Mechanical bits

 Posted by at 3:01 pm
Nov 202011

My heart surgery’s over. It was just 19 days ago that I was on a table with my chest opened up to the eyes and fingers of surgeons but here I am, back at the computer with a mechanical part ticking away inside. I feel surprisingly normal, though it will take a while for my arms to be properly useful again. Right now they’re only good for drawing and typing (and Skyrim). In other words, I’m well and truly back to work and will be doing little else for at least 6-8 weeks.

Here are a few things about my experience that I won’t easily forget. If you’re easily scared, please read on.


I had horrifying visions and dreams in hospital. Mostly whenever I closed my eyes I had flashes of decaying faces with terrified expressions, or extreme close-ups of open, dead eyes or ruptured skin. Occasionally something beautiful but oddly disturbing would play. One of these was a sheet of floral fabric billowing slowly in bright sunlight, but a hellish choral soundtrack gave the scene a nightmarish ambience that I’ll remember for a long time.

These were always slow and clear, as if 1000 fps in 4k resolution. Just a series of slow motion scenes that sat behind my eyes, waiting for me to blink or doze.

My guess is that the drugs had something to do with this, but they weren’t nightmares and I never woke in fright. Even when I dreamed that I woke in a mass grave, my own face tightly surrounded by blood-drenched soil and other dead faces.

Even though I haven’t painted in many years, I find myself inspired to create a series of paintings, based on these images which are still vivid in my head.


The ICU staff were incredible, though I was generally uncomfortable and in quite some pain. There were tubes and needles hanging out of my arms, chest and neck. There were monitors and cables all over me so I could barely turn my head without pulling some device across the bed and setting off an alarm. My room in ICU had no windows, no TV, not even a picture on the wall. After 3 days I was ready to risk injury and punch through one of those walls to get out. Without my visitors (Jeanette, Mum, Dad) walking into the room every day with their familiar smiles and normal clothes, I would probably have started flinging food and singing loud, angry songs like some insane prisoner.

The nurses in ICU told me they had always referred to my room as the sensory deprivation chamber. Thankfully, once out in the ward, I had more freedom and I did a lot of walking.

Night walks

My imagination has a life of its own but I’m not easily frightened. Even as a little kid, I was more fascinated than scared of what might be lurking in the dark. I always considered myself the scary one, rather than the one who’s scared.

In hospital though, I did something I never thought I’d do. A couple of nights, unable to sleep, I wandered alone through that huge maze of a hospital between 2 – 4am. The corridors, some of them easily 100 metres long were dark and empty, lit only at the ends.

Wandering out of my own ward, I felt invisible as I passed the nurses stations. The one or two nurses on each station peered into charts, or computer monitors and didn’t see me pass. I passed a security guard in one of the wide corridors and he didn’t even look me in the eye. I felt like a ghost as I wandered into areas of the hospital I shouldn’t have, all the dark doorways along the way gaping at me as I passed; the tiny red and green lights of monitoring devices sparkling within, sometimes the sound of a rattling breath, rising and falling, or the hot, heavy smell of a person who’s been in bed for too long.

All this time, I was wearing a wireless monitor that sent my vital signs to the nurses station. I was told those monitors only have a range of 30-50 metres but as far as I know, I set off no alarms on my long night walks.

The Prisoner

Just down the hall from me in the same ward, two policemen sat guarding a room, drinking coffee and reading books. “Just like the movies, huh?” I quipped as I passed, and they both laughed. They were guarding a prisoner who they said had survived being stabbed in prison and was recovering from the surgery. The next day I saw them walking him in chains. The guy was monstrously tall. Easily 7 feet. I’d love to have made some witty remark to him but in my fragile state, feared being lunged at by a proper criminal, even if he was chained up.

Back to work

I worked hard to convince the doctors I was ready to go home. They wanted to keep me in for 9, even 10 days but thanks to all my walking and “enthusiastic” recovery, they allowed me to go home on the 7th day after surgery.

So here I am! It will be approximately 3 months before I can draw a longbow, dig a hole or climb a tree. Work-wise though, I’m almost back at full speed, ready to finish Dashkin and finalise the Kickstarter rewards. I’m extremely grateful for the patience of those waiting on their stuff, and touched by all the messages of support from people I know and even people I don’t.

If we all survive the apocalypse in 2012, I plan on making it a big year for BiteyCastle and Brackenwood.

  94 Responses to “Mechanical bits”

Comments (94)
  1. glad, your ok adam, take it easy ok?

