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One of the first lessons that I learned as a patient with chronic illness is to educate myself. More often than not, my doctors are tight on time. I rarely get to have an extended, in-depth conversation about a new symptom or diagnosis. Much of the education is left for me to do on my own: to seek out books that tell me how to manage my symptoms effectively, how to cope with all of the life changes, and how to feel somewhat normal again.
While I’m no expert in any of my conditions (I leave that to my specialists) I have been able to arm myself with a large body of knowledge regarding my illnesses. I think that’s important for every patient, which is why I’m writing this blog post today. I want to share with you some of my favorite books about fibromyalgia, arthritis and thyroiditis. I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me. Maybe they’ll help you form your own chronic illness reading list!
This is the first of several of “The First Year” series books that I chose for my chronic illness reading list. Soon after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, my mom handed me a copy of this book. In fact, it was a copy that she had bought for herself several years prior. I waved off the offer at the time, because I was pretty sure I knew what fibromyalgia was. After all, I had researched the diagnosis prior to mentioning it to my doctor.
A couple of months later, I experienced some bizarre symptoms that took me by surprise. Was it my fibromyalgia acting up? My arthritis? Or maybe my autoimmune thyroiditis? It was difficult to know which illness was the culprit for the strange symptoms.
While this book certainly didn’t answer all of my questions, it did give me a good idea of what to expect and how to cope during my first (and second, and third) year. It’s divided into manageable chapters and even features a glossary for medications, supplements, frequently used terms, and additional resources. It is an excellent companion to have if you’re just starting the process of educating yourself about fibromyalgia.
Sometimes what we need is a book that breaks down the basics and provides in-depth information as to why we feel the way we feel. This book provides that information in an easy-to-read format that makes self-education achievable for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
If that’s not enough, this book also provides essential information for becoming your own advocate not just in your healthcare and daily life, but also in the legal aspects of your day-to-day life.
When I first learned that I had hypothyroidism, it was a from an office assistant that worked for my previous GP. It was a brief discussion – mainly because she wasn’t equipped or qualified to answer any questions about my diagnosis – that left me with millions of questions. What is hypothyroidism? What causes it? Why do I have it? What can I do about it?
It seems impossible that any book can answer every question, but the author of this book certainly tries. In many ways, this book is a refreshing look at the body of knowledge that is available regarding hypothyroidism. It covers not only the basics of the condition, but also related conditions that may occur with hypothyroidism, the traditional and alternative methodologies of treatment that are available, additional resources for patients, checklists to share with your doctor, and much more.
Another book in The First Year series, this book assumes that you have just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In a progressive format, the author introduces you to the essential things you need to know about your diagnosis including how to manage your day-to-day life, coping strategies, medications, treatment options and special issues such as having a baby and traveling with RA.
This is another book that my mom gave me after I was diagnosed with autoimmune thyroiditis. Since other autoimmune diseases run in my family, it was important to educate myself about their signs and symptoms, lab tests, and what to do if I felt like my doctor wasn’t taking my concerns seriously. This book gave me a clear idea of what to expect with each diagnosis, as well as how to go about finding out if I have them.
This book is an oldie (there’s a newer edition also available, although I have yet to read it) but certainly a goodie. It’s an essential component of my chronic illness reading list. This book was written by a registered nurse and doctor. Together, they’ve created a wonderful guide for those learning to cope with arthritis or fibromyalgia. In particular, I am fond of the chapters that feature tips and tricks for moving your body during daily activities (even situations such as getting off the floor without hurting your hands/joints even further), as well as helpful aids that can be used in the home and at work.
Which books are on your chronic illness reading list? Feel free to share your recommendations with me in the comments! I’m always looking for new books to read. 🙂
DISCLAIMER: All opinions expressed in this post are personal opinions and views only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice. If you have any questions regarding whether or not it is safe for you to use a product that I review on my blog or implement a new routine, please seek the advice of a medical doctor.