“What if this is as good as it gets?” In the movie of that name, Jack Nicholson plays Melvin, an insulting, anti-social author with obsessive compulsive disorder. Melvin falls for Carol, played by Helen Hunt, the only waitress who will put up with him, at his favorite restaurant. Carol is the struggling single mother of a boy with crippling allergies. Not your typical movie romance, Melvin does grow and change through knowing Carol. But he is far from perfect, even at the end. My favorite line is when Melvin asks Carol “What if this is as good as it gets?”

What if my sinus infections never get any better than this? What if I go on having several migraines a month? What if my house is never any better organized - for the rest of my life?

It’s not a depressing question. Believe it or not. This hit me this morning: For 10 years or more, I have been fighting and struggling, obsessing and agonizing, over getting better. Over things being the way they used to be - when I was 25 and slender, when my sinuses didn’t act up more than once a year and the migraine beast didn’t visit any more often than that, when I had only myself to keep organized rather than a houseful of people and multiple home based businesses. When Danny and I first fell in love. When my in-laws were still alive… need I go on?

What if I don’t have to fight, struggle, obsess or agonize?

What if this is as good as it gets? How bad is this? I’m not saying give up! I’m not saying we can’t improve our conditions, or that we shouldn’t go on learning and growing, seeking better treatment, better options. Of course we must. We grow or stagnate. Our characters are like muscles, they must be built up, or they atrophy. And for most of us, having a chronic illness does not mean we can’t improve.

In the past four years, I have reduced my average migraine duration from 3 days to about 8 hours. I have reduced the frequency from twice a week to 3 times a month. The average severity is down from about a 7 to about a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale. I no longer catch every cold I encounter, and most days I am not so fatigued I need a nap to get through the day. In 2004, I was sick, unable to function, 26% of the time. In 2007, it was 18% of the time. That’s a difference of 30 days. I’ve gained a whole month to live and enjoy my life in, to be with my family, to help my clients, to walk in the woods and fields. I believe this kind of difference is possible for most of us.

How did I do it? Good medical advice, finding what medications are right for me, nutritional supplements, chiropractic, massage, exercise, vitamins, a diet high in fiber and natural foods and low in sugar and refined flour, bio-identical hormone replacement (The Wiley Protocol), getting on a regular rest schedule, learning (slowly, slowly) not to push myself, taking on a daily practice of giving up my perfectionism, meditation, creating a very detailed calendar to track migraines and illnesses, treatments and triggering factors. Being a dedicated manager of my own life. More about all that another time.

This morning I sprayed my achy sinuses with colloidal silver spray (Ag-Cidal), standing before the bathroom mirror, looking at the rings around my eyes, feeling like I would keel over any minute. And it struck me - what if this is as good as it gets?

If it is, my task is clear. I get to live the best life I can possibly live, with these conditions. I know, I said this yesterday. So maybe I’m a slow learner! Or maybe learning isn’t all at once, maybe it spirals around, enabling us to see things in new ways, at deeper levels. Whichever way it is, what I saw today is priceless. If this is as good as it gets, it’s still pretty good. I love the people in my life. I love my house and my little town, the woods and fields around, the big exciting cities nearby. I love my comfy bed where I have been working all day in my pajamas. I love the work I do, and writing for you, and that I can earn a living without going to some job where I’d get fired for being sick so much! Tomorrow, or the next day, or the next, I’m going to get up, clean house, reschedule my canceled appointments, and go out for a walk. Today I’m staying in bed. And it’s pretty good!

Author's Bio: 

Megan Oltman is a migraineur, an entrepreneur, and a Migraine Management Coach, helping migraineurs and people with chronic illness manage their lives, keep working, start and maintain businesses, and live purposeful lives. She also practices as a professional divorce mediator. Over the years, she's been a practicing attorney, a free-lance writer, and a business coach and advisor. Megan has a free Migraine management course, The Six Keys to Manage your Migraines and Take Back your Life, available at www.takebackyourlifefrommigraine.com. Her writings on Migraine and more tools for managing life with Migraine can be found at www.freemybrain.com