Monthly Archives: September 2016

What Do You See?

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When you see me, can you see the pain I am experiencing with every step? Or do you see the fake smile and laughter I display so you don’t know how bad I hurt?

When you see me, can you see the numbness and tingling in my lower spinal area and the burning pain sensations it causes?

When you see me, do you know that I struggle to breathe when I walk any great distance?

When you see me, do you realize that I struggle to hold my emotions together at times? These are moments I am praying asking God to help me hold it all together.

When I comment that I am exhausted-even though I haven’t done anything to get that way-do you think I am exaggerating? In these moments, I am usually so exhausted and fatigued that the feeling of nausea sweeps over me and laying down becomes paramount to my well-being.

 

I do my best daily to put on my happy face; some days I struggle just to be pleasant. Days when I am not so pleasant and grumpy, please realize, it probably has nothing to do with you, but the pain I am in and I am tired of always being in pain. But I will continue to push through it because I was taught giving up or giving in is not an option.

 

When my attitude is out of whack, gently remind me to get back to a nicer me. We all have days that we struggle. Some struggles are physical, some may be mental and some may be ones we have no idea why we feel the way we do. Love me just the same as when I am not struggling.

 

Between the pain that is associated with fibromyalgia, the degenerative disc disease in my spine, the osteoarthritis in my hips and knees, carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and the chronic meniscal injury to my left leg, some days I feel like I am just going to collapse. Jesus holds me up. He carries me in the palm of his hands. And now on top of all these lovely issues, if this constant aching is not enough, now my lungs are giving me problems.

 

I smoked menthol cigarettes for over 30 years. I breathed in silica dust and plaster dust for 12 years. I knew the risks associated with the cigarette smoking, but I was addicted to the Nicotine. So much so, that even though I knew and understood the risks of continuing to do so could ultimately harm me, I still did it. I saw my grandmother succumb to lung cancer and my best friend die of COPD and watched my father struggle to breathe as well.

 

I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea is 2007. I have always relied on a CPAP [Continuous Positive Airway Pressure]

to keep my airway open at night-time and allow me to sleep.and get rest. For many years, the CPAP alone was enough. Not anymore. It has come to my attention as well as one of my physicians, that the CPAP alone is not enough. I experience low levels of oxygen while sleeping. A normal oxygen level is anything above 90% and during my sleep times with my CPAP machine, I am showing oxygen levels of 60%. According to my doctors, anything under 90% oxygen level is dangerous to me and requires interventions. In reading some information I have found out that continued drops in oxygen levels will cause damage to cognitive function, short-term memory, stroke and heart attack during sleep and many other problems if not treated. I will be doing an overnight testing within the next week to determine if oxygen therapy will be required along with the CPAP usage.

 

And last but not least, I have been diagnosed with COPD[chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]. I have had asthma since childhood and suffer with Chronic Bronchitis and breathing problems.

 

I normally don’t share this with everyone. But it is my belief that the people in my life that God has blessed me with, which are friends that I call family, need to know what is happening with me.

I take it in stride. I know God has a plan for me and I also know that He helps me every single minute that I breathe. I am not sure what that plan is-I know he will tell me more when he is ready for me to hear it.

 

I am thankful. I can still walk. I might be as slow as a tortoise, but I am not in a wheelchair, without use of my legs. I may be able to feel every tender pain point on my body, but that’s okay because that means I am not paralyzed.

 

I may have to wear prescription glasses, because without them I struggle to see, but I am still thankful,because I am not blind.

 

Many mornings, I feel like I have a pharmacy in my medicine bag, 13 pills to take and two inhaler devices along with one to two breathing treatments a day. I am still thankful that there are companies that make these meds to help me function and live a fairly normal life.

 

Muscles spasms and incessant itching are the biggest pains in the neck because they just happen and you just have to get through them the best you can. Headaches, tummy troubles, dry skin, fatigue that always is and never seems to leave your body, Emotions that are up and down like a rollercoaster, but you learn to hold those in and only let those tears out with people who love you and understand why. When you have to explain why the tears, sometimes you are just too tired to even do that.

 

Edema and poor circulation issues. Weeping from your legs because the skin just won’t stretch anymore. My legs cry on a regular basis. My legs (calves/ankles) swell all the time. The only thing that stops the swelling and edema is to keep them elevated 24 hours a day-not likely considering I have a two-year old to care for, plus taking care of the home and myself.

 

Even in all of this grief I experience as I see my body and organs deteriorate from time to time, I am thankful because I know that each day that I awaken means God isn’t ready for me yet. He still has work for me to do here.

 

So when you see me, and you roll your eyes because yet again I am in pain and don’t feel good-understand this. I am not saying this to gain sympathy or do I want you to feel sorry for me, I just want you to understand that I have a lot of days when getting out of bed and getting dressed is a victory. Days when I not only get up, but take care of a 29 month old child who has endless energy, do housework and laundry and possibly cook dinner, those are wins for me too.

I miss being able to be outdoors. Taking hikes and nature walks spontaneously. It seems everything must be planned these days..Do I have my walker/cane? Do I have medication for my breathing and what happens if I need to go to the bathroom?

 

I would love to go to the park and play on the playground, run and jump-but my body won’t allow it right now. So I stay in most days and have found alternate way to spend with my grandchildren ( all four of them). I can’t run and chase them and play like that, but we draw and color and make and bake cookies and goodies. We play games and read stories and just spend time loving each other.

 

I know there are so many people in this world that face far greater trials than I have .

