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FMS Community Newsletter #97

September 12, 2007


Editor: Mary McKennell 

I am just curious if anyone reading this has tried the daily laughter routine I suggested in one of the recent newsletters. I developed this silly little saying after reading something about humor. ?Oh joy! Oh rapture! Another glorious day to capture!? I started saying this at work and it makes people smile or giggle. It makes me smile to say it. I discovered that it also helped to change my outlook. Try my little saying, even if it has to be said in a sarcastic tone, and see what happens with your attitude.

Here is a helpful hint for those of you who have panic attacks. It is impossible to have a panic attack while you are singing. Don?t roll your eyes now. Trust me on this one. You don?t have to sing out loud if you are going into a panic attack in a public place. Just try it!

Wishing you joy in the journey!



Articles in this edition:

Kicking Depression
8 Ways to Create A Positive State of Mind
Procrastination: The Top 10 Things to Know
The sneaker waves of chronic pain
Emily Dickinson on Pain
Choosing Vegetarian Meals
Chronic Illness Means You Need To Build Loyalty in the Workplace
Moldy homes tied to depression
Clinical depression linked to abnormal emotional brain circuits
Revolutionalising Chronic Pain Management
Acupuncture in pain therapy
Cluster Headache Drug Can Cause Heart Problems
13. Herbal Remedies and Pain
14. Bad Jokes You Will Remember And Tell Others

Nothing like telling your troubles to four-legged friend

Kicking Depression


MY FIRST JOB out of college was at a publishing house in downtown Detroit. I worked in a historic building that had revolving doors, escalators and the old-fashioned kind of elevators with operators who manually pulled the door closed. It was a great building.

The folks who trained service dogs for the blind thought so, too. Every few months they would bring a truckload of golden retrievers and Labradors for training in dealing with elevators, escalators and revolving doors. On those days I spent my lunch hour in the back of the truck with the dogs. I have always loved dogs, sometimes more than people.

When I was sick last year, unable to work because of my depression, my Weimaraner Bella watched me very closely. Bella is not an especially well-behaved dog, but she is happy. Annoyingly happy if you are in a major depression. Looking back, she was a blessing. Without her, I would have stayed in bed. Even though Bella has a doggy door and can let herself out, she insisted on walks. Because I wasn?t sleeping well, we walked, often in the dark.

Dogs ? and cats I suppose ? seem to have an amazing ability to detect our mental status. Maybe that Dog Whisperer guy is right, that dogs can size you up in an instant by just looking at your posture. Whatever it is, there is no denying that dog therapy works.

Doctors and therapists often recommend that someone with depression get a pet. But when you are in a depression you can barely take care of yourself, much less a little furry four-legged garbage disposal that will chew any shoe made in Italy. A pet is work.

Which is why Joan Esnayra founded the Psychiatric Service Dog Society in 2002 ( Esnayra, trained as a geneticist and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, noticed that her dog would nudge her every 15 minutes or so when she was manic and hyper-focused on a task. Once, in a road rage in traffic, she looked over at her dog and he gave her a look.

"That dog would look at me as if he didn?t know who I was," she said. "I realized that I was scaring my dog and had to slow down. That was nothing more than a look. And it alerted me."

She researched the training used for service and therapy dogs and created a training protocol for psychiatric service dogs. Unlike other service dogs, Esnayra?s training program is done at home, between the owner and dog.

Since dogs can?t talk, they are trained to be alert to their owner?s behaviours. And owners are trained to be alert to their dog?s behaviour.

Just about any breed will do. She?s seen everything from chihuahuas to Great Danes. It?s more about the dog?s temperament. She estimates there are about 2,000 "partners" ? owners and their dogs ? that have gone through the program. And it?s free.

But the best part: having someone around who isn?t going to tell you to snap out of it or offer endless advice on how to get better. And, of course, those little nudges.

Christine Stapleton writes for the Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, Fla.

8 Ways to Create A Positive State of Mind

1. Be thankful for just having a life! Be happy you can breathe, walk, talk, love and smile. When we stop to reflect the abundance that we have we begin to see the riches of life.

2. Focus on the simple things in life. Complication seems to torture us in our lives where simplicity comforts us. When we focus on the simple things we focus on true life.

3. Try not to worry! Once we realize that worry really can't change an outcome we begin to see that worry is another learned and useless behavior. It doesn't do us any good to worry.

4. Show your love to someone. Love is the most precious and powerful gift we can bestow on anyone. It has this unique refractory component as well. Expressing love is the chore of our being.

5. Help others with pain. When we help others it helps us too. Try helping others and you will help yourself. It is an amazing result.

6. Live for the moment. We may live for many years, but we really live for moments. Be thankful for all the special moments in your life. Realize when you are having one.

7. Appreciate the experience you gain. Everyday there is so much that you learn. Life is about learning.

8. See your challenges, whether they are big or small, as a test. Life is one big exam that never stops. When we stop and smile in the middle of one of life's tests then it is the equivalent of a passing grade!

"The ability to overcome the adversity of chronic pain is a gift waiting to be discovered. You have the instinct of survival and the powerful ability to use it."

Atricle courtesy of Happy with Pain LLC. To learn more about Rowe Jones', the founder of Happy with Pain, crusade to help the 80 million Americans with chronic pain please visit and

Copyright 2007 by All rights reserved.

Procrastination: The Top 10 Things to Know
By Hara Marano
Editor-At-Large, Psychology Today

There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.

Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world's leading experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timorthy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many questions immediately.

10. Twenty percent of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. And it cuts across all domains of their life. They don't pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts. They don't cash gift certificates or checks. They files income tax returns late. They leave their Christmas shopping until Christmas eve.

9. It's not trivial, although as a culture we don't take it seriously as a problem. It represents a profound problem of self-regulation. And there may be more of it in the U.S. than in other countries because we are so nice; we don't call people on their excuses ("my grandmother died last week") even when we don't believe them.

8. Procrastination is not a problem of time management or of planning. Procrastinators are not different in their ability to estimate time, although they are more optimistic than others. "Telling someone who procrastinates to buy a weekly planner is like telling someone with chronic depression to just cheer up," insists Dr. Ferrari.

7. Procrastinators are made, not born. Procrastination is learned in the family milieu, but not directly. It is one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances. What's more, under those household conditions, procrastinators turn more to friends than to parents for support, and their friends may reinforce procrastination because they tend to be tolerant of their excuses.

6. Procrastination predicts higher levels of consumption of alcohol among those people who drink. Procrastinators drink more than they intend to -- a manifestation of generalized problems in self-regulation. That is over and above the effect of avoidant coping styles that underlie procrastination and lead to disengagement via substance abuse.

5. Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, "I'll feel more like doing this tomorrow." Or "I work best under pressure." But, in fact, they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying "this isn't important." Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.

4. Procrastinators actively look for distractions, particularly ones that don't take a lot of commitment on their part. Checking email is almost perfect for this purpose. They distract themselves as a way of regulating their emotions such as fear of failure.

3. There's more than one flavor of procrastination. People procrastinate for different reasons. Dr. Ferrari identifies three basic types of procrastinators:

Arousal types, or thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush.

Avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success, but in either case are very concerned with what others think of them; they would rather have others think they lack effort than ability.

decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision. Not making a decision absolves procrastinators of responsibility for the outcome of events.

2. There are big costs to procrastination. Health is one. Just over the course of a single academic term, procrastinating college students had such evidence of compromised immune systems as more colds and flu, more gastrointestinal problems. And they had insomnia. In addition, procrastination has a high cost to others as well as oneself; it shifts the burden of responsibilities onto others, who become resentful. Procrastination destroys teamwork in the workplace and private relationships.

1. Procrastinators can change their behavior -- but doing so consumes a lot of psychic energy. And it doesn't necessarily mean one feels transformed internally. It can be done with highly structured cognitive-behavioral therapy.

The sneaker waves of chronic pain

Here along the Oregon Coast, we occasionally have tragedy when a riptide-type sneaker wave reaches shore and grabs some poor unsuspecting individual. I remember one year when one even caught a young mother in her car with her infant, and she had to be rescued by a lifeguard in a truck. They?ve been known to roll logs onto unsuspecting individuals in their intensity. The motto along our coastline is, ?Never turn your back on the ocean.? I can?t help but see an analogy between those waves and the dangers lurking for those of us who must live with chronic pain and chronic disease.

There are certain aspects we must be very careful to ?never turn our backs? on.

First of all, while dealing with this condition, we are not at our best. Any of us who experience chronic, daily pain, know it can be very distracting. There are days we have to take extra precaution while driving, walking down a flight of stairs or maneuvering our way through paying our bills or balancing a checkbook. Personally, I hate it when I don?t feel ?with it? or anywhere near my best. It doesn?t even have to be caused by pain medications. Pain alone can be very distracting and diverting. Just coping with it can burn energy needed for clear thought and definitive action. We have to know that about ourselves and act accordingly. We also have to stop judging ourselves for not being who we once were. We are what we are now. The key is to remain safe and ?dry.?

Another sneaker wave that has the potential to come up and ?grab us? is that old undertow, addiction. There are those who would rationalize it and say, ?Who cares, if you?re going to have pain the rest of your life anyway?? It is appealing, I will have to admit. If one could be totally free of pain and embrace some narcotic that would help without any side effects that would be splendid. The unfortunate truth is there are always side effects to addictive behavior, both psychologically and physically. They run the gamut from constipation and gastrointestinal bleeding to changes and disruptive behavior.

I can?t speak for you, although I do occasionally try, but I want to be me. I don?t want to become someone else. I guess that?s why I am always ?beating the drum? about other methods of coping with pain such as physical therapy, TENS units, stretches and water therapy, among many alternative therapies out there. It?s different for each of us and we should not compare ourselves to each other. I just caution you about mixing drugs and/or mixing drugs with alcohol. This is a giant hole from which you may find escape very difficult. Each of us has times when we need more help than other days. The key is to get back on track and take as little as possible, saving the strong stuff for the bad times.

The rip current which often sneaks up and grabs me is when others judge my behavior. I don?t take kindly to that and basically don?t think what I do is anyone else?s business. Some of the greatest and most painful experiences many of you have related to me are about this very thing. Painful remarks made by others as they decide we must not be in pain if we can do something or other. Why can?t we cheer each other on if we want to do something that stretches us a bit? What sick gratification does one human being get by judging the actions of another? Are we so desperate for ego gratification that we need to put down others to feel ?taller,? smarter or superior? What is this, some sick contest to determine the individual who is the sickest one of all? Take a minute to think about it. What?s the prize for the winner of such a contest?

My friends, enjoy your walk along the shore of life. Beware of the sneaker waves. Enjoy the sunshine on your face and be sure to wear your sunscreen. Wiggle your toes in the sand of your life, open your eyes to experience the beauty around you and be faithful to yourself, your family and your body. Take care, there are dangers lurking out there but that doesn?t mean we can?t enjoy the walk. Only a fool ignores the dangers and remains uninformed.



Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.
It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain

-Emily Dickinson

Choosing Vegetarian Meals
by Vicki Koenig, MS, RD, CDN

Many people choose to maintain a vegetarian diet for a variety of reasons. These include health, humane, ecological, economic and even religious reasons. While most vegetarians consider vegetarianism to be the best diet there is, few would deny that everyone benefits if we all eat more vegetarian meals. You don?t have to be a vegetarian to reap rewards. This Moosletter will give you some ideas for adding some vegetarian dishes.

Health Benefits of Vegetarianism
People who eat lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables are the leanest people on earth.

Research supports that a plant-based diet is associated with reduced obesity, heart disease, blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, diet-related cancers, kidney disease, diverticular disease, constipation and gallstones. It even suggests that vegetarianism can increase longevity.

To get these health benefits, you can?t just add cheese while eliminating meat. You need to add lean sources of vegetarian protein and increase the produce. Good protein sources are: beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, tempeh, chickpeas and peas. Lowfat yogurt, milk, and eggs with reduced fat cheese can provide lean protein from animal sources. Legumes, nuts and dairy products provide a good source of protein, high in branched chain amino acids. These help build lean muscle tissue and reduce body fat. Whole grains, winter squash, greens, and other vegetables add to the protein and improve the quality of our meals.

This article continues at:

A message from Rosalind Joffe

Chronic illness means you need to build loyalty in the Workplace


I'll give you an example. In a recent conversation, Sandy (names and particulars have been changed "to protect the innocent"), a senior VP of Human Resources, was describing an uncomfortable situation that is getting worse as the weather becomes warmer.

Sandy's suite mate, Greg, has Scleroderma and Reynaud's, which Sandy knew when she hired him. But she didn't know that he can't tolerate cool air. At least not until he repeatedly turned the thermostat warmer, and even put on the heat when it was 80 degrees outside.

Greg doesn't talk about it. He just does it.

Now, Sandy lives with multiple sclerosis (MS) and heat can make your brain stop and your body feel like lead. She understands the difficulties with chronic illness. She wants to be empathic and supportive.

