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A New Direction



Wow, 2015 is one for the books. I spent over half the year recovering from an injury. In that time, I found myself being comforted by a loving God, Jesus Christ and finding peace.


I learned to trust Jesus.


It wasn't very easy for me to let someone other than myself fix my problems as I am very self sufficient with a "I can fix anything myself" attitude. Ok, to be truthful, I hated not being the one in charge and it was not even in the easy category.


Being a Christian and saved by the grace of God, the Father, we are supposed to trust him in all things. Sure we all think we trust Him, but is it just us trying to convince ourselves of that, or do we really know that we can trust him?


On May 18th of 2015, I sustained an injury that resulted in my bicep being ripped loose from the connective tissue of the forearm, the proper medical term is "distal bicep rupture". This was the Genisis of my journey into learning to trust God.


I immediately tried to fix it myself by taking ibuprofen and applying ice to the injured area. After notifying the people I work for that I had substained an on the job injury, I headed home. I was hoping that it was simply a muscle sprain or something simple a good nights rest would fix by morning. I mean, my arm still worked, it just felt weak and a little weird. Nothing could be wrong, could it? 


You know how I said that I was a Do It Yourself type of guy? Well, after using my Google Fu (using Google like a kung fu master), I searched many different websites. I really didn't know what had happened to me and didn't know the correct terms but I persisted in trying to find a solution! I eventually stumbled on some good info and read about the symptoms. The kicker was when I learned about the "hook method" of checking to feel if your tendon was at the correct place. Basically if you let your arm hang down by your side, then raise your forearm to around ninety degrees feeling in the crook of your elbow you will be able to feel the distal biceps tendon with the "hook" of your finger as you move it toward the inside  area. I felt it on my non injured arm so now I know what I was looking for. Unfortunately, I could not feel it on my injured arm.

I felt the need to pray, and pray I did, I prayed to God. I prayed to Him to make my self diagnosis to not be true. I prayed and asked him things that one would ask a Genie to grant their three wishes. Deep down I knew I was seriously injured, but I didn't want to accept it. If I didn't believe it, it simply could NOT exist. 


Praying that way I know now was wrong. God does not work that way. Yet, I still was wanting to do it yourself and self heal. I wanted to avoid the scary thought of surgery and being treated like some invalid or worse yet... a permanent disability. I was trying my best to avoid the scary unknown. Mark couldn't fix this this time, it was going to take God working through others, here on Earth to repair and heal me.


Before we go much further, I need to give a brief backstory so you get the big picture. The backstory is quite a miraculous work in itself and the perfect example of how God moves mountains to get you where he wants you! I will tell that story soon, Gods Willing. 


It began many years about when I was almost a teenager, I went to the front one Sunday because God convicted me it was something I needed to do. I asked Jesus into my life and became baptised. I was really passionate about serving the Lord at that time. Eventually my resolve eroded away, and the things of this world drew me away from God to the point of me no longer attending Church. I wasted many years wandering by myself in worldly pursuits. My family attended and although I encoruaged them to go, I did not chose to attend. 

In 2014, God joined together two churches that needed one another to fulfill God's mission. I began attending shortly afterwards and was hooked. God knew I was going to need him soon. He also knew I was his as I had accepted his grace and was calling me back into the fold. God still had a lot of work to prepare me for that day but he placed me with a great group of Brothers and Sisters in Christ. This was going to be some of the people God would use to get me headed to where he wanted me. Spritually and Mentally. 


I knew that this was not going to fix itself and I knew I was not going to fix it either. I had to have some serious help. 


My initial medical visit had to have someone evaluate me and refer me to a specialist. The Physicians Assistant told me I would be referred to Carolina Orthopedics and that they would contact me within a few weeks. A distal biceps rupture is something you have 10-14 days to fix by surgery or the bicep retracts so far up, it requires a much more complicated surgery and tendon graft. In other words, TIME is of the essence! 


I will not name the organization that handles workman's compensation cases for the company I work for, but I will tell you that the first ten pages of Google Results are nothing but how uncaring and difficult these people are to get them to get things done. By reading this, I was terrified I was not going to get the timely medical care I so desperately needed and my arm would not be healed.


I was crying out to God in prayer as I felt totally not in control of my situation. My wife sensing my distress in the situation that we were cast in (we were both in this together), immediately contacted Carolina Orthopedics and talked with some really helpful people who then contacted my company's workers compensation (WC from here on out) folks and got the ball rolling! The next day I had approval from WC and had an immediate appointment with  Dr Mark Steven Brazinski. Ok, there is a hint that all is going to be OK, my Doctor has the same first and middle name! Dr. Brazinski suspected a possible distal biceps rupture but said I needed to get an MRI to verify and measure where the tendon was located. I had one the very next day. The X-rays showed no evidence of a broken bone.


For me, the MRI was the worst medical procedure I have ever had. I was strapped to a table in roughly the same position that you see Superman fly in. I was warned not to move or they would not have a good clear picture and would have to repeat the process again. Although I was comfortable at the beginning after a few minutes, my body started to ache, muscles started to burn, and limbs began to fall asleep. There was nothing that I could do but listen to the maddening sound of the MRI or pray. I prayed to God to give me the strength to be still, ease the burn and to speed up the time. When I heard the speaker crackle on in the chamber from the control room, I knew it was them telling me that the procedure was over and they were coming in to get me out. Instead I heard, "Mr. Houser you are doing well, you are halfway finished. Hang in there!" Not what I wanted to hear! So I prayed some more and fervently. Up until that point, I had NEVER prayed as much, nor as hard, as I did inside that machine! Eventually the machine quick clicking and clacking and making its alien sounds and the people with the white labcoats, came in and set me free.


