I’m so glad I live in England. I have a very funny friend who lives abroad – no prizes for guessing where – who tells me the only correct answer to the question ‘how are you?’ is to say, ‘FANTASTIC’. At that volume. He explains, “If you answer, ‘Well, I mustn’t grumble’, what you are really saying is ‘I’m a foreigner and now you are going to have to a weird conversation with me about stuff you don’t care about’ – and you can see the person who asked wince in pain and frustration”.
I can’t imagine anything worse than having to feel FANTASTIC all the time and be incredibly upbeat – but maybe that’s my depressed/depressing English nature talking.
It’s not that I don’t feel FANTASTIC. Well, actually, I don’t, but I don’t feel ill or anything either. I feel fine. Of course, this is what English people say for a variety of conditions all the way from ‘pretty great really’ to ‘shame about my severed arm.’ But I actually do feel fine, as in not ill, and pretty good all round on balance.
I do have to wear what is called a compression garment all the time now on my left leg, though, which is a pain. It’s a pain because it’s quite hard getting it on – like wrestling with an American tan snake – and also a pain because it doesn’t exactly look glamorous once it’s in position. It’s there to keep my lymph system going, after the operation to remove my lymph nodes basically stopped that part of the circulation from working. The pressure, which is calibrated to be most intense at the toes, graduating on the way up, pushes the lymph back up my leg as it looks around vaguely for a nice node to take the liquid to. Unfortunately, the nodes are long gone and without the garment pushing upwards, the lymph would wander off aimlessly into my leg tissues. This makes the leg swell up and become kind of spongy, which is probably a worse look even than the Queen Mother stocking.
The excellent thing about England is that no one has asked me why I am wearing a horrible American tan stocking, hundreds of shades darker than my very pallid English leg, or why I am sporting it on one leg only. My friends and family know the situation. Everyone else either hasn’t noticed or is far too polite and English to mention it. And that’s really the way I like it. I don’t mind talking about it, but my malignant melanoma story is quite long and involved and you never really know how other people are going to react to the word cancer. So just in case I meet you and you wonder about my strange choice of stocking, now you know. It’s not FANTASTIC, but it’s definitely not terrible either. Mustn’t grumble, in fact 🙂