But Sandy resents Greg's unspoken demands and how he "plays the victim" (her words). When she asked if she might put the air conditioning on before he arrives in the morning, he let her know that he thought her request was inconsiderate. He didn't offer any suggestions of his own, either.

So, Sandy chose to work from home on hot days. She considered switching offices but, even though Greg has only been with the company a few months, she doubts anyone would be willing. She's seen the angry emails from people who work on his team about the hot, "airless meetings". This seems to be the only thing anyone is noticing about him.

I suggested to Sandy that she isn't doing him any favors by not talking about this. She needs to let him know that, for the sake of keeping his job, he has to learn to communicate his needs without digging a grave for himself. He might think of this as his campaign to build loyalty.

With help, Greg can learn how to encourage people to care about him so that they're willing to work with him on the tough stuff. And you build this kind of care by letting people know who you are and what you stand for.

Here are 3 things to think about:

1. Show that you're invested in making this work by developing your own suggestions to meet your challenges and then get other people's input. Collaboration generates creative thinking and encourages others to be invested in your success.

2. Cultivate relationships so that people know you as more than "that person with such and such disease". That way when you make health related requests, they'll know that you're a person who considers the group's needs, as well as your own.

3. Develop a clear picture that other people can recognize regarding the value that you add to the group. They'll think of this when you need their help and support.

Building loyalty takes time, effort and patience. Just ask the writers of your favorite television show -- or sports team. They know that if you consistently nurture viewer loyalty, your "fan" base will carry you through the tough times.

Are you or someone you know struggling to build or keep your fan base? Email me and let's talk about my programs that help you build your competence to do just that!

Moldy homes tied to depression, scientists say

Almost one in five people with mold in their homes is also depressed, a figure more than twice as high as among those who don't live with the stubborn, sometimes foul-smelling fungus, a study found.

The link between mold and depression remained strong even after researchers from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, took into consideration physical illnesses that may be caused by the mold, and a homeowner's feeling of helplessness in controlling his environment. This surprised the authors, who said they set out to prove that other factors beyond the mold itself may be responsible for the connection.

"We were surprised that we found we cannot explain all of the association between mold and depression by those two elements alone," said Edmond Shenassa, an assistant professor of epidemiology Brown and the study's lead author, in a telephone interview today.

Clinical depression linked to abnormal emotional brain circuits

MADISON - In what may be the first study to use brain imaging to look at the neural circuits involved in emotional control in patients with depression, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that brains of people with clinical depression react very differently than those of healthy people when trying to cope with negative situations.

According to the World Health Organization, clinical depression is one of the leading causes of disability and lost productivity in the world. Understanding the root cause of depression, however, has proved difficult.

"It's normal for people to have negative emotions in certain circumstances," says lead study author Tom Johnstone. "One of the features of major depression is not that people have negative reactions to negative situations, it's that they can't pull themselves out of those negative emotional moods. They seem to have a deficit in their ability to be able to regulate their emotions... to come back down to baseline after a negative experience."

The rest of this article can be read at:

Revolutionalising Chronic Pain Management

Radiofrequency neuro-ablation is the latest, safest and most effective method available to deal with many chronic pain conditions currently.

Pain is one of the worst enemies of human life. It is a well-known fact that each individual suffers pain in some or other form. About 70-80 per cent of population suffers from some kind of chronic pain (commonest being back/neck pain) at some stage during his/her lifetime. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified 'chronic pain' as a disease because of its widespread effect on patients' different body systems, psychology, and socio-economical effects.

How to Treat Pain

The treatment of pain starts from simple bed rest, analgesic medicines, physiotherapy to advanced methods of pain relief. The latest and most advanced technique include radiofrequency neuroablation (RF), cryoablation, laser, intra-spinal pump or stimulator implantations, and seven more techniques including minimally-invasive to major surgeries.

Here, I shall concentrate on RF, which is the latest, safest and most effective method available to deal with many chronic pain conditions currently.

RF is a neurolytic technique that uses heat to produce controlled tissue destruction (thermocoagulation) and thus reduce pain by modulating pain transmission, without causing clinical signs of nerve damage. Pain relief can last for several months before the procedure has to be repeated. RF is classified as a percutaneous minimal-invasive procedure for patients whose pain does not respond to appropriate medical and physical therapy.

