When People Ask If Being Out of the Hospital Means I'm Healthy Now


After a long hospitalization and missing the first two weeks of spring semester, I can honestly say I have never been so excited to go to class. I craved social interaction from peers and not medical professionals. With my backpack filled with feeding tube and IV fluid bags and pumps along with school supplies, I finally walked into class.

I was greeted by smiles and hugs from my friends and professor. I was surprisingly unprepared for the line of questions I got. People asked me if I felt better and if I was healthy now. I should not have been caught off guard, as these are common questions. The people asking these questions were well-meaning; they were concerned about my well-being.

These simple questions have complex and complicated answers. I have already accepted that I have a chronic illness and will never be healthy or cured, but those around me do not always understand this. My acceptance has allowed me to live my life to the fullest and continue pushing forward without waiting to get better. One example is the fact that I’m still in college instead of taking a leave of absence since I know a year won’t make me better. Yet, it’s hard to say that to others. Many people do not understand my acceptance and think I’m being pessimistic.

As many probably do, I mostly just say of course I am better, without adding I am only marginally better than when I was in the hospital. However, I have also been more creative with my response this time around. If someone asks if I’m healthy, my current favorite response is health is relative, which really just deflects the question.

I realize there is no good or easy answer to these questions, and I will probably hear them again after my next ER trip or hospital stay. But for now I will just hope that does not come for a while. I do know it is a when, not an if, but I am OK with that because I will continue to make the most of the time in between crisis.

a woman next to a monitor in the hospital

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