It began on Easter Sunday (April 4, 2021) after several days of labored breathing. Jeff had been diagnosed with Covid 19 and was just about through with a mild case of it. It was inevitable that I would get it too and we thought my case would be just as mild. We learned later that my recent surgery most likely weakened my immune system’s ability to fight off the stronger effects of the virus which led to my trip to the ER that Easter Sunday. I was x-rayed and told that I had both Covid and Pneumonia. Treatment was to be sedated with a breathing tube. When the doctor explained to me what was about to happen I just assumed this was the way an extreme case of Covid was treated. It just had to be done, so “let’s do it”. I did not realize the severity of this but that may have helped in the long run. Photography and science joined forces in that first leg of the journey. While my breathing was brought under control over the next week the second leg of the journey began.
Many of you know I am a person of strong Christian faith. When Jeff was informed that I was “the worst case of Covid” the doctor had ever seen and that I might not come home from the hospital (ever) he immediately started calling family and friends and asked them to pray. Some knew the particulars of my condition. Some didn’t. They in turn called other friends, family, prayer chains, church people, and even several missionaries around the world. There were literally hundreds of people praying for me and I believe the Lord heard those prayers for healing because when I should have died He breathed life back into me. When I successfully came off the ventilator without incident I was given a breathing mask (And I thought face masks were uncomfortable!). At first I was unaware of the magnitude of my “success” but the more I learned about what was happening on my behalf beyond the hospital walls the more I knew Jesus had heard and answered those prayers with a resounding “Yes, I will heal her”.
Although I wanted to take the oxygen mask off many times, I would remind myself of all those prayers being said on my behalf and tell myself the oxygen was restoring my damaged lungs with pure, clean air. After 3-4 days with the mask I was given a breathing tube (which made the mask seem somewhat comfortable!). Although I wanted to take that tubing out, I knew I needed to keep it on- so I did. I would tell myself, “This is how they treat this condition, so you just have to do it.” While the tubing and oxygen represented the practical treatment side of my recovery, the fact that I recovered at all was due solely to those prayers. No one in the hospital ever expected me to survive when I was put on the ventilator, but those faithful prayers presented a different answer. God hears and God answers and sometimes it’s exactly what we’ve prayed for. When I finally did go home Jeff shared with me the number of people who had been praying for me. It was overwhelming. A day doesn’t go by now without me thanking the Lord for them.
The third leg of my journey began when I was moved out of ICU to a regular hospital room. For a staff that has been dealing with more death then success when a patient comes off the ventilator, I was a celebration equal to the Fourth of July and a miracle as profound as the parting of the Red Sea. The view from my room in the ICU was actually quite nice. There were a couple buildings but trees as well. It was also facing east so I was able to watch the sunrise each morning. The view from my regular room was not as nice. It looked at the back of what appeared to be another industrial type building or a different hospital wing. I was never able to figure it out, but it did get my creative juices stirred up. After a day of starring out of the window at this unusual contraption sticking up off of that building I decided to attempt a few shots of it with my cell phone. Photographer and author Jan Philips wrote in her book God is at Eye Level, “We get so caught up in the flurry of our lives that we forget the essential thing about art- that the act of creating is a healing gesture, as sacred as prayer, as essential to the spirit as food to the body.” While I might not equate the need to create with the power of prayer as deeply as she does (I’d rather say they are two branches on the tree of our life), I do think that the photographer’s eye in me was another motivator which propelled me to let “Science” do its thing (I started feeling like a human pin cushion they tested my blood so often!), be thankful for the countless people praying on my behalf and to look beyond the hospital room as my temporary residence to a potential photographic subject.
Photography, faith and the art of healing was about to come full circle the day Jeff dropped off my cell phone. The first x-ray showed the severity of my condition. Several others showed how I was improving at a steady pace. Now, with cell phone camera in hand I started taking some very shaky pictures of my surroundings. It was good to get my mind off of the breathing tubes, the endless run of TV shows (that I generally never watch) to keep myself preoccupied and to have short conversations with my family. With my muscles as weak as they were I was unable to capture the pictures I saw in my mind, but I was still taking pictures and that encapsulated the third leg of my journey. Photography diagnosed my condition but it also contributed to my healing by creating the goal to “get home and get shooting again”. Some of those shaky shots were adequate enough to play around with in post-processing when I did go home.
On April 17th, after a successful physical therapy session without the oxygen on, the doctor showed up, listened to my breathing and announced that since I had everything lined up for home-care I could be released. No one expected someone who arrived at the hospital in my condition to go home at all, let alone in 13 days! When I consider the phrase “photography, faith and the art of healing” now it brings to mind three conclusions: 1) the doctors and nurses were the “artists” of healing, 2) many prayers lifted on my behalf were the artistry of faith which took my treatment to a miraculous conclusion and, 3) photography completed the cycle as a means to artistically tell the story through some interesting images when I finally put them into the “photo processing blender” as I like to call it. It will take me some time to rebuild my strength so that I’m strong enough to do photo walks but for now finding subjects in my home is just fine with me!
If you are one of the many people who prayed for me and sent well-wishes thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t tell you what an impact this journey has made on my life and I truly appreciate you joining me as I continue to walk along it.
Ann H. LeFevre
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre