The Dangers Of The Outside World


Even after all these years living with chronic sarcoidosis, a disease that completely changed my life, a disease that completely changed my body…I am still sometimes astounded at what a fragile creature I have become. I am taken aback by the need to keep my world small and controlled. I take for granted the value of my daily routine and only notice how dependent I am upon it when something forces me to change it. Recent life events, nothing I need bore you with the details about, have forced me to be more active in the “outside” world than I would normally be. These events have taken me out of my daily routine. They have been stressful events and I have had to push myself physically in ways that I usually don’t and now my body feels shattered.

I will figure out how to put the pieces back together. I always do. This isn’t the first, nor will it be last time, I will feel this way. Feeling overwhelmed by pain, fevers and fatigue is a constant struggle living with chronic sarcoidosis. Outside forces have a way of inflicting themselves on me from time to time and when they do, I often find that being taken out of my very carefully crafted routine, leaves me pained and drained in ways that feel like I have become a wrung out dish rag in need of a good washing.

In recent weeks, I am reminded of the necessity of my routine and that when that routine is broken, I suffer…physically and then emotionally. There is a snowball effect to what happens to me when I leave the delicate world I have created for myself. Sometimes I feel trapped by this world but when events such these occur, I am reminded of what a gift it is to live in a world of my own making, a world that protects me and keeps me healthier than I would otherwise be. It’s a small world but it’s a precious one and I should not take it for granted because it is the only world that gives me peace.

Being reminded of how fragile I am is always a kick in the gut and, maybe that’s because the small peaceful world I have created for myself, the one that keeps me as pain free as possible and helps me manage my fatigue in a way that allows me to feel somewhat human, is well…just that…small. I hate to think that I have to live a small life and being forced out of my routine reminds me of my limits. There is no doubt that living with a chronic disease like sarcoidosis, that can be set off so easily, shrinks a person’s world. And, even though I have a wonderful small world to live in, there is grief and there is loss in having to accept the boundaries placed upon me as a result of being sick.

While I am still sometimes surprised by the ways in which sarcoidosis has changed my world, my body and my life, the reality of my life remains the same. I am physically fragile. My routine is an anchor that keeps my world both small and manageable. I need it like I need the air that I breath and I need to keep the outside forces that haunt this world at bay as much as possible. I am humbled to live in this wee little place but I need not feel insignificant because of it. It’s not my fault I have to live this way. In fact, I need to protect my safe, small, precious, world as if my life depended on it…because it does!


Routine…Can’t Live With It…Can’t Live Without It


Routine is not a matter of comfort for people with sarcoidosis. Routine is a matter of survival. Those of us with chronic disease depend on routine to manage everything from physical pain to body numbing fatigue to the constant emotional upheaval of our pain and fatigue. Routine allows us to maintain some sense of normalcy, some modicum of sanity.

It’s not always fun living a life of routine. It can be rote, repetitive and often mindless. Routines are mechanical things. They create structure and but they also lack spontaneity. Routines are both a friend and an enemy to those of us with sarcoidosis. They bring order to a world that is otherwise left chaotic in a body that won’t work properly. They also cage us in that world, forcing us to live within very limited parameters. Routines shrink our world to a manageable size but they also restrict us. They cut us off from so much else that goes on around us and sometimes they make us fearful of what lies outside of them.

When we step out of our routines the consequences can be unpredictable. Sometimes very little changes except perhaps a slight increase in fatigue. Fatigue is one thing we can always count on. No matter what we do, fatigue is always present. Other times stepping outside our routine can bring on something as severe as a flare in our disease symptoms, sometimes bad enough for hospitalization. The route our disease goes, when we change our schedule is anyone’s guess.

Having routine a for those of us with sarcoidosis, or any other chronic difficult health issue, is necessary. It is how we function at our best in most situations. Learning to create these boundaries is one of the first coping skills we learn once we are saddled with illness. Routines bring us a feeling of security, of control, when everything else feels like wildly unpredictable.

Sometimes for our own sanity, we have to try to reach beyond those boundaries though. Part of the balance of living with a disease like sarcoidosis, is learning when to push and when not to push. Finding this balance is a constant challenge but if we stay too stuck in routine, we can forget that there is a big beautiful world beyond the lines we have created for ourselves and sometimes making an effort to be part of that world is as important to our overall health as routines are. There’s always a price to be paid for stepping outside of routines but sometimes we have to weigh the cost against the benefit of taking a chance and sometimes the benefit outweighs the cost. Being stuck in routines is tedious and, while they are necessary for our physical health, they sometimes impede our mental health. Sometimes, despite the risk, it is just as important to overcome the fears we have of leaving our routine to remember that we are not defined by them or by our disease.