Don’t Dis Ability: Using Fear as a Motivator

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by Charlton Harris |

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Welcome to a new year and a new decade!

As 2019 came to a close, I began to make plans for the new decade. I decided that I would take more chances, like I used to do before suffering multiple incidences of spontaneous pneumothorax and enduring several hospital stays. I can say from firsthand experience that serious medical conditions and overall health issues can affect you in many ways.

After my health issues became more serious, I noticed that I became more reclusive. I only felt comfortable by myself, in my home, or with my family close by.

Over time, I started having issues with post-traumatic stress disorder. I felt anxious and nervous about my health and often wondered if I was making any progress in my recuperation. I worried about how much longer I would continue to have a fun-filled life.

I read a lot of material on the subject and talked to two health counselors who worked for my insurance company. Apparently, my health insurance has a mental health component that I wasn’t aware of. Counseling helped initially, but the phone calls became infrequent, so I was left to deal with these issues alone, though my family and inner circle of friends helped me a great deal.

Time to take a stand

As the holiday season got into full swing, I started thinking about what progress I wanted to see, not only with my physical health but also my mental health. I had several doctors’ appointments during the final weeks of the year. While waiting to be seen in the various offices, I thought about how I could move forward with improving my health.

My doctors and I have discussed alternatives for dealing with sarcoidosis, particularly pulmonary sarcoidosis. The past two years have forced me to evaluate my quality of life and identify how I could improve it. I’ve had several in-depth conversations with my pulmonologist and expressed to him that I’d be open to other solutions to address this issue.

We agreed that the first thing that needed to be done was an evaluation of my current health. I’ll admit that when I thought about the scope of this, it seemed like a daunting endeavor. But I promised myself that I would do what was necessary to improve my quality of life.

Almost immediately, fear of the unknown overtook me. But what could I do? At this point, I’m all in. So let the games begin.

Facing fear and rising to the challenge

I started my new decade committed to a week and a half of medical testing. My days started at 7 a.m. and lasted until 3 p.m. My wife accompanied me the first two days. Her presence was reassuring because I felt that I wasn’t doing this by myself.

I had some idea of what was involved because of the tests I’d had over the two years since my first spontaneous pneumothorax. But though the process was familiar to me, I didn’t expect my doctors to order a battery of blood tests. Over two days, I had 47 different blood tests, not to mention the other scheduled tests — 53 tests in total. I thought to myself, “What the heck did I sign up for?”

Thinking about all of the testing involved, I started feeling anxious and nervous because I didn’t know what the doctors were looking for or what to expect moving forward. But then it hit me. I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so why should I get worked up over routine tests? 

I figured out from one of several conversations with my pulmonology team that they wanted to make sure I’m still healthy enough to explore other treatments. Since I’m not on any medication, I think the blood tests will tell them everything they need to know. My doctors agree that I’m in very good shape for my condition. Pursuing other medical options would prove beneficial to me in the sense that I’m not too sick and would be expected to recover well.

Since the beginning of the year, I’m learning to rely on and trust my abilities and capabilities again. I can still go to the gym and pretty much do everything for myself and my family. I’m capable of making my own decisions, so my ability to function independently is intact.

I guess that when you think about it, I can still have a good life, only now I trust my abilities to allow me to live a better life. And that’s nothing to fear! 


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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