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How I Really Feel When I Say, ‘I’m Fine’

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I’m fine. 

I use this reply all the time when people casually ask me how I am.

Is it the truth? What does “I’m fine” really mean?

I’m fine. I dislocated my knee this morning and sat on the floor for half an hour wondering how to get up and get all the kids breakfast before school or manage to drive them there.

I’m fine. My wrist gave way as I lifted a pizza out of the oven for lunch. This made me catch the tray on the counter, which in turn made me bounce the tray down on my other arm, leaving three lovely zebra-striped burn marks.

I’m fine. I can’t seem to take a breath today. It’s shallow and fast as my autonomic system is struggling to balance itself. I feel like I’m wading through mud.

I’m fine. I stepped on a stone at the end of a really nice walk (it was literally 10 yards from the front door). I sprained my ankle and feel over like a seesaw — ankle, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder in perfect succession — and I finally stopped as my face skimmed the floor. I also managed to cut open my leg through denim.

I’m fine. My daughter is screaming uncontrollably in a combination of pain, exhaustion and helplessness. After pain relief, a massage and a warm bath, I can do no more to help her but to gently hold her and reassure her that she’ll be OK. 

I’m fine. I fell twice while I was out for a walk pushing my daughter in her wheelchair. Today (well, most days actually) walking without looking at my feet seems to render me incapable of staying upright at all. I’m beginning to regret wearing shorts with my two scabby knees and a cut on the top of one foot.

I’m fine. We’ve spent the last 12 hours traveling across London from one hospital to another for emergency brain scans for our son after they found pressure behind his eyes and his peripheral vision affected. Thankfully, they ruled out a mass. It was he longest 12 hours of my life.

I’m fine. I got barely any sleep, and when I finally get up, I realize that a bone has subluxated somewhere in my foot. Bearing weight on it is agony. Actually, sitting is agony. But the kids have an early orthotics appointment at the hospital, church services and school, so I brace my foot as best I can. I manage to get an appointment five days later to manipulate it back into place.

I’m fine. I learn that my child’s class teacher has decided (all by herself) not to apply her shoulder brace for the last six months in school — the very thing needed to keep her shoulder safe from a dislocation during play times and PE.

I’m fine. As I stood up in the middle of my Pilates class to change position from lying to standing, the sudden pooling of blood in my legs and the inability of my heart to pump enough blood to my brain makes me hot and clammy. As if in slow motion, the room started to spin as I began to pass out.

I’m fine. My son came home really tired to the point he can barely string a sentence together. I learn his new teacher is refusing his requests for water in the afternoons even though the importance of hydration is clearly written into his care plan.

I’m fine. Sometimes I feel like I live in a parallel universe as I talk to my friends about their lives. Their worries and hopes can feel a million miles away from mine.

I’m fine. I had a wonderful day out with my family yesterday walking, laughing and picnicking. We even managed a little dancing. But today, I am paying for my fun. Breathless, my heart doesn’t know what it’s doing, and I struggle to even sit awake on the sofa.

I’m fine. My daughter yelps every time that she moves in bed as her hip partially dislocates, and I read her to sleep to distract her from the pain.

I’m fine. I fell spectacularly into the Thames as I saved my daughter from stumbling along a narrow bank. Spraining my ankle and tweaking something to my right arm left me incapable of holding a cup of tea.

I’m fine. It’s my second migraine in three days, and this one has really floored me. My arms are heavy, my face is numb and I feel like a brass band is playing in my head.

I’m fine. Today I practiced true calmness under pressure as my son went into shock after breaking his wrist. I kissed him as he closed his eyes as the doctors manipulated the joint back into alignment. My heart broke a little.

I’m fine. My rib is out and subluxated. As I drive to school to collect the kids, I still can’t get it to relocate. As I stand in the playground making small talk, it really hurts to breathe.

I’m fine. Those two little words have become my mask that I hide behind to cope with my normal day to day. I like those words, they help me show the world (and my kids) there is more to life than this. I don’t know where I would be without them. 

I’m just fine.

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Image via Thinkstock Images

Originally published: November 10, 2016
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