WEGO Health Award!

A Study on Chronic Illness

I just finished reading In the Kingdom of  the Sick: A Social History of Chronic Illness in America over the span of two days and four flights.  If the title alone causes a yawn, stick with me!  There are some real gems of wisdom in this book, written by Laurie Edwards, a health blogger who struggles with several chronic illnesses including a rare lung disease similar to cystic fibrosis and celiac disease.

IBD comes up several times throughout the book, which chronicles the rising incidence of chronic illness, now a burden of some 50% of the American population with estimates of it affecting 164 Million Americans by the year 2025.  Edwards walks us through the fascinating history of the women's movement effect on changing the dialogue and relationship between patient and provider. In generations past, people never questioned our doctor.  My, how that has changed!

That's lesson one - talk with your doctor, don't just listen.  Come prepared.  Seek a second opinion. Balance everything you find on the internet with his/her advice.  Check online sources - maybe that website you frequent is funded by BIG PHARMA!  Maybe it's a blogger like me, sharing my own personal story.  Much information online can be helpful, it's just important to filter what you read.

I found it fitting that while traveling across the country and running through airports to catch flights, I struggled with my own decision to not share my IBD diagnosis with select coworkers whom I see infrequently at various semiannual conferences.  Because I had not, I couldn't find a way to explain why I needed to keep dashing to the bathroom.  Even so, I couldn't get relief - from airport food, stress and the effect of flying on my intestines (read: insane off the charts GAS!).  Perhaps if I had, I would have learned of their own struggles with other autoimmune diseases and invisible illnesses.

Give the book a read if you're into history, social science or just want to learn more about why we face more chronic illness in our society.

Happy travels, Crohnies unite!


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