When Your Doctor Says, 'This Is as Good as It'll Get'


How do you react when this is what your doctor says to you, “This is as good as it’ll get?”

Swallow hard, try not to cry, get angry, feel sorry for myself. All of these.

I had forgotten that my doctor said this to me about a year ago. I did become accepting of this at the time. But in the last year I had forgotten that I needed to understand this and live accordingly.

I like to get my own way, like most people. I rail against injustice and I try to make things happen by taking what actions that I possibly can. But with your body and chronic illness, there isn’t a lot that you can do. My illnesses have happened through no fault of my own. They are part of me. It isn’t a matter of “losing weight,” “eating properly,” or “exercising.” Nor is it because of me making “poor choices.” My immune system just isn’t working properly!

All I can do is take one day at a time. And in that day I will do the best I can with what the day brings.

Today my lungs were in “OK zone.”

“Great,” I thought, “I can go for a walk.”

But, then I experienced hypoglycemia. That wasn’t appreciated. That wasn’t expected either! So I have rested and done what I need to do to manage the hypo. No, I wasn’t able to do what I had wanted to do today. The daily journey can change an instant. I can’t afford to let that get to me and bring me down. Life has plenty of challenges and my illness is just one of them.

The consequences of forgetting “this is as good as it’ll get” has not been good. I had a short period of respite with my asthma, where I felt on top of the world. I started to have expectations of each day. I started to push myself. I started to do more and more. I started to think “I am getting well! This illness is controlled and controllable.”

Wrong.

I even failed to make a follow up appointment with my lung specialist because I thought I had become so well that I didn’t need to see him any more. I thought the asthma was at bay and I would stay well.

Positive thinking is OK. But, reality is much more important in my opinion. My illness, asthma, had not gone away. It has been back with a vengeance. Two hospitalizations within five weeks, with overnight stays. So, my asthma is actually now worse. And yes, I became quite desperate to get an appointment with my lung specialist too.

I have just remembered my lovely doctor saying, “I am sorry, but this is as good as it’ll get.”

If I remember this every day, I think my life with chronic illness will be much easier to deal with.

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