It's been a rough couple of months (in some ways), so I figured maybe starting this blog and getting a lot out in the open might help me to focus more on my other priorities in life--the past few days have started to make me realize how important it is to do that.
Part 1: Physical Stuff
It's basically just been an awful week all-around on the physical front. I was awakened last Monday night from a deep sleep by horrible abdominal pain, which lasted in varying degrees of pain throughout the next several days. After trips to the gyno and ER Tuesday, the GI doc and surgical consult Wednesday, and a follow up with the GI doc and sonogram Thursday, they were FINALLY able to figure out the source of my pain: my gallbladder. Who knew it could cause so much freakin distress?? So after 3 days of being told that whatever I had was definitely not life-threatening, I was re-admitted to the ER Thursday night since they told me the position of my gallstones and the gallbladder inflammation was very concerning and I had to be on IV antibiotics immediately. On Friday morning, they removed my gallbladder completely, and a horrendous migraine and nausea on Saturday set my recovery back a bit, but I was finally released from the hospital on Sunday and am so, so, so very happy to be home at last.
My husband was a Godsend throughout the process, sleeping on the pull-out couch in my hospital room for 3 nights in a row, and helping me and supporting me every step of the way. It really made me appreciate the person that he is (even moreso that I already did, if possible), and realize what a tremendous difference the love and support of one person can make in your life. He was truly my guardian angel over the last week. My Mom, as well, was incredible, and made numerous trips to the hospital to offer support and company when I was feeling my worst. The rest of my family and friends were also just wonderful for their words of support, friendship and well wishes--I cannot thank everyone enough for making me feel so loved during a difficult time.
I am so happy to be home and in the process of recovery now; the surgery should also help with the stomach issues I'd been dealing with for many months (possibly years) after eating, which would be huge relief as well. To say the least, I am relieved to be on the latter end of this painful journey.
Part 2: Wedding picture stuff
So, in the midst of my abdominal distress last week (and on the anniversary of my father's death, which is always an important day for my family), we finally received a facebook message from our wedding photographer after literally more than a month of his refusing to respond to any of our phone calls, emails, or messages of any kind. Taken without the history/backstory of our situation with him, the email was very saddening: he basically told us, in great and superfluous detail, of his various personal difficulties, including the loss of his aunt the day before, and also the variety of other personal difficulties he's had to deal with over the last couple of years. The tone of the email was almost accusatory and guilt-inducing: the litany of personal distresses was accompanied by his imploring us to stop calling him regarding our wedding proofs, as he simply could not deal with us right now.
To say the least, I was shocked and angered by the email. Our history with him has been extensive by now: to go into it briefly, we were married on May 31, and have been asking him to simply see some--ANY--form of our proofs ever since. At one point, months after the wedding, he posted a mere 13 pictures onto a public facebook site, which was the first and only glimpse we've ever gotten of our treasured photos. We were more than compassionate and understanding throughout most of the first several months as he came up with various and elaborate excuses a number of times for why we weren't receiving them, to which our response was almost always understanding and very supportive of his need for time, space, etc. It's like we were in a relationship with him--and we are his CLIENTS! He would go MIA, without responding to our phone calls or emails, for many days at time on more than one occasion, and we became increasingly upset at this. When and if he would finally respond, more and more farfetched excuses would be thrown at us: the online website where he promised to post pictures simply "wasn't working"; he had to move halfway across the country; his business was going under due to an unpaying client; the proofs were repossessed along with his car (on the very day he was supposed to hand-deliver them to us); his cell phone provider was dropping his messages, etc. etc. etc.
Finally, after yet another deadline that HE had set came and went for us to see our wedding pictures, we lost it and were exceedingly angry with his lack of professional ethics and bad business, and told him so (in an email, since he refused to ever contact us over the phone or return any messages we left). It was especially frustrating for me since I knew him from high school and entrusted him with our WEDDING pictures, which to me is quite a level of trust that he had simply betrayed. Not to mention we had pre-paid him for his services, so there was little incentive for him to deliver us the photos as promised (both personally and contractually). After that point, he simply stopped responding. No number of phone calls, emails, voicemails, or text messages made any difference: Justin Schuck would not answer to anything we sent him. A post to his facebook wall was deleted without response; he was brazenly ignoring us for simply asking him to fulfill his professional duty to us. Heartbroken and upset, I sent him one final message on facebook, imploring him to please just let us know that we would receive our pictures at some point, and letting him know how difficult the entire process had been--it was literally keeping me up at night, which I told him in the message. It was not an angry message, it was begging for him to have some sympathy and at least CARE about what he was doing to us, which, like everything else, he simply ignored.
At a loss for what to do next, we then filed a BBB complaint: no response on that front as well.
So, after many weeks of absolutely NOTHING from him, to finally have received a message like that one was infuriating. Mountains of angry questions formed in my head: WHY am I only hearing about this now?? WHY would you choose the day after your dear aunt's passing to finally take 5 minutes of your time to email us this semi-accusing diatribe as if we were pestering you in this time of extreme distress--as if we even knew anything due to your lack of communication?? Why are we being subjected to basically DEMANDS of compassion after the way we've been treated--with NO compassion, or respect? Why were personal struggles from years past--which occurred prior to us even BOOKING your services--being brought up here, much less, why were personal struggles being mentioned AT ALL for our requests for you to follow up on professional services??? WHY were we being treated like bothersome creditors when all we are asking for is to simply see PROOFS from our wedding day--which we already paid for, in full, February of 2008??!!! And especially, WHY is any of this guilt trip even necessary at all...just send us ANY freakin form of our proofs-upload them to a CD for goodness' sake--and you'll never hear from us again!!!!
Not to mention, the timing of the email--composed the day after his aunt's passing--was clearly intended so as to prevent us from imposing any further demands on his obligations in such a time of personal distress. We hadn't so much as called him in over a week--but suddenly he's responding that day as if we'd been pestering him nonstop. And should we have forged ahead with requests for the proofs again, we would come off as unsympathetic a-holes, basically. It was manipulative and troubling that someone would go so far as to use personal struggles as an excuse to get out of professional obligations; as someone who had endured quite a lot of similar life circumstances at one point, it was truly disturbing to me. I would never--EVER--try to manipulate anyone through using my personal problems as a way to get out of any responsibilities, ESPECIALLY professional ones.
On a personal level, of course I feel terrible for what has happened in our photographer's life; but on a professional level, I cannot believe that someone has formed and maintained a business with this level of utter disrespect for his clients. It is manipulative, unethical, and bad business to say the very least.
So, as I sit here, again temporarily diverted from my tasks of the moment, I am ultimately betrayed and saddened by what seems to be the loss of our wedding pictures--a once-in-a-lifetime set of mementos. But, I will also move forward now, hoping for a positive conclusion in some way, and feeling better having vented about these never-ending issues.
Though I am still in a great deal of pain from my surgery, I know that I will sit at my computer and work on my graduate papers, because that is my current profession, and those are my obligations--regardless of the many personal strains I feel.
I hope that I will be strong-minded enough to be less anxious about the pictures, and hope against hope that some sort of positive result will come of it all in the end. Right now, I am happy to have my health coming back to me, and wish all my family and friends similar blessings.