At Heart

COVID-19 Test

My experience inside the hospital at the height of the Corona virus.

At 61, I believed I was in decent shape. On Thursday evening, April 10th, I felt an unusual tightening in my chest. It felt like a lump down in my throat that wouldn’t go away. Didn’t think much of it other then indigestion, took some antacid and went to bed. The next morning, went to work in my home office and the lump in my throat was still there. This time, it felt like pressure or something squeezing in on my chest. Nothing terrible, but enough to make me stop working and search Google for the cause of the symptom. I had an inkling it could be heart related, so I searched for heart ailment symptoms, and what I found was eye opening.

I was most likely having a heart attack.

By that time, the pressure and discomfort was increasing. I knew it was serious, I was in trouble and I called for my wife and family. Their worry was clear, 911 was called and we waited for the ambulance. Breathing was getting more difficult.

In moments, the ambulance arrived. My memory isn’t exactly clear, but I recall getting to the stretcher myself with some assistance, loaded into the ambulance and off to the 15 minute ride to the hospital.

Of all of these ^ volunteers, I don’t know which ones were on the case when they got the call, but they were excellent. By now, I was in a fair amount of distress. The pressure on my chest was heavy and breathing was even more difficult. They gave me oxygen and nitroglycerine under my tongue, explaining to me clearly what it does and why they are giving it. Nitro opens the blood vessels to increase blood flow. It’s administered by a short spray, in this case, lingually, under the tongue. It didn’t seem to do anything, so they gave me another… then two more for a total of four. They may have given me an aspirin, but I can’t recall. By that time, we reached Valley hospital and my blood pressure was dropping. Feeling dizzy, perspiring heavily, I was brought into the ER.

I’m unsure what happened next, but needed to be screened for the Corona virus. I remember being asked for permission-to-test, and I agreed. Swabbed, deep into the nasal cavity, which made me wince. Uncomfortable, painful and fortunately over quickly, then wheeled into a waiting area in the ER.

4th floor, Valley Hospital, Coronary Floor

I remember being admitted and taken to a clean, private room. An ER doctor informed me I had a heart attack and I’ll need more tests. I expressed concern about exposure to the virus, but was reassured all precautions would be taken. All hospital personnel were gowned, masked with face shields and gloved.

I couldn’t help thinking, if the heart attack doesn’t get me, the virus will.

I asked again about my safety and was told there’s no guarantee. In my favor, the 4th floor, the coronary floor is a non-COVID floor. An ER attendant informed me I was COVID negative.

A CT and EKG was next. The CT scan was tougher. You are slid into a cylinder that looks like a machine out of Star Trek. There are two icons “Breath-In” and “Breath-Out” that instruct you in a computerized voice, as the technicians operate the machine from behind a wall. It’s claustrophobic and seems to take forever, then taken back to my room. (Not the room in photo above). Shortly after, I was transferred to a different room (see above).

A CT scanner

Troponin
Or “Trop” is an enzyme that shows up in the blood after the heart muscle is damaged from a heart attack. It’s caused by muscle breakdown, and can also show up after you over exert yourself, not necessarily from a heart attack. A blood test for “Trop”, and an EKG and a CT scan are needed in combination to identify a heart incident.

It was confirmed, I had a mild heart attack.

Happy Easter
Heart Monitor, the leads kept falling off!
As medications were prescribed, they’re added to my portal
IV
Blood tests. My arm became black and blue and very sore.

One of the medications is administered by injection into the stomach. It’s a blood thinner. This one hurt the most, and I developed a large black and blue spot. I’ll spare you the photo!

Can you identify this food?

The regular food service is closed on weekends, so you get what you get. This one was a surprise. I didn’t eat it.

Meeting Doctor B.

