Plan for the Unexpected When You Are Least Expecting It

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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This has been an interesting week. This time last year, I was released from the hospital about three days before Father’s Day. I was excited to be coming home after being hospitalized for four weeks with my third spontaneous pneumothorax. This year, I was again thankful to be able to celebrate with my family and dog, even though the day was chaotic at times.

I have been doing a lot of introspective thinking this past week about how far I’ve progressed since last year and how much more progress I have to make. If for no other reason, I have to do it for myself. The satisfaction of accomplishing something, no matter how small the achievement, is gratifying. When you’re challenged with medical issues, you rely on people whom you trust to help you thrive again.

Life interrupted

About a week before Father’s Day this year, I received a phone call from my brother. We usually check in on each other once or twice a week for updates on our families and any other news. He informed me that his father-in-law’s wife had suffered a massive stroke two days prior. He told me she was getting ready to go out with some friends, and suddenly called out for her husband, but by the time he reached her, the stroke had already taken place.

It was eerily similar to how we lost our mother. She was eating breakfast and talking to her best friend on the phone when she exclaimed, “I can’t see!” Her friend heard the phone drop. She knew right away something was wrong and called the police.

My brother is probably the most centered, unruffled person I know. He exudes calmness within chaotic environments. I could tell that the incident with his in-laws had brought back memories, though, and I asked if he was OK. He said he was, and he continued to give me a few more details. 

The prognosis didn’t look good for his father-in-law’s wife, but my brother praised the doctor who had delivered the news to the family. He said the doctor had comforted his father-in-law while explaining what happened and what the next steps going forward would be. The doctor also comforted the other family members who were at the hospital, trying to make everyone as comfortable as he could, considering the circumstances. My brother called him an “angel,” and wished more doctors had his compassion.

Life turns on a dime

That really shook me and got me thinking … a lot!

The irony about this situation is that my brother’s father-in-law had suffered a stroke himself some years ago, and his wife was his primary caregiver! So now what? What happens to a patient when they no longer have a caregiver to rely on? I asked about that dilemma, and my brother’s response was, “I don’t know. I guess it’ll be us.”

Living with an acute illness like sarcoidosis can quickly put life’s priorities in order. Until 2016, I was a working professional. Then I lost my job, and with it went my health and life insurance. I tried to get another life policy, but was turned down for “medical reasons.” I remember that during the several times I was hospitalized, I was often asked if I had a “healthcare directive,” which I didn’t. I kept thinking about getting my affairs in order in case something should happen to me, but the fear of putting the wheels in motion paralyzed my efforts.

Time to do the right thing

I finally took the first step. I asked a lawyer friend who had helped with my Social Security disability which would be best for me: a will or a revocable trust. Surprisingly, I never heard back from him, so I took the initiative to get both, as well as a healthcare directive; better to be fully protected than have no protection at all. I was really afraid to take this step because I felt like I was taking my final step, but I did it, and once I looked over the paperwork and discussed my wishes, I felt more at ease — like I was doing something right. I still have to get life insurance, but I think I’m better prepared mentally to start the process.

As expected, my brother’s father-in-law lost his wife. It was a terrible chain of events to take place right before Father’s Day, but the family is holding it together. Sometimes, life throws us curveballs to remind us to stay the course and take care of ourselves and our necessities. You never know what the next adventure life has in store for us. Just keep living, and hang on for the ride!


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.


Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

De nada. gracias por leer. Por favor continúen inspirándose.


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