The immediacy of society seems to be a bit out of control. Everyone seems like they’re on the clock for one reason or another. I’ve noticed this for the past several years, and it still surprises me how much people are in such a hurry for everything. The lack of patience is glaring!
Having pulmonary sarcoidosis forces you to take your time and slow down. I admit that before the many episodes of spontaneous pneumothorax I suffered, I was slightly impatient when doing things. Going to work, I had to catch a certain train to arrive on time. Although I had six different routes I could’ve taken via public transportation, this particular route seemed to be an easier commute.
I’ve always had a sense of “getting in front of things, before they got behind me,” so naturally, when I had the pneumothorax, it was an eye-opening experience. It meant that my entire life would change in ways I hadn’t expected.
I became more aware of things
Early on in my new adjustment to life, I started noticing how impatient I became with myself. As the head of my household and leader of my family, I felt like I was being held hostage by pulmonary sarcoidosis. I couldn’t move as freely as I did before, and I had to rely on my wife, children, and other family members to help me get my life back to a sense of normalcy.
Admittedly, at times I would become depressed thinking about how things had changed for me. It didn’t help that most of the time I was recuperating, I was homebound because of the weather between the months of October and February. During that time, an in-home nurse and a physical therapist visited me twice a week. Over time, they saw that I was making progress in getting myself together again, even if at times I didn’t see any progress.
I finally reached a point in my rehabilitation when I noticed I was improving. I was able to walk around my house without using oxygen and to start cooking again. I could move more freely and started venturing outside. The first place I went to was the gym. I had to get myself moving again, so with oxygen tank in hand, I made it to the gym at least three times a week.
The more I changed, the more things stayed the same
As I became stronger, I started going to the grocery store and various malls with my wife and mother-in-law. As usual, I carried my portable oxygen tank with me to use if needed. But some of the time, I would try walking without the use of oxygen and just breathing natural air, or “room air,” as pulmonologists call it.
During my outings, I noticed that people haven’t changed much, unless it’s to become even more impatient. By all accounts, I have to take my time when I walk, whether I’m using oxygen or not, and I can’t tell you how many times someone has walked behind me and exhaled in frustration because I’m walking slowly. It’s more frustrating for me when someone brushes past me without saying, “Excuse me,” and doesn’t even acknowledge my presence.
I ignore them and their behavior because I realize that life has a way of making people slow down. Their turn may be next. My motivation to be better outweighs ignorance, so I keep moving, and I continue with my daily outings. The last thing I need is to become homebound by choice. I think all of us who deal with challenges from a chronic illness tend to stay indoors because it’s familiar and safe. My advice is to go out and remain relevant.
Last week, on one of my gym days, a young man saw me getting on the treadmill. We didn’t know each other, and truth be told, I never paid any attention to him. Gym regulars arrive at the same time each day, and he’s one of them. As I put on my oxygen, he tapped my arm and asked if he could take a selfie with me. He told me that he works with youth in our community, and he’d told them about the “old head” who comes to the gym with oxygen!
He told them that if I can work out with oxygen, there’s no reason they should be sitting around doing nothing. Now, he wanted to show them. I found it oddly complimentary that he paid enough attention to notice; more so that he found my motivation inspiring.
I obliged his request and we shook hands, then he patted my shoulder and said, “Keep doing your thing, old head!” I guess I am doing something right. Thank you!
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