Since it was Easter weekend, I had to wait until Monday for the cardiologist. I was informed, he was on top of everything, despite seeing him briefly once and that I will be having Angioplasty to install a stent. Dr. Navin Budhwani, a highly regarded catheter-ist, cardiac specialist will be performing the procedure. The tricky part for the doctor was getting approval. The doctor informed me that Governor Murphy put a stop to most procedures due to the virus, unless deemed an emergency. Permission and approvals from the head of the hospital would be needed first. I was told that would not be an issue in my case, and thankfully it was not.

Easter Sunday was spent in bed waiting, then I got the word early Monday, we would be good to go for the procedure.

This is a catheterization lab.

I was prepped early for the procedure. Areas by the groin and wrist where the catheter might enter are shaved and disinfected. The groin is easier as it’s a straight shot. The wrist is difficult because there are some turns. I was told the doctor will go through the wrist. There is a quicker recovery when going through the wrist.

I was brought to the lab and they shifted me onto the table (like the one above). It’s narrow and hard as a rock. I was uncomfortable and my back hurt, so they propped up my legs, which helped a little. There were 4 or 5 doctors working and could not tell which one was Dr. Budhwani, until he came by my side to answer any questions. I asked if I’ll be completely out, and said no, I’ll be awake but won’t feel a thing.

He was right. I saw the catheters laid out on a side table along with other instruments. The catheters were long and in their manufacturers packaging. Only 2 millimeters thick. I didn’t realize the drugs were already administered for pain when they started. I felt some pressing on my wrist but felt nothing else. I overheard the doctor say it’s a no go, let’s do the groin. I saw the catheter being removed and they began quickly with a new one, going in through the groin. There’s really no incision, just a tiny hole. Amazing to think so much can be done through it.

First attempt through my wrist.

Although the recovery through the wrist is supposed to be less than the groin, I have zero post-operative pain from the groin. However, I do have soreness in my wrist! Weird. Good news from the doctor, the procedure was a success. They found 100% blockage in one artery and found several others partially blocked. A stent was installed in the worst one. Better news, there was little to no heart damage. Medication will help the other arteries but the worst one that caused the heart attack was taken care of.

Back to my room to recuperate, then released Tuesday, early the next day, with a bag of prescriptions. Feeling ok, weak, but glad to be home.

Much thanks to all the outstanding hospital nurses and staff who attended to me, day and night during the worst possible time when resources are stretched and the stress of the corona virus was taking it’s toll on everyone. I am grateful to you all.
Thank you.

Ivan

Postscript: I was in the hospital for five days, and lost 15 lbs. I had no appetite and hardly ate. My appetite has come back as I recuperate at home. I’m tired most days but Julianne and I go for a long walk every day with the dog and I’m feeling better each day.

I had my follow up appointment with the cardiologist who was pleased with my check up, said I will lead a normal life but will need regular check ups from now on.

I also went to be re-tested for the corona virus, to be certain I didn’t have it since I could have been exposed while in the hospital and when I arrived in the emergency room where other Covid patients were. I did have some minor systems when I came home, a cough and chest congestion that concerned me. Fortunately, my results came back negative! Phew!

The cardiac floor at Valley Hospital where I was admitted was a Covid safe zone. The only floor in the hospital where there were no corona virus patients. When I was released, a nurse told me they were going to begin admitting covid patients to the cardiac floor since they were running out of space. One of the nurses I spoke with told me she had the virus but fully recovered and she just got back to work. She said it was terrible and thankful she recovered. I asked another nurse how she and the hospital were coping with the virus, and if they had enough protective gear and do they feel safe. She said they were stressed but coping and getting PPE gear was beginning to be a problem.

About: Valley Hospital and Covid-19

My father

Arthur Boden was a brilliant graphic designer, artist and father. He was also a musician and navy veteran of WWII. For that, I honor my dad on this special veterans day. It is the first without him as he passed on March 6, 2019 at the age of 91.

