VCA, 2021


Once I had had a heart murmur. I still might. I found out about it when I was in my early 20’s and living in a sprawling, draughty apartment above a computer-fix-it-shop in North Melbourne. I was living with Jessie and Brandon at the time. We were all studying photography at art school. Jessie was forever turning off the lights and heaters, even if you had just stepped out of the room for a moment. Brandon slept most of the day and was awake all night. He drank long macchiatos and ate French toast and bacon drowned in maple syrup for his only meal of the day, and continuously rolled Port Royals. I was working at a café down the road and doing regular lock-ins with the bourbon-fuelled chefs and a couple of backpackers.

As part of a very average undergrad project I filled $2 sauce bottles with acrylic paint and spun around in circles in parking lots, alleyways and once, my own bathroom - squeezing the bottles and spraying paint all over the floor and walls to later go back and document the past action. I didn’t really think it through, but I did a shoot in our bathroom with red, yellow and black paints. It looked like someone had had a very intense time in there and fled the scene afterwards.

I woke up around midday after a long night at the café talking about our ‘inner daemons’ and drinking a bottle and a half of cheap white wine. Then I went to have a shower. I’m not sure what it was; the hot water, the hangover or the paint splattered toilet, but as I turned off the taps and stepped out of the shower, the room began to spin, I saw stars and the next thing I remember was Brandon pushing open the door and trying to squeeze through as I lay naked on the tiles with my head blocking it from fully opening. He was yelling ‘Adam! Adam! Get up! What happened?!’ I sat up dazed and felt a throbbing pain where my head had connected with the tiles, narrowly missing the half wall that divided the bathtub from the shower. Brandon awkwardly threw a towel at me.

I went back to bed and slept for a while until Jessie got home and; being the most sensible of us, woke me up and took me to the emergency department. The doctors repeatedly asked if I had taken anything and at one point picked up my arm and looked at the inside of my elbow to check I wasn’t lying. They eventually believed me and started taking me seriously. They discovered that I had a heart murmur – meaning my heart beat so rapidly that it pumped itself dry, so with no blood flowing to my head I blacked out, crashing into the tiles. I’m sure the paint covered bathroom, the shower and the hangover didn’t help, maybe it was combination. I had a cardiologist, had to sleep wired up to a monitor taking an aspirin a day to thin my blood, but after a while I forgot about it, or stopped worrying about it. I stopped taking the aspirin, and the cardiologist stopped calling. I still have a lump on my head though.

Photography by Guy Grabowsky
(Final Image by ALEC)