Saturday, 26 February 2011

The politics of sympathy, and other outbursts

My pulmonologist recommends that I look at it as nasal conjunctivitis. This isn’t a medical term; it is a philosophy. It means that I must cough and wheeze without expecting any recovery for three days till the infection wears off.
My cough is not new. I get it once a year, for at least 15 years now. My pulmonologist gives it a new name each time I visit her – Sinusitis, Rhinitis, Nasal Polyps – but I know it’s the same bloody cough and it is always just as bad.
Like I said, it usually occurs once a year, but this episode is the second in four months. I am not so worried about my cough, as I am about the significant drop in sympathy.
My last illness attracted much pampering – I got sick leave easily, my boss was kind, Conscience Keeper called often to check, friends came to visit, the maid was helpful, and I got all the time to cough, rest and read books. Coming to think of it, this is how it would play out each time.
But now I have caught the infection again, much too quickly. My throat is throbbing, my tongue is white, my nose is choked – but none of my suffering is getting any attention. My pulmonologist didn’t take a blood test, not even an x-ray. My boss cold-shouldered me and reminded me of deadlines when I was on sick leave. Conscience Keeper called once from out of town, and willingly kept the phone down when I said my voice was weak. My friend said oh-no, and changed the topic. My sister laughed. Good R told me online that even my ghost is over-saturated with my cough tales. The only one I can call is K, but he would accuse me of giving him a virus that cost him a 1000 bucks.
Now I have put this lack of sympathy to the diminishing law of returns. Nothing is as profound as Economics. Not even philosophy, I tell you.

*****

So I finally found a willing shoulder to cry on, or rather cough on (thankfully, online!) a while ago. # gave me some insights on Americans. Below are his opinions, and his opinions alone. I am not going to tell you if/ when/ and where I nod.

Me: i am trying to understand the politics of sympathy
#: ah
#: a cold or a fever doesn't garner as much sympathy as a dead pet cat or a dead pet dog would garner...
#: even worse, cold or fever would only make people loathe you...
#: as if you did it on purpose
#: so - kill your non-existent pet dog and take a sick week off
#: these guys don't take an off because they are sick...
#: worst to worst, they'll work from home
#: more important things are car repair, some house repair work like electric work... or some kitchen modeling work
Me: that works eh?
#: yup! It will not only work...it will garner you the much needed 'sympathy'

PS:You make me think, #, you seriously do.

*****

A choked throat and stuffed nose makes me creative. How else can I explain a creative writing assignment finally completed, a blog post (this!) and the deep observation shared below:

“I am grateful that lady’s-fingers don’t socialize with potatoes.”