Bio:

Born in Newark, NJ, Art attended local public schools. After serving in the Navy, he attended Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, where he studied painting and illustration. Further study at The Art Students League, The New School, And Pratt Institute led to work in design studios and advertising firms as a layout artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Art then joined the staff of IBM as designer, where a new and innovative design program was initiated under the aegis of world renowned designer, Paul Rand. Rising to the position of Art Director and supervising the art department in the Data Processing Division, Art produced many of IBM’s most important and influential printed pieces. The work secured international recognition and awards in the graphic arts field from The American Institute of Graphic Arts, The Art Directors Club(s) of New York and New Jersey, The Type Directors Club (s) of New York and New Jersey, and awards from Mead Paper Company  and CA Magazine to name a few.

Art’s concentration gradually shifted from printed materials to decorative prints and paintings. The Marlboro Graphics Gallery in New York City, under the direction of Barney Weinger, mounted a series of Art’s silk screen prints followed by a one man show of his large abstract acrylic paintings, the culmination of prior years of  creative work.

In a complete change of pace, the artist designed and produced Boden’s Beasts, a children’s book of whimsical three-dimensional animals hand crafted from ordinary household items. The book was favorably reviewed on national TV by critic Gene Shalit, and in McCall’s magazine, It was also featured in Graphis (a Swiss arts journal) and other professional publications. The Beasts was followed by Boden’s Birds and Boden’s Bugs. He has also had commissions for three-dimensional works for Good Housekeeping and Seventeen.

Art’s paintings are held in numerous private collections and a silk screen print was purchased by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. He was also a fine photographer and a proud grandfather of four children.

Paintings
Illustrations / Moleskin Sketches
3 Dimensional
Photos of Arthur and Family

Back to New Jersey!

After five years in Los Angeles, Julianne and I moved back to New Jersey. The solar energy firm she worked for and I did freelance photography for has closed down. We had no choice but to sell our home and move back to NJ. We are originally from NJ so it feels great to be back home and enjoy the change of seasons. LA is hot all year round, and for me, that was an adjustment. We loved our time in LA, but we certainly won’t miss the threat of fires and earthquakes. Some of the fires were very close to our home and the fear of losing everything was frightening. Thankfully, we were safe, but it was a wake up call.

Moving back is sad with my father’s passing last March (2019). He left a legacy as a contemporary artist and I took on the responsibility of overseeing his paintings, getting some into exhibitions and museums. It’s challenging but I’m pleased to take this on and honor his legacy. I’m assisting with my mother’s needs and help out where I can around the house.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and making new ones in New Jersey!

Cheers,
Ivan

Illustrations, yes!

To communicate ideas, enhance visual experiences, or just for myself, I am an illustrator. For a range of work from trade publications, powerpoint presentations, web banners, info-graphics, magazines and much more.

For digital, it starts with sketching pencil on paper, then scan and re-create using Adobe Illustrator. Some are traced from bits of photographs, stylized and adjusted to suit. Adobe Illustrator is a powerful too for digital illustrations. It’s time consuming but the final work is efficient for size and scale, perfect for offset printing work or for on-screen digital.

Below are a few examples.

Click HERE to view large!

Machines

After a few idle years, I decided to continue with this project of photographing machines. Most notably, antique cars, exotic sports cars, restomods and rare collectibles. I’m not limiting this series to cars, it can be anything mechanical or interesting. Being in Southern California, car enthusiasts are everywhere, so for now, it’s been just cars. I placed an open call on the social media site Nextdoor and started the project again!

Here are some of my favorites:

 

We have Solar!

Recently, we signed with SunGrade Solar to install solar panels on our roof. March 15, 2018 was an epic day, I got to witness the installation! We’re so excited to finally have clean, renewable energy! And, just in time before SoCal Edison institutes changes, raising the cost-per-kilowatt hour rates during peak usage. Our energy costs could double during the hot summer months when air conditioning and power is used the heaviest. We took advantage of a sweet deal where we pay nothing out of pocket. We don’t own the panels and we lock in to a fixed Kilowatt hour rate, only adjusted annually for inflation. We can now breath easy about our energy bills. And, the roof and panels are fully insured by SunGrade. We have the option to buy the system in five years, but we think sticking to the plan is the best for us. SunGrade Solar benefits from the government incentive and will receive a $10K credit they will use to offset their cost of the panels and installation. Sadly, this benefit ends after 2018, so our incentive was to do this now before we miss out.

