Even When I’m Facing Health Obstacles, I Refuse to Give Up

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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May has not been my favorite month for many years.

I lost my mother suddenly over Mother’s Day weekend in 2003, and later lost one of my favorite aunts in May 2006 and my maternal grandmother in May 2007. On May 19, 2018, I suffered a second spontaneous pneumothorax in my left lung, and in May 2021, I was admitted to the hospital twice in a two-week period. Needless to say, I’m so over this month.

That said, I’m still thankful to see another May. I’ve hit some rough patches on my journey with pulmonary sarcoidosis, but I still show up for each day I’m blessed with.

This May has involved some excitement. As part of my regular pulmonary function tests, I had two six-minute walk tests, plus follow-up visits with my cardiologist and pulmonologist. To say I was nervous would be an understatement. I feared the hits would keep coming.

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I was also concerned in the days leading up to the fourth anniversary of my spontaneous pneumothorax. I wasn’t really worried about suffering another event; I just kept thinking about how past events have changed my life. But that’s not how you heal, and that’s definitely not how you should live.

We all make plans for our life, and my plan changed suddenly due to various events I couldn’t control. What I wrestle with most is how my plan has changed, and how that in turn has changed me. Now I have to create a new plan. ‘Tis a tangled web life weaves.

When my mother passed, the grief forced me to make a change in my life. I was working on a video for a good friend of mine at the time, and he wouldn’t let me give up on myself or my craft. Working on his project helped me stay in the game. We finished his video, and when he presented it to his family, he said there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I learned I still had love for my craft; moreover, I had accomplished something meaningful. I guess you could call me a survivor of sorts.

Living with a chronic condition can take a serious toll on you. I’ll be the first to admit that there are times it seems much easier to give in and give up, rather than try to do any better for myself. No matter how long I dwell on that possibility, I always remember that I was raised not to give up on the things that are important to me, especially myself. Working through hardships builds character.

Like with any chronic illness, sarcoidosis can make us believe it’s easier to give up on life, given our condition. If we’re not careful, PTSD can sneak in. That alone is a reason to keep fighting.

For many years, the month of May has brought me to this crossroad of whether to give in. I think it’s finally time to cross this road.

I haven’t been hospitalized yet this month (thank God), and my second six-minute walk test was a complete reversal of my first one: The results were so good that my therapist and I were stunned. One of my cardiologists believes I’ve made so much progress due to my medications that they’re considering taking me off one that’s no longer needed. I believe this is all because I’m crossing that road and not giving up.

In life with sarcoidosis, sometimes you’ll have the support you need, and other times you have to support yourself. Obstacles will always challenge you, but they don’t define you. When you’re stopped at a crossroad, dare to cross it. And remember, slow and steady wins the race!

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.


Pam Stewart-Kuhn avatar

Pam Stewart-Kuhn

Thanks Charlton for sharing your experience strength and wisdom 💜

Paul Varadi avatar

Paul Varadi

Good message, thanks for sharing.
Reminds me of two good quotes.
"We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same!" Carlos Castaneda

The last of human freedoms is to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Viktor Frankel

Susan K. MacLeod avatar

Susan K. MacLeod

Thank you. Do you have sarcoidosis in other organs? I have it in my lungs, skin, eyes, kidneys? Also have htn, high chol, fibromyalgia, oa with foot, knee, and bilat thumb sure, ie. fusions and joint replacements, asthma, hypothyroid, anemia, ibs, migraines, cardiac muscle dysfunction with EF in 30's but now 45-50, spasmodic dysphonia requiring botox injs. in my vocal cords and a little depression and anxiety. My rheumatologist thinks a lot of these problems might be related to the sarcoidosis. Just wondered if other people might have some of these problems since sarcoidosis can effect any organ/part of the body. Thanks. Find your articles very informative. Thank you.


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