  2. Healty healt for you:) Do you need any help from Poland? When you will have rest of yours egsoskeleton?

  3. Looking forward to the paintings ( I think )

  4. I am glad that you are ok, I am looking forward to seeing the paintings if you post them here and I can’t wait to see more Bitey, but make sure that you are rested and recovered.

  5. Sounds like a harrowing experience. I’m glad you’ve managed to get some things out of it – for now, just rest up – that’s a lot of physical strain to recover from.

    Wishing you the best.

  6. So glad you pulled up okay mate. Would have died without ey!

  7. May your recovery be as swift as Bitey dashing across Brackenwood. :> Don’t overexert yourself, though. D:

    • I am so glad to hear that you are back home in recovery! I really hope you take it and easy and be kind to yourself. I’ve watched/admired your work for 8 years, and wish you every possible comfort as you get back up to speed!

      Yah you!

  8. Thanks everyone. Before this I was constantly feeling 30% but in a month or two I should be fully charged 😀

  9. The things you describe sound like something straight out of a zombie movie. Then you go and mention the 2012 apocalypse. Sounds like a lot of fun for me. Hope you made the most out of getting to be invisilbe, you don’t always get to od that you know.

    Glad to know you survived. Even though you can work, doesn’t neccessarily mean you should. I was born with heart problems of my own and I know what can happen when you do to much. No killing yourself huh?

  10. Good to hear everything went well! Hope your recovery is speedy and you get back to doing all you love as soon as possible.

  11. I had just finished watching some of your animations and to read this post, my own heart felt the need of aid, i’m so glad your well now mate.

  12. Me alegra que te estés recuperando Adam…

    Mejórate pronto, ARTISTA!!!

  13. Welcome back!

  14. Glad to hear you’re doing well, Adam. Sounds like you had a heck of a time in the hospital. It would be neat if any paintings came out of that experience, and I look forward to seeing them that happens. I also thought your “if you’re easily scared, continue reading” comment was funny.

    Take it easy, ok?

  15. Well done! Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  16. I would love to see those paintings you mentioned if you end up doing them. They sound like they could work as animated shorts as well. The Night Walker sketch is really cool.

    By the way those creepy daydreams you were having, that is just your cybernetic parts telling you to kill all humans.

    • Damn, and I forgot to mention, so glad everything went well and that you had a speedy recovery. Hopefully you will be drawing longbows again soon, but until then you can always satisfy your medieval weaponry needs with Skyrim.

      Also, one or more other people that you do not know also wishes you speedy recovery to longbow drawing status.

  17. That’s great news.

    Hope you have a speedy recovery. We all missed you while you were gone.

    Because no-one draws longbows like you.


  18. And there was much rejoicing.

  19. Hey, Adam! That’s great you’re back! Greetings from all russian animators! (I hope so anyway. :)) Can’t wait to watch your further works and blog posts!
    Take care!

  20. So glad your recovering well! I hope you get around to those paintings, though what you described seeing sounds absolutely terrifying!

  21. Huzzah! For criminals in hospitals! For future artwork! For creepy visions!

  22. Glad it went well, and hope you make a good recovery!

  23. Awesome notes dude. I love it. I like the stuff about childhood scary stuff. I think that’s one of those things about growing up middle-class. The scary stuff has an allure to it – not making any assumptions about your childhood.
    But it’s alluring in the same way a dark videogame like quake is – peering into your own id, poking at the details, looking through the holes.

  24. Shocked to hear you had to have such a critical surgery. I’m glad to hear it went well and that your recovering. Godspeed and good health to ya in the years to come. Keep up the good work with the Brackenwood series; it’s an amazing contribution to animation in general.

  25. Glad to hear you’re on the mend!

  26. I think (and don’t let my drunkeness fool you) that your picture of the hospital is one of the most beautiful images you have created. I guess it comes from the real experience, and wouldn’t be as powerful without the words to acompany it, but still i find it compelling. I think Rolf Harris said that being a true artist is knowing when to stop. This image with its rudementry lines still showing needs nothing more. Glad to know you are okay, as ever us patient fans are more concerned with your well-being than our rewards. Take care.

  27. Hi Adam,

    I’ve not been to your site in quite a while and, needless to say, I’m totally shocked at all this heart news, but immediately relieved to read that your recovery is going well. As was mentioned above, I doubt anyone here is concerned about what content you get done in the coming months, just make your recovery, and health in general, your absolute priority!

    You’re an inspiration to us all, Adam.

    Take it easy, (no, I really mean it! Put down the climbing equipment and play Skyrim! Relax!!) and get well soon!

