I met a former co-worker at the Mall of America for lunch today. She also is living with a cancer diagnosis so we had a lot to talk about. I was proud of myself because I spent no $.
I decided to take the train downtown, and just as I was boarding, heard a shrill voice, "yoohoo....Kathy". I knew immediately that it was S, a woman who's lived in my neighborhood for years. We've never had more than a 5 minute conversation on the street, but when I saw her coming my way, I wanted to bolt. I was about halfway through a good book Tales of a Female Nomad but now would be stuck in conversation with S for the entire 40 minute ride. In addition to being a chatterbox, she is a bit daft in the head. At times I've enjoyed her eccentricity, but in very small doses.
There was really no way to avoid sitting next to her. She started taking her purchases out and was going to explain each one. Suddenly, she let out a little scream.
S--Oh my gosh. What happened to your arm?
K--Remember I told you I was on dialysis? Well, this bump is the matured vein graft.
S--Oh you poor thing. ("You poor thing" is one of my least favorite phrases. I am not a "thing". I am a 59 year old woman who has made a remarkable recovery from a complex medical situaion.) How do you stand it?
S--Having people stare at your arm. It makes me creeped out just to look at it. Maybe you should wear long-sleeved t-shirts. I think they were on sale at Macy's.
What on earth would you do if a man asked you out?
K--I don't think that situation is likely to arise. (I didn't tell her about Stanley from the Y who wants to go to the Pub and play darts - he is about 80 and walks with 2 canes. I'd probably have to hold him up by his armpits as he took aim.)
We've had short sleeve weather for about a month, and I haven't noticed anybody staring at it. Last weekend we were at my cousin's daughter's graduation party in south Minn and no one said anything. My relatives are pretty blunt.
So, before I could let her ruin my day any further, I simply got off the train at the next stop. They run every 10 minutes, so the time sacrificed was well spent in getting to the next chapter of the book. Some people can't be reasoned with.
Keep calm and carry on.