Carlene Wooddell

@carlene-wooddell | contributor
I live with pain on a daily basis, but I do my best to not let it deter me in life. Due to the many conditions, I am disabled and do not work; something I haven't been able to do since 2016. Fibromyalgia/CFS, Lymphedema, Osteoarthritis knees, hips and facet joints of the lumbar spine, Obstructive Sleep apnea, COPD, Paroxysmal AFib, Post Sepsis Syndrome, and Graves disease are what I am dealing with currently. I am also helping to raise our youngest grandson, who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, Epilepsy, Sensory Processing Disorder, ADHD, and MERLD. I am retired and love reading and writing. I enjoy encouraging others. I love Jesus Christ with all I am and love to share his story of redemption and grace. Since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2008, I am constantly learning how to adapt and try things differently. I may have Fibromyalgia, but it does not have me. I am a very positive person and rarely let life get me down. I enjoy reading many types of genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Fiction, Murder Mystery, Inspirational stories. I have a website that I blog on as much as possible. Thank you for stopping by! I look forward to getting to know my readers and hope that my stories will encourage you and inspire you to never give up.#HopeAlways#HaveFaith
Community Voices

FAKE SMILES

Fake Smiles
By Carlene Wooddell

When you have a chronic illness as I do, you can become highly skilled in showing fake smiles and letting the world think you are perfectly okay with your pain levels. The reality is that even your own family members have no idea how bad it gets because you tire of always being a burden.

When I first received my diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, I was elated to know there was a ‘name’ for why I felt so poorly, all the time. I could rejoice it wasn’t “in my head” as so many medical professionals had made me believe. I really did think I was going crazy.

I soon learned there was no cure or a known cause for this dreaded disorder. There were many theories at the time, but no concrete evidence.

When you have an illness/disease/disorder that is lifelong, you eventually adapt to the way of life that works for you. What works for everyone, may not be how it looks in your life.

Fibromylagia is an Autoimmune disorder that already weakens the immune system so any illness that happens really can shut you down, where staying in the bed is the only option and even getting up to use the bathroom is painful. When my body gets any type of infection, it is debilitating to me for long periods of time. And if I am not careful, I end up in the hospital, hooked up to monitors and bags of I.V. fluids hanging and fluids and antibiotics being “pushed” to try to fight the infection.  Last June (2019), I had a very serious infection that nearly sidelined me for life.

I had a skin infection that worsened within a short period of time, caused my system to go into severe septic shock and my body was in fight or flight mode. Do or die mode.

Sepsis has changed me. Forever. The calm facade I used to wear and make believable to family and friends is gone. The peacefulness I carried in my soul, is in hiding, anxiety taking its place. Panic attacks, which at one time I thought were a farce, I am finding out are a very real thing. And my mind has been affected and I am really struggling with this one.  I remember things from years ago, but if you told me something 5 minutes ago, I don’t recall it. I have to write almost everything down now. Keeping track of appointments and phone numbers is a skill that didn’t need a calendar or note pad but now everything needs repeated and written, or it’s gone.

I want to go back to my fake smile; I’m doing okay mode; I was in control then. I would only allow people that were close and people I trusted to know how I felt, now everybody knows because I don’t know how to hide it anymore.  And I don’t want people’s pity or sympathy, I just want them to know that I am doing the best I can, at the moment to hold it together and live my life with the people I love.

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Community Voices

My Place in The Woods #PTSD

<p>My Place in The Woods <a class="tm-topic-link mighty-topic" title="Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)" href="/topic/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/" data-id="5b23ceac00553f33fe99a7d3" data-name="Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)" aria-label="hashtag Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)">#PTSD</a></p>
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Community Voices
Lisa

I don't like my life and I feel alone

I've been having a hard time lately. usually I struggle with anxiety but I'm at least somewhat functional, but since the last year I've gone downhill. Its hard to have any motivation and yesterday literally stayed in bed for 4 days straight. I'm not tired but I'm just tired of my life. I don't want to feel emotions anymore so I would rather sleep than be awake..Im not sure what my point is but I'm just desperate and I'm kind of venting. any support is appreciated. I don't know what to do anymore I just want to escape my life #Depression #Anxiety #Grief #Alcoholism

39 people are talking about this
Community Voices

really need advice, was diagnosed a month ago with fibromyalgia. I am now on my 3rd period of sickness in 7 months.

