Newsletter Fall 2012

Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan
Newsletter  –  Fall 2012

 

www.sclerodermasaskatchewan.ca

Issue #49

President/Fundraising:
Louise Goulet: Phone: 584-1950
louise.goulet@sasktel.net

Vice President:
Shirley Gillander: Phone: 525-6377
sdgill@sasktel.net

Recording Secretary:
Olga Sereda: Phone: 693-1936
No email yet but we’re working on it

Corresponding Secretary:
Norma Redman: Phone: 532-4449
norperredman@sasktel.net

Newsletter co-Editor:
Janet Campbell: Phone: 757-0962
janet.campbell@uregina.ca

Treasurer/Newsletter co-Editor:
Gerald Shauf: Phone: 634-3433
465 Willow Bay,
Estevan, Sask. S4A 2G3
glshauf@sasktel.net

Saskatchewan Parking Program for the Disabled:
Phone: (306) 374-4448
Handicapped parking permits cost $10.00. Successful applicants receive parking placards allowing them to park in designated areas for handicapped. Applications are available at any branch of Saskatchewan Abilities, or any motor vehicle issuing office.  Ask your doctor if you qualify. Try to look at getting the placard as a way to make your life easier.

CALENDAR OF EVENTS

AWARENESS:

Spring 2013 Meeting:
The spring meeting of the Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan will be on April 13, 2013 at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre. A “Good Morning visit” with coffee/juice and snacks will begin at 10:00 with the meeting beginning at 10:30.

MEMBERSHIP FEES:
If you are receiving this newsletter by mail, please check your address label to see what your membership status is.  If it says PD12, you are paid for 2012. If it has X, your 2012 membership is valid as a result of a donation.  If there is nothing after your name, you have not paid for your 2012 membership.  Please remit $20.00 fees to SASK c/o Gerald Shauf at the above address if you have not already paid for 2012.  If you are receiving this newsletter by email and don’t know whether you have paid or not, please contact me.  Income tax receipts will be issued for memberships and all donations. Thank you for your support.

DISCLAIMER:
The Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan does not endorse any drugs or treatment.  We wish only to keep you informed.  Check with your own physician.

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.

Presidents Report Fall 2012

Hello to all our Members:

It is the beginning of November and the vivid colours of autumn have disappeared as the first snowfall covers our ground. When I awoke this morning, the trees were heavy with new snow and there wasn’t a footprint to be found – only a few tire tracks on the road out front.  There was a soft mist in the air and it was truly a beautiful winter wonderland.  As the sun glistened on this new snow it reminded me of a scene one might find on a Currier and Ives painting or Christmas card.

It was a very busy autumn in our house, thus I am a little tardy getting my President’s report to our Newspaper Editor.  It is my hope that your summer was warm and relaxing and you enjoyed good health.

Five of our members attended the National Scleroderma Conference in Vancouver the end of September.  I found the conference very well organized and besides learning what is happening in research and attending the workshops, we enjoyed excellent food, time socializing and comfortable rooms. You will read more about the conference in the minutes and in this Newsletter.  The Scleroderma Society of Ontario has volunteered to host next year’s conference, perhaps in Hamilton.

This was an election year for our organization and as you will see in the minutes we have the same executive staying on for another two years.  I wish to thank those who volunteered and thank them for the work they do.  I also wish to thank the executive, on your behalf, as without them we would not have a support group.

We had an excellent guest speaker at the October 13th Support Group Meeting.   Dr. Todd Sojonky gave a very informative presentation on how to cope with stress, anxiety and depression.  Those in attendance appeared to gain practical knowledge that they may use on a daily basis.  He expressed ‘mindfulness’ to hear and see the things we normally don’t notice, along with ideas on breathing exercises, helpful books to read, meditation and web-sites that may be helpful.  If you wish to find more information on ‘The Caring Place’ go to www.thecaringplace.ca or www.sojonky.blogspot.com

Our next meeting is scheduled for April 13, 2013 at Wascana Rehab Centre, guest speaker will be Dr. Nicole Fahlman.   Till then, I wish you a healthy, cosy warm winter and perhaps we’ll see all of you at our spring meeting.

Louise

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The Devil’s Throne

Today I heard a strange voice say,
As I walked along the misty bay,
Mighty ships now gone from shore
You’ll see again, never more.

