These days when people ask me how I feel, on most days I can honestly say “I’m fine, thanks”. Sometimes I add a few words, depending on who I talk to and what they know about me and the chronic illness I have: “considering the circumstances”. If I don’t add this it’s because I don’t feel like explaining myself. What ‘good’ means in my situation. Because ‘good’ will mean something different today than it does tomorrow and than it did yesterday.
‘Fine’ is a relative concept. It will have a different meaning to anyone. If someone doesn’t know me and my situation well, he can think: ‘Fine? Than that probably means she recovered well or she can do certain things again.’ In my case that’ll probably never be the truth unfortunately. You will never fully recover from chronic illness – I don’t mean this in any negative way, there’s just a good chance you’ll have some residual damage (I have) – and recovery is also a very long road if you’ve been dealing with serious illness.
The past 1,5 years have been good to me. And with this I mean: I haven’t had any inflammation in this period. In the 10 years before that I dealt with serious inflammation at least once a year and sometimes a lot more. Even though I haven’t had any inflammation I still have good days and bad days. Bad days can be caused by me (for example after a daytrip or a party) or be completely random. I don’t mind them so much anymore because they usualy last 2 – 5 days and I don’t take a step back in my level of endurance or energy level when I have them. In the past one and a half years I’ve finally had the change to built up my physical condition with a physical therapist and doing lots of muscle strenght training, walking and biking. The years before 2017 this was never a possibility because I was always out again after three months of being back on track. I can now really see a difference in my physical condition and this makes me so happy. That alone makes me want to say (or even scream): I feel good!
“And where are you now physically?”, you might wonder, if I say I’m feeling fine or even good. It depends. I’m still miles and miles away from being a healthy average person, but I don’t mind this as much as I used to (on most days). I have come from far. I spent two years bedbound and after this long period things did not go well either. I had trouble sitting straight, standing, walking, biking. Even just standing up and going to the bathroom felt like climbing a mountain for long periods of time. Coughing and laughing hurt and I couldn’t go anywhere on my own. I had tons of medications and I gained almost 15 pounds from prednisone.
Now I get to go out to dinner without pain, I can take my bike to a meeting or go on a daytrip without a wheelchair. It’s not always without any pain or tiredness but I can do it and that just makes me so happy. I do things a little slower, I sit down more often (great excuse to have coffee and cake when you see a nice cafe), I take an afternoon nap and go to bed early. My life doesn’t look like a regular life (I’m on health benefits but I do try to work as many hours as I can – usually no more than 4-8 hours a week unfortunately) but to outsiders my life now looks pretty normal. Fake it till you make it, right? No, I don’t like to fake anything. I can’t keep that up. I just enjoy my life more now. And that feels just… ‘fine’!
When do you feel fine? And can you ever sincerely answer that you feel good <considering the circumstances>?