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Surprisingly sensible pain relief for arthritis when you’d rather not turn to a drug option

If recent prescription drugs being taken off the market have left you without options for arthritis pain relief, you may be surprised to find sensible natural solutions.

Medication is not your only alternative, according to Keith Reich, DO, board certified rheumatologist. Consider these natural, non-drug options:

  • Exercise. Everyone needs to exercise, but not all exercises are appropriate forillustration of elderly hands holding onto a cane people with arthritis. It is important to engage in exercises that will strengthen the muscle, but not irritate the joint. For example, walking is an excellent activity, but if it makes your knees sore, try bicycling, arm exercises or walking in a pool.

  • Balance exercises. Tai Chi and water aerobics are types of balance exercises that can be effective without adding much pressure to joints. But take it easy. If joints hurt after exercising, you probably overexerted. If the pain continues over the next few days, talk with your doctor.

  • Weight control. Every 10 pounds of weight gained is equal to 30 pounds of pressure on the knees. So losing 10 pounds is the same as removing 30 pounds of pressure on your knees.

  • Heat/cold. Using ice packs can reduce acute pain while heat loosens joints and increases blood flow. Try sitting in a warm whirlpool before exercising and icing an irritated spot after exercising to provide soothing relief.

  • Attitude/education. It is important to have a positive attitude when living with arthritis. Read updates about arthritis management online and in books and health magazines. Ask questions of your health care team.

  • Assistive devices. Anything that makes completing a daily task easier is considered an assistive device. Devices such as the Foot Funnel, a modern type of shoe horn, can keep you independent and less dependent on others for daily tasks. Other helpful examples include cervical (neck) pillows, custom-made foot orthotics (shoe inserts for comfort) and canes.

Article reprinted with permission from Health-e headlines ™

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The Help Spot
by Human Resources Employee Services-Staff Development

Please check the blank(s) that best describes your state of mind when asked to give a presentation.

___ Do you freak out when you are asked to give a presentation?

___ Do the palms of your hands sweat when asked to talk to a group or people?

___ Does your mind go blank when it is your time to talk?

___ Do your job duties require you to routinely make presentations or conduct training regardless of these apprehension symptoms?

Answer:

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, Human Resources Staff Development has just the medicine for your ailment: Foundation Skills for Trainers. But not just for trainers. This four-day (32-hour) class will help anyone develop the platform skills necessary to handle any kind of presentation, whether it's in front of co-workers or before a large group of individuals. In addition to confidence-building exercises, this class addresses how to design the various elements of a presentation, preparation, delivery, how to use training aids, and how to use icebreakers and energizers to stimulate your audience. You will also learn how to set up the presentation area, effectively deliver a demonstration, and learn the characteristics of the adult learner. We have mentioned just a fraction of what Foundation Skills for Trainers has in store for you. So why don’t you come and join us? You’ll be glad you did.

To learn more about Foundation Skills for Trainers, check into participating in the next class offered by the Human Resources Staff Development Department. Contact your HR Representative for details or find our schedule on the Internet at www.tdcj.state.tx.us/vacancy/hr-home/staff-dev.htm. You will find the training schedule in the lower left-hand side of your screen.

Help Desk operators on call to address computer-related problems statewide

Supervisor looking over employee's shoulder as he takes a call
Help Desk Supervisor Brandon Smith, right, works with operator Roger Lowrie on a call.
Photo by David Nunnelee
Perhaps never have so few helped so many. The "few" are the nine employees who make up the TDCJ Help Desk in Huntsville. The "many" are the more than 20,000 terminal and personal computer users within the agency who sometimes experience problems with their office equipment.

"We’re responsible for all the computer-related problems, hardware and software, throughout the agency," said Help Desk Network Supervisor Brandon Smith.

On average, the handful of Help Desk technicians field more than 300 calls a day, many of those from users who have simply forgotten their passwords to access information on the mainframe.

"We’ll get up to 100 calls a day just on mainframe passwords," Smith said.

The Help Desk also receives a large number of calls from users needing their personal computers or terminals reset. Most other calls are related to Internet access.

"The Internet part is growing a lot because more and more people are having to access our mainframe through the Internet now," Smith said.

Monday is typically the busiest day of the week for the Help Desk workers as are the first and fifteenth days of the month, the times mainframe passwords normally expire. The day that follows a power outage or the mainframe being taken down for maintenance can also be extremely busy.

"There are times when the phones ring and you don’t get up until lunch," Smith said. "It just doesn’t quit ringing."

Working on the Help Desk requires tact and patience. In fact, employees must have some prior customer service experience because they often must deal with frustrated users who may have trouble understanding the technician’s instructions, causing the user even more frustration.

"The main thing we try to do is to provide first-line support," Smith said. "If you’re on the phone 15 to 20 minutes, it may be time to let another Help Desk technician take a look at problem."