I had a dream last night in sleep,
There were Devils dancing in the deep.
I heard one say in a quiet tone,
“We’ll sink them as they cross our throne”.

I tried to warn the ships at sea,
But they refused to heed my plea.
Now they’ve gone from loving homes,
Too seek those Devils, yet unknown.

God grant our ships speed in flight,
Be their beacon of guiding light.
Set strong winds upon sturdy sails,
Bring sailors home, to spin their tales.

Louise Goulet

 

NEWSLETTER?

The Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan would like to come up with a new and innovative name for our newsletter.  Put on your thinking caps and send your suggestions to Gerald at one of the addresses on page 1.  I will send out the list of suggested names received and the winning entry will be selected by a vote at the Spring 2013 meeting.

Andrew Campbell offered to help members produce video testimonials for use on Youtube.  His email address is:acampbell500@gmail.com

Useful Web Sites:

Scleroderma Association of Saskatchewan
https://sclerodermasaskatchewan.ca

Scleroderma Society of Canada
http://www.scleroderma.ca

CSRG – Canadian Scleroderma Research Group
http://www.csrg-grcs.ca

Arthritis Society
Ph:1-800-321-1433
www.arthritis.ca

United Scleroderma Foundation (USA)
http://www.scleroderma.org

Scleroderma Research Foundation (USA)
http://www.srfcure.org

Meeting Minutes Oct 13, 2012

The fall meeting of the Scleroderma Association of SK. was held at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre in Regina on Oct 13, 2012 with 12 in attendance.

President Louise Goulet called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. and thanked the snack providers.

Additions to the agenda were a report on advertising on Global TV, a report on the Steak Night Fundraiser, a report on the National Board Meeting, and information about Mannatech.

Minutes of the Apr. 12, 2012 meeting were read and declared adopted by Louise Goulet.

Business arising from the minutes:
Gerald Shauf has reluctantly taken on the job of advertising from Roberta Nichol.  Louise asked if we have a volunteer willing to take on this duty? There was no response from those in attendance.

Louise stated the position of corresponding secretary is open if someone would like to do this, however, Norma Redman will continue in this position if no one else wants to do it.

Joyce Kellington informed us that the key ingredient in Mannatech is Aloe Vera.  It is available as a juice “Lily of the Desert” brand in health food stores and Joyce will report any benefits she experiences at the next meeting.

The Steak Night last May was very successful with all tickets sold and a total profit of over $2,000.00.  The 50/50 winner donated back half of his $210.00 and $710.00 was donated by people who couldn’t attend.  Door prizes were well received.  We will discuss whether we wish to hold another Steak Night Fundraiser at the spring meeting.

The Treasurer’s report shows a Bank Balance of $14,210.27.  We will not make any donations this year.  Moved by Andy Sereda, seconded by Janet Campbell that the treasurer’s report be adopted as printed.  Carried.

In correspondence, there was a thank you note from Ruth Meier, guest speaker at the last meeting.  A note was sent to Dr. Janet Markland to thank her for her work with the CSRG and for the garden show proceeds given to our association.  Bob Anderson was sent a thank you for printing our Awareness cards at a very reasonable cost.  These cards have been placed in Dr. Fahlman’s and Dr. Milne’s office and Regina Centre Crossing.  Members are asked to take cards and place them in doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, etc.

In New Business, moved by Andy Sereda, seconded by Monica Douhaniuk that in place of elections we ask the current executive members to remain in their positions, as they are all willing to do so.  Carried.

A National Conference Annual Report shows that the Atlantic Provinces have been combined to form SSA (Scleroderma Society of the Atlantic Provinces) and as the Calgary group has folded and Edmonton has few active members, the Prairie Provinces may be considered SSP (Scleroderma Society of the Prairies).  Saskatchewan was not pleased by this, as we don’t want to lose our individuality.  We can perhaps use our own logo – SASK – within SSP.  Louise will notify SSC of our concerns.

The SSC will be publishing a newsletter called “The Scleroderma Connection”, a Canadian publication that may replace “Scleroderma Voice” from the U.S.A.

