Getting Stuck in a False Comfort Zone
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Dan Millman
Now that some of the pandemic-era restrictions are being lifted throughout the U.S., I can’t help but feeling like I missed a good deal of my life.
Until recently, I hadn’t been hospitalized since February 2020, when I had a sarcoidosis flare-up. But in the last two weeks, I’ve been hospitalized twice.
On Mother’s Day last month, I was admitted for edema. About a week after I was released, I was readmitted for diverticulitis. The first visit lasted a week, while the second was an overnight stay. It seems that sometimes I just can’t catch a break. As I like to say, “When you least expect it, expect it!”
With the world slowly getting back to at least some normalcy, I had already made up my mind that I would be getting back into the gym at least three times a week. Nothing beats chronic illness more than staying active.
Last year took a toll on all of us, and it hit me particularly hard. I could tell that my health had changed, and not for the better. I couldn’t take my regular trips to the gym, so I had to do my exercises within the confines of my home. It was a challenge since I don’t have a treadmill or a bike, but I made do with some weights and elastic bands. It really doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re doing something.
While I was in the hospital, I couldn’t help but think about some of what I have lost thanks to pulmonary sarcoidosis. I’ve lost a good amount of freedom and some lung function. I’ve lost my ability to work in a career I love, and strangely, I’ve lost some friends along the way. Thankfully, I haven’t lost too many, but enough to notice.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes I find myself on “other people’s time,” when it feels like I’m being simply tolerated and burdensome. This is all the more reason to fend for yourself when you can!
People also have become more hostile and impatient in the last year, and it makes things a little more challenging for those living with a disability.
During my hospital stays, I had nothing but time to reflect on how my life has changed, including where I’ve been, where I’m at, and where I’m headed. I know I’m not the person I used to be, but I also know that sarcoidosis can’t make me a person I don’t want to become.
Between this illness and the pandemic, I’ve become a victim of my own doing. I’ve chosen to sit on the couch for hours watching the same reruns on television that I watched in the hospital three years ago. I’ve chosen to limit my daily activities that otherwise would have allowed me to move more.
I think subconsciously, I slipped back into a comfort zone — the same one I previously needed to escape after having multiple spontaneous pneumothoraces. For whatever reason, sitting around doing absolutely nothing felt good.
I’m sure a lot of folks feel the same way. I hated to admit that my comfort zone was stopping me from living. My couch had become my new best friend, and my television my new spouse. Somehow I missed the slow, deliberate effects these things were having on me. Although science had everyone social distancing and masking up, I chose to hide and come out only when necessary.
All of that is changing now.
Last year, I received a Culinary Rx certification for an online instructional cooking and nutrition course I took at Rouxbe, an online culinary school. I also started a separate nutritional program. Being healthy starts from within.
Now that everything is starting to open up again, I have no excuse not to regain what I lost last year. I must tell myself that my couch is not my best friend, and my television and cocktails are not my spouse and kids. I’m at a crossroads with my rehabilitation, and I must choose wisely. I can’t allow what has become my comfort zone to continue.
Looking at it more deeply, I live with sarcoidosis to tell a story.
When people realize the extent of everything I deal with, it not only can inspire them, but also awaken their inner strength and allow them to persevere in light of whatever challenges they may be facing. One has to be a strong person to deal with this type of thief, and the more we realize our strengths, the stronger we make others.
“If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down.” — Adaptation from a Toni Morrison novel
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.