I spent the summer in Seattle, helping care for a dear friend and family member with brain cancer. At the beginning, we didn’t know what would happen. We had no idea if she would live, if she would be the same person after her radiation and chemotherapy.
We just didn’t know.
But what I observed, and what I thought about frequently, was my relationship with the concept of the invasion of illness. The pervasiveness of malady and the obvious accoutrements which go with it.
It is the walker draped with a blanket in the corner. It is the stack of medicines on the kitchen counter. It is the cane leaned up against the entryway. It is the traces of hair left in the sink after a hair brushing. It is the new diet, the new items in the fridge, all the leftovers. It is the “tupperware situation from hell.”
One of the things that I think is so pervasive about illness is that it takes over your life. Not just in the big ways, like possibily killing you, or the fact that treatment absolutely will take over your entire schedule – it is the things that will remain after the illness is gone. Like the walker you forget about. Or the extra pills that hide in your pantry. It is the notes in my notebook on cancer diets, and the photos on my phone of DD losing her hair (and wearing it as a mustache, because that’s how we do, apparently.)
It occurred to me that I have these same vestiges. My cane in the hallway, my eyepatches in my jewelry box (many colored, many fabrics, a few rhinestoned.) The scleral shells in my bedside table, the multitude of eyedrops in various forms and kinds (and effects on my retinas) in the medicine cabinet. A suggestion, if you ever come to my house, ASK which eyedrops to use if you need them. Some of them will make your eyes numb.
We have tiny macro mirrors, multiple kitchen utensils that you might not find in a normal kitchen, lights attached above the counters.
Yes. Illness and disability invade our homes, they stay with us. Their evidence is present, but subtle. But yes, it’s there.
While illness and disability are often not the same, one often being a constant life experience and the other frequently being temporary, these physical reverberations in our homes make me ponder the impressions our physical lives create in our homes and in our lives. These photographs represent the images that ring in my head when I think about the representations, and the THINGS that make these illnesses and disabilities so physically present.