Gary was working in his dark room when the stroke took place. There was nobody with him but he knew enough to know that something was terribly wrong as his balance felt suddenly off and his left arm had become uncomfortably numb. He made his way into the living room and dialled 111. The ambulance arrived shortly afterwards and he was taken to A&E and triaged. The doctor, who looked half Gary’s age, diagnosed a stroke and Gary was kept in for observation as his blood pressure was 145 over 90, no doubt a contributing factor to what he had suffered. They gave him medication for the blood pressure and let him go home after three days. He no longer saw colour; his world had become black and white. The doctor told him that the stroke had done damage to his occipital lobe.
Gary lived alone in Point Chev. His wife had committed suicide a year earlier and he had fallen into a deep depression. He had no interest in other women. Gary didn’t know why his wife had suicided, but he knew she had always complained that he was too wrapped up in his work and never seemed to have any time for her, so he felt a requisite amount of guilt. Following the death of his wife, Gary managed to continue with his photography but it was an effort, like wading through glue. He was well respected in his profession and had held a number of successful exhibitions. He knew he was one of the lucky ones; he made a living from his art, a rare and difficult feat in small, isolated New Zealand. People called him egotistical but it was just a defence mechanism, a way of keeping his psyche intact when he was picked at and criticised. He didn’t have too many friends. People said he was ‘difficult’. He spent most of his time holed up in his dark room, fiddling with chemicals, watching photographs appear in the developing solution. Read the full story here