I work 3 nights a week 12 and half hour long shift in a cold warehouse. Yesterday I was offered a new job working 8 hour shift but 5 days a week in a warm environment. I'm unsure what to do because I'm not sure if I can control my sickness. Am I best to spread my hours over week or suffer 3 nights so I can rest with more days off. I have worked for the company for 5 years, so should I just suck it up and stay#help

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Community Voices

Today is a hard pain day. I am usually a very optimistic person, in spite of living with this disorder. I have many comorbid conditions along with the agony of having fibro. The muscle spasm I have been experiencing over the past several days have been excruciating. My heating pad is missing in action. I hurt too bad to do an extensive search for it, so I writhe in pain. Having these spams on one side of the body is enough, but when they wrap around your midsection and don't relax, it's so hard to be positive.

I hate this disorder with each passing day. I can't take pain medications because of a respiratory disease I have. It slows my breathing down too much. And then I am gasping for air. Antidepressants worked for a while, but not even those help. It sucks. I've always done deep breathing techniques to help get through the pain. OTC ibuprofen and heat. That's been it. As I sit here and cry, I feel less and less productive. I am so thankful to have a spouse that will help me and do what he can, but I feel as if I am not the burden he signed up for. He's had his own health issues and we muddle through it all, but this latest flare has lasted for over a week now and doesn't show any sign of calming down. At my age (53), I should be able to put my own socks and shoes on without help, but if I try to stretch that far to get them on, the spams ensue. I also have to help with cleansing my body and other daily activities and walking with my walker is painful, but at least I can sit down when I need to. Tired of being trapped in this body and not being able to go anywhere or do anything, except church and medical appointments. Going to the store takes me out of commission for several days. I miss being able to go spend time with our grandchildren and go to their events and cheer them on. Thanks for listening. So glad I can cry out to all of you and you understand because you've been there.

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Someone I Love Is on the Autism Spectrum

The day my grandson received his diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder was an overwhelming day. On one hand, we were relieved that finally someone besides ourselves realized there was a significant developmental delay for him and we weren’t imagining it. On the other hand, we were such newbies to the diagnosis, we weren’t sure what happened next. That was over a year ago. He was/is considered nonverbal, and he has made great strides in the past year. By all appearances, he may seem like many other 3-year-olds. He is rambunctious, adventurous and active. I get so frustrated when people say things like, “He doesn’t look autistic.” What exactly does someone look like if they are autistic? His engagement with others has improved in the last year as well. He can look at someone and interact with them. We have learned when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Everyone on the spectrum is different in how they act and how they interact. When he wants something, he uses a combination of signs, words or visual supports to let us know what he wants or needs. It can be a challenge when he does ask for something correctly and we can’t give it to him. Maybe because it’s too close to dinner or too late in the evening for him to have ice cream or a sweet treat or simply because the answer is no. He might not fully comprehend the no answer, so he will use the signs “please” and “want,” and I have to say “no,” and he becomes confused. When he doesn’t have a word or sign to use, he grabs his book of pictures, and flips through until he finds what he wants and hands me the picture, along with the signs “please” and “want.” I am glad we have the pictures. They are a huge help for all of us. The problem is when he wants something and there is no picture, but he has figured out how to overcome that problem. One day, he brought me his small picture book, flipping through the pages but still not finding the right picture. He left the room and returned with the larger book and once again went through over 200 pictures and still had difficulty. I told him I would go to the kitchen with him and he could show me what he wanted, but he was too fast for me. He came into the living room carrying a plastic bowl with spaghetti in it from the refrigerator! The most amazing thing to me is that he is undeterred. If pictures couldn’t tell me, he finds a way! There was a picture of pasta in his book, but it didn’t have sauce on it, so he might not have realized that was the same. There is now a photo of spaghetti in the book for when he wants something like that again. Every day, he amazes me. I love when he stims. It is exhilarating to him and he does it when he feels overloaded. He loves to spin around and around to the point where I can’t watch because I get too dizzy, but he just plops down on the floor, giggles and does it again. He also does a lot of jumping on his tot-sized trampoline. He is full of energy from the time he awakens until he finally fizzles out. One minute he can be running through the house and the next minute, he is fast asleep on the floor.   If someone in your family received an autism diagnosis, learn all you can to provide help and support. All of us have struggles we face daily, and some of us need extra help in some areas. We all dance to our own beat, regardless if we are on the spectrum or are neurotypical. Live life to the fullest every day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Our grandson has autism, but for us it doesn’t define him. He just looks at the world a little differently than we do. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Someone I Love Is on the Autism Spectrum

