How Am I? As Well As Possible, Thank You!

September 13th, 2008

AWAP has been making the rounds on some of the Migraine forums lately – so I googled it and got many choices:

Abused Women’s Advocacy Project
Any Word Any Page
Aftermarket Wholesale Autobody Parts
Animal Welfare Audit Program
All worthy choices, I’m sure, but…

I’m talking about As Well As Possible.  A wish for the chronically ill – not, “have a great day!”  But “have an AWAP day!”  Not “I’m feeling fine!”  But “I’m feeling AWAP!”  I sign off on notes and emails to my chronically ill clients and friends, “wishing you pain-free days and nights.”  It is my wish for them, my earnest wish, and it is my wish for myself.  But sometimes it’s unrealistic.  We must walk a fine line between powerful hope and attainable goals.  Between reaching for the stars, setting our sights high, and accepting the reality of our lives.  I work and strive for the day when my Migraines, and yours, are a thing of the past.  But if I expect that to be today, I may be setting us both up for disappointment.

When I was little, I was taught that when people asked how I am, I was to say, “Fine thank you, how are you?”  The explanation for that stock answer is that people are asking in order to be polite, and they don’t really want to know! Is that true?  Sometimes it is.  Every person I encounter in business, every acquaintance I run into in the grocery store, does not necessarily want to hear the details of my illnesses.  I don’t necessarily want to share and go into it with all of them either.  So what do I say?  I try to avoid saying “fine.”  I often say I’m okay.  Or not bad.  On those occasions when I feel great, I say I feel great.  (Hey, it does happen!)  But if I say I’m fine when I’m not, I’m perpetuating the invisibility of my illness.

With people in my life, I try to strike a balance between being real and being upbeat.

When we live with chronic illness it is very important to enjoy as much as we can of life.  To find the joy where we can.  And so for me to be AWAP means that I am living the best I can today, maintaining a sense of humor, being productive where I can, having as much fun as I can.  It means that I may be chronically ill but I am not overcome by it.

Sometimes my friends and relatives say, “How’s your head?” or “Having any Migraines lately?” or even “I hope you haven’t had any of those Migraines,” or “Migraines better?”  Of course people want me to be better.  I want to be better too.  When a friend is ill, we want them better.  What else can we wish them?  So I try to find an answer that acknowledges their caring, and acknowledges my reality.  Today I am As Well As Possible.  I am not in constant pain.  The on and off Migraines I’ve been having for weeks are off at the moment.  I have some energy and I am getting some things done.  My dishwasher is fixed.  My kids make me laugh.  The field is full of deep yellow goldenrod and deep purple asters.  I am grateful for my life.  AWAP

- Megan Oltman

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Posted in Advocacy, Communicating, Managing | Comments (8)

  • Kelly FlywithHope

    Great post, Megs. I going to start using AWAP when it applies. I agree with you about having realistic hopes. It is hard to convince family members of that though. I have one in particular that has a hard time whenever I am more realistic with my hopes. This person really pushes unrealistic ones on me.
    I used to have a big internal struggle because a lot of people say “How are you?” without really wanting to know the details. And sometimes I don’t always want to talk about how I am doing. So, I started to answer it in general by saying “I’m glad the sun is out.” or “I wish it was warmer.” Usually people who are curious about how my migraines/daily headache is doing will ask specific questions and if they don’t and I want to talk about it, I’ll bring it up.

    A very thoughtful post!

  • MLHrail

    Megs, This is the best solution to a personal pet peeve of mine that I have ever heard of.

  • Megan Oltman

    Thanks – I didn’t invent it but I’m glad to spread it!

  • Debbie Fister

    Megan, This is so very appropriate. I have been looking for a suitable response that would let my friends know that most of the time I am not “fine”. I also hate the question, “How’s your head?” My head could be fine, but the rest of me not so fine. Thanks so much!

  • MaxJerz

    Great post, Megs. Being in a (friendly) corporate environment I deal with this every day. I stopped saying “fine” a while ago, though sometimes one still reflexively slips out. I try to go with “ok” or “not too bad” most days. Or like Kelly, I answer the question differently, mentioning something about the weather.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post – good to know I’m not the only one who thinks about this stuff!

    Be well,

  • Shauna

    Nice, upbeat and positive entry! Nice Blog also! Glad I stopped by!

    Shauna :-)

  • Migraine Chick

    I really like this! Great idea! AWAP!

  • Anna

    I love your post. I am always asked by people that know me, how are you feeling, how is the MCS, been around anyone with perfume.

    So how is your head? LOL

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