In addition to the reversal of rolls in my household in which I became the caregiver and my wife is the patient, I had my last infusion of the antibiotic erdapentem yesterday. Once the infusion was completed the PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) was removed, painlessly I might add. While I hated to say goodbye to this port allowing for fourteen infusions without ever being stuck while inserting an IV line, I was happy when it was gone. The worst part of the whole last two weeks was that I couldn’t get the PICC wet so my left arm could not get washed. This morning I intend to take a nice long shower exposing my left arm to the pounding of hot water until I turn into a prune.
It does seem as though the infection that caused this whole thing is gone. I feel much better than I did two weeks ago but, because no test was done to confirm the bacteria is gone, I have a small lingering concern that maybe some of the bacteria wasn’t killed. Only time will tell if that is the case but for now I can only believe that a cure was accomplished. The infectious disease doc assures me that so long as I am symptom free no testing is warranted, that the treatment worked and there is no longer a need for concern. So I will trust in that assessment even though I have a lingering doubt that wants to hang around just to play with me.
On another note, now that holidays are over I want to rant a bit. As readers know, I am Jewishish, an atheist Jew. Culturally Jewish, a reader of Jewish thought and religious texts (I hesitate to call it scholarship) and a citizen of the United States, I have yet to find a proper response to someone uttering words, as sincere as they might be, like Happy Easter or Merry Christmas. I don’t know how to answer them. I could say, “Look, buddy, I don’t know what to say to you. It isn’t my holiday.” But that would be rude. On the other hand, I find it offensive when someone assumes I am a member of their particular mythological cult without knowledge of whatever mythological cult I call my own so why not be rude. The fact is that rudeness never solves a thing. It merely heightens underlying tensions that we know exist between competing groups.
I could, on the other hand, be quite passive and say, “Same to you.” But that response would be hypocritical. Because I don’t understand the hoopla behind either Christmas or Easter (sure I know the mythological foundations for them I simply don’t understand why people believe them) my response would be one of acquiescence to the fundamental ideas of these particular myths. This hypocrisy would also be rude, albeit, not an overt charge of rudeness rather a rather covert mocking of the sincerity of the original utterance.
Another response would be to simply nod my head in the direction of the well-wisher. This silent mocking is less offensive than the mocking response of, “Same to you,” but the intent is similar. While acknowledging the well-wisher’s utterance it silently evades a direct confrontation with the well wisher but doesn’t acknowledge the well-wisher’s words.
The problem lies in the hegemony of the well-wisher’s understanding of the world without considering the alterity of the other. The fact is that each human being is unique. Sure we belong to social, cultural, political, religious and linguistic groups (tribes) but even within each group and across groups our uniqueness, our alterity, is a principal part of who we are. To mash alterity into something one may consider as normal or normative and apply that norm to all is a reduction of the self (as unique) into the same (as defined only by the normative experience). The well-wisher reduces everything into a mush of normalcy thereby reducing everything to the same without regard for the uniqueness of the other. Hegemonic thinking, the reduction of everything into the same, amounts to a cauldron of roiling hate and distrust of the other, the non-compliant.
I would never wish anyone a Happy Passover unless I knew that the other was Jewish. Why would a Christian assume I am the same as she is without knowledge of my core beliefs or disbeliefs? It is offensive to me when someone chooses to lump me into their sameness without even a little bit of knowledge about who I am.
The solution to all this is simple. If you are certain you are talking to someone who shares your mythological stories, go ahead and include them in your wish list for happiness. If you aren’t just wish them a Happy Holiday; surely this will not offend anyone. Remember that all cultures celebrate rites of spring and the depths of winter in some form or another, even when those forms have taken on a life of their own divorced from their origins. So I wish most people a Happy Holiday and save the specifics for those with whom I share mythological foundations whether I believe them to be true or not.