I’m Learning to Give Myself a Break

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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My last doctor’s appointment of 2021 was on Dec. 30 and involved a six-minute walk test and a follow-up with my pulmonologist.

The walk test didn’t seem to go well, as I required more supplemental oxygen than I usually do while working out at the gym. I explained this to my respiratory therapists and pulmonologist, who told me not to be so critical of my efforts. The test simply measures how much oxygen you need while exerting yourself, and I had walked farther than I normally do.

Although my team’s kind words made me feel slightly better, I couldn’t help but beat myself up a little. I felt like I had failed myself.

Because I take these tests every three months, I get anxious wondering how much oxygen I’ll need, given my pulmonary sarcoidosis and history of pneumothoraces. I think my concerns about the results made me go into the test feeling jaded.

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After the appointment, I was relieved to be done and couldn’t wait to get home. I actually felt better than I had before visiting with my team.

I stopped at a store to pick something up and didn’t use my portable oxygen tank. For me, that usually indicates that my head is in the right place.

When I got home, I told my wife how the walk test went, got comfortable, and was ready to relax. After a while, I asked my wife to turn on my oxygen concentrator. I don’t always have it on, but I like to keep it handy if I’m moving around a lot — especially if I’m bending or kneeling.

I started thinking about how I need to go easier on myself. As a video professional of more than 30 years, I’m often the biggest critic of my work. But I’ve grown uncomfortable with the expectations I’ve set for myself. An intervention starts with me and my thoughts. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to take it easy!

I get much more upset with myself than with others. I thought about how frustrated I became when I needed more oxygen than usual during my walk test. Frustration is a huge trigger for my breathing issues, so I have to do better at recognizing and controlling this feeling. It only makes the task at hand more difficult.

Going forward, I’ll work on giving myself a break. After two years of living through a pandemic with sarcoidosis, I think I deserve that much! In times of frustration, I must remember that I’m not being targeted by difficult circumstances. Life is just the luck of the draw.

Remember, no one cares more about you than you do, so make it a point to care for yourself.

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.


Mary Pratt avatar

Mary Pratt

I’m new to the Cardiac Sarcoidosis diagnosis. Is this newsletter for people with lung issues only?

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Hi Mary, not at all.
Please feel free to jump in and share any info or ask any questions. Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Darlene Harmon avatar

Darlene Harmon

Thank you for your article. Although my lungs have been stable, my skin, heart, mobility and eyes and neuro have not. I am learning to do exactly as you said, to live life the best I can, and not shed any tears for this illness.

Thank You


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