 

I am blessed by a God that loves me unconditionally, a family that does the same. Friends that treat me so special and make me feel very loved, A roof over my head, food in the fridge and clothes on my back. And a vehicle to get me where I need to go.

 

I am blessed and loved. I am alive. I am breathing and I am hoping that one day a cure will be found for Fibromyalgia. Until then, I will continue to do my best to educate others on what it is like to live with this disease. I have only shared the highlights. It’s too depressing to continue to dwell on it.

 

My mother always says, “You can’t always judge a book by its cover.”

And she’s right. I hope that when people “read” me, they see someone who loves Jesus and can’t’ imagine her life without him in it..

 

Jesus loves you! Blessings to each of you that read this!

~Carlene

Four Days

In four days from today, my father, Robert will have been gone a year. It doesn’t seem like it has been a year already. He is in his Heavenly home and someday we will meet again.

I sense his presence in my home. Maybe it’s wishful thinking that he is here; maybe not. I have never been good at keeping indoor plants thriving. I have two special plants in my kitchen window. The smaller plant was gifted to our daughter on the birth of her son by my parents.  We transplanted it into a pot when we got home and it has taken off and continues to amaze me at its growth. The larger pot holds a plant from my father’s memorial service. Tall green leaves, flowing up out of the plant with white blooms. Did it have the blooms a year ago? I really can’t recall. I have never seen any blooms on it, until today. Knowing nothing about either plant, except they hold special memories in my heart, I can’ quite grasp if the flowering blooms are part of the plant and they only bloom once a year or if maybe it is a signal from my father that life goes on.

And our lives have gone on. Do we have days when we struggle and wonder why he had to leave us so early? Most certainly. Did he leave us a legacy of love and loving others? You bet he did. My father could be a very stubborn man, but he loved everyone. Not just some people, but everyone. And I think back on my life with him and how many ups and downs we had, but never once did I doubt his love for me.Ever.

He was in poor health near the end of his life here on earth. He lived as he wanted and did things his way, always. So frustrating at times, but I seem to be falling into his footsteps when it comes to the way I live my life. I am not always healthy in my eating or how I treat myself. I have smoked for many years and now, it is hindering my life. I am in the process of quitting for good because I still have too many things I hope to accomplish for Jesus; and that’s quite hard to do if I am not around. The addiction is so overwhelming, but I know that in the Bible, Philippians 4:13 it says “I can do all things through Jesus Christ, he strengthens me.”

If I confess that Jesus is Lord and believe it with my entire mind, soul and heart, than I know that Jesus will help me beat this addiction. I have quit various times in the last 30 years that I have had this disgusting habit. Yes it disgusts me. I don’t like how I smell, how my clothes smell and how it has affected my health. I know that food tastes better and I feel better when I don’t smoke. And the enemy knows that too.

Each time I was pregnant (3x), I stopped smoking immediately. I wanted to give my unborn child every advantage and make sure that I wasn’t the cause of anything wrong with them. I eventually would restart this nasty habit, because I could rationalize away how good it made me feel. Or when the price goes up, I will quit, I would tell myself. But the addiction to the nicotine is so darn strong, eventually my willpower was not enough.

My longest period of stopping smoking (cigarettes only) was in 2012. After 26 years, I was ready to stop. With the help of a cessation program and nicotine patches, I was smoke free in 5 1/2 weeks. For three years I felt great. I didn’t cough and sound like I was literally going to cough up a lung. I could breathe and when I walked, I didn’t have to stop and catch my breath.

As my father’s health deteriorated in 2015, I became stressed and worried. Instead of turning to friends for support, I lit up again and it’s been ongoing since then. I now smoke more than I ever have in my life and it is slowly killing me. For the last week, I have been miserable. I have developed COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease; much of which can be attributed to the many years of smoking cigarettes and other respiratory infections I have no control over. But I do have control whether I light up or not.

As the lightbulb went off in my head, I realized that I can’t do anything in my own strength. To seriously think that I can, I am fooling myself. But with Jesus I can do anything, because He is my strength. His power is made perfect in my weaknesses. This is the biggest stronghold the enemy has over me and it stops today.

I have decided I am worth more than a pack of cigarettes. I know it won’t be easy. Anything worth having, never is. But I know it will be worth it.  I pray that my breathing difficulties will improve, my blood pressure will be lowered and a ton of other health problems I have may just get better since I am not inhaling over 7000+ toxic chemicals, each time I decide to take a puff. It took me reflecting on how my father struggled those last months, how his breathing was. He quit smoking years ago, but it still affected him in the end. He struggled to walk and breath at the same time. His problems came from his heart failing, but surely as I sit here and know how long he lit up in his life, I know I am headed for the same kind of life ending disease. I hope I am not too late to finally turn it over to Jesus and get on with living.no-more-smokes

No matter what you are facing in your life, whether it’s an addiction to alcohol, drugs, tobacco products, food, wrong friendships and relationships–Jesus can help you with all of them. You just have to get your head screwed on straight and your heart right with the Lord. Seek him out, trust that HE is enough for anything you need. And remember this also, You are created in the image of God. He loves you! You are his child and HE wants only the very best for your life.

To find help for the addiction of Cigarette Smoking, check out Quitting Smoking and good luck! You can do it and so can I. Aren’t we worth it?

If you would like to find a Christ centered recovery program in your area, go to Celebrate Recovery website to find more information of programs in your area.

May you be blessed and know how much Jesus Loves You!

~Carlene