I’ve discovered a lot about myself this past week, particularly about the importance/significance of exaggeration in my life. I’m Irish, ergo I’m predisposed to storytelling. Why would I be mildly ticked off if I can, in the retelling, be extremely irritated? Feeling miserable sounds so much better than not feeling well. Voltaire pegged exaggeration as the inseparably companion of greatness. And I can certainly live with that illusion.
Eric Hoffer reckoned that thought is a process of exaggeration – the refusal to exaggerate is not infrequently an alibi for the disinclination to think or praise. And God between us and all harm, I’d hate to be disinclined to either.
For the last week or so I’ve been inside, confined to quarters, and feeling miserable. The doctor diagnosed bronchitis and sinusitis, so any tips on how to deal with a cold were ignored. Don’t suggest home remedies or over-the-counter meds. The great medical minds in BP had ruled. I didn’t have a cold, dammit. I didn’t have the ‘flu. I had not one -itis, but two! [And there are those of you who think me a rational human being!]
As the drugs changed and the symptoms worsened and my Facebook updates became more graphic, I lost all desire to exaggerate. I was so busy being sick that I hadn’t the energy to add to it. Forget the -itises, I was having a horrible dose of reality mixed with hallucinations, cold sweats, and throbbing headaches.
And somewhere mixed in with that reality were the phone calls, the text messages, the e-mails, the Facebook check-ins from people I know well and some I barely know at all. That I turned down offers for help, food, and company is no exaggeration. And for those I’m grateful. But what I’m even more grateful for is that people stayed away. Odd, I know.
I’ve been accused in the past for taking people literally. Nay, accused is too strong a word, but I haven’t the wherewithal to find a better one. If you tell me you don’t want company, fine. If you tell me you’re okay, I’ll go with that. If you tell me not to come over, I won’t. I don’t factor in the possibility that you’re only saying this because you don’t want to inconvenience me in any way. I have perhaps too healthy a respect for other people’s wishes – and I’ve been wrong in this.
And I know some people struggled with me this week and wanted to help, and visit, and do what they could for me – and I’m grateful. I really am. But I’m even more grateful that you respected my wishes and didn’t. I’m the world’s worst patient. I need to wallow in my misery and get on with it and get it over with. I don’t want to be cheered up. I think that’s why I dread hospitals with an absolute passion. Why I hate visiting people and why, when I do, I will only stay long enough to acquit myself.
So, as I slowly make my way back into the world of the living, one nostril at a time, I look forward to catching up on what I’ve missed out on and can only hope that you’ll still be returning my calls.
Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52