I’ve posted about the dreaded ‘How are you?’ question a few times before but it is an issue that just keeps rearing its ugly head. A question that most people with chronic illness have dreaded hearing at one time or another, if not all the time.
On Saturday we went to a house warming party – one of my best friends from university has moved back up North after living in London for a few years and having her closer by is definitely something to celebrate! It was more than I’d done for quite a while, but I figured I could handle it if I stayed sitting and luckily we were able to grab a spot on the sofa. For once, it wasn’t the physical side of things that I was worried about but the socialising.
Of course there were no problems with my friend and her husband, but although I knew most of the others, only on the distant terms of friends of a friend. And at the moment I am not very good at small talk; it is hard to know what to say when your current life consists mainly of staying in the house all day, not working, not having exciting hobbies or nights out to talk about. In fact, the majority of things relevent to my life right now are quite scary – the prospect of needing Stem Cell Therapy / Bone Marrow Transplant / Chemotherapy etc. People don’t want to hear about that, to be dragged down into the negatives in others’ lives; so I start to panic when I sense that dreaded question on someone’s lips.
‘So how are you??’
Do I lie and say I’m fine, even though I’m obviously not and they may be told otherwise by someone else later? I’m thinking now that might have been easier. But me being me and all honesty instead said ‘I’m not doing so good at the moment…’
I was going to follow this up with a postive comment about our engagement, to change the subject away and stop me from sounding like a miserable party pooper, but I didn’t the chance.
Instead, halfway through my sentence, the person I was talking to hastily turned their back and blanked me completely. Now, I’ve had people look awkward, at a loss for things to say; had them change the subject and so on, but never have I had someone physically turn their back on me. My fiance and I were both gobsmacked and I had to stop him from tapping them on the shoulder and saying something.
At first I kicked myself for giving the wrong response to the question, but then I thought no, I just said it as it was; the problem was their’s. If they couldn’t handle the answer, they shouldn’t have asked the question – even if they were just doing it out of politeness, since the outcome was anything but polite! Most people know I have health problems, so they must realise that the question ‘how are you?’ is a loaded one. I would much rather they didn’t ask and stuck to talking to me about The X Factor, than ask when they obviously don’t care about the answer.
Maybe then I wouldn’t have to gage people’s reasons for asking, wouldn’t have to worry about tailoring my response to each individual and then maybe, maybe I wouldn’t dread hearing the question so much. Ugh.
Anyway, on a more positive note, I had a great time at the party and managed to stay until just after 10pm, which is late for me. Yes, I wished I could have stayed later and chatted away with everyone and maybe had a few drinks and gone home a bit tipsy. But this was a step up from being housebound and unable to move, so I was pretty pleased that I actually made it and didn’t have to let my friend down.
Oh and I think she liked the ‘Home Sweet Home’ cross stitch I made for her; the first I’ve managed to do this year I think.
So yay for being able to function, even if it is all the demon Prednisolone’s doing.