Monday, April 20, 2009

Memoir exercise: a picture

This is the latest of the exercises I've done for my memoir class. The assignment was: choose one photograph that connects to your memoir and write as much as you can about the photograph. Include who is in the photo, where they are, what they are doing, how you feel about the event/place, etc. Below is what I wrote. Please leave feedback--I'm eager to know what people think.

The picture is of me in the coma. I’m lying on the hospital bed, hooked up to various machines and monitors. I have tubes going into/out of various parts of me: breathing tube, feeding tube, insulin drip, sedative drip, and so on. You can’t tell what all the tubes are, and I can’t really tell that I’m in a coma—I could be sleeping, except for the fact that I never sleep on my back.

In the spirit of fun, there are troll ponytail holders on each of my big toes. I loved trolls when I was 11, and my family wanted to bring something silly that I would have enjoyed (had I been conscious) to the room. There is an Irish flag at the head of the bed. I’m part Irish, and was obsessed with that part of my heritage. Since St. Patrick’s day had come while I was in the coma, “I” celebrated with the flag in my hospital room. My security blanket (which I slept with back then, and still do today!) and my stuffed lion are by my side. My family has done what they could to make my hospital room homey.

Mom is sitting next to the bed reading something—I can’t see what. She’s looking down at what she’s reading, holding it in her lap. The picture was taken after many of the lines and machines I was initially hooked up to were removed, and Mom looks serious, but not panicked.

I feel blasé about the picture, partly because I’m so familiar with the story and because it’s been so long since it happened. It doesn’t inspired great emotion in me, but at one point it interested me because it showed me during a time that is missing from my memory. It often seems like something that happened to someone else. My recovery sticks firmly in my memory, but I know nothing other than what I’ve been told about the time while I was in the coma.


Heidi said...

This is really interesting, Kate. You had me hooked from the first sentence. You know what I am wondering: why did someone take the picture? Are there lots of pictures from this time?

Kate said...

Thanks, Heidi! I actually know the answer to both of your questions. One of the nurses took the picture. The fam didn't want the picture, but the nurses really encouraged it. There are two pictures--they're basically the same picture from different angles. One shows Mom, the other just shows me.

Kate said...

Oh, and the reason for the picture was that we would need them to remember the time I was in the coma. Mom & Dad didn't really want to remember it, but the nurses wouldn't take no for an answer. I'm glad that they wouldn't, because I have no memory of the coma at all--which is part of the reason that I feel detached when I tell about it.

We have some pictures of me after I left the hospital, but these are the only two from the coma.

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