How I Respond to 'How Are You?' When My Health Is Struggling
I’m still alive.
I’m still fighting.
On any one of my social media sites I have less than 300 friends or followers. I am by no means popular I don’t think but that is OK, because I do have a group of amazing friends and family members who love me and support me and encourage me in my endeavors. I am loved and cared for and I feel it with every email or text message, and every sincere inquiry into how I am doing.
There are some however who would panic with the truth, which is that I have been fighting for a life that at times feels elusive, sometimes laying in the hospital bed having doctors tell me as much. Or sitting in a chair in my home having a nurse tell me I’m slipping away. The labs tell of a fragile body, a sick body only on really tough weeks. I know deep down that I can’t keep saying “I’m good” when I am not because doctors don’t hear the hidden meanings. They can’t see the struggle going on inside of me.
At the same time, I feel bad about just saying what is going on inside of me. I can’t just say, “I feel like my insides are at war against each other” because to me it feels like complaining. I am not big on complaining about my situation when I still have so much to be grateful for. So I adopted a new way of looking at things.
“How are you feeling?” is often met now with the truth, “My body is not tolerating oral or enteral nutrition and I can’t do parenteral nutrition” followed by “but I’m still fighting,” “I’m still alive!,” “I’m not done fighting,” etc.
I hope when friends or family members hear this they see that while things are tough for me right now, I am still fighting. My digestive tract may be shutting down on me, and immune system may be unable to fight infections like it’s supposed to, but this body of mine is stronger than digestive tract paralysis, autoimmune disease or any number of illnesses that attack it, and I certainly don’t want to leave them right now. I am doing all that I can to ensure I survive. In all honesty, I know it’s not always in our control, but for now I hope they have the hope and encouragement they need in order to know that I am not done fighting. I’m a fighter.
So, when someone asks me how I am doing, it will be met with something along the lines of “I’m still fighting” and a lovely smile.
Chronic illness is not taking me down without a good fight.
Getty Image by baharhun