the eiffel tower

my friend lisa is a photographer. before my medical drama, i hated having my picture taken. even by lisa.

mere weeks before my diagnosis. i can almost see the tumor back there behind my left eye.

after my medical drama, lisa noticed that having my picture taken didn’t make me grumpy anymore. i think that it’s like being on vacation in paris and having your picture taken in front of the eiffel tower. why do you do it? to show that you were there since you probably won’t be back anytime soon. same reason. those pictures show where i was. i asked my mom to take pictures when i was in the hospital, and she delivered. i look at those pictures and i remember that i survived, and i’m getting better every day. i’m reminded of where i was and how far i’ve come. without the pictures, i think it would seem less real than it already does. and when other people look at them, well that’s when it gets really real. so i’ll show you a few. thanks for looking at them.

still in the hospital. check out that half-smile. my stylish headband covers the shaved parts and a nasty drill-hole above my forehead.

in this picture i have my eyes closed because of my newfound crazy double vision. and the half-smile is because the left side of my face is entirely numb. back then i spent a whole day practicing my grandma’s scowl in a mirror, and it’s improved gradually since then. people tell me now that it’s not very noticeable. as embarrassing as it was back then, i’m glad to have pictures of the way i looked.

and there’s my cup of ice chips!

i spent 3 weeks in that squeaky nursing home bed.

this is me with meseret. she was on the staff of capri, the nursing home i was in after i was released from the hospital.

my mom, brian, me, karen

this one is of me paying a visit to 6N, my home away from home at st. joseph’s hospital, before my mom and i headed back to oregon. i’m leaning on brian because i love him, and also because my balance is shot and i have constant vertigo. i have no doubt that my mom just said, “open both of your eyes.”

lisa took this picture.

this was my first visit to the school where i taught before my medical drama, about 4 months after my surgeries. lisa was taking pictures, and she was amazed at my ungrumpiness. “honey, while i’m here get a picture of me in this here wheelchair. who knows when i’ll be back again.”

i think that my mom's finger just adds to it...

i’m so glad to have this picture. it was taken at creekside, a coffee shop near my parents’ house. creekside was the home of many firsts. most importantly to me, it was the first place out in the world where i was left alone. my mom, after much troubleshooting, would leave me there while she did her grocery shopping down the road. a big step towards the new normal. creekside closed that winter, and finally reopened in a new location a month or two ago. it will always be a special place to me.

i was still pretty shaky here, and probably just took off my pink gait belt for the photo op. that’s the walker my elderly grandma let me borrow. i’m holding onto it for dear life.

one-handed walking. harder than you think.

this was one of the first times i walked any distance with my quad cane. the switch from a walker to one-handed walking was horrifying. at the time i compared it to walking a tightrope. without a net. i was rocking the low-slung gait belt for laughs. i have really good memories of this day – i’m glad to have a picture from it.

another picture by lisa.

now i did not reach this advance state of one-handed walking overnight. it took me about a year. on this day, lisa and i went on a hike. it was my first time hiking in mud. lisa had her camera ready in case i wiped out. clearly i didn’t or i’d use that picture here.

it's green where i live.

my cousin took this picture when he visited earlier this month. i like it because i think it still shows progress. my cane is there – i’m not trying to hide it or anything – but it’s not front and center. which is how my life is now.

when my cousin took this picture i realized that part of the new normal is that i’m grumpy about having my picture taken again. i need to remind myself that i’m still in paris, and i don’t know when i’ll ever be back again. so i’ll remember to keep having my picture taken. the kriste 2 years from now will smile when she looks at them.

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13 responses to “the eiffel tower

  1. Loved looking at pics of your progress. It’s so inspiring. I hate having my pic taken to. But you make a good point. It’s important to remember where we’ve been so we can appreciate where we are.

  2. Thanks for the postcards from Paris. Those of us who were only recently lucky enough to meet you can get a glimpse into the places where we’ve never seen you before and appreciate how far you’ve come. A hole in your head! A stylish headband! (Around here we call that a LaToya). I figured, when I met you, that maybe you’d recently had knee surgery or something.

  3. Hi Kriste, in the headband/half smile photo you didn’t mention the most obvious accessory: your feeding tube! Last day for that thing, since you were now able to swallow! That opened the world back to mac and cheese (pureed here), pudding, magic cups and mashed potatoes with lemon sauce. Yum! Yum! Worth remembering.

  4. I really appreciate the insight that we’re always in Paris. I also thank you for your honesty and openness in this blog, which I’ve really appreciated reading! But more than that, yes, we’re always in Paris. And it’s a precious opportunity.

    Looking forward to visiting with you again next time I’m in Corvallis, whenever that may be. Or if you come to the Bay Area, I’m here too!

    • thanks so much for reading my blog. and for responding to it!

      robyn was actually here last week, and we went to that coffee shop downtown (i now live about 3 blocks from it), and i pointed out the table where we sat.

      another visit would be excellent.

  5. you consistently amaze and inspire me.

    so so so grateful for you.

  6. funny how are give-a-shit factors change. i love how you go from “hanging on for dear life” to totally nonchalant. bravo.

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