Autoimmune Disease Support Group

Our  Mascots are Marlie and Wilson!  

Meeting Minutes Feb. 1st & 15th 2014

February 15th, 2014

Our Valentine's Day Party / Meeting

We Welcomed one new member!  Welcome Pat!

Icebreaker:  "Happiness Is..."  we went around the table and each member gave one or two answers to the question "What Is Happiness to you?"  This icebreaker was spawned off of the Blog "What Snoopy Can Teach Us" from January.

Valentines Day can be depressing but you can love your friends, you can love  your family and you should love yourself!  You can also look forward to the love that is coming your way!  Remaining hopeful is key to being happy!

Gratitude Journals were passed out to those in attendance.  Colorful magic markers were also put out so that people could decorate the cover of their journal while we talked. 

  • Find 3 things every day that you were grateful for and write them in the journal underneath the date.  Each day as you write the top 3 things you are grateful for, you will be amazed at how many more things come to mind that you are truly grateful for!
  • The more that you are grateful for the small things, the more things (and bigger things) will reveal themselves to you!
  • Get in the habbit of practicing gratitide every day!  You will find that it is a big part of your journey toward wellness!

We briefly went over the ground rules for group

  • Confidentiality is key, we don't use last names.  If you receive anyone elses' phone number or e-mail we do not share them with anyone else
  • Respect! - each person at the table should feel respected at all times, we do not have to agree with each other all the time, nor will we, but we do have to respect each other's beliefs as well as what works for them (or doesn't work for them!) Remember we all have common illnesses but not the exact same illness, and even people with the same diagnosis will have differences in their level of wellnes, what works for them and so on...  this is the one place every one of us should feel understood
  • If you have a moment where you feel disrespected or belittled or disgruntled for any reason with another member or the leader, it is your responsibility to address the situation immediately, (in a respectful manner!)  I find that these issues are usually a matter of a misunderstanding and that it is never anyones' intention to make another at the table upset in any way, however, if you become upset it is important to ask a clarifying question or to make a statement such as "Perhaps you are not aware of your tone but it seems as if you may be angry at my suggestion" or "While I understand that this may work for you, I have tried this in the past and it has worsened my condition".  This opens the door to clarify the statement or the tone of voice (some people just get loud when they are upset in general!) and for that person to rectify the situation.  No one in the group wants you to go home upset or even worse, just not return and not tell us why!
  • Try to allow each person equal time talking
  • Use "I" statements: I feel...  I think...  what works for me is...
  • Don't give advice unless it is asked for (it's ok to ask if they would like your advice!)  Some people need to vent and are looking more for your understanding and compassion.  Remember, all of the "healthy" people in their lives have probably given them a list a mile long of what they could be trying
  • Don't be judgmental, you can't know what a person has had to go through as they cannot fully know your experiences
  • We try to remain positive, however, each of us has a bad day now and then, and where better to have a bad day than with the friends who truly understand you?  We have all been there.  No one can be positive 100% of the time!  (Oh yeah!  That blog post was on the old website!  I will look for it)

One member shared a book she found extremely helpful "The Healing Codes" by Alexander Lloyd.  She states the book has 100 doctors and that they are now discussing devine intervention for healing.  They state we can now heal anything energetically and that if you take stress out of the body you can take the body out of the "fight or flight" response.  They believe the stress changes the body at the cellular level and that reprogramming those cells is possible.  This is "cutting edge" of healing!

Group discusses how anxiety makes illness worse.  Many of us are or were "people pleasers".

Group discusses putting the brakes on negative thinking. 

Discussion on taking on the energy of those around us, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Discussed how caregiving (especially when related to caring for a parent) can be a heavy drain on members' energy level.  Member agrees it is "exhausing".

Discussing "The Highly Sensitive Person" (I believe that was a book someone mentioned?)

One of our members has had a change in diagnosis after much time.  We are sorry to hear of the changes in her illness, but are so happy she came back to share with us, the good and the not-so-good!!!

For the last half hour:

We played one "brain teaser" game for Valentine's Day.  We took the words "Happy Valentine's Day" and each person made as many words as possible out of those letters in 5 minutes time.  Our new member Pat was the winner!!!  Pat received a small prize!  Congratulations Pat!!!

The day was closed with our traditional Valentine's Day Card Game.  Each member present has a Valentine's Day card addressed to them.  They are handed out in random order, each person writes one compliment about the person who's card they have.  We then pass the card to right until each of us has written a compliment on each person's card anonymously.  At the end, the cards are sealed and distributed to the correct person who now goes home with a Valentine's Day card with lots of compliments from all of their friends! 

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.  Those of you who came to the meeting, as well as those of you who have previously attended, and also those of you who have yet to come!  You are each special to me and I am so grateful to have the chance to know you!   Love, Joanne

Next Upcoming Meeting:  Saturday, March 1st, 2014  2:00 pm - 3:30pm at Somerset Medical Center, Hamilton Conference Room


February 1st, 2014

1.  We welcomed two new members! Welcome Ruchi! Welcome Neil!

2.  Ice Breaker / introductions

3.  An interactive presentation was done entitled "What Parts of Our Health Can We Take Control Of?"

     A Pie Chart was drawn on the dry-erase board with the input of the members

     The following topics were listed:

     1.  Medication and Treatment Plan with Doctor

     2.  Praying

     3.  Meditation

     4.  Exercise

     5.  Sleep

     6.  Simple Pleasures (i.e., pets, flowers, outdoors)

     7.  Socialization

     8.  Diet / Food

     9.  Work on Memory (computer games)

    10.  Therapy and/or Support Group

We discussed that #1 on the list (Medication / Treatment Plan with Dr.) was a large part of the "pie" however, the exercise was focusing on the slivers of the "pie" that are within our control. 

If each of the slivers of the pie could offer us even a 5% improvement in our health, then by working in each of these categories could potentially offer approximately at 40% over-all improvement in our level of wellness!  That is a truly significant amount!  Some would say life changing! 

Group discussed each of the areas #2-#10 and brain-stormed some ideas of what we might be able to do.

After the topic, We had Open Forum:

  • One member shared The Chimney Rock Inn in Bridgewater offers a Gluten Free menu on Tuesday including pizza
  • Some mebers share that they have changed their diet since becoming ill, some do Gluten Free, some do dairy free, some have to follow low sugar diet, some do a combination of these
  • Discussion of signs and symptoms of "brain fog" some of the members report checking numbers 3 x for accuracy (phone numbers, checking account, etc.), members agree they have difficulty "multi-tasking", some members misplace things, some members transpose numbers now where they did not have this issue prior to illness
  • Members discuss how "specialized" doctors have become, it seems as though doctors have lost the ability to see you as a "whole" and if there is something that they don't know about, they send you off to a different specialist
  • Members share with the new members how great they find the home delivery grocery shopping service to be.  Both Stop & Shop and Shop Rite have this service, be sure to ask about fees:  delivery fee, fuel surcharge, and the tipping policy.  The groceries are brought right up into your home.  Be sure to ask the policy on substitutions if they are out of stock on something you wanted.
  • Members discuss the difficulty that not being able to drive poses.  The group discussed possible alternatives:  AARP "For The Better" program is available for transportation according to one member.  She reports you do not have to be a member to take advantage of the service. 
  • Tax Preparation is available for free by AARP Volunteers if your income is below $60,000.  Call the library of  your home town for info.  An appointment is neccessary.