PLATTSBURGH — Lynn Gordon Laclair had battled chronic pain for decades and was losing the fight.
The daily struggle with fibromyalgia had drained her energy, and she felt unable to perform daily tasks, choosing most days to simply give in to her fatigue.
But earlier this year, she heard about the chronic-disease workshops being offered by the Northern Adirondack Medical Home project and thought she’d give the idea a try.
“The class was wonderful,” she said of the support she received through working with the counselors and participants. “They talked about taking things on with tiny steps, starting easy with things and problem-solving if things weren’t working out.”
For instance, if a participant was having difficulty with a 30-minute exercise routine, how about switching to two 15-minute routines, she explained.
“We started with little goals and then focused on bigger goals as we continued.”
The one goal Gordon Laclair focused on was strengthening her muscles. She started small with a set of rubber exercise bands and continued working with them until she could manage pulling a hunting bow.
“By the end of six weeks, my fatigue levels had probably dropped in half,” she said. “The extra strength has helped me tone up, and I’ve added a lot more protein to my diet. I have much more energy. I feel so much better, and everyone has said I look great, I look a lot healthier.”
Mary Racicot had first balked at taking the course because she did not think of her high blood pressure and high cholesterol as chronic illness. But she decided to give it a try and is now thankful she did.
“They make you much more aware of what your body is doing, especially as you’re getting older,” she said of the program. “The coordinators were very well trained, and they really listened to what each of us had to say.”
Working closer with other participants was also an advantage, she said.
“As time went on, people got a little bit closer to one another and began sharing things because they knew that whatever was said in the room stayed in the room.”
She was also pleased with the program’s goal-setting plan and feels that she is more aware of the things she can do to manage her own health.
Janet Brendler was not interested in the course at first but decided to go with her husband, George, who is also her caregiver.
“We’re both 78, but he is strong and healthy, and I’m not,” she said. “He is able-bodied and the kind of person who is willing to stay home and attend to things that I need.
“The time (in the workshops) was very well spent, not only for the person with a chronic condition but also for the caregiver,” she added. “They talked a lot about communication, about sharing your needs with your provider.
“I would strongly recommend this course to anybody needing an occasional hand or anybody that has to give one.”
Email Jeff Meyers: email@example.com