  28. Glad to hear that everything went well, thanks for sharing the experience! That illustration is absolutely fantastic, I wish you a speedy recovery!

  29. Bestest cyborg animator in the world, imo XD

  30. Its 4:20 AM now, have a bit of a yawn coz of late work. But i saw this message, read it, and now sitting full of insperation! Thank God you are ok, Adam. I wish you all the best and as fastest recovery as possible! I hope in time you will not be able to draw or animate every student in BCA FX academy will bring as much excitement, fun and pleasure to you as possible! I’ve already have some ideas of short FX movies for you, man!)
    Have a nice day, Adam!
    From Ukraine with love!
    – Alexander

  31. Glad your well man. look forward to the new work! 😀

  32. Man I was beggining to worry by your absence of posts lately. Glad to hear even horryfying things from you. Sheesh, get well and enjoy life. We are all expecting more amazing work from you.


  33. Your imagination is amazing Master. You do well in visual writing. I started to see in my head what you described. Cool, yet disturbing huuhuhuh. Stay cool and keep that enthusiasm. I’ve been praying for your health and recovery ever since you announced your pending, and now post, surgery Sir and I shall continue doing such. You’re an inspiration in life and in skill, keep it up Master AP 🙂

  34. That was an interesting read! Glad to hear everything’s coming along nicely.

  35. I didn’t even know you had heart trouble(shows how often I check in) But I’m glad you’re okay and getting back to normal. Had a touch of the cancer myself, so I can relate but I’ve never had my heart stopped and then replaced, so you got one on me;) Stay awesome.

  36. woah! O.O when u said “My imagination has a life of its own but I’m not easily frightened. Even as a little kid, I was more fascinated than scared of what might be lurking in the dark. I always considered myself the scary one, rather than the one who’s scared.” i was intriqued. Thats EXACTLY how i am. i always say something very similar. once you become the scariest thing around, nothing else scares you. i used to be terrified of the dark and what could be hiding in it, but then i became what i feared, now i prefer the light off when i walk around. that was just weird. i think we’re alot alike! XD i bet u chose the theif stone in skyrim! am i correct?

  37. Stay awesome.

  38. It sounds like you had quite an experience. I absolutely love the artwork. I’m glad the surgery is over and you’re doing well. Take care, Adam.

  39. Adam, I checked your website for the bitey game and came across this article. I sincerely hope you will be OK and all goes well for you. Thanks for your help with my animation five years ago!


  40. Welcome back, Adam!!! It’s great to hear that everything went well. As strange as the stories are, I absolutely enjoy them. You’re so open about this stuff and I hope you get some sort of comfort in telling the stories as well. Take care and draw away! (=

  41. Glad to hear you came safely through the surgery! Look after yourself, x
    (loved reading about your experiences there, too – beautifully written and the illustration is awesome!)

  42. Best wishes in your recovery. I’m glad to hear you feeling well.

  43. I had aortic valve replacement about 4 months ago. Hell of a recovery but after about 8 weeks you will feel close to 100% again. 6 months for full recovery though.

    • that’s good to know, thanks! I was hoping I could row a boat or do 35kg dumbbell flyes by now, but I guess it’s only been 5 weeks, I should give it a bit longer 😀

  44. Happy that you are okey and take it easy man! Hope everything stays good.
    Amazing drawing from the hospital

  45. I had no idea. I check into your site form time to time, to show something to students or just to be enthralled by your animation, designs or wry humor.

    Thanks for the reports of the experience, and an a special thanks for pulling through in order to continue your inspirational work.

    Best of luck, or break a peg bar, (I never know which is appropriate).

  46. So glad to hear that you are alright! Your animations have been very inspiring to me for a number of years. I am in grad school now, and working on creating a stop motion video game that I’m programming in Flash. Your beautiful animations are a testament to what the determination and creativity of one individual can accomplish, and that is something I keep in mind when I struggle with my own projects.

  47. I’m glad you made it out alive, and good luck in 2012.

  48. It’s really great to hear you’re ok. After I read about your upcoming surgery last month, I feared the worst. I take a peak in your site every so often for the past few years and once again it’s the fantastic end credits of Water lollies which I recorded and put on lope and listen to forever and ever that reminded me that it’s about time to check on you again. The world can’t do without Adam Philips. Good luck for the future, and I hope that pacemaker doesn’t run on cheap batteries.

    • Thankfully I don’t have a pacemaker, just a non-powered mechanical valve that opens & closes with the flow of blood. Thanks for dropping back in from time to time 😀

      • That’s good to know, I’m not really well educated in the line of heart treatment 😀 Anyways, it’s great that you’re ok.

