No simple answer to “How are you?”
Written by Sandi's Ow on February 10, 2013
Who would ever imagine that the simple sentence “How are you?” could mean so many things?
There is far more than a double standard here.
I have discovered no matter how bad you feel, healthy people really just want you to say “Fine.” They have no inkling of the degrees of “Fine” that exist.
The majority of people do not understand what it’s like not to feel well for more than a few days, unless they’ve gotten the flu that’s going around this year. Even then, that kind of sick, and our kind of sick are nothing alike.
People with RA, chronic fatigue, Lupus, Fibromyalgia or any of the many syndromes we deal with, have a completely different standard of feeling well.
Most days, if I can get up, get dressed, put on make-up and go out somewhere for more than a few hours, that is a red letter day, especially if I didn’t spend a week in bed resting up for it.
That’s the day I am “Fine.”
Then, there are days that I think are good if I turn on my laptop, sit in bed in my pjs and cruise the internet for a few hours, TV on in the background and dogs on the bed for company.
I’m doing “pretty well” those days.
Lastly, there are the days that are so bad you simply stay down and endure until you feel better.
I don’t answer people those days.
Frankly, it’s been so long since I have felt traditionally “Fine” I’m no longer quite sure what is involved.
I admire the people I know who actually are up out of bed, dressed and ready to take on the day by 7 a.m. Really. Wow.
My friends who work all day, every day — which I used to do — impress me. I did it for the best part of 35 years, yet I can’t imagine doing it now.
I am slowing revving up my writing career again, and I have wonderful things to do. However, just when I believe I’m doing better and can do a little more, my body gives me a harsh reminder that I am not ever going to be “Fine” again.
All that said, I am trying to think of a way to answer the question “How are you?” with something that isn’t a lie, but an answer that will let them know I’m the best “Fine” I can be on that day.
“Okay,” is a wishy-washy answer, “Fair to middlin'” is one good where I live, “Still above ground” is a perfect answer to someone who doesn’t mind a bit of sarcasm.
“Well” is a contender. It could imply I was going to say more, like “Well, other than the screeching pain in my back, I’m okay,” or “Well, what are the other options?”
I also try to dodge the question with something like “Ask me later,” or “It’s too early to tell” or my current favorite, “I’ll keep you posted.”
But, the big question is: how am I today?
“Well, ask me later. If I’m still above ground, I’ll keep you posted.”