Read an Interview with Keiko Honda, author of Accidental Blooms
In 2006, Keiko Honda was 38 years old and living a busy life. She was a successful research scientist in cancer epidemiology at Columbia University and raising her toddler in the Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood of New York City. But one Monday morning, Honda’s life took an unexpected turn. She felt numbness and tingling in her right hand and leg. As the numbness started progressing in her left leg, she called two friends to watch her daughter and one to take her to the hospital.
Doctors at the hospital made a discovery that changed the course of Honda’s life: she had transverse myelitis, or TM, a rare neurological disorder characterized by inflammation in the spinal cord that affects one to eight of every million people in the United States. Honda was paralyzed from the chest down. After spending 74 days in the hospital and three more years in New York City, she moved to Vancouver to have a wheelchair-accessible home, to be closer to nature and to take care of her daughter.
Honda’s new memoir, Accidental Blooms, will be published by Caitlin Press this month. In it, Honda shares her life before, during and after her diagnosis. She explores the blessings of humanity and the relationships that have sustained her. The book examines Honda’s art practice, her community involvement, motherhood and identity as a Japanese immigrant.
The Tyee caught up with Honda recently in her Vancouver home. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.