2 Simple Questions I Don't Like Being Asked as Someone With a Chronic Illness
“How are you feeling?”
“Are you feeling better?”
These are two extremely common questions I receive on a daily basis. These are also the two worst questions I receive on a daily basis.
I saw a quote somewhere that said, “Health is a crown that the healthy wear, but only the sick can see.” This, while being such a simple quote, really is the best way for someone like me, who has always been sick, to describe how I feel when I hear those two simple questions.
Being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at 18 months old was both a blessing and a curse at the same time. I learned, like many others with my illness, that when you get asked these two questions there are only two answers: “fine” and “yes.” Fine and yes, fine and yes, are you catching on? These two answers are all you will ever get out of me even when they are 95 percent of the time not true.
The truth is, I don’t know if I am feeling better. Usually I’m not, and if I try to describe to you how I am feeling you probably won’t understand because I “don’t look sick.” Even if you don’t say those words to me, I see it in your eyes and I see how uncomfortable my pain that you can’t see makes you. I’m not going to get better. This pain I am in is an everyday, wake-up-and-go-to-battle type of pain. I almost fall every time when I get out of bed in the morning, not because I am clumsy but because it takes a few steps for my body to understand it has to work. Most of the time I don’t know what it feels like to “feel better.”
Every day I wake up to live in a healthy person’s world. I don’t expect your pity, and I don’t expect special treatment, but I do expect your understanding. When you ask someone who has a chronic illness those questions, just try to understand that what I say and what is real life are most likely two different things.
I know these questions will never go away – they are just a way of life. In your world you are feeling better, and that is a great feeling I will never know anything about.
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Thinkstock photo via ksuklein.