Introducing The Chronic Challenge: Living Well With a Chronic Disease
My intention in the weeks ahead, is to present to you my book on chronic disease, Chronic Challenge: Living Well With A Chronic Disease, chapter by chapter. In order to write this comprehensive book on coping with what are termed the “invisible diseases”, I interviewed men and women across Canada suffering with chronic conditions. I covered Crohns Disease, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Diabetes, heart condition, SAD, and Multiple Sclerosis. Most often, particularly in the early stages of their illness, it is not obvious they are sick. Yet, each day they fight through a variety of symptoms to go to work, raise their children and live as normally as possible. The people around them are not aware of their suffering, and often make harsh judgements, labelling them malingerers, lazy, poor time managers, irresponsible.
If you are one of those living with a chronic disease, you know the cost of keeping it to yourself and being labelled, and the effect of sharing your condition in hopes of a fairer approach from family members, care workers and the public. You probably feel you can’t win either way. And you still have the disease to cope with.
The wonderful people I interviewed had all lived with their condition for over fifteen years. They were undergoing remissions and relapses, living fully or fighting another bout. All of them had much to offer in the way of physical, mental and spiritual coping mechanisms. Their stories are uplifting and helpful. Whatever the disease, they had much in common. And whether you are diagnosed with a disease, or trying to understand it for someone you care about, their comments, advice, philosophies and strength will help you. I hope you will follow my entries over this next three months and find in these chapters a figurative hand out-held and waiting to offer support.
One cannot look at the patient, without looking at the people around the person with the disease. They too have much to cope with, whether family, friends or co-workers the disease causes change in their lives. In Chronic Ripple I offer up the comments and conclusions of these people whose lives are also affected by chronic disease. I hope you will gain comfort and good advice from my interviews with them.