How do you do?

You’re twisting my melon, man. You know you talk so hip, man. You’re twisting my melon, man
Step On – Happy Mondays

Is it all of us, I wonder? Or is this little issue just me?

I promised a few more taboos. Fear not, no gruesome photos on this posting. I was reminded today, by Emma Jones of something that regularly irks me. This taboo is so trifling really that I feel almost self conscious mentioning it. Which is exactly why I must.

It starts the moment we meet. You say – not unreasonably
“How are you?”
You do this, I guess, out of a mix of habit, and a genuine interest in my health. Like as not, I’ll reply simply
This is because mostly, these days, I do feel good. And anyway, I’m English.

What’s annoying is the cracks this little word plasters over. The very next moment, I’ll wince or groan or some other thing will give off a signal that maybe I’m not quite as OK as the simple answer implied. And as soon as I’ve done it I worry that I’ve made myself look like a faker.
Hmm” I imagine you’re thinking “is he so used to putting on the moans and groans that he does it now out of mere habit? Or, alternatively, is he just so jolly English that he says he’s good when he’s quite definitely not?

Here’s the taboo – and I don’t even know how other people with myeloma really feel about this, because we’ve all got a vested interest, at any one time, in talking our situation up (if we’re just trying to get on with life and not be dominated my myeloma) or down (if we’re feeling in need of sympathy). But here’s the reality. My bones don’t feel like they used to. Things ache that didn’t ache before. It could just be age, of course. But I have another culprit in my sights.

I asked my doc about residual pain last week. He said sometimes it takes a while to go. Sometimes it never goes. Is it just me? I suspect not. Personally, I’m only groaning about achy bones. I know other people who are dealing with the legacy of neuropathy from the anti-myeloma drugs. The sensations would be different, but the story much the same.

I’m increasingly concluding that the only intelligent course is to just get on with life, and not worry about it (I think it hurts less, when I think like that too. I’ve been thinking enthusiastically ever since I got my CR, and I’ve hardly even needed to take any paracetamol.) Now, you might be thinking, reading this, that I’m in terrible pain. I’m not. Sometimes I have little moments, that’s all. They are nothing compared to what I’ve experienced. Nothing to complain about at all really.

In fact I’m not complaining… Except to say this is an awfully long, convoluted, circular and unsatisfactory answer to that simple question “How are you?” But it’s the best I can do, so forgive me if I mostly skip it, when we next meet up. That’s assuming you were asking how I am on a physical level. Maybe you were thinking about my mental health? On that front things are a bit more straightforward. I am the me I always was. Except sometimes I remember I’ve got myeloma (normally when my bones ache), and that messes with my head, a little.

This is all a bit complicated, isn’t it? I wonder if you understand what I’m trying to say? Perhaps it would be easier if I’d never brought the whole thing up.

With 2 major social events in the diary, I’m going to see lots of people this weekened who I haven’t seen for ages. I realise now, that none of you will know how to greet me, having read this. May I make a suggestion?  We could revert to the English of times gone by, as epitomised by this little exchange from Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan

Lord Darlington: “How do you do, Lady Windermere?”
Lady Windermere: “How do you do, Lord Darlington?”

This has the wonderful property of not actually involving anyone answering the question. How do you do? And how do you do? And we’ll look each other in the eyes, and know that we are both, basically, fine.