I’ve been showing up sick at work all week; not contagious (I think), but just not well. When people ask if I’m feeling ok, I just tell them I have a lingering cold. Having a “lingering cold,” is pretty acceptable this time of year.
What I haven’t been telling people is that I have some unexplained hearing loss, that the fatigue is back, and that I am schlepping from doctor to doctor in a quest to find out why I’ve had more or less unrelenting “colds” for the past year.
I’m not exactly pretending, I’m just making my illness more digestible for others.
In her book, “In the Kingdom of the Sick,” Laurie Edwards talks about the phenomena of “faking wellness.” Chronic, unexplained illness is boring for me and, I think, ridiculously tedious for others to hear about. I find I pick and choose the situations in which I cop to being sick and those in which I tell people I’m feeling, “fine.” I have a small group of people that know about my endless quest for better health, but mostly I fake “well” or at least I fake “not sick.”
Usually I’m ok with this choice, but sometimes I wonder if I’m isolating myself by not being honest. Am I being a good friend by not burdening people or am I cutting myself off from intimacy? I’m not always sure.
Do you tell people when your symptoms get bad or just “fake well?” I’d love to hear how you manage.
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