An MRI is an amazing piece of technology. It's a machine that can peer inside a human body without leaving a physical mark. I am thankful that such technology exists, but I hope I will never have the need to use one again!


The MRI imaging place had a note on my chart that simply said scan the elbow area, patient has elbow pain. As I sat in the waiting room, a call came from the MRI trailer and they wanted to ask me a question. The question was, "Mr. Houser did you suffer any catastrophic loading to the elbow joint area recently?" To which I replied, "yes, I fell and tried to use my arm to grab onto something and I think it messed up something." She replied, "Oh that would explain it... Dr Brazinski will discuss the results with you on your next visit." "Oh, OK, that bad huh?" I stammmered. "Yes Mr Houser, it is pretty bad. I hope you get to feeling better!" 


Ok, before I had the MRI, Dr Brazinski had said it "probably" a distal bicep repair and that only an MRI could confirm or deny it. When I heard the MRI Tech's ominous question about me having any major stresses on my joints, the last vestiges of hope I had about NOT having surgery were GONE!


An office visit on the next day which was Friday, with Dr Brazinksi, confirmed I would have to undergo surgery to repair my distal biceps rupture. Dr. Brazinski had me tenatively scheduled for the day after Memorial Day and assured me that Grace Hospital would contact me and let me know the night before of what to do.


Do you remember how I told you there was nothing positive said on Google about my Company's Workers Compensation Insurance  Handler? I never got the call the night before, but I neither ate nor drank the day of the surgery just in case. We called Carolina Ortho the day of the surgery becuase we had heard NOTHING from the WC people or the Hospital. The hospital was waiting for approval for the surgery from the WC folks.

It was getting to be around 10am and I started to pray. If I was going to have to face my fear about having surgery, I wanted to get it over with.  I prayed and prayed for God to help get me through this and when I got the call from the hospital to come on down, I got on my knees and thanked God! I knew that he was looking out for me!


After rushing to the Hospital, I checked into the Day Surgery Center. From there things went a little too fast for my liking! They rushed me back, prepped me and my Family, Pastor and Friends came back to pray for me. Within 45 minutes of walking into the hospital, I was drifting away into sleep as they were trasferring me to the operating table.


I groggily awoke in the recovery room area. My arm was wrapped up in a rather large looking cast. Before the surgery I could move it, but there was no way I could do anything but lift the cast over my head. My arm felt NOTHING, the nerve block was doing its job. My arm was attached to me, but felt foreign and alien to me as it was something dead.


Dr. Brazinkski came into the room as they wheeled me back into same day surgery room and informed me that it was a difficult surgery but he got it fixed as well as he could. I will never forget what he told me, "Mark, I had to use extra screw attachements and stitching to attach your muscle back to the bone, you have a large bicep for a middle aged man." It took me a few seconds to realize the middle aged man he was talking about was ME! I had never though of myself in that manner before!


Over the course of the Summer, I spent days being with my family, reading God's word, and connecting with my church family. Over 6 months later, I was back at work and more connected to being a Christian than I was before. Stronger emotionally, physically and spiritually. I am still suffering from the effects of the injury but it does not consume my thoughts anymore and I am at peace with that. 


Over the course of the this blog, I would like to shift my direction from photography to my walk with God, which will incoporate pictures and video, thus "A New Direction."


Thanks for reading, stayed tuned and God Bless!









Quick Silver

P-51 low pass (1 of 1)


This was a photo I took last Novemeber of a P-51 called, QuickSilver. Panning shots are fun because you must maintain a slow shutter speed (to blur the props) and move the camera to capture the airplane, freezing it to get it crisp. 

In the end, it is worth it when you come away with a shot you like. 




The Southern End

Shortoff  (1 of 1)


I had been invited on an annual hike that I look forward to every year. The one that showcases the Daffodils along the Linville River. This year I decided to backpack in my aerial photography unit. All this was flown over private property, and under 400' in altitude. 

This is Shortoff Mountain Overlooking the Linville River as it makes its way to Lake James.




The Drones are Droning

God's Country  2


I recently acquired a "Flying Camera" aka a DJI Phantom II Vision + drone. So many creative possibilities that this can open up. I look forward to exploring them. This was a shot taken around 350' from a farm in Western Lincoln County. The South Mountains are in the distance with Carpenters Knob a little closer. 



Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Shepherds Watch



"Shepherds Watch"
Alone sat the shepherds on a cool, clear night.
The sheep were resting gently, within their sight.
They had journeyed up in the day,to the higher hills
To where the water from springs, pooled still.
The shepherds pulled their mantles up over their shoulders
keeping a watchful eye from their vantage out on the boulders.
All was calm, and the stars shimmered in the sky
No wild beast would be able to get by.
They first saw  something that was intensely brilliant
the shepherds, with fear building inside, stood resilient.
The Angel of God spoke, “Do not be afraid, I bring you good tidings of great joy,
a savior is born in Bethlehem lying in a manger, God’s Gift, a baby boy!”
Then the skies filled with angels singing praises to God above
Who sent his Son to die for our sins, out of his mercy and love.
Then the shepherds ran to Bethlehem and searched tirelessly for the place,
that the Angel had told them of, holding the Savior of the human race.
-Mark Steven Houser-