This book is a must read whether you are living with a chronic illness or you want to help someone who is.
When doctors put two-year-old Lori Hartwell on dialysis after her kidneys mysteriously stopped working, they didn’t expect her to live. That was the first time she beat seemingly insurmountable odds to survive, and she continues to “one-up” the statistics today.
“There are millions of other Americans riding the same physical and emotional roller coaster of chronic illness. We all share common threads of emotion: anger, guilt, fear of the unknown, depression, and the mind-boggling question, ‘Why me?’ I wrote Chronically Happy to help people face these feelings and abandon the crippling mental barriers that go hand-in-hand with chronic disease.”
– Lori Hartwell
As a young patient, Ms. Hartwell encountered the pioneering stages of renal replacement therapy. She was the youngest person in the state of California ever to be placed on peritoneal dialysis. Following 12 years on dialysis (both peritoneal dialysis and hemodialysis) and three kidney transplants―the last of which took place in 1990 and continues to serve her well―Ms. Hartwell has emerged as a powerful illustration of how people with chronic illness can lead complete and productive lives.
The insightful, often humorous, and touching story of how Ms. Hartwell chose to live life rather than succumb to its obstacles is laid out in her book, Chronically Happy – Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness, which chronicles her approach of taking simple, logical steps in order to realize one’s dreams. Chronically Happy represents the first book written by a person with kidney disease to reach national distribution.
Lori Hartwell has lived with illness for more than three decades. As a small child, her kidneys became permanently damaged after she ingested e-coli bacteria. At age 12, her kidneys shut down completely. Over the next decade, Hartwell underwent dialysis, countless surgeries and two failed kidney transplants. Her thrid transplant, in 1990, was a success. Today she runs Hartwell Communications and the Renal Support Network, a nonprofit she founded in 1993. Hartwell travels around the country educating and inspiring patients and healthcare professionals with her stories, insight and humor. Hartwell lives in Southern California with her husband, Dean, their two dogs, a cat, and an African grey parrot named Johnny.
I am a contributor to many peer-reviewed medical journal and nephrology professional publications. I currently serve as the Patient Voice Editor of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Responsive Designed Interventions Are Needed to Support Positive Outcomes of Children and Adolescents with CKD
CJASN Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology
Navigating the Two Sides of Healthcare
Understanding Dialysis Patient Perspectives on Advocacy
American Journal of Kidney Diseases
Transplantation: What every patient and healthcare professional should know
Why support groups provide help and hope
One Friend Can Make a Difference
Dialysis and Transplantation Magazine
Two trees in the forest A patient’s perception of quality of life
Patients Educating Patients
The book is prescriptive, encouraging, and fully realistic. While she reminds readers that sometimes you just need to get out there and interact with others doing something fun, she is also fully aware of the fact that sometimes that’s not what is needed. She has a section on how to get through the bad days, advocates napping or “doing nothing” at times when that seems like the best option, and she quotes one friend of hers who counseled Lori when she was feeling badly because her emotions were uncontrollable. The friend said, “Remember, it isn’t you, it’s the meds.” – Lupus LA
As a social worker on a dialysis unit I have found this book extremely helpful in my own education of what new dialysis patients face, but also what patients deal with as a long time dialysis patient. The author leaves no stone unturned and not sugar coating a thing- she’s going to tell you how to deal with failure and success each with a bit of unique humor and empathy. She has suggestions how to handle you illness in professional situations as well as how to not get bored if re-hospitalized. Bottom line she is an inspiration and a beneficial read to all!
I ordered this book after checking out Lori Hartwell’s website for the Renal Support Network. My husband had just found out he would be facing dialysis and needing a kidney transplant. He wanted more information on what he was to expect. As he read the book, he would tell me about what Lori said, as if she were a new friend. That is the beauty of this book. It is very personal. Lori tells it like it is. But she also inspires hope. Her writing style is informal and easy to relate to. She mixes in humor and doesn’t shy away from any aspect of chronic illness. I would recommend this book to anyone living with a chronic illness and those who love them.
I found this book to be very helpful. I have found many of Lori’s personal insights uplifting and useful. The fact that she is speaking from experience adds to it’s impact. I am very happy to have found the book early in my interactions with a chronic illness.
This book is a great book if/when your first diagnosed with a chronic illness. Covers a wide range of subjects but doesn’t go in-depth, more of an overview. Which if your new to your illness this might be a perfect read. If, however, chronic illness has been apart of your life for awhile or many years this book is a good refresher. Brings into sight things you’ve probably heard/read previously but wasn’t in a “healthy” place emotionally to consider.
Chronically Happy is a must read for everyone – whether you have a chronic illness or not. Author Lori Hartwell offers readily available advice that we can all apply to our daily lives. Hartwell provides tips on how to look on the bright side, no matter your condition or situation. From strategic dating advice to discovering your joy instinct – there is an inspirational message for absolutely everyone. Chronically Happy is the perfect gift for anyone who is in need of a little ‘pick-me-up.’
I think Lori is a very resilient and wonderful mentor. She has lived through some pretty major challenges and I admire her strength. This book would be great for a young person who has been newly diagnosed with chronic illness, for emotional support as much as anything else. I thought her comments about the impact of chronic illness on spousal relationships was particularly insightful, as was her advice on navigating dating. I liked that she said that chronic illness should not prevent us from contributing what we can. I believe the power to contribute has enormous healing properties for people with chronic illness, who can feel like they are on the scrap heap if they are not in paid work. She’s right – all of us have valuable things to offer others, even if it is just our support to fellow travellers.
Grateful I read this book.
As a student working to finish a university degree while dealing with a chronic illness (indeterminate IBD with myalgia and fatigue) Ms Hartwell’s experiences of living a successful and joy-filled life despite her illness has been an inspiration and source of hope for me. Her humor despite trials is motivating, her wisdom is an amazing resource. I especially enjoyed her chapter on overcoming the “Damaged Goods Syndrome”. A tendency for those with Chronic Illness is to have negative thoughts and self-esteem challenges when we compare ourselves to other more healthy people. I often find myself viewing myself as “not good enough” and am frustrated by how disabling my illness can be in acheiving my goals. While the mind can work destructively, it can also be employed to build joy, humor, and a positive attitude that helps achieve goals. Learning to identify and work through cognitive distortions gives you a new lens in which to see your life. Hartwell quote in her book Helen Keller as saying “We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.”