During the procedure, an insulated needle is placed in the vicinity of the nerve to be lesioned. The needle position is checked, typically using multiple fluoroscopic X-ray views and by testing motor and sensory nerve stimulation. Once the correct position has been established, a grounded electrode is passed through the insulated needle to the tip. A current is then passed through the electrode, which heats up the surrounding tissue (because of the resistance produced by the body) and causes a lesion around the tip.

This article continues at:

Acupuncture in pain therapy
[Article in German]

MMW Fortschr Med. 2007 Jun 21;149(25-26):37-9

Grasm?ller S, Irnich D.

Interdisziplin?re Schmerzambulanz, Klinik f?r An?sthesiologie, LMU

PMID: 17713049
The neurobiological mechanisms of acupuncture have been investigated
in many cases and provide plausible explanatory approaches for its
effectiveness. However, only some of these mechanisms depend on the
"point-specifity". Evaluation following evidence-based medicine
criteria shows level 1 evidence for the efficacy of acupuncture for
post-operative dental pain as well as for nausea and vomiting. In
addition there are positive results for the efficacy of acupuncture
for treating headaches, lumbar spine pain, temporomandibular
dysfunction, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis of the knee and
epicondylitis. Acupuncture can be part of a multimodal therapeutic
concept for chronic pain disorders with biopsychosocial components.

Cluster Headache Drug Can Cause Heart Problems, New Study
14 Aug 2007

A new UK study suggests that at high doses the drug verapamil can cause heart problems. The researchers recommend all patients being treated with the drug for cluster headaches should have frequent electrocardiograms (EKGs) to check for irregular hearbeats.

The study is published in the August 14, 2007, issue of Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology and is the work of researchers from the Headache Group , Institute of Neurology, The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK.

Study author Dr Peter Goadsby, of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, and of the University of California, who is also a member of the American Academy of Neurology, said that:

"The benefit of taking verapamil to alleviate the devastating pain of cluster headaches has to be balanced against the risk of causing a heart abnormality that could progress into a more serious problem."

Cluster headache, also called suicide headache because of its severity or alarm clock headache because of its timing, is a rare condition occurring in about 0.1 per cent of the population and more commonly in men.

People who get cluster headaches and migraines say the pain of cluster headaches is much stronger and has a distinctly different quality. It feels like being stabbed in the eye over and over again with a sharp object or a hot poker, and the pain is often on one side near one eye or one temple. The pain then radiates to the upper teeth, jaw and neck.
This article concludes at:

Herbal Remedies and Pain

Herbal remedies are medications made directly from the leaves, stems, roots and/or seeds of plants. They are also known as natural, complimentary, alternative, homeopathic and holistic medications or preparations.

Herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years by all major cultures of the world. In fact the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that herbal remedies are the primary medicines for approximately 80% of the world?s population today. It is estimated that 50% of adults in the U.S. have used an herbal product at least once and 25% use them on a regular basis.

Herbal remedies were the primary source of medications prescribed by physicians in the U.S. until the early 1900's. With the rise of technology, many herbal remedies were synthesized into the medications we use today. Approximately 75% of modern medicines come from plant derivatives. Some examples include:

Poppy plant ? Morphine
Belladonna - Atropine
Foxglove - Digoxin
Willow Bark - Aspirin
Yew Tree - Taxol
Since the 1960's, Americans have become more interested in pursuing less conventional and more ?natural? treatments for their medical problems. It is estimated that Americans spent $5 billion a year on herbal remedies.

Although these herbal remedies are considered ?natural?, they are not without their complications and adverse side effects.

The conclusion of this is found at:


Do you know what the duck said when he got chapped lips?

My lips are quacked.

He went to the drugstore to get some Chapstick.

He told the clerk to just put it on his bill.


A single guy decided life would be more fun if he had a pet. So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet. After some discussion, he finally bought a centipede (a 100-legged bug) that came in a little white box which served as the bug's house.

He took his purchase home, found a good location for the box, and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to church with him. So he asked the cent ipede in the box, "Would you like to go to church with me today? We will have a good time." But there was no answer from his new pet.

This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked him again, "How about going to church with me and receive blessings?" But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet.

So he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. He decided to ask him one more time; this time putting his face up against the centipede's house and shouting, "HEY IN THERE! WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO TO CHURCH WITH ME AND LEARN ABOUT THE LORD?"


And a little voice came out of the box.........

"I heard you the first time.......I'm putting on my shoes!"