With regard to a 2013 Fundraiser, SSC would like to have Walkathons across Canada on the same day.  It was suggested we partner with the Arthritis Society ‘Walk in June’, mainly to raise scleroderma awareness.  The Running Room might also be a source of help for organizing a walk.

Reporting on the National Conference in B.C.  – Janet Campbell heard Dr. Janet Pope’s talk on the importance of considering and focusing on the psychological aspects of Scleroderma.  It seems that no rheumatologists in SK treat this part of the disease.  Janet suggested a possible guest speaker on this topic – Heather Hadjistavropoulos who is Professor and Director of Clinic training – Psychology at the U of R.

Joyce Kellington heard an excellent presentation by Dr. Fritzler on personalized medicine.  Everyone with Scleroderma has a different set of symptoms.  Also, Dr. Wilcox spoke on three important aspects of Scleroderma – Lung Fibrosis, Pulmonary Hypertension and Heart related problems as could be shown by Echocardiograms.

Louise Goulet reported on the Scleroderma Patient-centred Intervention Network or SPIN – an international organization in the process of formation.  There will be a website available that will focus on quality of life and self-management.  Also there are new Scleroderma Brochures available from SSC and SSC is looking at a new website.  A letter from Dr. M. Baron expressed his concern that CSRG is running out of funding and may not be able to continue to meet with members at the SSC Conference next year.  They have had over 1000 patients in the study.  Louise spoke with Dr. Baron regarding Saskatchewan patients not being able to continue in the research registry.  He stated that he was not able to find a rheumatologist to take on this project.

Janet Campbell suggested Dr. D. Gerhardt, as a guest speaker, to speak on how to use computer science and internet technology for scleroderma patients to communicate and help each other.

The meeting adjourned for lunch and reconvened at 1 p.m.

Louise Goulet expressed thanks to Dave and Monique Sereda and Andrew Campbell for their contributions to the Newsletter, also to Janet Campbell and Gerald Shauf for their work in putting the newsletter together.  She urged members to send in items that could be put in the newsletter.

Suggestions for future guest speakers are:

Dr. Fahlman (schedule for our spring 2013 meeting);

Dave Sereda, Pharmacist – on the LEAN concept being implemented in our hospitals, and to answer questions on medications;

Heather Hadjistavropoulous – Psychology Professor at U of R and Scott Anderson – physiotherapist.

The Spring 2013 meeting will be in Regina on April 13th.  Louise and Joyce will provide snacks.

Guest speaker, Dr. Todd Sojonky, PhD, RD, Psychologist, was introduced by Roberta Nichol.  He is a counsellor at The Caring Place, in Regina.  The Caring Place is available to those who cannot afford to pay for professional services.  He studies the mind-body connection and has published a book on identity theory – how self-perception affects our behaviour.  There are psychological risk factors associated with disease or as Dr. Sojonky says dis-ease.  In Scleroderma physical and social factors are also to be considered.  Some examples are pain, depression, fatigue and physical dysfunction.

There is no correlation between severity of disease and severity of depression. Another factor is disease cognition – how you see your illness. In determining your Coping Capacity, measurables are – a good support structure, level of activity in the community and degree to which one can discuss their disease with friends.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps to deal with depression.  It is a practice, not a theory.  Our thoughts lead to feelings, which lead to behaviour and behaviour influences our thoughts so the three can be pictured as a triangle with “thought” on top.  In disease, certain thought processes begin subconsciously.  We can recognize thought distortions, for example the thought of helplessness can change to sometimes I feel helpless.  You have to reprogram your brain, like a brainwashing.  There are Google CBT worksheets to help you practice CBT.  Also helpful is mindfulness, the practice of staying in the presence of NOW rather than the past or future.  “Full Catastrophe Living” is a program for stress and pain reduction.

Another helpful practice is Self-Efficacy – taking control of things in life that you can – a measure of things you can complete, because depression is fed by anxiety about what you can’t do.

Basic meditation techniques can help you to see and hear things you normally don’t see and hear, and help you be at peace with death and enjoy your life.  A basic breathing technique was explained.

Dr. Sojonky ended with some humorous stories from the Scleroderma Foundation Support Community.  He was thanked by Olga Sereda.

