My wife, my son, and I moved into our house in August 1996. The house initially belonged to my aunt, who lived there since 1982, the year my wife and I graduated from high school.
When my aunt and uncle went on trips, I was tasked with taking care of the house. I’ve always felt the house was mine. I guess that’s because I was extended an open invitation anytime I wanted to hang out with them. They are still my coolest relatives from both sides of the family tree.
So, it seemed natural for me to buy the house when they wanted to move. A few years earlier, they had been involved in a serious car accident that made walking up steps a chore and an inconvenience. It was time to move, and I was ready to put some skin in the game as a responsible homeowner.
Everything went off without a hitch, and I was well on my way to adulting. I better strap up because this is going to be a ride like no other, I thought at the time. Boy, was I right.
My next-door neighbors were Jack and Barb. They were a really cool couple, and like my aunt and uncle, they kept their door open for us. My uncle used to tell me stories about Jack back in the day, when he was a practicing attorney. Jack used to throw wild parties that everyone in the neighborhood looked forward to attending. When I mentioned the parties to Jack, he just laughed and said, “Boy, those were the days!”
Jack had slowed down a lot. He retired from law partially because of his health, particularly a bad case of emphysema. I remember him smoking for as long as we’d been neighbors. He’d been a patient at the same lung center I’m now affiliated with. But at the time, I didn’t understand the extent of his health issues.
While chatting in our backyards over cocktails one day, Jack explained the extent of his emphysema and told me how he was trying to get into a program at the lung center I’m currently with, to possibly help his condition. I remember being afraid for him as he explained his shortness of breath and occasional fatigue. Who would’ve imagined that years after that conversation, I would experience similar issues due to pulmonary sarcoidosis?
Throughout our friendship, Jack never stopped smoking. I often thought that if he had, it could have helped improve his quality of life. Eventually, his wife moved to Florida, and left him alone with their dog.
Some people would come by and check on him, but I eventually became a support person for him. My family and I took him to his doctors’ appointments and shopping for essentials. We also often sat with him so he wouldn’t feel alone.
I remember several occasions when he would smoke while wearing oxygen. As his next-door neighbor, that made me very concerned. He was a true daredevil.
The less you ask, the more you find out
I believe everyone facing a serious health issue has personal vices or obstacles that may get in the way of healing. Sometimes we acknowledge them head-on, while other times we convince ourselves that they’ll pass, that we’ll get through it on our own, in our time.
More often than not, the stress we live with may trigger those vices. Truth be told, I have my share of vices I need to put on the shelf and leave them there. Sometimes I believe the lies I tell myself that they’re not that bad, or that I’ll get it together tomorrow. Either way, I’m responsible for the outcome of my health regardless of my behavior or my self-imposed deception. It’s time to grow up.
Clearing the shelf
Jack passed away a few years ago doing and living exactly how he wanted to. Could handling his vices differently have made a difference? Possibly. We all have those urges that keep us from moving ahead in life because we find comfort in them. They’re familiar and safe to us. They’re the security crutch we’ve leaned on that does us no good. When you think about it, they keep us tethered to the past, which keeps us stagnant.
“As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.” – Proverbs 26:11
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 11
It’s time to put the vices away!
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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