Author Archives: Athena Merritt

The Not-So-Obvious Threats to Lung Health

After being diagnosed with pulmonary sarcoidosis, I became a pro at protecting my lungs. Or so I thought. Even now, 18 years later, I’m still discovering threats I had overlooked. October is “Healthy Lung Month” in the U.S. Leaving my pulmonologist’s office all those years ago, I thought I…

Hope Carries Me Through Chronic Disease Challenges 

I went to bed in the fourth quarter of “Monday Night Football” with my brother Antony’s words haunting me. My favorite team was losing, and I knew what he’d say about abandoning them for sleep: “There’s a lot of game left.” Antony believes in comebacks, and so do I,…

The Benefits I’ve Found With One-stop Healthcare

People are always surprised to hear that I travel from Pennsylvania to Ohio for medical appointments. Whether it’s an hour-long flight or a seven-hour trip by car, they think it sounds like an inconvenience. But after months of seeing local physicians, I’ve come to appreciate how much easier my out-of-state…

Battling the Insecurities of Chronic Illness

Day is breaking and my uncertainty unfolds. If I’m lucky, I’ll silence it with a productive morning. If I struggle, the doubts echoing in my mind grow louder. Sarcoidosis batters my self-confidence. It’s an ongoing tug of war between my goals and symptoms. It begins every morning, convincing a body…

Regaining Control of My Life Through Self-improvement

When my family was caring for me, they got to witness my many endeavors at self-improvement. So, they won’t be surprised to hear I’m tweaking my life again during a September campaign dedicated to that. I wasn’t aware of National Self-Improvement Month when I was trying to escape the helplessness…

Employment Hurdles Grow for People With Disabilities

It may be odd to loathe an inanimate object, but I do. I didn’t always. The first newsroom I entered was filled with cubicles with majestic walls. Appointed a seat, elbow-to-elbow with my editor, I longed for that prime real estate. After landing it, chatty offices became a trend and…

Choosing the Best Path to Managing a Disease  

With 8 a.m. closing in on a weekday, diners had already filled tables set up in a parking lot on a recent crisp morning. Just a five-minute walk away, chairs remained upside down at an eatery that hasn’t served meals since mid-March. The pandemic has forced both restaurants to a…

New Nutrition Labels on Packaged Food Are Worth a Look

If your supermarket routine is like mine, you zip in and out of stores without doing a lot of leisurely reading. So, you probably hadn’t noticed that the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods has changed. Yep, back in January. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration even launched a…

Leaving Supermarkets Behind to Reduce COVID-19 Risk

I used to enjoy grocery shopping. The retail circulars that hit my mailbox on Fridays meant a crack at new deals. Since COVID-19 arrived, supermarkets have become my least favorite essential place to go. The weekly ads now serve as a risk vs. benefit analysis of which stores I want…