Please Don't Ask Me, 'How Have You Been Feeling?'

I know most people think they are doing a good thing by asking me how have I been feeling. It seems like a simple way to show that they care and are interested in my condition. What they don’t realize is that this question is really difficult to answer. Every time someone asks me this question I have to say, “No different, my symptoms haven’t improved or they’ve gotten worse,” which is followed by their response of, “Aw that’s a shame, what are the doctors saying?” The doctors don’t have an answer. They want to keep repeating procedures they’ve already done, keep handing me countless medications that only give me awful side effects, or medicines I have already tried and keep telling me to just “hang in there.”

Every time someone asks me how I’ve been feeling and I say that answer, it makes me feel hopeless. It reminds me of how frustrated I am with living like this: in constant pain with no hope of an answer, no solution and no diagnosis. My mind sometimes drives me crazy, contemplating whether going through all these procedures over and over is necessary. Did they really miss something? Could there be false negatives? Is the problem outside my intestines, somewhere else in my body?

I appreciate all of the people who are concerned with how I am doing, but each time I have to answer the, “How are you feeling” question, it makes me sad to keep having to say there is no improvement after four years. I want to be able to say I feel well again and I am able to live my life. For me, each time I answer this question and say how I keep going downhill and adding more deficiencies to my pile of symptoms, it’s a reminder of all the things this condition has robbed me of.

When friends or family send a message to just say, “I’m thinking of you” or “I am here for you” instead of asking “How are you feeling?” it reminds me how many people I have backing me in this fight without having to give a depressing response. It reminds me that even though they don’t know what it’s like to live in my body and don’t feel the physical pain I do, they’re doing what is in their power to let me know they are by my side to help me conquer this battle.

Next time you want to reach out to a loved one or friend living with chronic illness, remember that simply saying “I am here for you” can have a long-lasting impact and make a world of difference instead of reminding them of their condition and making them repeat an answer they have already said hundreds of times.

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