At a point in Carole Griffitt’s life, she thought she could no longer face tomorrow. She was 31 when a work related back injury triggered the downward spiral that went on for 40 years. But Carole learnt that she didn’t have to become the diagnoses that changed her life. She said to herself then, “I can face today.” And she’s never looked back.
“I am a child of God. I am a wife, mother and grandmother. I do not define myself by difficulties,” writes Carole Griffitts, on her blog, Navigating the storms.
It is remarkable, Carole’s outlook, and a testament to the will of the human spirit. She’s 70 now and the difficulties she’s faced first started when she was 31.
Repeated on the job injuries caused severe muscle spasms in her back.
“It completely disabled me for three months and took a whole year to recover 95 percent. We thought it was a weird, one-time occurrence. But it happened again the next year, not as badly because we recognised the symptoms sooner. Even then, we thought it would be over when I quit working (a job I loved). Wrong! After several more years, we knew it was a “forever” problem. The last 40 years have seen ups and downs, gradually worsening. More diagnoses followed through the years,” said Carole.
Everything changed. Before 1978 she was able to do anything. She delighted in her job in the Library’s Technical Services.
But her life now is a stark contrast to what it was then. On a daily basis she contends with weakness, pain and spasms.Fatiguability is her biggest challenge.
“I rest in recliner—down for 1-2 hours, then up in gentle activity for 1-2 hours. Joe does much of the daily activities plus many “little” things for me. Extreme planning allows me to accomplish as much as possible. I use a scooter for shopping, church, and sightseeing, etc. I need a cane for balance. A walker is necessary around the house when extremely fatigued.”
Weakness, and being unresponsive to exercise is a major problem too.
“Pain resulting from overdoing causes spasms which create more spasms, if not stopped. Medical reasons prevent me from using pain meds on an ongoing basis. Overcoming pain consists of prevention – at least trying to.
“I have one unusual condition, probably due to a rare form of Dystonia, that is totally disabling for its 1-2 hour duration. Enduring them is the only option,” she said.
It’s not just the physical symptoms that Carole must deal with. Chronic illness, as we know, can be very isolating. Meeting friends, going out or attending bible studies aren’t possible anymore because after two hours of sitting, debilitating fatigue kicks in.
“I try to reach out to others through cards, email, and social media, but it only partially helps.”
At one point in Carole’s journey, she thought she had reached her limit.
The Gaithers wrote a song, “Because He Lives,” about Jesus. One phrase says, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.” At a very low point in my life, I rebelled and said, “I can’t.” I quickly realised, though, that I could face that day. So, now I often say, “I can face today.”
Carole’s faith and support from Joe, her husband of 51 years have been key in her fight.
And thrive Carole has. Her life has been happy, and she has made the best of the cards she’s been dealt.
“Raising two successful sons, both personally and professionally and celebrating 51 years of a happy marriage are my two most proud accomplishments. Others include designing and running my website, and legacy work for my family. Learning how to design Access databases challenged me! And I love the results. Organisation is critical for me in saving time, and the databases sure help.”
I ask Carole how she and her husband managed to raise two children with all everything that happened.
“We just did the best we could. We shielded them as much as we could. We loved them and made sure they knew it. We helped them in school as much as we could. We give God the credit,” she said.
Through doing a course at her local library, Carole learnt how to create a blog, which she wanted to do to inspire others. It is her dream to see her blog flourish and continue to help people with invisible illnesses.
“There is value in every life, no matter how hard things may be, just because we are creations of God. Therefore, keep on keeping on because your life is important. Find the help you need. Keep your eyes open for others who might benefit from your help or friendship. Treasure your support system—or look for one if you don’t currently have one,” says Carole.
Seeing her family prosper and being able to help others gives her the inspiration she needs.
“I don’t have any choice in these challenges, but if facing and overcoming these problems can help someone else be encouraged and comforted that in itself brings a measure of worth to my life.” Click To Tweet
Homepage slider photo by Todd Diemer
Homepage slider photo by Todd Diemer