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(Kris Kristofferson reference)

I had a rather unusual experience this evening. My wife was standing next to me (she does that from time to time), looking with great excitement at some photographs she had just had developed. It turns out that they were a few years old, but only now developed. That happens to us. I am still looking for the rolls I took in Europe, Paris in particular. They were probably confiscated by the Thought Police at the airport in Brussels, but that is another story for another time.

She is standing next to me and giggling and laughing and doing her “Oh, my God!” thing when she sees something that really delights her, while I am busy going through the second set of photos from the batch. It is clear to me that they are older, but I do not know how old. I just know that I see her dad in a lot of them. And none of me. I notice things like that, not that I am a vain man :).

When she starts to cry, and I mean really cry, when she lays the pictures down and starts to leave the room, I stop her and ask, “Is it your dad?”. He passed away earlier this year, and I am thinking that some photo has set her off, some tender, some sentimental moment has really gotten to her.

She is speechless. Literally unable to speak, and beginning to blush, she is so upset. She is shaking her head, she has put the pictures down, she has a hand to her mouth, very upset, and I am trying to guess at what upset her, about to pick up the pics and find out for myself when she picks them back up to deny me the end of my curiosity.

I am concerned for her, and continue to ask her what could possibly be making her this upset. It is sort of like a game show, to be honest, and would be funny if it were not so serious. I keep bringing up names and situations and she keeps shaking her head, No, with her hand to her mouth and the tears flowing.

Finally, she settles down a bit, takes a deep breath, if you will, lays the pictures back down, with the exception of two, and says, rather shakily, “Picture of you.”

Picture of me? I didn’t know I looked that bad. Ever! Even now! 🙂

I ask, in fact, “You mean after this last surgery?” (when I felt I looked like a concentration camp survivor, albeit sans tattoo, said with the deepest respect for those who actually lived through it or did not, but as the best description I can think of for how I looked with my rather emaciated body, hair loss, etc.).

She shook her head again and said hesitantly, “After the first.”

The first? The first was three years ago! And I didn’t look so bad after that one! You can look at my picture on this site. I mean, I may not be Paul Newman (okay, he’s dead now, so bad choice, but you catch my drift), but I’m nothing to cry over (am I?).

So I finally get to see the pic and it is me in the hospital, in a bed, head resting between some sort of stabilizers, foam on either side of those, most of chest covered with the ubiquitous butt-crack robe but enough showing to show some bleeding. Trickling blood is always eerier, somehow, isn’t it? It appears it is running down from my neck to under my garment. There is more, of course, but that is the blood I notice first. Lower part of head is swollen, there is a trache with a serious attachment to it, and there is even some sort of garrote-looking piece of wire or something wrapped completely around my neck.

I suppose that is there to keep my head together :). Sounds funny as I say it, but I speculate that it is so. I see no other reason for it but to help maintain my immobility, perhaps.

What I notice, beyond the blood and the trache and the line ‘drawn’ down my lower face from bottom lip nearly to chest before it veers off to the left, what I notice beyond the fact I am sleeping and being garroted at the same time, what I notice beyond the tubes and swelling and monitor attachments, is that I have hair! I have a moustache and lots of curly brown hair!

Those days seem so long ago :).

I WAS a bit overweight, even beyond the swelling, but, geez, I was a rather handsome lad, if you take away the swelling and the new chin/neck ‘tattoo’ and the tracheand the blood and all of that :).

It did not make me cry. It made me interested. I looked at every small detail in that photo, down to the color of the sheets and the way someone apparently moved my robe a bit to cover my breast before the photo was taken. (Danged censors! :))

But I wasn’t there. Someone who was, someone who feared for my life, found this photo disturbing. I guess you had to be there, and I wasn’t. Whatever else you see in this photo, you can be sure you will notice that my swollen eyelids are covering my eyes, that I am asleep or in that induced unconsciousness that some of us shorten to ‘coma’.

Not to continue to beat on that drum, but these caregivers, they sure go through a lot.