When I first thought of starting this blog a while back it was with an eye towards beginning the process of thinking out loud on my way towards what will be my next monograph, Patient Time, a narrative/graphic medicine study of the experience of time during periods of illness. I had taught a seminar on Comics and Time the previous year and was just beginning a seminar on Comics and Illness, and so the time seemed right to begin putting down some thoughts.
My scholarly distance on the project was interrupted not long after the graphic medicine seminar began by the beginnings of an illness narrative of my own. At first I didn’t think too much of it. After all, I have been since birth what we used to call “sickly”—the kind of child in a Victorian novel who coughs in chapter three and has an awesome deathbed scene by chapter eight. Being a post-war baby, I have had the benefit of endless rounds of antibiotics, inhaled, ingested and infused steroids, and so I continue.
As a result, when I first found myself in the grips of aches and pains I assumed it was a flu, pneumonia, a respiratory infection—any one of my usual suspects. It wasn’t until I found myself on Saturday unable to walk upstairs without falling on my face that I began to suspect I was on my way to someplace new. Just how new I am still in the process of discovering.
And so it is I find myself now entering into some kind of hybrid of an academic blog and a personal illness diary. I don’t know where any of this will lead. I am entirely in the grips of a narrative whose shape has not yet revealed itself to me, and a landscape whose terrain is at once terrifyingly strange and strangely familiar, as if it is a home to which I have been traveling for many years without knowing it.
Time to start exploring.
Jared Gardner is a professor and patient at the Ohio State University.