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Recommended reading
Here are two books recommended by a member of the Amazon Lifeline (ALL) Yahoo! group:
Power Nutrition for Your Chronic Illness: A Guide to Shopping, Cooking and Eating to Get the Nutrition Edge
Kristine M. Napier (Wiley, John & Sons, Inc.; © 1998; ISBN: 0028620593; Paperback, 416 pages). From the book:
...Includes a variety of recipes and nutritional tips geared specifically toward the different types of chronic illnesses such as Fibromyalgia, HIV/AIDS, Psoriasis, and Alzheimer's."
Fibromyalgia: An Essential Guide for Patients and Their Families
Daniel J. Wallace M.D. and Janice Brock Wallace (Sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia Association; Oxford University Press; © 2003; ISBN: 0195149319; Paperback, 196 pages, MSRP US$12.95)

Here is a book recommended by another member of the ALL group:
If the Buddha Came to Dinner: How to Nourish Your Body to Awaken Your Spirit
By Halé Sofia Schatz and Shira Shaiman (Hyperion Press, © 2004; ISBN: 0-78686-883-X; Paperback, 320 pages, MSRP US$14.95) From the book:
Imagine for a moment that the Buddha is coming to dinner. What would you prepare? Most likely you wouldn't run out for fast-food burgers and onion rings. Instead, you'd spend time shopping and cooking the freshest, most tasty, wholesome meal you could produce with your very own hands, in your very own kitchen. Now, let's imagine that you too are a spiritual being -- which you are! -- what would you feed yourself?

Here are a few of the books about chronic illness that I've found worthwhile:
The Chronic Illness Experience: Embracing the Imperfect Life
Cheri Register (Hazelden, Center City, MN; © 1987)
[Note: This book was orginally titled Living with Chronic Illness: Days of Patience and Passion]
Register has a chronic illness herself, and she also recruited a number of articulate people with different chronic illnesses to add their experiences. The result is an excellent book that makes some compelling points. A quote from the book:
What acceptance really means then is taking responsibility for constructing a life in the spaces between these moments of dysfunction, and adopting habits that will keep them to a minimum in intensity and frequency.
Finding a Joyful Life in the Heart of Pain
Darlene Cohen (Shambhala Publications, Boston, MA; © 2000, ISBN: 1-57062-467-4)
Cohen is a certified massage and movement therapist and a Zen teacher. She has rheumatoid arthritis, and she writes this wonderful, Buddhism-inspired book from the perspective of someone who's been there. When I first read her strategy for being able to walk much further despite arthritis in her feet, I scoffed, but then I tried it myself — and it worked! This is an excellent book. A quote:
You need to learn how to be alive for all of your life, to be present as much as you can, not to pick and choose the moments that you think are worthwhile to be alive and then be numb for the rest.
The Tao of Healing: Meditations for Body and Spirit
Haven Treviño (New World Library, Novato, CA; © 1999)
Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching (TTC) is an amazing book, which everyone should read. For some reason, many of the people who discover the TTC end up writing their own translation or interpretation of it. This particular reinterpretation of the TTC was written by a man who was dying of A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig's Disease). It's a very spiritual meditation on health and life. A quote:
The self is deathless.
Why?
Because life transforms into life
And love never dies.
Celebrate Life: New Attitudes for Living with Chronic Illness
Lathleen Lewis (Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta, GA; © 1999)
This is a book about integrating your chronic illness into your life. A quote:
Research results that I ran across in my master's program helped me to understand that grieving is more difficult for the chronically ill than the terminally ill, because sporadic unpredictable remissions allow you to think you're really going to be all right. Perhaps it's also more difficult because there are no sanctioned ways of grieving small losses, unlike the familiar rituals of death. There are no wakes or black clothes to signal the significance of losing your health. Such barriers may postpone your eventual adjustment to a new life.
Waist-High in the World: A Life among the Nondisabled
Nancy Mairs (Beacon Press, Boston, MA; © 1996)
To quote one of the reviewers (Sally Bingham, The New Mexican: "Let the reader understand: this is not a book about MS, or about illness; rather, it's a chronicle of inspired adaptation, spiritual as well as physical, to limits. The aim is the creation of joy." A quote from the book:
"Mobility impaired," the euphemizers would call me, as though a surfeit of syllables could soften my reality. No such luck. I still can't sit up in bed, can't take an unaided step, can't dress myself, can't open doors (and I get damned sick of waiting in the loo until some other woman needs to pee and opens the door for me).

Here are a few of the books about exercise that I have found to be helpful:
Recovery Yoga: A Practical Guide for Chronically Ill, Injured, and Post-Operative People
Sam Dworkis (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press/Random House, © 1997, ISBN: 0-517-88399-6; Paperback, 157 pages, MSRP US$16.00) From the book:
"A graduated program that can be practiced successfully by people who are bedridden, confined to a chair, or limited in their mobility for any reason."
The book begins with breathing exercises to be done while lying down. Then it progresses to coordinating easy movements with breathing and later to exercises broken into four groups: lying down, sitting, floor-based, and finally, standing exercises.

Step-by-Step Tai Chi: The Natural Way to Strength and Health
Master Lam Kam Chuen (New York, NY: Fireside Book/Simon & Schuster, © 1994, ISBN: 0-671-89247-9, Paperback, 143 pages, MSRP US$15.00) From the book:
Tai Chi has evolved through the ages as a highly refined system of exercise and personal development. It is absorbing, but it is not exhausting or stressful. It consists of a series of slow, continuous movements designed to relax and develop the whole body. One of its great attractions is that, no matter what your age, you can practice its full range of movement.
Generally, it can be difficult to learn Tai Chi from a book, but this book does a good job. First the book presents 48 exercises, divided into fundamental movements, strength and motion, balance and movement, and working with a partner. Then the book teaches the Small Circle Form, which consists of a manageable number of basic movements (15) and includes a two-page, step-by-step learning guide for those with no Tai Chi experience.

Yoga on the Ball: Enhance Your Yoga Practice Using the Exercise Ball
Carol Mitchell (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, © 2003, ISBN: 0-89281-999-5, Paperback, 185 pages, MSRP US$18.00)

I picked this book up in a bookstore and flipped through it, looking at the excellent black-and-white photographs. My thought was that using the exercise ball would make at least some Hatha Yoga asanas more doable for those of us who are arthitic, out of shape, or heavy. That is true, but that does not mean that all of the asanas are easier to do with the exercise ball (which you can purchase for about US$12.00). Some are much harder because the ball introduces a need for greater balance. So whether you are looking for a way to get into Yoga even though you're not as skinny and flexible as a bendable straw, or whether you want to try a new slant on asanas you already do, check out this book.

I also want to note that, while I have done yoga for years, I learned some things from this book that I didn't know, and which have improved my practice and made the movements safer for arthritic ol' me.

Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind
Frank Jude Boccio (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, © 2004, ISBN: 0-86171-335-4; Paperback, 341 pages, MSRP US$19.95)

This book, which has just been published, brings together Buddhist mindfulness practice with Hatha Yoga. It's amazing that this hasn't been done before because the two practices can work synergistically. I'm not through reading this book, but what I've read so far is excellent. Meditators and yogis will both find this book fascinating.
Have you read any good books? Tell me about them, write to the webmaster.

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Page last revised: April 2, 2004

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