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Learning Which Numbers Really Matter


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living with sarcoidosis | Banner for "No Tears for Sarcoidosis" by Charlton Harris

It’s easy to forget what’s most important when living with a chronic health condition.

I reflect on this often, especially when I’m working out at the gym or trying to do “normal” activities. Achieving a sense of normalcy with sarcoidosis is difficult, especially during a pandemic.

A shifting sense of normalcy

When I was in good health, I would walk every day. After I was laid off from my last job, walking became my therapy. I’d walk my dog in the park or go for a bike ride, but that all changed after I had spontaneous pneumothoraces, which I’ve previously written about.

Now I find a sense of normalcy in hitting the gym and using the treadmill and the stationary bike. It’s not the same, but it’s better for me because I can bring my portable oxygen, exercise in a controlled environment, and remain close to home should I experience any health issues.

I also miss working every day. That might sound crazy, but when I was working, I felt a sense of being. I was accomplishing something, making money, providing for my family, and paying my bills. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t mind paying bills. It makes me feel like I matter and reminds me that I have a stake in this game of life.

In making sure my bills were paid, I always kept on top of my credit. At one point, my credit score dropped because I had closed a few accounts, leading to inquiries on my report. I investigated the issue and discovered how I could correct some of my credit problems, even though they were relatively minor. I wrote letters to businesses questioning my report, and over time my score gradually improved. I was able to refinance my mortgage and acquire a store charge, which enabled me to purchase much-needed appliances for the house.

Focusing on a different set of numbers

My outlook on financial responsibilities has changed since my first spontaneous pneumothorax four years ago. I’ve learned to put things into perspective. I don’t pay too much attention to my credit score anymore. At 57, I doubt that I’ll buy another house, co-sign a loan, or use a lot of revolving credit going forward.

Life can be a numbers game. The only numbers I concentrate on now are my oxygen saturation, which should remain between 89-99%, and my blood pressure, which should be between 100/70 and 120/80 mm Hg. These numbers, in addition to any dizziness, chest pain, or headaches, indicate whether I’m OK or need to visit the nearest emergency room.

The only other important number is my mortgage payment. It reminds me that I have a home filled with people I love, and it’s my responsibility to keep it that way. That’s my stake in this game of life.

Don’t get me wrong, my credit score is still important. It reminds me that I’m responsible, and that my choices matter to some faceless entity.

numbers | Sarcoidosis News | Columnist Charlton Harris' gray Jeep Compass is parked on the street in his neighborhood.

Charlton’s new Jeep Compass. (Photo by Charlton Harris)

I recently used my improved credit score to make a big difference in my family’s life: I got a new car! I’ve never had a new car or a car payment. It makes sense for me to enjoy life by utilizing the tools and resources that I have.

Sometimes we have to take a leap of faith and do what we think is best for us, including deciding what’s most important. Faith may be all we have while seeking some semblance of normalcy amid life’s changes. I’m trying to make my faith count toward something that matters to my family and me.

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.

The post Learning Which Numbers Really Matter appeared first on Sarcoidosis News.

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