Now Hiring

June 16, 2006 at 11:22 am (Uncategorized)

I am currently accepting applications for someone to manage my internal yes-woman.  Clearly I’m not having much success reigning myself in, so I’ve decided to outsource the task.  Applicants should be able to set limits, enforce those limits, and be well-versed in utilizing the word, “No.”  They should also not be prone to guilt and should think only of putting me first.

There’s nothing like spending a couple of days flat on your back feeling like you’re drowning in your own phlegm to put a gal in an introspective mood.  Or maybe it was the codeine cough syrup.  It’s hard to tell.  But in between sulking about being sick yet again and composing miles-long mental lists of all things I need to do, but cannot, I’ve been pondering why it is that I have pneumonia.  Now, I know what my gorgeous doctor told me.  My immune system is compromised by both the sarcoidosis and the prednisone, and the prednisone masks early signs of infection, so one day I feel fine and the next…let the drowning in green gunk begin.

It’s terrific that my illness has afforded me a brief class in immunology for third graders, but I’ve been trying to ask my question on a deeper level.  After all, other people take prednisone and don’t spend their lives lurching from one illness to the next, and having their hottie doctors tell them if they’re not careful they’re going to wind up in the hospital getting IV antibiotics.  (I love it when Dr. Doogie gets stern with me.)

My mother has a theory to explain my latest bout of pneumonia.  She believes that I don’t rest enough, that I don’t spend enough time focusing on my health, that I spend way too much time running around doing things unrelated to my health, and that I perpetually wear myself down trying to please other people.   I’m beginning to think she’s right.  I hate it when that happens.

It’s no coincidence that I got sick one day after returning home from a very stressful week in Philadelphia, followed by two days of intense running around in New York.  The Philadelphia part can’t be helped.  I’ve got to travel to get medical care.  Perhaps there are ways to make these trips more restful, but I must make space – real emotional and physical downtime on either end of these voyages – to travel for healthcare without it devastating me.  The New York part, though, was a classic case of me wanting to make everyone happy, without giving a moment’s thought to what was best for me.  Jay wanted to go there to be at his baby brother’s bachelor party; his father and step-father wanted to show us a good time; Andrew was excited at the prospect of all that vehicular sight-seeing.  “Sure,” I thought.  “That’s no problem.  How hard can it be to dash back and forth between New York and Philly and take care of Andrew and move hotels three times?”  Apparently it was pretty hard on me because sometime in the middle of all this I began to feel broken.  That feeling persists, but with a lot more snot now.

Reading this will likely make Jay feel guilty.  After all, he was the one who specifically asked me if we could structure our trip this way.  He shouldn’t feel bad, though.  I’m the moron who can’t take my own internal temperature.  I’m the one who feels like saying “no” is akin to saying, “I’m incapable” or “I don’t like you.”  The problem is that I hate people who are always blathering on about their “needs.”  I don’t get along with people who always put themselves first, no matter what the cost to others.  And saying to Jay (or to anyone for that matter), “You know, I’d love to go to New York, but the reality is that I will be exhausted and strung out after a week of doctors’ visits, I won’t have much fun and it will probably wear me out and make me cranky – is there any other way we can do this?” feels like a betrayal of myself, of him, and of the way we like to live, that I am becoming one of those folks who are oh so good at taking care of themselves and couching this selfishness in the language of need.

Hence my help-wanted ad.  Since improving my skills with the word, “No,” doesn’t seem to be happening, I’ve decided to follow the lead of Delta Airlines, Dell and most of the rest of corporate America.  I’m outsourcing the management of myself.  From now on, I’ll forward all requests to my back office in India.  Those of you wanting me to fly across the country or host a party or make calls and write press releases for the local non profit or babysit your kid will have to answer to Rajesh (a.k.a. Sean) in Bangalore.  He’s quite skilled in saying, “No.”  Someone around here has to be.

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