As a little girl, around the age of 5 or 6, my parents taught me how to answer our home telephone. No mobiles in those days. A good old fashioned 1970’s styled phone where you physically needed to dial a number.
I can still remember my answering script to this day. I would eagerly rush to the ringing phone and in my brightest, best grown up voice possible, I would say:
” Hello, 4181970, can I help you?”
The caller inevitably asked:
” Is your Mum or Dad there?
My scripted response was:
” Yes, I’ll just get them, can I please ask who’s calling?”
My decorum and professionalism, at such a young age, quickly departed as I ran excitedly through the house shouting:
” Mum, Dad, phone call…Mr/Mrs xx is on the phone”
Oh well, I’m sure the caller had a good chuckle.
The Professional Approach
My phone answering training as a little girl, really paved the way for how I would communicate in adult life.
In my business career the emphasis on professionalism and excellent customer service, further instilled the need to present oneself in an upbeat, positive manner.
Add in my natural positive disposition and my default mode, no matter my circumstances, was set to sound bright, upbeat and happy.
The Real Picture
I was lying on the bed the other day writhing in pain, when my mobile began to ring. My bone disease was doing its best to break me and I was struggling to breathe, let alone talk to anyone.
Still, my inbuilt professional persona began to surface as I looked at the phone next to me on the bed. It was inevitable. I would answer this call.
On a good day my pain level is 7/10. When I’m waiting for my pain meds to kick in, the pain level is around 9//10. Not the ideal time to think answering a phone is a good idea.
I had only just swallowed my afternoon medication as the phone began to ring.
I was pale, shaking and distressed due to my pain levels, yet this is how I answered the phone:
” Sam Moss, Can I Help you?”…. (Insert smiling face and cheerful voice)
” Hi Sam, It’s Mandy, how are you?”
“Hi Mandy, I’m good, how are you?”
I’m Good, How Are You?
There we have it! I could hear these words spouting out of my mouth.
” I’m good”
I could feel myself screaming internally……”No, you’re not good. You’re far from good. You can hardly breath from the pain and you can’t move”
The really stupid thing is that my caller knew I wasn’t ok. She’s my Occupational Therapist. There was no need for me to put on a brave front. No need to pretend all was well.
So Why Did I Say ” I’m Good”?
My answer is two-fold:
- Conditioning – I’ve been trained from an early age to answer the phone in a professional manner and my career endorsed this mindset
- Desire – In many regards I see myself the way I want to be… healthy. Mentally, I’m good. Physically….not so much!
Body and Soul
There is a beautiful old hymn called ” It is well with my Soul”.
The first verse sums up exactly what I mean when I say “I’m Good”.
When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
As a Christian, my faith helps me experience a sense of peace and it is well with my soul….no matter my circumstances.
My faith also convicts me I need to be more honest and precise when talking to people about how I am. To say “I’m good”, is far from true.
If I said “It is well with my soul”, while accurate, it would sound rather pious and a bit ambiguous. Not really helpful for me or the caller.
So What Can I Say On The Phone?
When I’m talking to someone face to face it’s pretty obvious that I’m in pain. My eyes give it away. I’m constantly wriggling to try to get comfortable. My crutches or walker are my constant companions and when I do walk I am clearly crippled.
The phone is so different though. Those visual signs just aren’t there.
So, I’ve decided, if I know the caller, the best approach for me, when asked how I am, is to simply say;
” I’m good….my body, not so much”
It’s honest, precise and if I need to provide more details, it opens an opportunity to discuss further.
It invites the caller into my life rather and allows me to keep the call short or arrange a call back if I’m really struggling.
Chronic Illness is difficult enough without us making it more complicated.
Keeping our responses to simple questions, short, sweet and honest, not only helps us manage our diseases better, it ultimately helps those who live and work with us and who care for us.
It helps others better understand our needs and situation.
So today if you ask me how I am, my response will simply be;
” I’m good….my body is misbehaving though“
Firstly I want to thank those who nominated me for two #WEGOHealthAwards for 2020. This is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of Medical Musings with Friends and reach out to more people in need of genuine care and support.
So, now that I’m nominated my goal is to become a finalist, particularly in the Best in Show: Community Award category.
The link below will allow you to click “Endorse” which is the way the voting system works in the WEGO Health Awards.
You will see you can Endorse me for one or both categories. Once you click the Endorse button it takes you to another screen where you choose which award nomination you are endorsing:
- Best in Show: Community
- Health Care Collaborator
Thank you so much for your support, not just of me but for my forum and for helping me spread the word about Medical Musings With Friends.
If I can reach more people in need, as a result of this nomination, I will be absolutely delighted.
Sam xx 💞💞