In sharing time, some members spoke about poor kidney function, sharing some medical history and treatment.  One member is on dialysis.  One member is waiting to be evaluated for possible lung transplant.  Others shared experiences with different tests on heart, lung, eye problems, and vertigo.  For Raynaud’s syndrome, other treatments suggested by Dr. Janet Pope were Viagra or Cialis.

Adjournment was moved by Joyce Kellington at 3:00 p.m.

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CSRG (Canadian Scleroderma Research Group) study:

Dr. Markland has stepped down from the CSRG.  We are awaiting news on who will replace her.  We wish to thank her for her hard work in the position since its inception.

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KNOWLEDGE IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Using your medicines safely:

What You Need to Know.

When you take any medicine, whether prescribed or purchased over the counter without a prescription, you need to know:

  • What it is.
  • Why you are taking it.
  • When and how you should use it.
  • The effect it will have on you.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your doctor and pharmacist are there to help.

Some Helpful Hints:

Do not expect a new prescription each time you visit your doctor.

Use the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions.

Tell your doctor about all of the medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, and herbal products.

Before you use an over-the-counter medicine or herbal product, make sure it’s safe to use with your prescriptions.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any allergies or have had a reaction to medicines in the past.

Make sure you know exactly how to take your medicine.

Use a Medication Record to list your medicines. Show it to your doctor or pharmacist each time you visit them.

At home:

Take your medicine exactly as directed. Too much or too little could hurt you.

Take your medicine at the same time each day. For example, when you eat breakfast or just before you go to bed.

If you forget to take your prescription medication, do not double the next dose. Call your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Finish all of your prescription, even if you start to feel better.

Do not share your prescription medication and do not take someone else’s prescription.

When certain prescriptions are mixed with alcohol, the result can be harmful. Check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Things to watch for:

A side effect is something that happens when a medicine affects you in a way it is not supposed to.

Before you take any prescription, your pharmacist and doctor should tell you about side effects that might happen and how long they might last.

Your doctor may want to change your prescription if the side effects are too strong. There may be a medicine that is better for you.

Ask you doctor and pharmacist which side effects you should report.

Adverse reactions are more serious than side effects but happen less often. No one wants them and they can cause a lot of harm.

Some examples are:
• a severe allergic reaction where you struggle to breathe, have a skin rash, feel very itchy, or have swelling;

• feeling faint and having a racing heart;

• severe nausea or diarrhea;

• depression.

If you think you are having a serious adverse reaction, seek medical attention right away.

Keep it safe:

Keep your prescription in the same container it came in, with the cap closed.

Store your prescription in a dry, cool place away from sunlight. Heat and moisture can damage the medicine.

Keep medicines away from your children and pets. Put all your medicines on a high shelf or in a cupboard where they can’t see or reach them.

Put your medicine in the fridge only if it says so on the label.

Do not use medicine after the expiry date has passed.

Clean out your medicine cabinet at least once a year.

Gather up medicines that are old, not in their original bottle, or have labels that are not clear.

Do NOT throw medicines in the garbage or flush them down the toilet. Take them to your local pharmacy. This is the only way to safely dispose of them.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist.
You should not feel embarrassed or uncomfortable asking your doctor or pharmacist questions.  They are there to help you.

The more you know about your medication, the more you become a team player in your own health care. Here are some hints:

Before you visit the doctor or pharmacist, write down your questions and bring the list with you.

Take along a friend or relative who can help you understand and recall what the doctor tells you.

If you feel confused by an answer, ask the question again.

Read the patient information sheets you receive when you pick up your prescription from the drug store.

Questions to ask when you start taking a prescription:

What is the name of the prescription?

Why am I taking it?

Can I use this medicine safely with other medicines and treatments I am using? (Remember to tell your doctor or pharmacist about over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products you are taking.)

Will I need a refill?

Are there any side effects?

Which ones should I report?

Do you need to see me while I’m taking this medication?

Is there any chance that I could become dependent on this medicine? What can I do to avoid this?

How will I know if it is working?

Know how to take your medication

  • When should I take it and for how long?
  • Do I take it on an empty stomach or with food? 
  • What should I do if I miss a dose? 
  • What should I do if I use too much by mistake? 
  • Should I avoid any foods, drink, or activities while using this medicine? 
  • Will this medicine make me sleepy? 
  • Can I drive a car? 
  • Can I drink alcohol while taking it? 
  • How should I store the medication? Does it need to be kept in the fridge?

