Getting Back on the Road to Stay Ahead of Sarcoidosis

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by Charlton Harris |

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Your comfort zone keeps you comfortable. That’s where the lie begins.

Earlier this year, I bought a new SUV. Well, not brand new, but newer than what I had before. It’s not like my other SUVs in that it doesn’t have a sunroof, but I can live with the minor changes. It doesn’t have a backup camera, but neither did my other ones. It has a Bluetooth connection for my phone and a satellite radio. To me, those are more important. As my cousin so aptly asked, “You didn’t learn how to drive with a backup camera, so what’s the problem?” It is what it is, and this was a needed purchase.

One thing about me and my history with pulmonary sarcoidosis is that I never know when I’ll have to take an unexpected trip to the nearest ER. I guess I’m lucky that my lung center is less than 10 minutes away from my home, depending on traffic.

Ever since I bought my new ride, I’ve treated it like an addition to the family. Technically, it is! I don’t drive it a lot and try to keep it washed and cleaned, barring no sudden rainstorms. Basically, I have a “grocery getter.”

I even brag to everyone that I’ve never had to fill the tank since I got the car seven months ago. I received it with a full tank, and when the needle reaches three-quarters full, I fill it up. I calculated that to be 50 miles, or $26 worth of gas. That depends on who you ask.

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Truth be told, my daughter has put more miles on my car than I have. We live in Philly, and she was working in Delaware, so I let her use my car a few times. Needless to say, she loved it, especially the Bluetooth and the satellite, not to mention a full tank of gas! Honestly, I didn’t mind. It’s a road car, and it needs to be on the road.

I need to be back on the road.

Facing my fears

I told my wife that I wanted to put the car on the road so I could see firsthand how it rides. I needed to make this trip. It was time to conquer my fear of driving. I told her I would take her shopping in Delaware, about 27 miles away. I thought that was a good driving distance for me to get started.

She called her mother to come along, and I became an Uber driver. Although I often joke with her mother about being our shadow and third wheel, I didn’t mind her company. Her mother is like my bodyguard.

When we got on the highway, I felt a little uncomfortable driving. I hadn’t driven a good distance in about four years, and the more I drove, the more anxious I got. My goal was to get comfortable driving again.

I forced myself to stay relaxed and remember how much I used to love driving. Twenty-seven miles was a short trip, and I had to get back in the saddle again.

I could tell that some effects of sarcoidosis were trying to challenge my concentration. While I was driving, I thought about how much time I’d wasted in front of the television because it felt safe. I felt like I was losing the physical and mental gains I had achieved over the years in spite of sarcoidosis.

I kept thinking to myself, “You’ve got to change the narrative.” I had to put myself in a place of discomfort in order to be comfortable again. I had to push myself beyond my current state of thinking. If I didn’t do this now, when would I be able to?

The closer we got to our destination, the more relaxed I started feeling. I was calming down, and my breathing wasn’t shallow anymore. I didn’t feel hurried or anxious. We finished our shopping and made our way home. I have to admit, the drive home felt a lot better than the earlier one. I felt more comfortable and relaxed behind the wheel. I guess deciding to get out of my comfort zone was another step in the rehabilitation process. Without realizing it, I’d become homebound. I’d created an uncomfortable comfort zone. Also, the pandemic didn’t help.

Sometimes I have to remember that although my life has changed, I’m still the same person with the same likes. I’ve learned that sarcoidosis is a thief, stealing what you allow it to take. I won’t let it steal my peace or my joys. For now, I’ve regained a part of my life I thought I had lost. Me-1, Sarc-0.


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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