Like you, I’m not the only person that has daily issues living with sarcoidosis. As I tell some friends, every day is a new adventure. That adventure may include riding an emotional roller coaster, or feeling so upbeat and motivated that I’ll venture out to the gym for a moderate workout.
I don’t think anyone will argue that with each day, anxiety, depression, or mental paralysis will affect you. For the most part, those times are few and far between. However, they do surface, and I try to keep those days fewer and farther between each other. Sometimes a support group will notice and come to your aid once they see you slipping, but often times you have to rescue yourself.
And then your mind wanders in …
When I experience these feelings, I remember the last fishing trip I took with my uncle Ralph. A few years ago, the last weekend in August, my uncle chartered a boat to take three fathers and their three sons out on the Chesapeake Bay for a day of fishing and bonding.
On this particular Saturday afternoon, while we were out on the bay, a storm caught us off guard, quickly approaching our area. Our captain had radioed to the other charter boats in the area to get an idea of where and how fast the storm was rolling upon us. After communicating with the other captains, ours was faced with the decision of continuing to the other side of the bay, maybe avoiding the storm altogether, or turning the boat around to head back to shore where we started. Because of the children on board, and his feeling that we weren’t in immediate danger, he decided to head back to shore, and that’s when the adventure began.
As we headed back to shore, everyone went below deck to shelter in place from lightning striking the water. I remember looking up at the captain, and as he chewed on his cigar, he remained calm like this was just another day on the water, which for him I’m sure it was. It seemed like the closer we got to shore, the worse the storm became.
The rain was pounding like I’ve never experienced, and the sound of the thunder was as impressive as anything I’ve ever heard. The sound of thunder is extraordinary when you hear it in an open space with nothing around to dampen it. The boat rocked furiously and everyone remained silent, not knowing what to expect.
I turned and looked at my uncle who sat quietly with his eyes closed and wringing his hands. I asked him, “Unc, aren’t you nervous?” He opened his eyes and looked at me and said in a low voice, “What can I do? I can’t control anything, so what can I do?”
So, what can I do?
During this time, my heart was racing and I felt myself becoming anxious, but not panicked. Normally something like this wouldn’t bother me much because I’ve always been the risk-taker, the adventurer of the family. But this experience was different and real, and I had to deal with the emotions associated with it — albeit in the middle of the Chesapeake several miles from any shore, east or west. I took several deep breaths and looked at how calm my uncle was sitting on a boat during a thunderstorm just waiting it out.
As we got closer to the shoreline, the sun started to peek thru the clouds and the weather calmed down, and I started feeling a sense of relief. We had made it!
Fast-forward a few years and it all started to make sense. Regardless of the circumstances you’re faced with, unless you can control the situation, what can you do? The one thing you can do is adjust to your level of comfort and handle it. Sarcoidosis is something that chose us, we didn’t choose it, and it reminds us of that every day.
Some circumstances are choices, while others are not. At times I feel anxious and somewhat overwhelmed because of the changes in my health. Because of this “circumstance,” I attribute those emotions to the condition. Sarcoidosis causes my anxiety to escalate to feelings of abandonment and helplessness, which triggers shortness of breath. So, I have to take a step back and remind myself that this too shall pass.
And that’s when I remember the fishing trip.
There are times when everyone needs a moment to “disconnect” from influences, including people, situations, social media, etc. Everyone needs a moment to “disconnect” to “reconnect.” It takes some time to get used to, and when it seems like you can’t, just think, what if you were on a boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay during a thunderstorm — what could you do?
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 Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.