Attention whore

attention whore


Way back in the 1990s, my mother had her own adventure with cancer. Along the way, she managed to get herself dehydrated, and ended up in the hospital. To my surprise and that of my siblings, she seemed to love the experience. “I call the nurses ‘the girls,’”she told me over the phone. “They are so sweet to me. They know I’m not supposed to have coffee, but oh, I wanted it so much, and one of them brought me a little cup of coffee, and – oh, Loren! – it was so good! And I asked her for one more little cup, and she brought it for me, and – oh, Loren! – it was so good!”

 

I listened to this story with a thin-lipped expression. Later I repeated it to my sister Susan, who grimaced. “I know,” she said. “The nurses fell for it. Mom can be so damned cute when she wants to be. But you just wait: once the nurses catch on, it won’t be so much fun for Mom any longer.”

 

Which, in fact, happened a day or two later. “I don’t know what happened all of a sudden,” my mother groused on the phone. “The nurses don’t seem to pay attention anymore. Sometimes I press the call switch and it’s a couple of minutes before anyone shows up. It’s like a whole new staff. I can’t wait to go home.”

 

This whole thing seemed very strange to me. Mom was normally the soul of staunch individualism; she lived all by herself at the end of a dead-end road, and most days she didn’t see a living soul. Why should it be so much fun for her to be the center of attention all of a sudden -
Aha.

 

She finally had center stage with a whole retinue dancing around her, and she was loving it.

 

She had become an attention whore.

 

Flash forward to the other day. I’m in recovery, which means I spend days at home alone watching TCM and waiting for the mail. So then I have a doctor’s appointment, and the doctor says, “You could use some fluids. We can give them to you today, in the chemo ward – “

 

I nearly knocked her down, I was so eager to get to that chemo ward.

 

“Chemo ward” doesn’t sound appealing, but it’s nicer and more comfortable than you think. The chairs are all recliners. There’s a TV in every little nook. There are chairs for visitors. The nurses are funny and make light conversation as they poke and prod you and stick needles into you. Snacks and beverages and warm blankets are available upon demand. In short, the staff waits on you hand and foot.

 

Does this sound familiar?

 

Ah, but I learned from my mother’s experience. Her mistake was that she overdid it.

 

I will not overdo it.

 

I have another fluids day soon, back in the chemo ward with those nice kind attentive nurses. I hope I can maintain my composure.

 

I don’t want the girls to know what an attention whore I am.


 

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworldonline@verizon.net.

10 Responses to Attention whore

  1. My friend Judy, whose spouse Tom is going through chemo (again), told me the chemo ward is nice, and the nurses are funny, and the patients are pretty amusing, too, and that that part of the experience is not as awful as they thought it would be.

    • They are lovely, and very funny. They try to make the experience as pleasant and non-threatening as possible, and they mostly succeed. And, yes, the other patients are pretty funny too. I was very grateful to the chemo staff for the experience I had there.

  2. Tell me the next time you’re recovering at home alone watching TV; I’ll come up and visit. Then you’ll REALLY be looking forward to getting away and back to the chemo ward!

  3. starproms says:

    Are you able to drink on your own yet, i.e. without the tube? I do hope so. Is your throat still very sore?
    Whenever I’ve been in hospital, I too have enjoyed the attention. It’s very nice to be waited on and fussed over isn’t it.

    • It’s lovely to be fussed over and taken care of; I’d forgotten how nice it was, and am dreading the idea that people will soon expect me to be self-sufficient again.

      My throat is still very swollen and sore. I’ve been trying various kinds of simple / soft foods, but have found nothing yet that really appeals to me. I’ve begun going to a swallowing therapist who says she can help me.

      • starproms says:

        Try this one: make some little butter balls with your (clean) fingers. Then roll the butter balls in sugar. They will melt in your mouth and provide you with some protein, fat and carbohydrate with the minimum of effort. I wouldn’t recommend this to a totally healthy individual because of the high calorific value but for someone who is recuperating, it would be very therapeutic. About 6 marble sized balls should be enough. (smile)

      • That’s an excellent idea. My throat seems to be improving over the past week or so – not great yet, but a little better. I managed some flan the other evening, and will have some more this evening. Still not much flavor . . .

        I finished Sophie’s World this afternoon. It was excellent. Thanks for recommending it. Frankly, I didn’t want to put it down.

      • starproms says:

        Oh that’s great that you managed some flan. Small steps lead to giant leaps! So glad you enjoyed Sophie’s World. I thought you would appreciate all the links to the philosophers etc. It’s a very cute story with lots of depth.

      • It goes slowly day by day, but over the last month I’ve improved a lot. I go back to work in a little more than a week; I find that I miss having a routine, and I think that will help me too.

        Sophie was very interesting, and a great refresher course in philosophy. I thought it was very well-written, too.

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