 Tips from your pharmacist

If you take more than one medication, use daily or weekly pill containers to help remind you when to take the medicine.

If you have trouble opening pill bottles, ask the drug store to put your prescription in a bottle with an “easy open” lid.

An easy-to-read label can be made with big print.  Ask the pharmacist for this kind of label if you have vision problems.

If you find it hard to swallow pills, ask if your medicine comes as a liquid or in a form you can chew. Find out if it’s okay to crush the medication and mix it with food or water.

If other people in your family are taking medication, use a marker to highlight the user’s name on each bottle. You may also want to highlight the instructions. Use a pen in a different colour for each person.

Living Smart

Help Yourself to Better Health

Most Canadians have at least one risk factor for chronic disease that is within their power to change. Making healthy choices will not only reduce your risk of disease, it will also make you feel better.

Eat Well

“Research shows that 30 to 35 per cent of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight.”Canadian Cancer Society

What we eat and drink affects how we feel. Following Canada’s Food Guide can help. Talk to a health professional to learn more.

Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. Eat whole grain breads and cereals to add fibre.  Choose meat and dairy products that are low in fat.

Don’t use too much salt – it can increase your blood pressure.

Stay active

“Not only can physical activity help you live longer, but it may also … prolong your health, mental acuity, and independence to help you enjoy a better quality of life:”
– Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada

 Regular exercise at any age helps you maintain a healthy body and mind. Find an activity you like and get moving.

Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can:

  • lower your risk of heart disease.
  • help control high blood pressure and weight.
  • reduce stress.
  • increase your energy.
  • improve your sleep and digestion.

Set yourself goals that you can reach. Walk at a brisk pace for 15 minutes each day. Or you could do 10 minutes of exercise three times a day, for a total of 30 minutes.

There are many ways to be active that are fun and do not cost money.

  • Walk around the block with a friend.
  • Ride a bike. Once you learn, you never forget how to do it.
  • Your local community centre may offer free swimming.
  • Work in your garden.

Make physical activity part of your daily routine. Get a copy of Canada’s Physical Activity Guide to Healthy Active Living for more ideas.

Regular exercise has many benefits.  It’s never too late to start, but be sure to tell your doctor before you start or change your exercise program. And learn to be careful. If it hurts – stop. Enjoy yourself!

What else can I do?

Do not smoke.

Avoid second-hand smoke.

If you smoke, get help to quit. It’s never too late to stop.

Keep children away from second-hand smoke.

Drink alcohol only in small amounts.

Reduce your stress.

Have regular check-ups to measure your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. When you find a problem early, treatment will work better.

Make social life part of a healthy life

Good health also comes from being socially and mentally active. Stay in touch with your family and friends.

Stay informed. The more you know, the more you can do to improve your health.

Take care of yourself. Remember prevention is the best cure.

By eating well and staying physically and socially active, you can help yourself enjoy better health.

An apple a day …

Many common problems do not require medication.

If you cannot sleep:

  • get fresh air and exercise during the day.
  • soak in a warm bath before you go to bed.  This is a good way to relax at the end of the day.

For stress and anxiety:

  • talk about your feelings with a friend.
  • listen to music.
  • get some exercise.

When you have a cold:

  • rest and drink fluids.
  • use a steam vaporizer.

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It is better to look ahead and prepare than it is to look back and regret.

Real difficulties can be overcome.  It is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.

If you focus on results, you will never change.  If you focus on change, you will get results.

SASK Fundraising & Awareness Items:

We have the following available:

  • Floral note cards:
    There are 8 different floral designs in each package. Scleroderma contact information is printed on the back of each note card.  They are very pretty cards to use or give as gifts.  The cost for a package of 8 notes and envelopes is $6.00.
  • Lapel pins:  The attractive lapel pins are dark blue with Scleroderma printed on them in white letters.  The cost is $3.00
  • Magnetic ribbons.
    These are similar to the lapel pins.  They are 8 inches x 2.5 inches and are $2.00 each.  Put them on your car or your refrigerator.
  • Awareness Pamphlets.
    We now have a tent-style awareness pamphlet for distribution.

Please contact Gerald Shauf or Janet Campbell for more information or to place an order.

