“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” — tennis champion Arthur Ashe
Six years ago, my life changed. That’s when I experienced my first spontaneous pneumothorax, or a sudden collapsed lung.
The year before, I’d been laid off from my job. I spent that next year looking for an opportunity that would help me take care of my family and our home. My kids were in school, and I didn’t want my wife to carry the bulk of the financial responsibilities. While I was searching for a job in my field as a video editor, I took a few editing courses to stay current. My life-changer of a health crisis came a few weeks after that.
I’d been diagnosed with sarcoidosis before the collapsed lung, which didn’t help. In fact, it took over a year for my health to improve, and even then, I didn’t get back to my old normal. Instead, I was using supplemental oxygen and participating in pulmonary rehabilitation at the local Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. I decided then to look for part-time employment — even though I thought, “Who’s going to hire a man who’s 54 years old and partly disabled?”
My pulmonologist wasn’t too crazy about me trying to return to the workforce, but as I told him, it was better than sitting around and worrying about my health. Sitting in front of the television would accomplish nothing. That’s pretty much what I’d been doing, and it wasn’t enough for me.
But personal change, in many ways, was harder than I’d expected.
“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” — ethicist Don Marquis
When I reflect on the time I’ve spent in the hospital wondering about my future, I get depressed. In fact, it seems I wasted so much time wondering about my future that I had trouble attempting to improve it. I still get angry with myself because I should’ve been more proactive. I allowed the mental effects of sarcoidosis to dictate how I was living.
I decided that could no longer be the case.
I took a personal inventory of all that I wanted to do once I got my health together. Though I haven’t checked off all that list, I’m closer to it than I was six years ago.
Procrastination makes it much easier to do nothing. That’s what happened to me. Sometimes it seems the hardest truths are the ones we’re faced with. I became the cause and effect of my problem.
I’ve tried to live as stress-free as possible, but much to my embarrassment, I haven’t been able to do that. My procrastination is definitely linked to my stress. What’s more, I’ve learned that there’s a connection between procrastination and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — significant to me, as I first experienced PTSD after that first spontaneous pneumothorax.
Today I’m a new person. Today is where I start to use what I have to improve my state. Today I have to break the mental hold of sarcoidosis.
I still have more to offer in life. I can’t do a lot of what I used to do, but I can still do plenty. I have to believe that my obstacle, my sarcoidosis, doesn’t define me. If anything, it makes me stronger because I have a greater appreciation for what I still have — and that fuels my hope of becoming a better me.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.