  49. Glad that your surgery is over! Long Night walks, I would soo do the same! Just like I walk throught the forest at night!

    Take it easy!

  50. Thank goodness you’re alright. Don’t work too hard. Avoid visiting that odd dark medical world again too soon.

  51. Awesome – great to hear you made it out ok. And another big plus: you’re now part cyborg, and get to have have the usual cyborg-related existential dilemmas.

  52. hey Adam hope your feeling stronger! get well soon man

  53. Glad your doing better Adam, just like your art your BADASS!!

  54. Hi, Adam

    I was thinking of you recently and thought I’d drop over to your site to see what you’re up to.

    First thing I saw was that you had heart surgery recently!

    Adam, I sincerely hope you’re feeling as well as can after such an event. I know you’re a tough man and I’m sure you will be back to your best in no time at all.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and, while I’m at it, a very merry christmas.

    Kindest regards
    Joel Hancock

    • Hey mate. Long time no wossnames! Great to hear from you and yep, recovery’s coming along nicely thanks. I’ll be lunging mid-air at people again in no time. In fact, I plan on chucking my first one on Christmas day. Wishing a good one towards you too!

  55. Glad to hear you’re surgery went well, Adam! We love you and we’re glad you’re still with us. 🙂 Take your time getting better and just focus on yourself for a while. We are all willing to wait as long as you need. Take care!!

  56. Hi Adam,
    I am very glad to hear that you are on the mend. Have a very restful and Happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.
    From Pete at Toon Boom Animation in Montreal.

  57. I haven’t visited your site in some time, but I’m glad I stopped by. I’ve been watching your work since ’04 or ’05 — your style is always inspiring. This morning I was reminded of your art by a Coldplay song (remember that unnamed one you used in one of your videos?).

    Anyway, I’m so glad to hear you’re recovering. Your vision isn’t one I want to see end. Have a good holiday season.

  58. Great recovery! happy to C that you will be springing back into the animation seat again soon.

    I do have one question though. What ever happened to the final “13” Dashkin fxf on youtube. You did 1-20 of 33 and never did or uploaded the final 13.
    Can we get some feedback on whts going on with it??? Mikey your #1 FAN!

  59. The world needs you man. Bitey must be allowed to run free!!! Please keep up your life and work and life’s work. A long life and good health to you!

    —Bitey fan from across the pond.

  60. God Adam…thinking of you being wiped on the brow by Janette…thought you were invincible.

  61. Sounds like some simple security you’ve got there ;). Although the security is tougher in Sweden, I tend to do the same thing here when I end up in hospital. Never happened that much though.
    Gives me the shivers when you tell about the tubes and needles. And yeah, you shure can see some crazy stuff when they put you on the drugs. Would be awesome if you would get some time to do those paintings.
    I’m very glad for the technology of today, hope it will work fine for you.
    Hope you will recover well and return to your full strength.
    //fan overseas.

  62. thank god for your safety, hope you come back to your strength and keep doing your fabulous art… keep it up man !!

  63. Wow, thank God for your quick recovering

  64. I find surgery really isn’t so bad it’s the recovery that’s a bitch. As for those horrific dreams that probably is from the medication. I’ve had surgery a few times and i always have the most bizarre dreams and even see some odd things afterwards. Anyway you make some awesome stuff and i hope you fell better.

  65. Thank you for sharing this. Some inspiration for wandering thoughts 🙂 . . . I would love to see those paintigs, if they ever will be created, however dark they may be.

    Your quick recovery is a good thing, just don´t forget that sometimes rest is a good thing as well! 😉

    . . . glad you´re back!

  66. i had a surgery on my neck and kidney for the kidney surgery i don’t know much cause i was 3 and for the neck surgery i remember having a needle in my neck and i had to walk everywhere with that long thing with that bag or something and i stayed in the hospital for a month and after one week after they let me out i had to go back for another month because they had to take some smelly sticky stuff from my neck from some kind of giant vacuum and the scariest part about the surgery was when in the middle of the night i woke up barley breathing the nurses freaked out and called for doctors and after that i don’t remember a thing scared the shit out of me.

    ps. glad you made it

  67. Glad to hear you are alive and kicking.

  68. Man i was like What?D: man I’m glad you made it out ok man. I gotta tell ya, many of things on this website have influenced my life as well as being something i can always come back to and enjoy when down… I hope ya stay healthy and continue to live your dream.. god bless ya man

