The following are all resources I use. I've done a lot of research, and tried a lot of products, and all-things-chronic-illness to help me feel better, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. These are my favorites.
Associations for Chronic Illness:
- American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Association (AARDA) - Many chronic illnesses are autoimmune in nature, and this organization seeks to find the common root causes, regardless of whether an illness affects your endocrine system, your musculo-skeletal system, digestive system, etc.
- Invisible Disabilities Association - Information and encouragement for anyone with a chronic debilitating illness that isn't obvious by looking at you.
- National Databank for Rheumatic Diseases - The NDB is an independent, non-profit research center. I have been participating in their ongoing study of arthritis patients for almost a decade. You fill out a questionnaire every six months on your symptoms and treatment, to give researchers a better idea of how arthritis affects people over time. The results of this comprehensive study may one day help others like us. I encourage anyone with inflammatory arthritis to consider joining this study, or at least sign up with their Arthritis Internet Registry.
- Spondylitis Association of America (SAA) - SAA is the go-to organization in the U.S. for information and support on ankylosing spondylitis and all other spondylo-arthropathies (typically back-pain related arthritis). If you have had chronic back pain for three months or more, definitely check them out. Spondylitis is not as rare as people used to think.
Chronic Illness Blogs I Enjoy:
- The Mighty - a wonderful blog with stories from thousands of patients sharing their experience with a wide variety of chronic illnesses
- But You Don't Look Sick - an award-winning blog by Christine Miserandino, author of the Spoon Theory, a story that clearly describes to healthy friend what it's like to live with a fatiguing chronic illness on a daily basis..
- Rest Ministries Chronic Illness and Pain Support - a place offering comfort and inspiration for Christians with chronic illness
Exercise and Movement Therapy that Changed My Life:
Gentle and Adaptive Exercise:
Gentle and Adaptive Exercise:
- Viniyoga Therapy for Low Back, Sacrum, and Hips, and Viniyoga Therapy for Upper Back, Neck, and Shoulders. I bought the 2-DVD set and use it every week. I find it the most helpful workout for AS (ankylosing spondylitis). The postures are gentle, and adapted so there's generally no need for blocks and supports. All you need is a yoga mat.
- Ageless Yoga, Vol. 1. The routines are "suitable for any body--including people with injury and illness." This is a fabulous way to get some gentle movement for 20 minutes or more on days when I don't feel up to anything more. I especially love the "Loosen Up" routine to relieve stiffness. Created by John Schlorholtz, a yoga instructor at Harvard, there are a variety of workouts from 20 minutes to over an hour, from gentle to challenging. Check out his website for additional DVDs.
- Pilates for Dummies DVD with Michelle Dozois. My physical therapist recommended that I do regular exercises to strengthen my core, which will help support my back. My posture is now better than it's ever been! The instruction on this DVD is excellent, easy to follow, and provides modifications if the workout is too difficult when you first start out.
- Lean, Long, and Strong, by Wini Linguvic. I've enjoyed lifting weights since high school, but I can't do the kind of workouts I used to do. Wini's book is about functional weightlifting that mimics normal movements, so I'm much less likely to injure myself than using some of the conventional exercises. She provides great detailed instructions with photos for beginners, intermediate, and advanced.
- The Chronic Illness Workbook: strategies and solutions for taking back your life, Patricia Fennell
- Full Catastrophe Living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness, Jon Kabat-Zinn
- Reversing Chronic Pain: a 10-point all-natural plan for lasting relief, Dr. Maggie Phillips. I purchased this book through a class on pain management that I attended in 2008, shortly after this book was published. She presents lots of different techniques to address pain, which helped reduce my overall levels of pain, and greatly relieved my fear toward pain and chronic illness.