Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are you feeling better?

Are you feeling better?
I have come to loathe that question.
What exactly am I supposed to be feeling better from? Am I feeling better than when I was strapped to a backboard a week ago?  Yes, because I have yet to meet a backboard that is particularly comfortable.  Am I feeling better than earlier in the week when I lay out in the sun “doing homework”?  Not particularly.
How about better than yesterday?  Better than five minutes ago?  Better than a year ago?
It’s a question that I can’t really ever answer. I live with chronic illness.  I’m not going to get better.  Sure, I’ll have my good days and my not so good days and my-roll-over-and-stay-in bed-because-it’s-not-worth-trying-to-get-up-days (those don’t happen super often, but sometimes I need an extra hour or two to complete the getting up process).
I wish I could answer that question with an unequivocal yes. I wish that one morning I could wake up and say “yes.  I am feeling better” but, barring a miracle, that unequivocal yes won’t come until heaven.  Until then, it’s just one day, one moment at a time.
If you really want to know how I’m doing, asking me if I’m feeling better won’t get you far.  Asking about a specific trouble will get you further (is your knee better?  Have you recovered from the flu?), but the best question, the question that if you care enough to listen, will get you the most truthful answer is “How are you doing?”
That allows me, and anyone else really, answer with where they are currently at without having to make comparisons are feel guilty for not actually being better even though a “normal” person would already have been better.
“How are you doing?”  is a neutral question with no presuppositions of improvement or lack thereof.  It’s open ended and non-judgmental.  And that's how are the best questions are.


Valerie said...

Another related thing that bothers me is when the answer to the question is "better", but the person asking the question automatically assumes "better" to mean "ALL better".

Joy said...

agreed...yes my knee is better...I'm out of a wheelchair and walking, but I can't (shouldn't, ought not to) play soccer yet, biking more than a few miles hurts, etc. Today is a better day than yesterday (maybe...I don't remember yesterday and I'm not sure what day it is today), but nothing is all better. Just some better.