“…I want to talk about me
Want to talk about I
Want to talk about number one
Oh my me my…”
Toby Keith, “I Wanna Talk About Me”
I am in danger of becoming one of those self-centered people my mom used to warn me about.
Mom used to say that it was easy for people with long-term illnesses to become very selfish. She was warning me about other people, like my dad, after he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s (somehow, she never dwelled on her own illness.) I never truly understood what she meant, but now that I have this breast cancer thing going on, I know that it’s true. I’ve simply got to get over myself.
This morning, I found myself in the shower humming the tune to Toby Keith’s country song (yup, I’m a country music fan) “I Wanna Talk About Me”. It’s pretty indicative of where my head has been at lately. I had been waiting on a pathology report for three weeks, one that would indicate how effective chemo will be on my cancer. I finally got the results back, and as I anticipated (because nothing is ever easy), the answer was, “probably not very” but “maybe a little.” The doctors say it in a much fancier way, but that is the long and short of it.
As a result, all I wanted to talk about this week was me. What was I going to do: chemo or no chemo? Why would I put myself through this? How will I live with myself if I don’t? My chemo decision was all I wanted to think about, let alone talk about.
Unfortunately, Mike went in for shoulder surgery the day after I heard the test results, so I spent a long time talking to myself, and bothering a few close friends and relatives (without ever asking them once about what was going on in their lives.)
It’s a weird phenomenon. I used to be interested in other people. Really, I did. As the country song goes (I’ve taken a bit of an artistic license here), usually…
…we talk all about your work and how your boss is a jerk;
…we talk about what to wear, and the color of your hair;
…we talk about your ass, and our awesome spin class;
…we talk about the troubles with your mother, and your f@#ked-up little brother;
…we talk about the lines on your face, and how your kid’s a disgrace;
…we talk about where you’ve been, and the hairs on your chin;
…we talk about the problems with your bladder, and how gluten makes you fatter…
I could go on, but you probably get the point…
But now? I just wanna talk about me.
It is weird what happens when you having one of those amazingly self-centered weeks (I find myself apologizing a lot), but it is even more interesting when your husband is in a similar kind of place, because he is recovering from painful surgery, and therefore quite self-centered as well.
There is Mike in our den, in agony, pale, sitting uncomfortably in the Barcalounger, his arm in a sling, hooked up to a machine that delivers a constant flow of ice to his shoulder. He is on both long-term and short-term narcotics. He is visibly uncomfortable; even his hair is messy.
He moans a little.
“So, do you think I should get the chemo?” I ask.
“Is the ice machine working? I don’t think it has ice in it.”
“It’s fine, I just filled it up. I’m concerned about getting the chemo and waiting on the radiation.”
“Honey, I’m in a lot of pain.”
“Uh huh, that’s normal. Can we talk for a minute about whether I should get the chemo?”
“Sure. Am I due for a pain pill?”
“Not yet. Do you think I will regret the decision if I don’t do the chemo?”
“Can this discussion wait a little? I’m only an hour and a half out of surgery.”
Yeah, well, Ok, it was just a few hours post surgery. But I needed to talk about me.
I eventually decided that I will do the chemo, in order to minimize regrets, of course. Why else would I have written that article before I knew the results?
But now that I have recognized the problem, I am going to try to insist that everyone I talk to tell me one thing about themselves, before we talk about me…and my upcoming hair loss.
I promise to listen for a good 5 seconds.
And luckily, when no one wants to listen to me any more, I’ll simply write about it.