Lately, lots of people have been asking me how I’m doing. They’re not asking in a “Hey, how you doin’?” way. They’re asking in a putting their hand gently on my shoulder and gazing into my eyes “How ARE you doing?” sort of way. I’m finding that to be a difficult question to answer, because I don’t really have an answer that works.
“I’m doing fine.” Yes. True. But it doesn’t acknowledge the emotional and mental work I’ve done to get to a point where I can give a nice, bland answer (and mean it.)
“I feel good.” Yes, also true. Most of the time I feel good, even great. (Is that what they expect to hear?) Ok, things have changed – I can’t breathe as well as I used to, but mostly that just slows me down a bit. I’m having hot flashes all the damned time (Sorry, not cancer related. Does that count?) I’ve also been dealing with a tweaked shoulder, which caused some pain. My chiropractor (and all around amazing woman) was able to fix that. But really, I mostly feel good, healthy, able to walk long distances (as long as they’re not up hill.)
But what is still difficult to talk about is that I’m stuck with this stupidass cancer for good. There’s no take backs, not setting the clock back, no going back to the good old days. And even though I’m at a point where I can say “I’m fine,” and mean it, if you scratch the surface too hard, you’re going to get to the really gritty stuff. I’m pretty sure that most people who ask don’t want that gritty stuff. When they hear it, their eyes tend to glaze over, they try to change the subject, offer encouraging words. And right now, I’m pretty sure that I want a break from the gritty stuff, too. I’d like to take it easy for a little while, to the extent that if they called up with a place at Commonweal tomorrow, I’d probably turn it down.
It would be much easier if people asked, “What have you been doing?” because though the answers are going to be similar each time they ask, they’re also going to be much more comfortable for all involved. And besides, that will give me an excuse to show off my sketchbook, invite people on hikes, or talk about the books I’ve been reading.