Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Selfishness of Sickness

Culturally, we have this thing about people who are sick, victimized, marginalized, or damaged. It puts them outside of the flow of every day life and makes them wise. Noble. I'm prey to it, I've been writing books about outsiders my whole career. Being an outsider can mean being able to see others.

What is most annoying about this whole Hodgkins thing is that it is doing the exact opposite to me. It's making me self-absorbed. The sick spend a lot of time self-monitoring and even someone like me, who has had relatively few bad affects from all this, notes every ache, every twinge. My world has shrunk. I am the topic of my every conversation, the object of my own fascination, and while this has pretty much always been true, having no hair means other people ask me about myself and my health. And when I tell them, they tell me how great my attitude is. Before, like most reasonably socialized people, I had the good grace to be an adult and hide some of my self-interest. Now, I expect to be the center of attention.

When I started this blog, at least I had some interesting things to relate--about Hodgkins and about what it is like to get a CT Scan and a PET Scan. But like many illnesses, mine is mostly undramatic. (And may it stay that way. Drama is a bad thing in illness and airplane flights.)

There are a number of different styles of blog and journal on the web. Some of them seek to provide information on a topic. There are a couple of good ones on lymphoma where people try to provide up to date information on treatment and research. There are a ton of blogs where people function as editors--they search the firehose of the web and post good stuff. An interesting phenomena. And in retrospect, an obvious one. If the internet is a place where everyone can read slush, the internet is also a place where everyone can be an editor. (Except being an editor takes an element of self-discipline that posting slush may not.)

There are blogs like mine, which are about someone's personal experience of a certain topic. Spelunking, maybe. And there are blogs about being someone which are interesting if that person creates a persona on-line worth reading. (And boring if the person doesn't--but those pretty soon don't get read.) My preference in blogs is towards the personal experience ones, either organized around a topic or organized around someone's personality.

I am aware that there is more to this blog than me just nattering on about my aches and pains. It does provide a couple of things--for my friends, it's a place to check. Yep, she posted today. Even if you don't do more than skim it, it's a way to see that basically things are okay. And it's an astonishment to me that people want to check. (Okay, part of me is convinced that everyone wants to know everything I do, but I'm also pretty convinced that I'm a boring person and a lot of the time people are just being polite. If nothing else, having Hogkins has made me feel more cared for than I can possibly explain.)

And this journal is also a place for Sarah and Heather, who like me, are having this little adventure. So we can say, 'Yeah, I felt like that,' or, 'No, thank God I didn't ever think that.' I don't think this blog is a complete exercise in narcissism.

But I would just like to state for the record, that I am having one of those days where I am more than a little tired of myself being sick.

And now, I think I'll go have a little nap with the miniature dachshund. She, at least, is glad I am sick because it leads to naps. And given that this morning is was nine degrees, the more opportunities she has to cuddle up with someone, happier she is.


17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

...but I'm also pretty convinced that I'm a boring person and a lot of the time people are just being polite.It's always amazing to me how many interesting people I know who think that about themselves. (As it happens, I think I am boring, but then of course in my case I'm right).

I've never met you, but you don't seem boring. Neither is your blog boring.

- mrw

January 18, 2005 5:49 PM  
Blogger Gregory Feeley said...

I like the idea that Maureen seems interesting to everyone, but actually isn't.

Maureen, have you read Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain? Now may be the time! (It's about illness, health, and more important here, sickliness. The protagonist goes to visit a sanatorium, discovers himself ill with consumption, and spends seven years there, neither terribly ill nor well enough to rejoin the world.) Get the new translation; the old one (Porter-Lowe) makes Mann dull, which -- who knew? -- it turns out he isn't.

January 18, 2005 6:43 PM  
Blogger David Moles said...

I’m here for the writing. (Okay, and because I care. But the writing sure doesn’t hurt.)

January 18, 2005 7:01 PM  
Blogger Greg van Eekhout said...

Speaking of selfishness, I selfishly hope you continue to blog after you're done having Hodgkins.

January 18, 2005 8:48 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Greg F., I AM actually more boring than I seem.

David, you get to be here because you're sick. Even if it turned out not to be a flesh eating bacterium.

Greg Van E--I kinda hope I don't have anything to blog about come, say, June. But this blogging thing, it's addicting.

January 18, 2005 9:11 PM  
Blogger Maureen McHugh said...

Hey mrw, you've never met me and you're reading my blog?

Now that is cool. But I am boring. I just aspire to get even more boring in a couple of months.

January 18, 2005 9:13 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Maureen, I come here daily for various reasons. Like some others, I come for the writing, which I enjoy. I also come because your thought process is pleasing to me, and I'm interested in what you have to say. And then, I am sincerely grateful for your companionship in this, our Hodgkins adventure. Your reflections and your experiences with it are valuable and validating to me, and I thank you for sharing them both here and at my blog.

January 18, 2005 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey mrw, you've never met me and you're reading my blog?Hey! That's my line! I'm The Corpuscle guy. I signed my name the first time I posted here cuz Blogger made me post here anonymously, but then I just switched to my initials because I'm lazy and it's what I sign my emails with. So I found your blog that way and now I just like reading it. Because it isn't boring. :)

But I am boring. I just aspire to get even more boring in a couple of months.No, I'm more boring that you are. Or, at least, I think that must be true because I don't know anyone more boring than I am. Still, I wish you luck in becoming more boring soon. As you say, drama in airplanes and illnesses should be assiduously avoided.

January 18, 2005 10:17 PM  
Blogger Darby M. Dixon III said...

This reply was deleted because the author of this reply is too boring.

January 19, 2005 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boring can be good - as you say, in airplane flights and illness.

I find that the personal blogs give me a taste of the conversations we might otherwise be having if we were able to sit together in the same place and talk.


Regarding self absorption: I've gone through phases where, because of difficult issues, I found myself becoming horribly self absorbed, beyond even my normal prediliction. Then I become self absorbed about the distasteful aspects of being self absorbed!

Alis

January 19, 2005 2:21 AM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I check in because you write beautifully of things I cannot imagine and things I can. I check in because I'm concerned. I check in because I like to see what other people are saying back to you.

Me, I don't have any excuse for blogging (except that I remember the theme song to "Mighty Mouse." And that I'm always fascinated to see what things will spark a response and what things don't.

January 19, 2005 1:41 PM  
Blogger Madeleine Robins said...

I check in because you write beautifully of things I cannot imagine and things I can. I check in because I'm concerned. I check in because I like to see what other people are saying back to you.

Me, I don't have any excuse for blogging (except that I remember the theme song to "Mighty Mouse." And that I'm always fascinated to see what things will spark a response and what things don't.

January 19, 2005 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Paula.

If we worry about whether we're being too self-absorbed, aren't we just being self-absorbed? Take a cue from the mini dachshund: nap and don't worry. :)

January 19, 2005 9:35 PM  
Blogger Elad said...

I come because I care. And I'm thankful to you, Maureen, for keeping this blog. Despite the "subject matter", it is a tiny blessing that I get to read some of your words everyday. So, thanks.

(*hides*)

January 20, 2005 6:22 PM  
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October 06, 2005 6:29 AM  
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May 20, 2006 2:28 PM  

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