I want to preface this post by saying that I am putting a lot out here and being very real. This is not easy, but something I really need to do for myself and i’m sure other will relate. I was talking with a friend who wrote about this as well, and was the inspiration for me to take the leap. If you want to check out her post, you can do so here.
I get asked “how are you?” all the time. It’s a common question that we all ask. I get asked it a lot because I have chronic health issues. I have built so many walls in my life and don’t let many in my inner circle to see how I really am. My normal reply to such a question is “i’m ok, or i’m hanging in there.” There have been times when I really want to answer with, “well, do you want the real answer or the BS answer that will only take 2 seconds?” Can you imagine if someone answered that way to you? Would you really want to know the real answer?
So for those who want to know the real answer to how I am, here it is. I warn you, it’s long and well, kind of depressing so here it goes…
I feel like utter shit, and I mean utter SHIT! ( I say shit, as I would rather swear, but prefer not to do so on here.) There are days where I just want to hide and have no interaction with the outside world, but lets face it, that’s pretty much impossible. I have no energy to do anything I want, and even if I did have the energy, I physically couldn’t do it. I have had 10 surgeries over the years on my right knee, right hip (including a hip replacement), and also surgeries on my left hip (latest one was last Monday 4/27) with a total of 22 surgeries overall in my lifetime, and I know there will be more, it’s just a matter of when, and i’m only 31 years old. I have chronic pain in a lot of my joints. If my joints are hurting then all my muscles feel like they are on fire probably 75% of the day, especially at night. I developed POTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) last October. It controls so much of what I can do and what I can’t. There are days that it’s hard to just get off the couch to go pee. When I stand my heart rate will jump up to 150 or more. When this happens it makes me feel weak, light headed, nauseous, head starts throbbing and won’t get better until I sit back down or lay down, and sometimes takes over an hour to get better. Oh and I forgot to add that I also have chronic nausea, and the dr’s have no clue on why. I take 3 meds daily just to help me feel a little better including 16 mg of zofran 3 times a day. By the way that is the dose that a lot of chemo patients are on. Even with all those, i’m still throwing up nearly everyday or feel like i’m going to throw up most of the day. Then throw in very low Vid D, and super low iron that I have to get a series of 4-5 iron infusions every few months or blood transfusions. My body just doesn't absorb either one and we don’t know the real cause. My health is so bad that my 2.5 year old has to be in day care or have friends/family watch her because I can't take care of her by myself. It could be so dangerous if I couldn't help her in the event that she got into something.
Oh, i’m not done yet. My husband who is 42 and was working at the same job for 22 years was fired over the dumbest reasons (won’t go into the politics of that). He brought in the bulk of our family income. He was denied unemployment (but we are appealing). Now we have stress of money and health. We are looking at relocating pretty much wherever he finds a new job since his specialty makes it harder. We are praying that something comes up that will be great for our family.
So there you have it. That is the longer version of “i’m hanging in there, or i’m ok”. Now my questions is.. Would you rather have me say the BS version or the long version?
As a society we don’t know what to do when someone opens up and really says what’s going on. We are so used to the answer of “ok, how are you?” and expect the same answer of “ok”. Then we either move on to other topics or walk away as it was asked in passing. What would happen if we just stopped and took a few minutes out of our day to really listen to one another’s problems? Maybe we should do that. Maybe it will help us understand each other more, where we can be more sympathetic and empathetic towards people. We all have our issues, some worse than others, but even that is relative. Yes I have not had an easy life the past few years. I don’t remember the last time I actually felt ok, with no pain. One thing I try to remember is that I can’t compare my issues with someone else’s, I can’t say oh I have it worse than they do, so they better not complain. How do I really know they don’t have it worse than me? They may not be telling the real truth, but only sharing the BS version of it. The only way I will know how they are really doing is by asking them, “ok, how are you REALLY doing? tell me what’s going on. How can I help YOU?” Once we start doing that, we can really make a change in their lives and in ours at the same time.
So, I challenge you to really listen to someone and ask them what’s really going on when you know there is something behind the “i’m hanging in there.”