as I wanted to do this by myself, but I wasn’t able to stay awake long enough to drive to the dr and she was going to find out anyway. I got a shower and we went to the doctors. On the way I was still sleepy so I decided to take a little nap. My wife said “SIT UP!  If you keep acting like this, they’re going to admit you to the hospital!” The doctor looked at me right away and said “Wow. Oh man, I think I know what is going on!” Here it is, cancer. Damn you The cancer! The doc told me to go pee in a cup. I did and went back to the room and waited. I slept sitting up lol. He came back in and said “Jay, I believe you have diabetes you need to get to the E.R. NOW!” I said asked if it wasn’t cancer he said I had major key-tones in my urine and needed to get to the hospital asap. He asked my wife which hospital she was taking me to or if he needed to call an ambulance to take me. She said she’d take me to the E.R. and he told her it had to be done NOW. I wanted to get something to eat to which he said if I didn’t check in to the E.R. with in 45 minutes, they’d send someone to my home to get me. Wife panicked. We get to the E.R. and I get checked in. There were six little old ladies there and the E.R. doc came in to my admitting station and told the nurse to send me back now. I protested and said there were older women out there, they go before me, he looked at me and left. I went back into the waiting room and about 10 minutes later they came with a wheelchair. Great, another few minutes to sleep. They put me in the waiting room and started an I.V.. Great! more time to sleep. The doctor came back in multiple times waking me up. I started to get irritated with so many visits. He said “You are diabetic and will be admitted to the hospital.” I always wanted to stay overnight in a hospital, but not like this. He left and came back, woke me and said “We ran your HbA1C test and it was 29.” I figured so fricken what until he said “The average human is 6.0-6.5. You tested off the charts.” I said “I’ve FINALLY aced a test!” He said “Not a test to ace dummy. You are what we call ‘Walking dead’. Technically, you’re dead” That kinda threw me, hearing that I’m dead was freaky. That explained why I was sleeping so much. Doc said I was sleeping so much because my body was preparing to just finally sleep forever.


I go up to the I.C.U. and I’m there for five days. It is confirmed that I am diabetic and everyone tells me this is life altering. The first day I was stuck every 2 hours on the hour for blood draws. I HATED needles and have always been deathly afraid of them. I was poked every two hours on the hour for the first three days. I didn’t want my kids to come see me because I didn’t want them to see me in the hospital but toward the end they snuck in. The Thursday all four came to see me and by this time I was up walking around. I walked them to the door and my Five year old said “Come on Daddy! Let’s go home!” I told her I couldn’t leave and she got the hugest tears in her eyes. Broke my heart. Friday I left around noon and was the most afraid I had ever been. I gotten zero info on what to do, only told I couldn’t eat food. I got insulin in a vial and some needles and told to have an appointment in two weeks with the doctor. What the hell? two weeks? No info? No food? What?

The doctors appointment came and the question of the day was am I a type1 or type2 diabetic. If I’m type2 I can stop injecting insulin and just exercise and eat right. Type1 I have to have insulin and stick myself with needles. The doctor had ZERO bedside manners and was more interested in typing into his computer, than dealing with me. I asked him if I were type1 or 2 and he said “Wait! I’m getting there!” At the end of it all he said “I think you’re a type1 so you will need insulin for the rest of your life would you like a pen or vials?”


Wait, what? Vials? Pens? what? I said I would stick with the vials since that’s what I had. He retested me as he felt I was type2 being I am overweight. I called for two weeks and only got voicemail. His nurse finally called me back and said I was type1 but they would check me in three weeks to make sure. I found a new doctor and she ran tests that confirmed I am a type1.

I’ve had to make major changes to my eating habits and how I live. I dislike talking about it for the fact that as soon as most hear I’m diabetic, they assume I’m type2 because of my weight. No, I’m a type1 my pancreas died. Today, I live because of an insulin pump that gives me insulin through out the day every day. I have to take large amounts of insulin for the food I eat or I end up in the hospital again. Every day is a new day and I have good days and bad days. Apparently this is a hormonal disease which explains why I now cry at movies!

To bring this all back to photography, every workshop and client shoot I do moving forward, I donate no less than 20% of income to the JRDF.

Thanks for reading this personal story. No more personal stories for me! But don’t forget, November is National diabetes month so I may change some things for that ;)

Originally posted 10/24/2012

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