When living with a chronic health condition, challenges often seem to appear out of nowhere. After I was diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis, I continued to do anything and everything I wanted to do. I rarely considered how my health might dictate my actions and abilities. Call it stubbornness or denial, but no matter the situation, I have to keep moving. I was reminded why this self-discipline is so important recently after a loss of momentum resulted in a health setback.

It’s been almost three weeks since I worked out regularly. I’d spend two days at the gym and two days at water rehab every week. Unfortunately, an issue with my medical insurance put my water rehab program on pause, and I soon became lazy. My complacency reminded me of the times I’ve been hospitalized.

I did manage to go to the gym, but not as often as I had been. I was only doing enough to say I’d done something. Exercise was starting to get too easy.

As a result, my health was suffering — I just didn’t realize it at the time.

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Disappointing test results

Last week, I had an appointment with my pulmonologist. Before we met, I completed a six-minute walk test as part of my pulmonary function testing. Sometimes I look forward to the test because it gives me a chance to see the therapists I’ve worked with in pulmonary rehab.

I’m sorry to say that the test was a comedy of errors — though, thankfully, I completed it without falling on my face.

Two minutes in, I was breathing fine with just room air. About halfway through, the therapist had to turn my supplemental oxygen up to 8 liters per minute. For the first time I can remember, I had to take a break because I was winded. While finishing the test, I was up to 11 liters per minute. I could tell that my recent lack of physical activity had played a huge role in my performance. After reviewing the results, my pulmonologist agreed.

One saving grace is that I’ve previously been active, he explained. Otherwise, my breathing would be in critical condition. I have to keep moving.

Let’s get physical

While reflecting on the test, I grew concerned about what could happen to me if I’m not active. Physical movement requires discipline. Because I have breathing issues, I need to be even more disciplined about moving. The more I sit, the more challenging it is to breathe, as I’m not working to expand my lungs and diaphragm. I’ve previously experienced this after hospitalizations.

A rough few days followed that appointment, but little by little, I’m returning to my physical self. As my therapists say, “It all starts with discipline.” Although I haven’t been to water rehab in a few weeks, that’s no excuse to slow down. I can only get better by working with what I have. Otherwise, I’m just going through the motions toward self-defeat.

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.

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