Day 691: How are you?

Where I live, when people say

How are you?

they often mean


and don’t expect a real answer.

A typical exchange is:

How are you?

Fine. How are you?


How are you?

(nod and silence)

When people say, “How are you?” to me, my usual response is to answer authentically, in some way, without taking too much time or space (which is not exactly easy, since people are often asking that question on the move).

I’m not sure why I go against the cultural norms, regarding “How are you?” Here are my best guesses, in the moment:

  • Because I was born with an unusual heart and followed by doctors since before I could speak, that question has been really important for me to answer honestly and authentically.
  • I want to engage in real and valuable communications with other human beings, even if they only last a moment.
  • I’m a rebel.

That last bullet point reminds me of a song, from my past.

Before I share that song, I’m going to ask you to guess what song that might be.

Why am I asking you to guess?  Because if you were to ask me “How are you?” today, I would answer:

“I’m sad, mad, glad, and scared.  How are you?”

and when I’m having lots of mixed emotions, I like to cheer myself up.  And this is how I am: I love guessing games AND music.

I am now going to look for the song  that just popped into my head  — for the first time in years — when I wrote the words “I’m a rebel.”

Oh  no! When I searched for the song I remembered, I found that the title was NOT “He’s a rebel,” but something else instead:

(“He’s a Runner” by Laura Nyro, performed by Blood Sweat & Tears found here on YouTube.)

How are you, now that I’ve made that mistake?

How am I? I wonder.

Well, I’m glad to be listening to that song, for the first time in decades. With its interesting chords, voices, instruments, moods,  and other musical stylings, it’s making me happy.

How else am I?

I’m also happy with the idea of being a runner, right now. When I was a kid in the hospital, having heart surgeries, I really wanted to run away. But, back then, if people asked me “How are you?” I didn’t tell them.

How else am I?

I’m glad to be writing this, on the anniversary of my first heart surgery/pacemaker implant, on November 22, 1963. Last year, on this same date, I asked myself  “How are you?” and wrote this blog post.

How are you about statistical data and research? I wanted to share with you this study I found online, yesterday, when I was searching information about “Congenitally Corrected Transposition of the Great Arteries” (which is one medical name for my very unusual heart).

Here’s the complete abstract:

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2012 Apr;143(4):885-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcvs.2011.08.031. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Quality of life and perceived health status in adults with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries.



The purpose of this study is to assess perceived health status and quality of life in adults with congenitally corrected transposition of the great arteries who have not undergone anatomic repair.


Quality of life as measured by the satisfaction with life scale and linear analog scales and perceived health status as measured by the Short Form 36 Health Survey (version 1) were evaluated in 25 adults with congenitally corrected transposition and compared with a control group of 25 adults with mild, hemodynamically insignificant defects.


Instruments were returned by 83% of patients (25/30; 11 male; mean age, 44.6 ± 16 years). Health status by the linear analog scale was significantly lower (P = .03) in subjects (median, 80; range, 15-100) than in controls (median, 85; range, 65-100). Quality of life by the satisfaction with life scale was also lower (P = .009) in subjects (mean, 24 ± 8) compared with controls. Age was negatively correlated with the Short Form 36 Health Survey physical functioning (r = -0.41, P = .04), bodily pain (r = -0.5, P = .01), and physical component (r = -0.56, P = .004) summary scores in adults with congenitally corrected transposition but not in controls.


Adults with congenitally corrected transposition have lower reported health status and satisfaction with life than a control population, with perceived health status declining with advancing age.

Copyright © 2012 The American Association for Thoracic Surgery. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

This is how I am: I like to interpret data, using my own language. To me, that abstract means that several doctors and researchers got together and asked a bunch of people with my very unusual heart “How are you?” and then compiled the answers to conclude that people like me feel worse, in many ways, than “normal” people, and that difference continues to get more significant, with advancing age.

How am I, about that?

Fuck them.

How am I now?


Here’s another way I am: I like to post photos I’ve taken recently. Let’s see if I have any images, on my iPhone, for “How are you”?

IMG_2302 IMG_2303 IMG_2304 IMG_2306

How are you?

No matter how you are, thanks for the visit.

