It’s a curious thing, feeling sick and watching those around you, who are healthy, trying to understand and empathize. Just about everyone has felt sick at some time, in some way. But we all seem to have a built-in eraser that makes it impossible…
to really remember how being sick feels.
Even though I get regular, repeated reminders thanks to chemo, on those days when I feel healthy, even I can’t really remember what it’s like when I don’t. Of course it’s relative. After feeling really sick, just feeling not so sick is as good as feeling terrifically healthy (and the relief of being on the upswing is a powerful tonic).
I’m fortunate; the healthy people around me, while not genuinely, completely able to empathize, are able to energetically sympathize. My family and friends, and my care team at MGH have a great capacity to understand and accommodate my not-healthy times. They are proof that patience, understanding, generosity and encouragement can flow from the healthy to the sick (as a cancer patient you do sometimes doubt these things), and that empathy is not required for sincerity.