Monday, April 28, 2014

Let Me Tell You About my Bunion.

PS I don't have bunions. And the illustration reflects the graphic nature of the medical conditions shared with me.

What is the secret of good conversation? I was really driven to question this today. I know there are certain so-called “rules”. You know, ask questions, listen to the answers, try not to stick your own oar in the waters all the time. Evaluate your responses, be thoughtful. Really hear the other person.

I put this to practice today. We had our monthly book club meet and Elsie, a person I don't know very well, asked me to give her a ride home. We had already engaged a little in the kitchen where we were plattering the lunch. She'd asked me if I were going to Ireland this year and barely waited for my answer before launching into all the (medical) reasons she couldn't go there this year, this being the 10th year in a row she couldn't go there. A blow by blow accounting of 10 years of medical history. And yes it was savage and awful. But hey, behind her now. She survived. Maybe it is just me and maybe I'm being harsh, but lawdy, everyone I meet lately launches into med-speak with me, from their hangnails to their bowel movements, from their meds to their tumours. And their tests, their scans, their MRIs, their ultrasounds. It can get extremely wearying. Especially when the person is standing in front of me, alive, vertical and in motion. And it's all behind them now. It's history.

Maybe I'm lucky with my health and if it fails maybe I will grab you by the lapel or blog-wrestle you to the ground and blister on (and on) about it too. But it is completely boring. It would be completely boring even if you were a beloved family member/friend.

Don't get me wrong. If you are in hospital or need any kind of assistance to get to one of your appointments, hospital tests, anything, I'm there in a heart beat. Lean on me. Or if you are currently ill. One of my friends is and I listen intently to the symptoms and the medical assistance she is getting. I love her. It is important.

But for Dog's sake – leave the history of every health travail in your private journal once you are well again.

And that ride home with Elsie? More about her gall bladder than I would ever need to know - even about my own. This was after she asked one question about what road races were coming up for me and before I even mentioned the first one she launched into the 99 reasons she couldn't do it. All of them medical. All of them historical.

Needy. Yeah, I know. And I don't lack compassion. But shyte, at some point in 60+ years on the planet there should be a smidgen of growth, of self-awareness, of interest in others. Especially if you've shown a curiosity in the greater world by joining a book-club?


  1. Bravo!
    Hear Hear!

    A little less than 4 years before I'm 60, but already, the break-down of the body talk is going on in my circle, which is a pretty big age range - 43 to 70. Ironically, the vivacious 70 year old shares her health issues the least; not that health stories are bad - but limits are necessary.

    I think we all need to share and learn from each other, with the operative word being "share" as opposed to "dominate."

    Lovely foot pic. :)

  2. I'm always taken aback when I get talking to someone who cannot conduct a conversation. They believe they can, it never occurs to them that they can't, but they don't really listen: they only want to talk and when not talking wait for the next chance to talk again, and prepare for that chance all the while. It's no fun, and the unawareness of it is quietly appalling.

  3. I agree with you :)
    and am ashamed that lately
    seems I talk a lot about health
    to my children and others.
    Really wish I was not asked
    "how are you?" :)
    Think I will put tape on my finger to remind me to share less :
    In the past never did this..
    Your sharing was good for this one.

  4. Absolutely loved this. Rang bell after bell!

  5. A measured muddle of medical miseries
    Is merely a means of making a mark.

    The woman is woefully wanting
    of friendship,and willfully
    wasting your time.

    If you were as lonely,
    And lacking as she,
    You'd build better bridges,
    And show that you listen,
    Instead of just speaking.

    Don't dally with dumbbells;
    A loser's a loser.

  6. If there's anything worse than listening endlessly to another's historical health issues, it's those who give a blow-by-blow account of the health status of their friends and family - people I don't know. As I'm a compulsive listener, I wear myself out sometimes with these stories.

    We have a monthly breakfast (full English) get-together for older women and I'm gradually extricating myself from it. I hear snippets of conversation from huddled little groups recounting someone's illness, operation, medication and - latterly, who's died and who soon will.

    It's a real downer.

  7. I'm laughing. I have had three conversations today with friends, and ALL THREE gave me extensive rundowns on their health problems.

  8. They're worried, feeling vulnerable and mortal, and possibly don't have a blog to write about themselves post after post. :)

  9. People are, for the most part, selfish and seem to know when they have latched on to a person who is polite enough to give them the opportunity to spill their guts. I know because I am regularly in the same position you are. I am a listener and not always a talker and care about what people tell me. Sometimes, when I feel especially full of myself, I decide to take center stage and demand all the attention for myself. I do get a kick out of that and people are so disappointed.

  10. Poor you. People who're obsessed with all their 101 medical conditions are a pain in the arse. Fortunately there's nobody who deals me that particular card, and I don't do it to others because I have no medical conditions of any significance. Why can't people share the enjoyable things in their life and keep their dreary physical ailments to themselves? Of course I sympathise but I don't need to know all the ins and outs.

  11. I had to skip the first bit so I could get away from the photo.

    But I am always telling patients that it drives people away when they go into their health problems with any but their very dearest friends. If I'd just had both legs amputated and someone asked how I was doing in pubic, I'd say, "Oh, fine, thanks."

  12. Funny! When I ask someone "how are you?" I'm not looking for an "organ recital" and am appalled when I get one. Those people should have long chats with themselves before they go out in public. Give themselves all the gory details and then tell us they're fine thank you. Thanks for the giggle.

  13. You are mighty patient to listen until the end. I would have jumped in at some point and changed the subject because that kind of talk makes me dizzy.

  14. Similar to Secret Agent Woman, I had to move the photo up so I wouldn't see it as I read. Ouch!

    I'm 55 and don't have health problems to speak of, so the odd time when my body acts up, it seems like a real big deal. An event. Like a mystery to be solved. Like telling it to someone might be a way of figuring out the cause or the cure. It's such a shock when I'm not in perfect health, that it seems something to tell.

    Maybe everyone is like that?

  15. I have a dear friend whom I truly love who cannot write an email or have a conversation without one reference to some health problem. I do care about her, so I do care about her health, but I really do not need to hear that she spent the night vomiting from a migraine. This is not a life-threatening condition, and it happens frequently, so why go on about it? I prefer to discuss books and ideas and such. Nobody really cares about the size of your gallstones unless they are FAMILY, eh?

  16. Hello young lady! Wish you good health and happiness for the rest of your life. I believe sickness is a mental status- always worrying about health, especially in old age. There is more to life. Just enjoy the moments, that's all.

  17. Wow! I find a lot of these comments rather mean. Basically they say "Stifle". I am lucky to be healthy but when I'm not it seems rather necessary to speak of it since it is ruling your life at that moment in time. I would expect my friends to do the same.

  18. You've got lots of patience on dealing with that kind of talk. It would take forever! LOL! If I we're in your place, I'd have never stopped yawning with a half-smile of course! LOL!


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