Information Technology service technicians address software problems throughout the state. Hardware problems are referred to the agency’s computer equipment vendor.

While the Help Desk can’t fix all problems remotely, a new software program is being introduced that allows the technicians to literally take over a user’s computer with the user’s permission and is expected to shorten the time it takes to make repairs and install software.

"If you’re talking to a user on the phone, it will probably take you 20 to 30 minutes to set up a network printer," Smith said. "If we can take that computer over, we can have it done in three to five minutes."

Smith said the new software will hopefully be deployed throughout the agency within a year.

"Once that gets fully deployed, it will cut down on the frustration on everybody’s part," he said.

With a name like Help Desk, it’s not surprising that Smith and his staff get calls that have nothing to do with computers. They can’t, for example, tell a mother when her son or daughter is being released from prison.

"It isn’t a place for inmate families to call to find out when somebody is going to be released, and they do that quite often," Smith said. "And we don’t handle phone support. Those calls go to the Communications Department."

Besides errant questions from the outside world, Smith said the Help Desk sometimes get questions from within the agency that are, well, interesting.

"Some employees are more computer savvy than others," said Help Desk Specialist Roger Lowrie.

All users should call the Help Desk when they need help with a computer-related problem, Smith said.

"Some people bypass the Help Desk by calling a technician directly," Smith said. "We want them to come through here because it gives us the opportunity to try to fix the problem, plus, if we have to refer it, it gives the technician the opportunity to show what’s been done."

To keep themselves abreast of the latest technological advancements in computers, Smith and his associates rely on training.

"Training is continuous here because of all the technological changes," he said. "Just over the past two to three years this job has changed a lot. "Instead of terminals, we’re now basically PC-based. And there’s the Internet. All of that makes the system easier to use, but it’s a little harder to troubleshoot. It’s something new all the time."

clipart of man in suit walking with a briefcaseOn the Move

FROM
TO
Charles Marsh Facilities Division Director Chief Financial Officer
Jackie Edwards Senior Warden
Ellis Unit
CID Regional III Director
David Stacks Senior Warden
Eastham Unit
CID Correctional Training Director
Alfred Janicek Senior Warden
Ferguson Unit
Senior Warden
Ellis Unit
Michael Upshaw Senior Warden
Holliday Transfer Facility
Senior Warden
Ferguson Unit
Pamela Baggett Senior Warden
Goree Unit
Senior Warden
Holliday Transfer Facility
Charles Williamson Senior Warden
Goodman Transfer Facility
Senior Warden
Goree Unit
David Sweeten Senior Warden
Pack Unit
Senior Warden
Eastham Unit
Thomas Merchant Senior Warden
Rudd Unit
Senior Warden
Pack Unit
Andy Massingill Senior Warden
Sayle SAFP Facility
Senior Warden
Daniel Unit
George Crippen
RN, BSN Health Services Director
of Clinical Administration
Edward Smith Assistant Warden
Hughes Unit
Senior Warden
Sayle SAFP Facility
Eileen Kennedy Assistant Warden
McConnell Unit
Senior Warden
Rudd Transfer Facility
Dirk Lorimier Assistant Warden
Stiles Unit
Senior Warden
Goodman Transfer Facility
William Walker Senior Warden
Tulia Transfer Facility
Senior Warden
Sanchez State Jail
Jeffrey Marton Assistant Warden
Connally Unit
Senior Warden
Tulia Transfer Facility
Gary Hunter Assistant Warden
Stevenson Unit
Assistant Warden
Connally Unit
Linda Carranza Major, Wheeler State Jail Assistant Warden, Stevenson Unit
Kenneth Dean Assistant Warden
Wynne Unit
Assistant Warden
Hughes Unit
Robin Robinson Assistant Warden
Hamilton Unit
Assistant Warden
Wynne Unit
James O. Sloan, Jr. Assistant Regional Director
Region VI
Assistant Warden
Hamilton Unit
Norris Jackson Assistant Regional Director
Region IV
Assistant Warden
McConnell Unit
Timothy Lester Major
Skyview Unit
Assistant Warden
Stiles Unit.
Bryan Vandagriff Senior Warden
Cole State Jail
Senior Warden
Middleton Transfer Facility
Alfonso Castillo Assistant Warden
Coffield Unit
Senior Warden
Cole State Jail
Steven Swift Assistant Warden
Gurney Transfer Facility
Assistant Warden
Coffield Unit
Jessie Wicks Assistant Warden
Skyview/Hodge Unit
Assistant Warden
Gurney Transfer Facility
Kay Sheeley Assistant Warden
Moore Transfer Facility
Assistant Warden
Skyview/Hodge Unit
Lee Williams Major
Travis State Jail
Assistant Warden
Moore Transfer Facility

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