Friday, October 8, 2010

How 'Ya Doing?

How are you doing?

A question you’ve probably been asked more times than you can count - by doctors, teachers, parents, friends, coaches, and on and on and on. Do you say the same thing to each of them? Do you even tell them the truth?

This is a question I struggled with for a long time. Close to my diagnosis when I was beginning to finally understand what being an IBDer meant, if someone asked me how I was, I would launch into a massive spiel about Crohn’s and the treatment and just about every tiny detail. But that ended up frowns and looks of disgust on the faces of those who had asked, so I backed off and relented to the usual answers - ‘good’, ‘fine’, ‘thanks for asking.’

One day, I was asked by a friend’s mom how I was doing, but she then proceeded to interrupt herself and apologized, asking if I even wanted to be asked. I looked at her and said that if she was asking because she wanted to know the answer, then she could ask as much as she wanted, but if she was asking because she thought it was the polite thing to do, then I didn’t want to be asked.

In certain social circles growing up, everyone knew that I had IBD. People placed their own expectations on me - that I’d be unable to handle commitments, etc. - without ever first asking to see how I was and what was really going on. I had people that I baby-sat for hold their kids to them asking if I was contagious. I would smile tightly and answer what they didn’t ask - how I was.

When I came to college, my biggest to-do was to first be Jennie, and then Jennie with IBD, but first Jennie. It seemed like a simple enough task, but I was floored by how difficult it became - almost every memory in the past seven years relates to being sick in some regard. But I’ve done my very best, and think that I have succeeded.

My answers to ‘how are you doing’ have varied in the past - from simply ‘I’m doing’ to ‘Not so hot’, but nonetheless I try to answer honestly (and appropriately) for each person that asks me. I know now that in general the doctor wants the gritty details, the parents want the emotional part, the teachers want to know if you can sit in class, and so on.

I cringe at the simplistic phrase when I’m asked it, and try to decode that look of concern on the person’s face to see if it’s real or fake. But I will answer the question, because if I do my job properly, I can make even the polite askers good listeners.

So, how are you doing today? I’m listening.


1 comment:

  1. To be honest, not great. I was JUST diagnosed w/ Crohn's last week. I'm in a lot of pain, all day...prednisone was supposed to help pretty quickly and my dr also started me on pentasa.

    I'm not Canadian, but I'm loving The Gutsy Generation sites. Awesome! :)