by Dennis Dalman
Diagnosed many years ago with early-onset arthritis on her spine, Judy Wolters of Sartell has been living in pain – more or less constant pain – for most of her life.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is Wolters has discovered her own ways to keep pain at bay as much as possible through on-the-spot de-stressing techniques.
Wolters will share those techniques at the 11th annual Women’s Health 101 event Saturday, April 14 at CentraCare Health Plaza in St. Cloud. The free event will run from 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Wolters’ talk, entitled “De-stress Right Where You Are,” is slated for 1:15-2:30 p.m. One of the key elements to Wolters’ de-stressing techniques is the use of humor, and so – naturally – her talk combines practical do-it-yourself tips with plenty of humor.
Women’s Health 101 will offer free screenings for glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, hearing, vision and a balance test, among other screenings.
Topics covered by a variety of speakers will include Wolters’ de-stress presentation, Alzheimer’s disease, joint pain, exercise, nutrition, arthritis and more. There will be 40 booths covering virtually every aspect of women’s health issues, including a DaVinci surgical robot for participants to “test drive.”A breakfast luncheon will be available for purchase.
Born in Whittier, Calif., Wolters met and married a man from Little Falls and then moved to Minnesota. For many years she was a stay-at-home mom with the Wolters’ two children – Kara, now 17; and Brent, 13. After her diagnosis with early-onset arthritis, life became quite a struggle for Wolters because of the severe pain. The arthritis, over time, caused spinal-disc degeneration in her lower back and in her neck. Throughout the years, she has received a lot of injections and alternative types of therapy. She also had surgery on her neck, which did provide some relief from the nearly constant pain.
Anyone who has experienced long-term pain knows very well one must develop a personalized program of self-care, in addition to doctor-prescribed therapies. The program must be personalized, Wolters said, because what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. In her own program, Wolters swims in warm water three times a week, she indulges in “humor therapy,” and she does a series of gentle stretches. Those are three of the four foundations of her self-help program. And the fourth, perhaps the most important, is on-the-spot de-stressing.
“Stress is expensive – physically, mentally, financially,” she said.
The less stress, the less pain, Wolters emphasizes to her listeners.
Pain flare-ups tend to happen when one is under any kind of stress, as Wolters has learned throughout the years. Stress can happen when everything seems to be going wrong, when there is a pressing deadline, when one becomes overwhelmed by too many sudden pressures at work or at home. Those are the times, Wolters said, when it is important to use de-stress methods. One such method is deep breathing, another is humor, a third is positive self-thoughts and a fourth is prayer. There are many more de-stressing techniques, such as meditation and exercises, but Wolters’ on-the-spot methods are unique because they can be done immediately, as soon as stress begins to build and no matter where one happens to be. Such de-stress methods are good for everyone to learn – not just for chronic-pain sufferers, Wolters added.
“It’s important to catch stress before it builds,” Wolters said. “These techniques I talk about are very, very easy. The biggest trick is remembering to do them.”
Twenty years ago, when Wolters was working with developmentally disabled people, they would do a series of easy exercises once a day. She began to think to herself, “We should all be doing this, every day.” And that was the inception of what gradually developed as her on-the-spot de-stressing program.
Wolters plans to share her insights in the workplace, at various companies; and she also hopes to share it with stay-at-home moms.