I rather enjoy tending to the comfort needs of people when they are ill or in distress. Maybe that’s a mitzvah thing for me too. I also have a very short attention span, though, so I might not do well in the long term chronic situation — after a while I get a bit annoyed if my charges have not miraculously responded to chicken soup and Emergen-C.
My mother had non-Hodgkins lymphoma. I helped my sister care for her after her surgery and through the early stages of her chemo. It was, well, you know, it was someone I cared deeply for being very very sick, and me having a very limited number of useful tools to help the situation. Luckily she responded very well to chemo, one component of which was prednisone, which beats the hell out of cocaine as a mood lifter in my book. We were at the ready with ample amounts of pot (just adequate Mexican weed, this was Houston, after all), but when she came out of chemo she could eat a horse. We would go straight to this burger joint on Shepard near the Med Center, where they served up $5 burgers (in 1990) to the well-to-do of nearby River Oaks and wannabe vicinity.
Unfortunately one of the other components of the chemo had the side effect of promoting shingles, which she came down with about four months into the process. The reason we knew about the shingles being a side effect of the chemo component was because my sister would stay up late poring through my brother in law’s medical books (he was in school to become a physical therapy assistant), not because my mother’s oncologist had bothered to pass that bit of information along — that wouldn’t have been in character. I learned the value of a medical advocate, the more tenacious the better.
Some Oedipal shit in there, no doubt, as my mother was a delightful person in many ways but had virtually no skill in the maternal nurturing department. Not that she did try — she thought of herself as the best mother imaginable, but it was like… you know how it feels when someone who thinks they know how to massage, but actually sucks at it, gives you a back rub? That’s kind of what it was like when my mother mothered. But she was great to buddy around with, and she could be a lovely, considerate, gentle nurse. It’s a wonder I didn’t spend my childhood faking illness for her attention, for the soft boiled eggs on toast, rather than faking illness to skip out of school — which I did every year from 5th grade on, after my sister taught me how to fake a permission slip.
Not that I’m encouraging you to fall ill. But if you ever need to take a few hours off and be catered to, you could play sick and I’d bring you soup and fluff your pillows, take your temperature and soothe your brow with a cool cloth — that sort of thing. FYI.