I spent the day hanging out with the two-man installation team, and learned much about photovoltaic solar power. They were kind enough to allow me to photograph them at work and happy to sign my model releases in exchange for the photos and some drone footage, so I fired up my drone and got some good footage, and got some wonderful shots with my DSLR as well.

I scrambled and put together this short video which I hope you’ll enjoy it:

Solar Panel Installation Day

Turning Daylight into Blue Hour

One of the incredible advantages of using strobes, either portable speedlites or larger, more powerful monolights is the ability to have complete creative control over your photography. Many photographers are frustrated using flash, and don’t like the results and give up, but with practice and some experimentation, you would be amazed how great flash is and will add an enormous capability to your photography repertoire.

I was shooting in bright sunlight but wanted the look of blue hour for a quick portrait of my daughter Kimberly a few years ago. I reached into my bag of tricks and by customizing the white balance, I could turn the ambient light blue.

Unfortunately, the subject also turns blue, and unless that’s the look you want, can be pretty unflattering. The way to fix this is by adding a strobe. I gelled a speedlite with a full cut of CTO (color temperature orange) gel to overpower the blue tint on my subject and warm her up to mimic the look of the directional light of the setting sun. Of course, you’ll need to experiment with how much orange gel to use, you may prefer a 1/4 or 1/2 cut CTO. The point is, you have control. I’ve used this technique many times before, and love the effect.

There are some gotcha’s. Strobes create shadows that need to look natural, so strobe placement is critical if you want a realistic result. I like to place my flash the same side where the sun is, or near where it will be when setting. If the sun is higher up, the effect may not work unless you crop in tight to avoid seeing errant shadows that are different than your strobe.

Overcast days can work better as there’s no natural sun direction, the sky is one big light source, so shadows are diffuse and less of an issue.

Here’s examples showing a normal exposure with correct white balance, and subsequent example showing the customized, cooler white balance with gelled strobe added:

Here’s the specs for the blue hour shot:

1/125 @ f/4
ISO 640
93mm (Canon EF 24-105 f/4L IS USM)
Canon 5D Mark II
Color Temperature 3200K (tungsten)
Full Cut CTO Gel, Canon 580EXII Speedlite (off camera, right side)

I have an array of gels from various sources including the standard color correction gels and a bunch of theatrical colors for effects. However for speedlites, I mainly use David Honl’s, pre-cut gel system, and they’re great. There are others that are equally great, such as MagMod which attach using magnets, or ExpoImage’s Rogue Gel system, to name a few. They’re all good choices, but the MagMod system can be pricey. For an economical system, the XP PhotoGear Speedlite Kit is an amazing value for a complete kit, although I have not tried this one. Most of these systems can be purchased ala cart or in a kit.

See here:

If you have any questions, please reply in the comments below. Happy speedliting!

Ivan

Infrared Film

I’ve been reflecting on what influenced my life as a photographer recently, so I thought I’d share a memory.  By the way, that’s me, in the “orange” no. 33 jersey playing ball. I loved sports.

Sometimes, looking back is a good way to move forward and grow, but it can also be nostalgic. I always enjoyed my fathers photographs, and I recall he always had his Nikon to document our family. Looking back at some 35mm photographs he had taken years ago, I found a few infra-red photographs of me as a kid playing football on our front lawn with some friends. I’m guessing I was eight or nine.

