How do you answer that question? How do you know how much someone wants to know? "I'm okay - you?"
It's a part-time professor who knows why I'm part-time now, knows I'm not healthy. "Are you really?" he asks.
I shrug. Not socially ept. "...I'm hanging in there." I have stories, man. I could keep you here for hours. Do you want to know about my heart? Do you want to know that I'm not far from going on IV fluids to keep some weight on me? Do you want to know that now, three hours into my day, just now do I have faith in my ability to walk a straight line down the hall? I don't want to inflict that on the casual observer.
He pauses, sympathetic. "You look like you're getting thinner again."
(Song trigger: Mimi's gotten thin/Mimi's running out of time/Roger's running out the door...)
That's right. He's not here often. This is not gradual for him. He's not seeing the pounds melt, fade. He's being jolted.
So I tell him how I am. Not in gory detail, mind.
But seriously - how do you ever really know? Is my default of "I'm okay" or "I'm hanging in there" dishonest, being as I'm not? Because what it is is that I don't want people to worry overmuch when there's nothing they can do, and I don't want to inflict this on people who are just being polite. I don't know. I'm not socially ept. How can you tell what people are really asking?