Living Well with Chronic Illness
by Joanna J. Charnas, LICSW, LCSW
MSI Press

"Even if your health remains poor, your life will move forward. No matter what, try to remember there is still good in your life and to enjoy it."

Like so many people, Charnas struggled to cope with mysterious, debilitating symptoms for years. As she discovered, finally receiving a diagnosis for a chronic illness can sometimes be a relief, yet it won't necessarily lead to an effective treatment plan. As the author points out, quality of life is partially dependent upon the patient's own attitude. Charnas has condensed years of life lessons learned the hard way for readers who are having trouble coming to terms with chronic illnesses. The book is organized much like a series of diary entries and these short passages may be particularly ideal for readers whose illnesses prohibit long reading sessions.

Throughout the book, Charnas shares memories of her past adversities and the lessons she has learned from them. She discusses the importance of placing one's health first, even if it may mean bowing out of obligations. She urges the reader to live without regrets, to care for self-image despite illness, and to meditate for inner peace.

Readers with chronic illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome may be drawn to this narrative to discover how someone else has dealt with life's challenges. Though unpolished at times, the book does have an appealing up close and personal tone that gives the reader the sense of having a private conversation with the author. Charnas does dispense some useful advice for patients, including how they can become fully informed patients, where they can go to for help with everyday issues, and how they can care for their overall physical health, although a doctor's patient-specific advice will always override this.

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