I’m done being the go-to sick expert at parties

It’s my fault, really. Someone asks me a question and what do I do? I answer it! What am I thinking?

The thing is, I’m happy to answer that one question. The problem is that it’s never just one question. One question leads to another and before you know it I’m talking about health issues for half an hour at a party where I was excited to get out of the house and be around other people so that I could forget about my health issues.

It doesn’t happen every time, but it happens too often. It happened last night. And I’m done.

Last night started simply, with one person asking a group of us if anyone had experience with CPAP machines, because he was having trouble with his. So of course I talked to him about my experience and tried to help him troubleshoot his issues. But as usual, two things happened that I hate.

First, this guy was all excited to have someone to talk to about this stuff, and wanted to delve into details. I saw him get that way people get when the suddenly see me as a potential mentor, teacher, or whatever. He even friended me on Facebook later, even though we’d only had that one conversation about health stuff. We know nothing else about each other. But based on that conversation, he wants to talk to me more.

Second, two more people joined in, even though they couldn’t really help. One knew nothing about sleep apnea but wanted to suggest we both try herbal medicine. The other knew a bit about sleep apnea and treatments because a friend of hers has it, so she told us what she’d heard from her friend. It’s nice they wanted to help, but they kept interrupting a conversation between two people who actually have the medical condition to offer their unfounded opinions. That prolonged my conversation with this guy, and it also made it harder to break away. Suddenly, it was a group conversation that was taking on a life of its own, so it was harder to end.

Thankfully, a friend came by, and I did something I don’t usually do. I ignored everyone else and started talking to my friend about something completely off topic. I think I asked him about his work or his holiday plans…. I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is that the guy with the CPAP questions tried to talk to me again, and I ignored him. It was rude, but I considered it self preservation. In the past I would have answered him, and then I’d have gotten sucked right back into that health-related conversation and it would have ruined the rest of my night. I didn’t have any more suggestions for that guy, so we would have just been discussing what we’d already covered, but in more detail. This way, we all ended up talking about something else. I don’t know how anyone else felt about it, but I was much happier!

Last night was a big success, so going forward I’m going to keep doing that. I’ll still answer a question here or there, but when someone asks about my inability to eat gluten at a party, I won’t end up in a half hour conversation about Celiac Disease, how I figured out I had it, where gluten hides, blah blah blah. Nope, I’ll just promise to send them some useful links so they can read about it themselves and I’ll move on.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still all about education. If someone thinks they might have Celiac, for example, I’ll gladly try to help them. But maybe not at a party. Maybe not when I’d rather be thinking about another other than my health. There’s a time and a place, and I think it’s about time I choose both.

Do you have this problem? Do you get sucked into health-related conversations at gatherings? How do you feel about it? How do you handle it?

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9 Responses to I’m done being the go-to sick expert at parties

  1. Karen J says:

    Good for you!!!

    I need to start doing that, too, only from the other side of the table – not over-sharing information, just because *I’m* the excited one. Folks don’t really want a bunch of “gory details” about either my mental or emo/mental health. “Give me the Readers’ Digest version”, as my friend Sue just said 🙂

    Blessings to you, all!

  2. This happens to me a lot. It’s exacerbated by my medical nerd-ness, so I just know a lot about various things (I wish I had a stronger stomach…I would have gone to medical school to become an endocrinologist).

  3. Hayley Cafarella says:

    I can relate so much to this! I get very frustrated when I’m finally out of the house and looking to have some lighthearted fun and then somebody wants to tell me all about their health history because they’ve learned that I live with a chronic disease. Like you, I don’t mind educating when it’s appropriate, but I hate feeling like I need to answer questions on the same topic all the time. I usually try to change the topic when I can, or if they’re insisting on continuing to talk to me I smile and nod a lot without offering much in the way of reply.

  4. Just point them to your blog! 🙂

  5. Julie Ryan says:

    I’m all for education and helping people, but there’s a time and place for everything. Like someone above said, just point people to your blog. I’m a master at shifting conversations away from myself and to other people, just to avoid those discussions.

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