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jarich (4909)

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I run Perl Training Australia [] with pjf [] and do a lot of the course writing and maintenance. I also organise the courses we run, so if you want one, just ask. I hang around a bit on Perlmonks [] and also help run Melbourne Perl Mongers [].

Journal of jarich (4909)

Tuesday June 22, 2004
08:09 PM

Are you okay?

[ #19430 ]

No, I'm not okay. If I was okay you wouldn't be asking.

You can be lying on the road, bleeding; tangled up in the mess that was your bike before you were cut off by the idiot who's now driven off... and the first thing you'll be asked is "are you okay?". Does it look like I'm okay? Do people who are okay usually lie around in the middle of dangerous roads tangled up in their bicycles? I didn't think so.

I've always suspected that the asker wants you to say "yes, I'm fine" so they can feel better about leaving you to it. Maybe they don't know how to ask "can I help you?" or even "do you need help?" or maybe it's because these questions put an onus on the questioner to provide that help if you say yes. :(

I've been the cyclist in the above situation a few too many times now. I've learned to ignore the actual question and respond with what I need: "Could you help me get up?" or "Call an ambulance" and so on. Fortunately I've only needed the latter once.

But this isn't about a recent bicycle accident.

I've discovered that people say the same things when you've just had a huge emotional shock too. They don't say "do you want to talk about it?" or "how can I help you?" they say "are you okay?" and they get confused when you say "no, I'm not!". They too want you to say "yes, I'm fine".

My grandmother's just had a stroke and is in hospital. She's had a terrible time for the last 3 years as she's lost more and more independance. Still she's been determinedly living at her home (alone mostly) and now she's lost the battle. Sunday may well have been her last day of independance. She'll be in hospital for 2 weeks and then rehab and then probably a Home where carers can help assist her with her limited mobility.

That's if she doesn't have another stroke while in hospital.

No, I'm not okay. My grandmother is suffering and is scared and I don't know how to comfort her. I'm scared that she might die any day now. The CAT scan didn't find the site of the stroke and she can't have an MRI. That means the doctors don't know if the stroke is over or if the blockage is still there causing more damage.

How will my mother react if her mother dies?

I'm not okay. I don't want to be okay. Thanks for asking.

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  • That's what the Red Cross (and other aid organizations) teach people to ask when they start helping someone. It is not so much of a genuine question as the first step in evaluating a casualty: check for responsiveness and coherency.

    As for the other situations, forget the literal meaning of the words. People use the phrase to show you they are want to help.