Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Privacy Undone

It's been a sociological survey in my head as I've gone through medical issues the last couple years.  Part of me feels the need to keep loved ones informed of my various ailments.  I regularly consult my mother, my genetic benefactor and generally knowledgeable person.  I talk to my husband about problems (and everything else under the heavens) daily.  I don't mind when family or close friends try to be helpful or inquisitive about test results or how I'm healing.  All of that is wonderful, supportive, comforting help.

But how do you tell "fringe people" to knock it off, mind their own business, and leave someone alone?  I'm talking about nosy, gossipy coworkers, friends you don't regularly share things with, or people whose paths just happen to cross yours.  How do you tell people you see every day that you don't want to share the details of a blood test?  How do you explain to semi-strangers that you don't feel the need to explain your medical history--or any other history for that matter?

Maybe it's my social ineptitude, but I don't know how to tell people to butt out without sounding like I don't want to share anything with them.  What I had for dinner last night: fair game.  Whether or not I have a UTI... let's keep that out of the workplace/cafeteria/gossip circle, okay?  It's one thing for my husband to know that I'm not feeling well.  It's another thing entirely for my coworkers to know (and then to be sharing that information with clients in my absence--no joke).

Is there a good, nice, positive way to tell "fringe people" to shove off a bit?  What would you do?


Lockwood said...

One response to such questions I never really got the knack of using is "Why do you ask?" Personally, I go with a shrug and, "It's complicated, but everything seems to be going OK. I just don't want to think about it any more than I need to." The first one draws attention to the questioner's snoopyness, the second to the fact that it's never fun to think about illness.

cm0978 said...

That's a great response. I was thinking of how the advice columns suggest, "Why would anyone want to know that?" But as Lockwood says, that just makes you look rude yourself. I think you just have to keep stonewalling people with the same polite response. They should get the hint.

Dr. Weirdbeard said...

you've been diagnosed with work-related stress syndrome. More paid leave is required.