Overcoming the Apathy That’s Brought On by My Sarcoidosis

Charlton Harris avatar

by Charlton Harris |

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For the past few days, I’ve been trying to figure out when I started to feel incomplete. I don’t mean that I feel useless, but at what point did I start feeling inadequate to accomplish anything? It may sound a bit sketchy, but there is a relationship between sarcoidosis and apathy.

I think the seed was planted when I suffered my first spontaneous pneumothorax (collapsed lung), and that plant was nurtured after my second. I remember after each event, I felt like I was going to be different (and not in a good way). That was correct: I’m different, in fact very different, from what I was.

After spending weeks and months in the hospital, the plant began to grow and spread. And the more the plant grew and spread, the less I wanted to do. As the plant blossomed, more and more of me started checking out. I was becoming what I didn’t want to become: a lone ram among a flock of sheep.

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Over the past few years, I’ve missed out on a lot of things that could’ve contributed to my healing and sense of worth. I don’t know about anyone else, but when you’re living with a chronic illness, it’s easy to be consumed with thoughts of finality. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve become the unwelcome lexicon you live by.

And here we are.

Now we have to put some of the pieces together again to get back that sense of self-worth. Easier said than done.

I recently had several doctor appointments, and for the most part, all went well with various testing and follow-up consults. During one of my visits, I was introduced to a doctor whom I hit it off with. We had a great visit together, and I felt good about meeting with him. During the visit, though, I learned that he was leaving the team assigned to me.

I was a bit taken aback, but life happens. I wished him well in his future endeavors and thanked him for being a great support person for me.

A few days ago I received a letter in the mail from a pulmonologist on my team. Yup, you guessed it — he’s leaving too. I’ve had a great relationship with this doctor for a few years, so needless to say, the news was more than a shock.

My wife could tell that something was bothering me, so I told her the news. Like me, she expressed her concerns, but we both felt comfortable continuing to work with the rest of my medical team. I’ve been with them for over 10 years, so it wouldn’t make sense to start over by finding someone else who can tolerate my nonsense.

I started thinking about all of this shuffling and moving around me. What am I not doing? How come I’m not making moves? After I thought about it, I concluded that I was the reason I’m not making moves or advancing in life. I’m feeling like I’m asking myself for permission to move on.

Before I developed my health issues, I never asked if I was good enough to achieve anything. Since my health issues, I find myself wondering if I’m good enough to still achieve some goals.

It all comes down to doing something. You have to do something. You have to keep moving.

The reality is that as long as I’m doing something productive, I’m doing everything I can to be productive. Whether it’s working in a job I love or pursuing dreams of self-fulfillment, as long as I’m producing something, I’m achieving something. It’s called a feeling of worth.

When you think about it, asking yourself for permission is actually challenging your abilities. Accept the challenge up front, and the results may impress you.

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.




Interesting article. I get what you mean about wondering about being up to the challenge. I have had health issues for the past 3 years - diagnosed with neurosarcoidosis following a brain biopsy 7 months ago. It has been quite a journey. Friday I went to a seminar for 4 hours. That was a challenge and in the past I would have been helping put it on. Now just to attend was a challenge and big decision. But I did it and it was good to be back out in public by myself. Keep on doing what you can.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you, Rhonda. One of the things I suffer with from time to time is fear. Sometimes I get fearful of trying to do some of the things I used to do, but once I get started I find it easier. As the saying goes, the first step is the hardest. Thanks for reading and keep on moving!

Terry Faulkenr avatar

Terry Faulkenr

Dear Charlton,
I am a 62 year old white female, who was diagnosed with Pulmonary Sarcoidosis in 1994. Since then I have developed osteoarthritis, asthma, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, migraines and vertigo. A lot of my anxiety stems from people judging me at first sight. They look at me and think in their heads or sometimes out loud, "you look fine, it doesn't seem like anything is wrong with you". Rarely is that said in kindness, it is usually said because I am on disability at the recommendation of my doctors since 2015, and people think badly of me because I don't hold down a 9 to 5 job. Well, as you know, being around the general public you pick up every virus that is going around and I stay sick a lot longer than healthy people. Employers don't like when you miss work, I understand that, but I also cannot help whether I get sick or not. I went through two very difficult years of depression when I went on disability. I have always worked and I realized that was where I got my self-worth from. It was from working and making a wage. Once I could not do that anymore, I felt like I might as well die. Since I wasn't bringing in money that I was just taking up space in an already too crowded world. I really didn't come here to bend your ear about all of this, but I appreciate you and your article more than you know. I think most of us with Sarcoidosis just suffer in silence. I am in therapy, which is the only reason I function as well as I do. I just wish we had more information on this in the forefront than in the small articles of a special website. Thank you and many blessings

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you for reading, Terry. I know what mean when folks say; "you look fine". Sometimes they mean it, and sometimes it's said "left-handedly". I try not to let them or any of their actions get the best of me. I'm already dealing with mysterious assailant, so to heckwith them. Keep believing in yourself and your progress so you can prove to the outsiders that you WILL BE FINE.
Continued Blessings to you and keep yourself busy, it really does help!

renee avatar


I enjoy reading your articles. This one hit home.
Thanks for taking the time to write.
I find comfort in your words.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you for your kind words, Renee`. I'm thankful that many have felt the same as me so it's comforting to know that Im not alone.
Please continue to read and comment!

wendy a schleyer avatar

wendy a schleyer

what a fantastic story and great view of your emotions on your journey.

Charlton Harris avatar

Charlton Harris

Thank you, Wendy.
Please continue to read and God Bless you with continued progress with your health.

Susan Owens-Delucchi avatar

Susan Owens-Delucchi

Well said! After living with neuro sarc since 2007, I am reminded that I am not able to complete everything I would have done before... Yet. the mindfulness teacher, Jon Kabot-Zinn, says, "As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than wrong." That "right" part may be constrained with a lot less energy, but can still help me find meaning in life.
Appreciate your inspiring article. All my best...


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