Adele Giorgia Sarno's photo reportage consists of intimate stories of women and men who are rarely in the spotlight, but deserve to be. In the stories below, the photographer sheds light on health issues affecting both young and old alike, revealing her own experience going through menopause at a mere 30 years old. On her website, she writes that she "reports the disease from the inside" as she prepares for surgery. In another piece, she profiles a doting husband whose wife has Alzheimer's disease.
Sarno is The Huffington Post's newest social media editor in Italy, and has worked for La Repubblica. (Viva L'Huffington Post!) Scroll down for photos.
Menopause to reflect
I had my first menopause when I was thirty years old. It was induced by my physician in order to stun a fibroma in the uterus. I had to take a drug with thousand of side effects: once injected, it traveled to my brain to turn off the womanhood switch. Hormones left me with the promise to come back once everything was solved. I said them goodbye while feeling lost because I had always considered my body for granted. I had never thought that something could stop working. Not in this way. Suddenly, I found myself crying in my room. Without a real reason. I was sad because 70’s would never come back. After few days I bought a fan: I needed something to help me fighting high sweats, even if it was March. In addition, the menopause let me definitively break up with my nutritionist: i got fat even without eating. And the continuous headaches made me aggressive, the absence of estrogens quarrelsome, and the rapidly-changing mood polemic. It has not been easy to cohabit with such a change -- because when a disease arrives, it rarely gives you the time to accept it. “Menopause to reflect” is the description of the moment when I found myself alone with my womanhood deprived of privacy e I started thinking. There was something inside me that was not supposed to be there, and it was exactly in that part of the body that makes a woman woman. I found myself with the hormones of a 50-years-old woman, the body of a 30-years-old girl and the fear of a child. It had been a difficult path that ended with the surgery and its low recovery. Maybe it was the first time that I learned to take care of my intimacy like a weak and unprotected woman.
Every time Giuliano listens to Maria, his eyes are full of hope that she is telling something really happened. But he always gets disappointed. Alzheimer's disease has taken his wife's memories: the sons, the husband, the most beautiful moments they lived together. The disease has erased the 50 years they spent together in a small apartment in Tuscolana (a working-class neighborhood in Rome). Instead, the house continues to keep alive the memory of those years. Everything here has a unique significance: there are the candles of Giuliano's 80th birthday, the photo album of Douglas and Edward when they were children, the 1.000 Liras that Maria was used to put in her purse when she was still able to do grocery. The walls of the apartment are covered by faces of her family, but she doesn't recognize any of them. She walks silently and unaware along a treasure of emotions. Now, he is alone with the burden of everything: daycare, medications, fear and anxiety. But he does still love her. She continues to be pretty looking, even at 70 years old. She doesn't suffer, she is still able to laugh, cry and love. And she lives a new life, made of memories that last only few seconds. Sometimes it echoes in my mind something that she told me during a winter afternoon: “turn off the brain... and it feels so good”. I would love to think that she has simply learned how to do so.
You can see more of Adele's work on her website here.