77 / Honesty


Attentive, avid readers will have noted there’s been a recent hiatus in my posts on this blog.  The reason mostly is that I just couldn’t find the energy to write.  My cancer has burgeoned.  I am now in the hospice once again. 
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 “How do you feel today?” 

The question hangs in the air between us. OK. Well? I scramble, flat-footed through bits of automatic response.  How should I answer?  At this very moment I don’t feel in any great pain that I want to complain of.  It comes and goes.  It’s been an effort to get here; to sit and talk.  So I’m a bit short of breath.  But that seems feeble as a reply.  Scrap that. I search for something more precise.

I have great sympathy for the teenage stock retort, a shrug and “Fine!” – avoiding the exertion.  But that really won’t do either.  I pass myself in rapid review.  It seems to me that I do feel ‘fine’.  I have continual aches and twinges stemming from the tumour in my neck treated with electro-chemotherapy last week.  This was to be expected.  No news there.  I am drowsy from the immunotherapy treatment I began also last week following the alarming discovery that the genes had managed to mutate and were now mounting an aggressive attack. Also anticipated.

Medical staff must try to calibrate.  It’s a necessary step. “On a scale of one to ten…?”  So much of medical practice is informed speculation, clever guesswork.  The question about how I feel seems beyond this kind of calculated probing.

What if I said I feel like screaming. I feel like hollering at the moon. I feel like shrieking in fear. Like smashing this dish instead of washing it clean – even though it is one of my favourites.  Maybe, because it is. What does it really matter?  How you do feel is private.  Keep it to yourself. People have their own issues and don’t really want to know. A deep-seated reticence stemming from ingrained etiquette; appropriate social behaviour.  And then there is the question of honesty; the continuous struggle between stating things as they are and spinning them for a preferred effect. Faking it.

So all things considered, in brief,

‘I feel…the best I can’.


© Benog Brady Bates


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