Categories: inspiration, personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

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30 thoughts on “Day 691: How are you?

  1. yeoldefoole

    Blood, Sweat & Tears!
    the best band ever!

    Dear Gawd I hate that
    “How are you (don’t tell me – I don’t want to know)” drivel!!!

  2. You don’t write posts, you write creative adventures

  3. I love your response to the study Ann – it made my day!
    Diana xo

  4. What an exceptional piece of writing . Your posts are so great to read . Glad to read that you feel better and your reply to study was just what they deserve .

    How am I ? Well I will be glad to answer that today .
    I feel surprised , happy , loved ,blessed and a little embarrased too . My best friend arranged a surprise birthday treat for me today ( a day before my birthday ) . I have had no clue about this . I was informed yesterday that we will have an extra class today after 2 classes of today . I was really angry after getting that text becuase that class is really boring . I was rambling since yesterday about the unfairness of this sudden class without realizing for a single second that this was just an excuse for letting me stay after class. Another friend brought cake and it was also a surprise . Well all in all in was a well executed plan on my friends part . I am really happy and feel blessed to be treated this way .
    The cause of my embarassment was well I keep complaining about the extra class the whole day without realizing for a single second that there is no class 😛 .

    • Happy birthday to you,
      Happy birthday to you,
      I’m glad you got a great party,
      Happy birthday to you!

      I know the actual date is tomorrow, but your comment made me feel like singing today.

  5. You are where you are, Ann.

    Yes. Fuck them! I truly agree.

    • Now that you’ve joined with me, as usual, Mark, I feel better still!

      I assume you did not click on the links, but if you do, you’ll find one with a Syracuse connection (I was thinking of you).

  6. I love this:

    How am I, about that?

    Fuck them.

    How am I now?


    I’m better now, too. And very glad that pacemakers were invented by 1963, instead of, say, 2063.

    • I’m very glad that you’re glad and now I REALLY feel better. I hope you enjoyed the hot chocolate with whipped cream (that was included with you in mind).

      • I DID enjoy the hot chocolate with whipped cream and I had a bowl of chocolate ice cream to go with it! Thank you.

        In retrospect, I should have put quotation marks around the quoted part of my post. I hope that your blog’s readers aren’t put off by my apparently random hostility. I’m not feeling hostile at all, actually. I’m feeling chocolatey.

      • In retrospect, I should have had chocolate ice cream.

        You are welcome for the chocolatey-ness. And how you are never seems random or hostile.

  7. Hello,
    I think people just say things out of habit and “courtesy”, no one wants to really hear anyone’s true answer. I am glad you brought it up, I too have fallen victim to not engaging in actual conversation, just pleasant superficial exchanges.
    As for me, I don’t know how I am? I could be better, but I could be way way worse? Is there a word for this?
    Love your post, by the way.


    • I don’t know if there is one word for how you are, but I loved every word you wrote. Thanks for improving how I am, today.

  8. What Maureen said. Sometimes we just have to blow off someone’s ideas, pronouncements, theories. Sometimes we just need to form our own.
    I tossed out my heart doc’s prescription and did a bunch of research. I am 99% symptom free, have been for six or seven years, and even have (now) my doc’s blessings.
    But how am I today? Más o menos. The literal translation is ‘more or less’ which I like a lot more than the ‘okay’ we use in the US.

    • This comment is mas mas mas more than okay, Emilie. It’s wonderful to know how you are, and it’s all further inspiration for me to trust in my own heart.

  9. I’m fine, thanks 😉

  10. Ann … In high school, my English teacher said when people ask “How are you,” they don’t really care. Cynical, but perhaps true for many. When I ask, I do care … and I hope that you are having an excellent day. Mine is better than it was on Thursday and Friday when I was just scrambling to play catch up ball.

    Lovely song, by the way. 😉

  11. It’s those statistics again. If you look at the graph curves of those with the heart treatment and those without, the middle point of the treated ones will be ‘lower’ than the untreated ones, BUT some of the treated one are going to be higher up on the satisfaction scales than some of the untreated ones. That’s were you are.

  12. Pingback: Day 1056: Triggers | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  13. Pingback: Day 2920: Poop | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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