Thursday, June 28, 2007

When people ask how are you, do they really want to know?

Hmmm. That's an endless debate. How many times have you read in Miss Manners that when people politely ask you, "How are you today?" that they don't really want to know. They want to hear, "Just fine thank you, and you?" It's the American greeting, a long version of "Hello."

But if they know you have cancer, are they really asking how you are? And do they really want to know. "Well, thanks for asking. Today I feel like puking." Or, "I haven't pooped in three days. So I'm slightly angry." Or "I've had a headache for a week, but it's probably just an anticipatory tension headache of my next chemo treatment because I know what will follow."

I am an anticipator. A worrier about pain to come. I didn't really worry if my colonoscopy would hurt, but for months before the procedure, I worried about the day I would have to spend drinking that poop cleanser and not eating. I hate to be hungry. Really really bad. I have food everywhere. I have a 32 quart Rubbermaid container at work stuffed with food and snacks.

And I didn't worry about the surgery where they would slit me open and cut out part of my descending colon, and sew me back up. Because I had nothing to compare it with. So I didn't know what sort of pain to expect. (But now I do; it hurt like hell.) But I healed pretty quickly and was back to work in a few weeks because, generally, I am a healthy person.

But I know what's to come now. And I fear it. Mostly I fear the bad mood I will be in, and consequently being generally disliked. Nobody really likes a sour puss. And it's hard to put on a happy face when you have poison coursing through your body. Is my husband going to get tired of me frowning? Are my colleagues going to rue the day I joined the team? Most of my friends aren't around enough to get tired of me. Many of them live more than 100 miles away. And that's the way I like it. And probably they way they like it, at least over the next few months.

Today, at least, I can say, "I feel good." That usually means I have an appetite, and I feel like getting up and walking to the mail box or the water fountain or the bathroom (washroom in the Midwest). That means when I get home tonight, though I might need a nap, I'll feel like walking Louie and Spunk (if she wants to go).

I have less than 24 hours to enjoy it. By this time tomorrow, I'll be hooked up to the chemo IV.

But I'm fine, thanks.


Kate Elliott, editor, LWT said...

When I ask, I want to know.

Anonymous said...

Hey again Terri!

You know that I would want to know, and to let you know that you're in my thoughts and prayers as you go thru this again, starting tomorrow. In case no one else has told you this, but we pray for you esp. on Wed. at our staff mtgs. too. I'm trying to check out your blog every few days or so, because I want to keep up with you! love, Janet

Anonymous said...

Yes, when I ask, I want to know too.