Victories Are Sweeter When You Have to Work Hard for Them

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by Athena Merritt |

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Many call it “heart attack snow.” It’s heavy. It’s backbreaking. Last week, we went head-to-head. In “Terminator” terms, the snow was the advanced T-3000 cyborg. I was “Pops,” the old T-800 out to prove I wasn’t obsolete.

I’m used to sarcoidosis putting me through the wringer emotionally. But fluffy flakes from Mother Nature? Yet there I was, muttering to myself in a sleet storm. And refusing, as I have so many times before, to be defeated. 

I dressed to be warm, not cute. A bitterly cold walk home last winter taught me not to make that mistake again. I also knew help wasn’t arriving.  

I’m at that sucky in-between age right now — neither young enough nor old enough — to attract chivalrous men to do the job for me. And an update (stupid timing on my part) had bricked my iPhone, rendering it useless to contact anyone for assistance. 

No problemo

I considered myself lucky (much, much later from the warm confines inside) that my area wasn’t buried in 36 inches, like ABC reported was the case in other parts of Pennsylvania. 

Still, I thought about taking my quarantining to a new level and staying in until warm weather melted the wintery mess. The idea occurred to me as I stood on more than a foot of snow, reaching down (yes, down!) to sweep my car clean. 

I wanted to give up right then because I had a second car to dig out, too. But I did the same thing that I do to keep myself from becoming overwhelmed by sarcoidosis: I focused on one small area at a time. 

I’ll be back

When I was first diagnosed, I thought if the granulomas disappeared from my lungs, my problems would, too. I never anticipated unrelenting fatigue, pain, and cognitive impairment 

It’s why, more often than not, it takes me multiple attempts to get things done. Shoveling last week was no different. 

I was overmatched. After four straight days of snow, I reached the same conclusion Kyle Reese did with the Terminator: There was no bargaining, reasoning, or stopping it. Like an old T-800 model, the only thing I had going for me was my refusal to give up.

Hasta la vista, baby

I didn’t think I could do it, but I did. And I mustered enough energy to help my 77-year-old neighbor get her car out as well. I joked about wanting to be 20 years younger, later realizing that would’ve been right before my rare disease journey began. 

Saying goodbye and going inside with the work done felt good, though not so much physically in the days that followed. But I’m OK — with my life and this disease. Because battling through to claim victories, even the small ones, means so much more now. 

I’d like to think my determination to free those plowed-in vehicles came from years of overcoming health challenges. But being stuck inside for four days without a cell phone and internet certainly didn’t hurt. 


Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.

  • Mardi Gras 2021: The pandemic ruined plans for parades but not the Mardi Gras spirit in New Orleans. Some residents are decorating houses like floats, a trend that is popping up across the U.S., The Daily Advertiser reported.  
  • A romantic booking: A fledgling independent bookstore in Philadelphia has found a unique way to add some revenue during the pandemic, according to a post on The Head & The Hand Books in Kensington is charging $65 to rent out the entire space for a 90-minute date night, which includes a glass of beer or wine. They even queue up a music playlist of your choosing. 


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.


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