The day my grandson received his diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder was an overwhelming day. On one hand, we were relieved that finally someone besides ourselves realized there was a significant developmental delay for him and we weren’t imagining it. On the other hand, we were such newbies to the diagnosis, we weren’t sure what happened next. That was over a year ago. He was/is considered nonverbal, and he has made great strides in the past year. By all appearances, he may seem like many other 3-year-olds. He is rambunctious, adventurous and active. I get so frustrated when people say things like, “He doesn’t look autistic.” What exactly does someone look like if they are autistic? His engagement with others has improved in the last year as well. He can look at someone and interact with them. We have learned when you meet one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism. Everyone on the spectrum is different in how they act and how they interact. When he wants something, he uses a combination of signs, words or visual supports to let us know what he wants or needs. It can be a challenge when he does ask for something correctly and we can’t give it to him. Maybe because it’s too close to dinner or too late in the evening for him to have ice cream or a sweet treat or simply because the answer is no. He might not fully comprehend the no answer, so he will use the signs “please” and “want,” and I have to say “no,” and he becomes confused. When he doesn’t have a word or sign to use, he grabs his book of pictures, and flips through until he finds what he wants and hands me the picture, along with the signs “please” and “want.” I am glad we have the pictures. They are a huge help for all of us. The problem is when he wants something and there is no picture, but he has figured out how to overcome that problem. One day, he brought me his small picture book, flipping through the pages but still not finding the right picture. He left the room and returned with the larger book and once again went through over 200 pictures and still had difficulty. I told him I would go to the kitchen with him and he could show me what he wanted, but he was too fast for me. He came into the living room carrying a plastic bowl with spaghetti in it from the refrigerator! The most amazing thing to me is that he is undeterred. If pictures couldn’t tell me, he finds a way! There was a picture of pasta in his book, but it didn’t have sauce on it, so he might not have realized that was the same. There is now a photo of spaghetti in the book for when he wants something like that again. Every day, he amazes me. I love when he stims. It is exhilarating to him and he does it when he feels overloaded. He loves to spin around and around to the point where I can’t watch because I get too dizzy, but he just plops down on the floor, giggles and does it again. He also does a lot of jumping on his tot-sized trampoline. He is full of energy from the time he awakens until he finally fizzles out. One minute he can be running through the house and the next minute, he is fast asleep on the floor.   If someone in your family received an autism diagnosis, learn all you can to provide help and support. All of us have struggles we face daily, and some of us need extra help in some areas. We all dance to our own beat, regardless if we are on the spectrum or are neurotypical. Live life to the fullest every day. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Our grandson has autism, but for us it doesn’t define him. He just looks at the world a little differently than we do. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

When Depression Is Hard to Handle, I Still Hold Onto Hope

Lately, the depression I have been experiencing has been hard to handle. I am someone that has a very positive attitude despite everything I live with and go through, but it’s been difficult for a few weeks now to see the good in everything. I know that depression can happen when you live with chronic illness and chronic pain, but normally, I can get in my Bible and spend time with the Lord and this helps me refocus on the blessings I have. Everyone is always asking me how I hold it all together with what I deal with every single minute and I always say Jesus gets me through. I think Jesus is working with me on this. I don’t share how I am feeling most of the time because I don’t like complaining or burdening others. Everyone has their own share of problems, the last thing I want to do is add to them, so I stay silent. I have suggested to many other friends, that they must talk to someone they feel safe discussing problems with. A good friend, counselor, pastor. I don’t do so well with this on my own. I think it’s more of a control issue for me. I can’t control the pain associated with the fibromyalgia or degenerative disc disease or the “bone-on-bone” pain in my knees and hips, but by golly, I can control not being downtrodden and “woe is me” attitude. Until it all comes caving in, because I chose not to share that I am not fine — I am far from it. I don’t have it all together, I am just holding onto the hope that soon I will have a better day than the last. And I had the realization that I will not be “fine” by the worlds standards. I have to accept the fact that I am on disability for a reason. I have to remember that some days wearing my pajamas all day is the best I can do. Getting dressed requires too much time, effort and energy. And the most frustrating part is I feel like I could sob for days, but the tears won’t come. I guess it’s because if I let the tears loose, then I am not in control… or am I? I am the type of woman that cries at Hallmark Card Commercials, so I can’t imagine why it is so difficult for me to cry because I hurt, I’m beyond exhausted, my mind doesn’t retain information like it used to and I don’t even remember what it was like to have enough energy to shower every single day. Depression makes me irritable and grouchy. It makes me beyond sad. I think I needed to say these words to realize that I am doing the best I can every single day. And the days that depression punches me in the face, I need to talk about it instead of saying I am OK. Tomorrow is a new day and I have to remember that not all days will be rosy. It’s OK to feel the way I do. I will never let go of hope, but today I can just be me, depression and all. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via maroznc