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PLEASE donate your empty computer printer cartridges and old cell phones to our group.

Help the environment and support Scleroderma research!

For more information, please contact:
Gerald Shauf   Ph: 306-634-3433
Ken and Louise Goulet   Ph: 306-584-1950.

All money goes towards research in Canada.  Ask your family and friends to donate their computer printer cartridges and old cell phones.

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MI Paste or MI Paste Plus (available at your local dentist office approximately $20/tube)

Dental erosion is caused by acid originating from the external environment or from within our own bodies. External dietary sources linked to erosion include soda drinks, diet drinks, alcohol and sour acidic foods. If you are pregnant or have an eating disorder or have gastro esophageal reflux disease…your body can produce high oral acid levels that can lead to tooth enamel erosion.

MI Paste
* minimizes dental erosion by reducing high oral acid levels
* helps improve salivary flow (increases saliva)
* supplies and replenishes calcium and phosphate to help prevent mineral loss from teeth
* helps soothe and prevent tooth sensitivity
* helps strengthen teeth against tooth decay

Apply with your finger onto teeth a minimum twice a day. I have personally noticed a huge difference with dry mouth and tooth chipping due to my high levels of acid reflux with scleroderma for a year now. Of course please check with your doctor or dentist first. This paste comes in different flavours, strawberry, melon, etc.
I highly recommend it…..could probably review more information online about it. Its a great product for everyone….I think it originated in Australia. My sister-in-law is a dental therapist in Regina and she advises a lot of her patients to try this paste.

Perhaps some of you are already using it,

Good Luck and Smile!

www.mipaste.com

Martha Laxdal

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I BELIEVE – author unknown

A Birth Certificate shows that we were born.
A Death Certificate shows that we died.   Pictures show that we live!
Have a seat. Relax . . . And read this slowly.

I Believe… That we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I Believe… That true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. The same goes for true love.

I Believe… That you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I Believe… That it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I Believe… That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.  It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe… That you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I Believe… That we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I Believe… That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I Believe… That heroes are the people who do what has to be done, when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I Believe… That my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I Believe…. That sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down will be the ones to help you get back up.

I Believe… That sometimes, when I’m angry, I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I believe… That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had And what you’ve learned from them, and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

I Believe… That it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others. Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I Believe… That no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

I Believe… That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but, we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe… That you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret.  It could change your life forever.

I Believe… Two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I Believe… That your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.

I Believe… That even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help.

I Believe… That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe… That the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.

‘The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything.  They just make the most of everything they have.

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought”….

Regional Optimist – The Battlefords, Friday, September 21, 2012

Art sooths the pain … of uncommon disease:

By Jayne Foster – Associate Writer

MAYFAIR – “I sold the bale wagon, I sold the cattle, I nearly sold the farm!”

When Buck Scotton received a diagnosis of scleroderma, a condition for which no cause or cure is known, he believed it was all over.

Since then, however, he’s discovered new hope and a new way of life.

A Mayfair area farmer, Scotton has been struggling with physical anomalies such as bouts of inexplicable pain, muscle weakness and itchy or painful skin for the last 20 years, but, frustratingly, no one could tell him what was wrong with him.

Eventually he had to give up grain farming; he couldn’t stand the pain the vibration from the tractor sent through his body. Even riding in a vehicle had become a trial to endure.

He’d also had to quit fishing, as well as carving wooden birds, a 30-year hobby, because the skin on his hands was becoming stiff, increasingly disabling his fingers.

He’d even gone so far as to talk to Kramer Auction Sales about selling his land.

Now, at 70, Scotton is still on his farm and has a new lease on life. He has taken up a new hobby at – it has to be said – the urging of his wife Ellyn.

Having being forced into retirement by his health even before the diagnosis of scleroderma was even made, Buck was not only depressed, he was bored. So his wife arranged for him to take up a new activity.

“She was fed up with me being in the kitchen,” he laughs.

He had once, years ago, painted her a picture, which Ellyn had loved, so in May of 2009 she signed him up for painting classes in Mayfair with artist Yvette Heide.

“It was eight women and me.” laughs Buck.

Although his hands were growing stiff, he could hold a paintbrush, and did well enough, it seems, that the instructor encouraged him to continue once the class was over.

