FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / GIGO
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.