‘Tubes: A Hospital Diary’ is like waking in the middle of the night on the edge of a drugged dream


Tubes: A Hospital Diary

Comic zine, Grace Desmarais, 8 pgs, $7

“My body is a tangled mess,” begins A Hospital Diary. Grace Desmarais, a Brooklyn-based cartoonist and chronic illness advocate, skillfully captures the feelings of frustration and disconnection illness provokes, while her tangled lines draw the reader through impressions of her recovery from an emergency nephrostomy.

Amid thick brushstrokes and moody colours, Demarais uses fine, light lines to entangle and wind around her pages. These threads becoming a morphine drip, a nasal cannula, or the wires of a pulse oximeter as the pages become ever more crowded and mired in a chaotic lace. Drawings of her hands, torso, and lower face are rendered only in pieces and in fine, light lines, rendering her own body almost invisible among the bolder images of medical equipment.

Reading Tubes feels like waking in the middle of the night on the edge of a drugged dream, evoking the hazy impressions of illness and recovery. Demarais tells her story in fragmented images and statements: “Your face feels familiar,” she states, “but I can’t remember your name,” speaking to a person we can’t quite see through the window of her heavily lidded gaze.

“One day this will be a scar to translate,” Demarais concludes, suggesting that there are tangles that will remain behind, that still require unraveling and unraveling.