Watching television one day, he discovered Jerry Yarnell and the Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art program.

“He made it look so easy!” says Buck.

So he watched the “paint along” show, and family members bought him some of the accompanying instructional books. With three daughters and nine grandchildren, he had lots of encouragement.

Buck says he just followed Yarnell’s instructions to duplicate a painting in one of these books, and, “in no time I was painting the blinking thing!”

Inspired, he has reproduced many of Yarnell ‘s art exercises, and has painted many originals of his own as well. He has prints made of them all and enjoys giving them as gifts. He has also donated several to benefits and fundraisers.

Taking up painting even while struggling with the challenges of scleroderma is not what one would expect from the average farmer in his 70s, particularly when one’s hands are so extraordinarily affected. But Ellyn gazes proudly at Buck’s paintings and says, “Not bad for an old farmer!”

Buck uses his newfound passion to help cope with the pain and disability of scleroderma.

Ellyn is supportive of her husband’s hobby. She has even fitted some of his paintbrushes with the kind of rubber applications used to enable kindergarten hands to make use of adult-size brushes.

Buck applies the paint in whatever way works best without increasing the underlying pain that’s always there. For example, he can turn his wrists when his arms are at a certain angle, but not otherwise, without causing pain. Whenever he paints, depending on how his hands are feeling, he does whatever it takes to get the paint where he wants it, turning out landscapes and still lifes in acrylic on canvas.  He always wears gloves outdoors to protect his hands from the cold, and often wears light cotton gloves indoors to protect his fingers from chafing. Sometimes he even has to wear them to sleep.

But, despite the rigidity of his fingers, he is still able to fix the fences and corrals on his farm, so he has kept his land and rents out his pasture. Keeping the fences in good repair and caring for the renter’s cattle is good exercise he says.

Proud of his being able to swing a hammer as needed, he says a few years ago he couldn’t do nearly the work he can do today.

Like arthritis, scleroderma is thought to be an auto-immune disorder, and it manifests itself differently with each patient. In Buck’s case, it began 20 years ago with the skin of his abdomen becoming stiff and leathery, accompanied by pain. It was thought at one time that it could even be the condition known as shingles.

But as other symptoms came along, there was still no answer.

It was when he was struck by an overwhelming weakness while helping to prepare for a drama night in Mayfair that he ended up in hospital in Saskatoon. It was during the resulting eight-day hospitalization three and a half years ago Buck was given the diagnosis of scleroderma.

Since then, his scleroderma has been managed and monitored by rheumatologists, and he is one of 86 scleroderma patients in a provincial study group initiated by well-known rheumatologist Dr. Janet Markland. (Editor’s Note: Dr. Markland is no longer in the CSRG study group.)

At the time of his diagnosis, it was believed to have involved his lungs, a serious complication of scleroderma, and the reason he believed his life was coming to an end.

But since then, his lungs have been found to be uninvolved. Buck and Ellyn believe the help they received from a naturopathic doctor, Dr. Garry Shafer of Sherwood Park, Alta., has something to do with that. Dr. Shafer got Buck started on Swedish Bitters, a blend of bitter herbs and vegetables used for centuries to improve circulation and digestion.

In addition to the lungs showing up clear in tests six weeks after starting on the Swedish Bitters, his concentration has improved and the skin on his arms and hands has more elasticity, says Buck.

Buck Scotton has discovered Jerry Yarnell and the Jerry Yarnell School of Fine Art television program. Family members bought him some of the accompanying instructional books and he’s been painting along with Jerry ever since.

Although his feet and lower legs are now involved, it appears it has not involved his face or internal organs, which is good news for Buck and Ellyn.

They continue to manage his scleroderma with the help of traditional health care and naturopathic remedies, a blend that seems to serve Buck well.

In addition to that, of course, is his new love for painting. Perhaps happiness is the best therapy after all.

According to the Scleroderma Society of Canada, it is estimated that there are as many as 40,000 cases of scleroderma in Canada. Scleroderma is thought to affect more people than Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy or Cystic Fibrosis.

The exact cause of scleroderma is not known, but there are theories related to the immune system and to the vascular system. While the cause of scleroderma is not known it is believed scleroderma is neither contagious, nor inherited.

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