99% of the time I flash that "fake smile" and give my standard answer "I'm doing pretty good." (I should copyright it) . That response can mean so many things. It could mean that in all actuality, my back is hurting from sitting on these hard chairs. My skin is starting to feel like an open blister that I just rubbed up against the table because of the many conversations that are taking place, kids running around and the music playing in the background just gets under my skin. Makes me hurt all over. My muscles ache and make my arms and legs feel like someone placed weights on them.
Usually half way though my meal I have to stop and just sit quietly to gain some energy up to finish. When asked "Is there something wrong with your food?". I reply "No, (enter fake smile here) just digesting and taking my time.". What it really means is I am having difficulty holding this 20 pound fork because the simple act of eating causes fatigue. That is why it takes me so long because I need rest breaks even for that. I have to take smaller bites because the more I eat the harder it is to swallow and I don't want to choke.
After sitting on a hard chair while slowly eating my dinner, all the conversations seem to collide together that makes it sound like a tornado siren. Kids are loud and running around the table but just being kids and the music playing in the background is just too much for me to take in. I sit there quietly with my fake smile and act as though I am paying attention to what the other person is telling me but by this time of the evening I probably don't even know what you are saying and I am just nodding and saying "Uh-Huh". For all I know, I could have just agreed to give you my first born.
At the end of the evening I am whipped but managed to flash that "fake smile" one last time. I had a family member come up and tell me "See Jenn, you got out of the house and all you had to do was just sit there.". Though I love this family member dearly and do not hold a grudge but "just sitting there" was NOT the only thing that I had to do in order to come. I had to plan before I left the house. Plan and time when I needed a shower and rest. Do my hair, rest. Get dressed, rest. Ride in the car, rest in the car. Sit and try to figure out what I want off the menu because I am so indecisive now it is ridiculous. During a conversation I am hoping like hell that I don't mess up my words or forget my train of thought so I don't look like an idiot. Especially don't want the look of "Oh you poor thing." when I am trying to think of a word. Again, when this happens, here comes the "fake smile" and even a fake giggle just to laugh it off. While I am "just sitting there" I have to tell myself to take deep breaths because of the tornado siren like conversations are all around me. It's making me hurt, ache. Eating, rest. Drinking, rest. Comprehending ONE conversation, rest. This is the point when I am sitting quietly and I tap my husband's leg and whisper "Let's go.". So, please don't ever think that all I did was "just sit there" because that is not true.
After all this being said, I actually taught myself something. Me not wanting to truthfully explain how I am feeling is not the only reason why I flash the "fake smile". It also because I don't want my loved ones to feel sad that I have a chronic illness. I do what I can, when I can.
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