Dinner at the Doc’s Was the Medicine I Needed to Get Back on Track

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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Recently, I received a phone call from my former brother-in-law. He suggested that I come out to his house for a few days of rest and relaxation. He checks on me daily since I had my first spontaneous pneumothorax in August 2017. I had been feeling a little stressed, so I decided to take him up on his offer.

He came into Philly to pick me up along with all of my “safety measures,” including my pulse oximeter, oxygen tanks, meds, Surface Pro, and tablet. He lives about 40 miles outside the city, and I was looking forward to going out to “the country.” Though, I think he was more excited about me coming out to his house than I was to leave the bustle of the city behind.

I hadn’t been to his house since June 2017 — right before my first spontaneous pneumothorax. We picked up some groceries before heading home. The plan was for me to cook and for him to stay out of my way. He enjoys a good home-cooked meal, especially when someone else is toiling in the kitchen, or in my case, over the grill.

Relax, relate, and de-stress

My brother-in-law’s house is nice — it’s an open floor plan including a “man cave” that could be a separate one-bedroom apartment. It’s chock-full of Cleveland Browns memorabilia. Maybe they’ll have a respectable season this year! Lol.

As time passed, I felt more relaxed and comfortable. It was like old times. I enjoy being at his house because he makes me feel like I belong there, and not like I’m a guest. He’s a master at making people feel at home.

Trip to the doctor’s

He had made plans for us on Saturday. We were invited to a cookout at the house of his friend, a psychiatrist whom I’d met a few times before but hadn’t seen in about six or seven years. He also told me that his lady friend was coming over for the weekend and would be joining us. This would be the first time I’d meet her properly. She had accompanied him when he came to visit me in the intensive care unit last year, but I had been sedated, so I only recognized her voice.

Saturday arrived, and we set off for the cookout. We arrived at what I considered a mansion. The first thing that I noticed was the five-car garage attached to the house and a smaller house attached to the main one. Talk about feeling overwhelmed. I felt a little nervous about not knowing what to expect or how I would be perceived by his guests, with me carrying my oxygen and all. But what the heck, I’ve learned how to keep to myself.

I was amazed at the size of the interior of the house. We introduced ourselves as we made our way through the crowd until we reached our host. He looked at me and immediately remembered me. Though we haven’t seen each other in years, we didn’t miss a beat catching up.

“Doc” recalled that I was a video producer, and asked what I was up to now. He looked surprised when I told him that I’d “retired” because of sarcoidosis. I told him about my multiple spontaneous pneumothorax, and he asked if the surgeons had performed a pleurodesis. I said that I’d had two, and also had two endobronchial valves in place. While talking to him, I felt his concern and empathy.

We stayed for a few hours chatting and laughing with him and his family members. I didn’t feel out of place or uncomfortable; instead, I felt welcomed and at ease, like when I’m at my brother-in-law’s house. I thought that it’s unfortunate that people with disabilities are continually on guard when engaging with other people. 

Overall, the weekend was the interruption that I needed to relax and feel “normal” — if there is such a thing. Afterward, I was somewhat back on track. You may forget a person’s name or an encounter, but you’ll always remember how they make you feel, especially if you have an illness or disability. But, ultimately, the only person who can make you feel comfortable in your own skin in any circumstance is you.


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 sarcoidosis.


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