The “How are you?” Dilemma

Listen…I love my people. My friends and my family. I love them with all of my heart. I’ve lost some along the way as we all have and I don’t blame them for not calling anymore. My former sarcastic, sardonic self just doesn’t have much to say these days. My world has gotten small and I don’t have any stories to tell. Being sick is a full-time, but rather uninteresting career.

But some do call. They ask me to dinner and with great joy I get myself cleaned up and join them as often as I can. I crave conversation. I want to hear their stories and laugh and be a part of the world outside of my own walls. But when it’s my turn I freeze. When they ask how I’m doing I have no idea what to say. Even the dearest, the closest of my friends and family will never understand what living with this chronic illness is about and when I attempt to talk about how I am, I see blank stares across the dinner table. The same table that was filled with laughter before it was my turn.

I don’t know how to handle this. I want to hang on tight to the people who love me and go out of their way to spend time with me. But I’ve got nothing for them. I don’t have any stories that will make them laugh. Do they want to hear that I am trying a new medication and that it’s making me sweaty and sleepy? Can I make the fact that I managed to clean my bathroom in one day sound fascinating?

How do you handle the “How are you?” question? I’m finding it incredibly awkward and my attempts have left me and my poor dinner companions searching for a quick new subject to discuss. Any advice would be great …and hurry would you please? I’d like to hang on to the dear friends and family who still want to spend time with me.

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