Contributed by: Lori S.
Reviewed by: Evelyn Corsini, MSW, November 2008
My husband wakes me up with a kiss on my forehead to say ‘goodbye’ before he leaves for work. He is smiling and asks me how I am feeling. This is the hardest question for me to answer.
My lower back is stiff and painful. My legs refuse to respond to my subconscious directions to move. My feet ache and my lower legs are swollen just enough to make them ache. The back of my neck and upper thoracic area is on fire. I smile anyway. My mind goes back to something my husband said in the car a few weekends ago. “You know what would make me happy?” he said. “To hear you say that you feel great – not to hear you list off all of your problems and pain – not to hear you dwell on your problems all the time.” But, I can’t lie, and darn it all, I don’t dwell on my medical problems. …
I decide to change the subject – I roll over as carefully as possible, peel myself out of the bed and go to the bathroom, telling him that I’ll be right back. By the time I return, he forgot that he asked that question … So he leaves, thinking I am fine since I didn’t complain, and proceeds through his day with no idea how I struggle.
My husband comes through the door, always grumbling about the stupid drivers he must dodge… I empathize. I used to commute by car too, before I became a medical train wreck. The question is asked again, “how do you feel?” This time subterfuge is easy. I tell him all the things I did; factoids from the silly TV shows I watched, gossip about friends and neighbors. No mention is made about the searing back and leg pain, the stabbing pain still in my neck, alerting me a migraine is just around the corner, or a series of uncontrollable muscle spasms that rendered me unable to drive… Hubby curls up on the couch with his laptop and cruises the net, completely immersed in reading… My condition is no longer a concern, or so I think.
Then around 8:00p.m. he announces that he has made me a nice warm bath, to help relax my back and legs. Perhaps I will sleep better, he says. Without my verbalizing about the magnitude of my issues, he knows, at least to some degree, how I really feel. I underestimate his ability to perceive my aches and pains. After my bath, I tell him what he wants to hear. “I feel great! Thanks for thinking of me.” It is still a bit of a white lie, but I do feel great – and loved. For a few moments I am pain free, and I smile, for real this time.