Some pretty creative photography that I’m thrilled to have. The memory of that day is long gone, and only one of the faces in those shots is recognizable. A kid named Scott who was from a family we met while on vacation at the New Jersey shore one summer. I have a faint memory that Scott and his parents were invited over by my mother, so we played while our parents had a get together. It was probably the last time our families hung out and I can only guess was due to the inconvenience of living far away.

I wonder why my father chose infrared film to shoot this, but his eye was excellent, getting shots in tight or back away but in a position to tell a story. He was an amazing photographer who’s influence I’ll carry with me forever.

At 90, soon to be 91, he is in declining health and soon, in need of full time care. I’m looking forward to be back to visit and spend some quality time shortly.  the same home and yard where these shots were taken so many years ago.

The takeaway is, go back and look at old family photos and scan them. You may be inspired and find some pleasant surprises as I did here!

Ivan

 

 

The best beach!

 

On the east coast where I lived and grew up, there sits a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina known as the Outer Banks. Well known for taking the brunt of many east coast storms and hurricanes, it’s a beautiful place with wild horses and it has tons of charm, fantastic food and famous southern hospitality. For a half dozen years, we did the twelve-hour road trip from Northern New Jersey to the Outer Banks for our annual week-long family vacation to Corrolla, on the northern end of the island. To get there is not easy, there’s no connecting bridge from Virginia Beach, so you have to make a long, round loop inland before heading eastward, over the Wright Memorial bridge, then onto the Outer Banks. Of historical importance, Kitty Hawk is known for the Wright Brothers whom in 1902 solved the problem of powered and controlled flight. On the very site of their first flight is the Wright Brothers Memorial as a tribute to them. The National Park Service has a ranger station there with historical artifacts, a replica of the first flyer, markers and the rails where they launched the first flight and park rangers give regular talks at the visitors center. It’s well worth a visit to see this amazing place.

Here’s a satellite view of the drive-on beach just north of Corolla in Corova, using GPS coordinates in Lightroom:

GPS Corolla Drive-on Beach

I was not much of a photographer in 2006, only reserved for documenting family activities and life events, and cell phones did not have cameras that were any good. My camera of choice was a Canon Powershot Pro1. A pretty amazing point-and-shoot with a fast f/2.4 lens that happened to be an “L” red ring zoom lens affixed to it. A sweet camera, it had a whopping 8 megapixel sensor, which was large for it’s time. I wish I still had it, but unfortunately the zoom motor broke when I loaned it to my daughter and it was not repairable.

I shot the panorama above with the Powershot Pro1 in 2006, using the auto-stitch pano feature. For a 2006 camera, not bad, but I certainly can do better shooting the pano manually if I shot it today. If you zoom in, you can our Jeep Cherokee Laredo on the beach!

Since moving to the west coast last year, we’ve visited some wonderful beaches, but I miss the charm and beauty of the Outer Banks the most. Sorry LA, so far the outer banks has you beat in my book!

Cheers,
Ivan

In case you didn’t know.

Beloved by many, 500px was founded and developed in Toronto, Canada in 2009 by Oleg Gutsol and Evgeny Tchebotarev (to whom I was lucky enough to meet on a photowalk in NYC).  I learned recenlty, 500px was purchased by VCP, know as the “Getty Images” of China. No doubt, a big pay day for Oleg and Evgeny. VCP also bought Corbis. For those who are unfamiliar, Corbis is a high-quality digital stock image provider, developed by Bill Gates of Microsoft. I used Corbis many times in my graphic designer days, and I’m on 500px and love seeing the best photos there.

Why does this matter? I’m not sure, I hope it’s good, but not so good that China is now the world leader beating out the U.S. in acquisitions of advanced technology, development of new technologies, manufacturing, and surprisingly, clean energy. Yep, they’ve woken up and realized they need a cleaner environment and are leapfrogging into renewable energy at a fast pace.

Currently in the U.S., we can’t even pass a simple bill to protect our kids in schools from assault weapons. Shame on us.

Read more on 500px’s acquisition by VCP on fstoppers’ web site.

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