How are you, really?

“How are you REALLY?” has been a question that’s been asked of me quite frequently in the last weeks.

My answer has consistently been “I’ve had a couple of tough days, but mostly I feel good”. I should note the “tough days” have been more physical than emotinal or intellectual. The day when my body sugar fell dramatically, sapping me of energy and enthusiasm, is an example.

As I’ve engaged with people, whether in person or through social media, I’ve noticed two main groups of responses.

There are those who take my positivity at face value, offering encouraging affirmations like “you’re amazing.”

Then there are others who approach the situation differently, perhaps sensing that I may be hiding my true emotions about what’s happened. They wonder if, once I leave the comfort and support of the hospital environment, I might experience a deep depression when the reality of it all sinks in. And maybe that’s a possibility.

Speaking of recovery, I’ve noticed some “phantom feelings” in the area of my amputation. People around me have suggested that it’s my mind and body grieving, and maybe there’s some truth to that. But I can’t ignore the 57 years of neurological responses that my body and brain have built together, which may also play a part.

Visitors and well-wishers have been keenly interested in hearing about the forty-eight to seventy-two hours when I rapidly lost my sense of what was occurring. I understand their curiosity, and to be honest, I enjoy recounting the story. After all, I’ve always had a deep desire to tell engaging stories, evident both in my career choice and this blog.

However, I’ve come to a point where I want to shift my focus away from the past and towards the future.

In the grand scheme of things, there are millions of people around the world who’ve lost partial limbs (or more). And they’ve done so without the privileges I’ve enjoyed living in an affluent country with a first world health system.

Visting Angkor Watt in Cambodia recently, we encountered a group of musicians playing beautiful music. It turned out they were living with disabilities caused by landmines, and their performances were a way to support themselves. I purchased a CD from them and obtained their permission to record a short video.

For now at least , I’m choosing to focus less on what has already transpired and more on what lies ahead.

Even if this newfound perspective could be considered a sort of false consciousness – too optimistic? – is that really a bad thing?

Finshing up in the gym today, heading to my wheelchair.

4 Replies to “How are you, really?”

  1. Thanks for this post. One never knows what is the right thing to say, but then why censor what we want to say. I just think it is so unfair. You went on a holiday to where so many people travel and live, and something bad happened to you. You are a good guy, as I am sure your family, friends and work colleagues will attest. It is just not fair at all.

    But you are a smart bloke. You have hospital staff, family and friends to support you professionally and mentally to the adjustments in your life. Best of all, you don’t talk or write through your leg.

    1. Agreed Andrew. The experience has definitely impacted me in the short-term, and likely will in the long-term too. Some of ways are already evident, others will become more evident in time. But life also has this of reminding you that even when you think you know everything there is much to learn.

  2. It is difficult, at any time, to answer the question “how are you?”. Your inclination is to say “Fine!” Because you think it’s boring to express anything negative. I like it when my friends express their real feelings, bad or good. I think it helps them to get something out of their system, and it makes me feel that I’m not the only one who isn’t always fine.
    I imagine you’re not fine, but you’re appreciative of the process of healing. I’m just a reader, so I can’t really help. Other than say it is more than just blogging, sharing feelings as you do is helpful and I think a reflection of who you are however many working legs you have!

    1. Thanks Sally. The blog definitely helps me do a bit of self-analysis. I also agree with you about the importance of honesty. You get to a point in life as you get older (and for me, as a result of this) when you realise there is no point in being anything but honest. You’ve still got to be mindful of other feelings, of course.

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