  69. i’m seeing the word glad a lot here, so i’m going to be a bit more creative with my wording.
    great to see that you survived what to some would be a terrifying ordeal. you waltzed through it by the sounds of it like it was just some insignificant annoyance like a job you don’t like, or a visit to a boring relative’s. and it’s an excuse not to do much physical exersize. awesome to see that you’re out and back making beautiful awesome art again. luv ya man

  70. My father had heart surgery a couple of years ago. He said he had dreams of death, just as you. Hearing you, it’s possible that most people experience this phenomenon. His doctor, who had apparently heard this complaint from others, told him that it was possible that the brain knew the heart had stopped beating and was wondering why it hadn’t died. In an attempt to cope, it would project this into my father’s dreams. I suppose different people interpret these dreams in different ways, but he was in a depression for a few weeks afterwards. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the dreams from the both of you sound so similar.
    Then again, maybe it is just the drugs inducing macabre visions; who knows? Personally, I like the former theory better.

    Regardless, I’m happy that you did not find the visions frightening, and I’m glad you made it out mostly unscathed.

  71. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. I love your writing and storytelling… it puts me in an eery mood (and I mean it in a good way). Looking forward to the paintings – would like to see some animated shorts based on your visions and night walks (just thinking about them gives me the chills). Stay healthy and most importantly, stay awesome!

  72. i love that feeling when you know you aren’t supposed to be somewhere but you just can’t help yourself, and you never know what will happen to you until you reach the light at the end

  73. Wow. I was just cruising Newgrounds and realized I hadn’t see a new Bitey short for a while. I guess this explains why, and is a damn good excuse to take some time off! I’m relieved to hear you are recovering well. Your flash shorts have always been an inspiration to me. Stay healthy and stay away from longbows in the near future!

  74. Hi there!

    That sounds pretty rough. I have never had heart surgery myself, but I have no doubt that it takes it’s toll.
    I spent some time in a hospital last year. I was just going to have surgery to straighten my nose on the inside so to breathe more easily, but something went wrong (apparrently the surgery was more complicated than they first assumed) and I kept bleeding for a long time.
    So they pumped me full of painkillers and hemostatic medicine, and I had to lie still for several days.
    Man that sucks!
    But I can remember stuff that is sort of similar to what you recount. Horrible images that showed up when I was dozing or shut my eyes for too long.
    I have friends that work as doctors and nurses and they told me that most of the heavy-duty painkillers they use today sometimes give nightmares.
    That could be an explanation, but one can so easily assume that a hospial of all places would certanly be haunted by the spectres of traumatizing surgery gone wrong. It is not a nice thought when you are lying there.
    I had to get up in the night several times to puke blood (i’m not kidding) that had trickled down through my nose into my stomach. And the combination of horrible dreams, dank hospital hallways in the night and puking blood was more than enough for me.
    I was glad when i finally came out.

    Great story by the way. By now I guess you are back in business.
    Keep up the good work!

  75. I’m young, 19 from September, but my childhood was made wonderful by Bitey and Brakenwoods. I’ve been the one to go on about how its a classic on Newgrounds, not even to promote the website, but to promote Bitey and your amazing work. Everything you put on this website I’m interested and find continuous joy by sharing your beautiful with the ones I love. Like, tonight I plan on submerging my Boyfriend into Brakenwood and the 30 shorts and everything else because all of it to me is better than any movie or book. You inspire me and when I found this about your heart surgery I was modified, but I am more than glad to know you’re still okay. To me you will always be a great artist that will echo in history, or at least my history. I know the chance of you seeing this are small, but unlike other things I wanted my small voice to cheer you on in good health and good fame for your endless talents.

    • Thanks so much! It’s nice to know that Brackenwood and this site have been such a part of your life through childhood. My surgery was a huge success so I’m back to 120% and I hope I’m around long enough that your kids can enjoy my work as much as you do 😀

  76. I am glad you made a great recovery! I hope you feel well and get back to good health!

  77. Hi there Adam,

    While I’ve known you for a long time, you don’t know me. (sounds stalkerish)

    I was a huge fan of your stuff back before 2010 and stuff went on and I had stuff to sort out which cut off my netz time by a lot.

    I recalled you just today and remembered you and your stories out of the BLUE… I felt like I was being called!
    Took a look at some favorite stories like the water tank and came across this one.

    I’m glad you’re doing well and hopefully you’ll be doing even greater now even in 2013. Hopefully, I wish for you to be more active and I can read more on your blog about your wonderful works of art.

    I’d be honored if you’d take a look at my art on my facebook link. I included it in the URL field.

    Again, I have been a long time fan and hope you’re doing well.

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