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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / GIGO /   Editorial List  

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No, this is not the name of a Ben Affleck movie best left unremembered.  GIGO is something that a caregiver said in my session at the Scleroderma Foundation’s annual conference held in California this past weekend.  I am honored to serve as a member of the board of the South Florida chapter of the foundation and spoke on caregiving at last year’s event in Philadelphia, as well.

This year the event was held in Los Angeles, two days before the ground rumbled.  I’ve been watching the news coverage and am glad to see that there are no major injuries connected to the quake. In fact, people seemed calm, cool and collected during their interviews right afterwards. Having never been through an earthquake, I think I may have been less collected. Much, much less collected.

Scleroderma, or systemic sclerosis, is a chronic connective tissue disease generally classified as one of the autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The word “scleroderma” comes from two Greek words: “sclero” meaning hard, and “derma” meaning skin. Hardening of the skin is one of the most visible manifestations of the disease.  (For more information, please visit the Scleroderma Foundation's website:  The sense of community and support shared by the scleroderma caregivers that I have met at these events is phenomenal.

As I started my talk to the packed room, the session immediately became a highly interactive exchange of valuable information from caregivers of all ages.  The youngest caregiver in the room was just 16 years old and the oldest was in her eighties.

When the conversation came around to the fact that we caregivers need supportive friends to talk with, a lady in the front row volunteered GIGO.  She said that when the stress would become too much to bear and she needed to “unload,” she’d call her friend who lives  two states away asking her to offer no advice or support, just be a willing ear to listen as she “rants”.   This is what she refers to as GIGO:  Garbage in --- Garbage Out.  

Sometimes silence is the best advice anyone can offer a family caregiver.



Gary Barg

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