Chronic Invisible Illness


Joy H. Selak and Dr. Steve Overman

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The Conversation

Over a decade ago, a patient and her doctor began a conversation about illnesses that cannot be seen and the challenges of living with long-term illness. Over the coming months, her treatment progressed and her symptoms began to stabilize. One day she said to her doctor, "I'm still sick, but I don't feel the same way about it anymore."

He said, "Let's talk about that."

That conversation led to them to realize that there were identifiable phases of chronic illness and they gave names to the four she had experienced: Getting Sick, Being Sick, Grief and Acceptance and Living Well. She had endured the fear and frustration of Getting Sick, and then regained control and stability while Being Sick. She had to suffer Grief over the loss of the person she once was, and then find Acceptance for the person she had become.

"Working with you has done more than improve my symptoms," she said, "it has changed me. I don't see myself as a sick person anymore. I am a healthy person Living Well with illness."

They decided to write a book about the journey they had taken together in hopes that it might help others on their way. She had stories to tell that she thought were common to others like her. He had insights and suggestions that could make treatment more effective. You Don't LOOK Sick! Living Well with Invisible Chronic Illness was first published in 2005. The second edition, in 2012, is updated and revised and includes the valuable lessons that can be learned in each phase of illness, travel tips to aid patients each step of the way and clear strategies to help patients and providers work together with care and compassion to produce better outcomes for all.



Click Here to Read an Excerpt from You Don't LOOK Sick! 

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PRAISE FOR THE SECOND EDITION

You Don’t LOOK Sick! is an essential tool for patients, families, and providers working with invisible chronic illness."
Patricia A. Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R; Author of Managing Chronic Illness Using the Four-Phase Treatment Approach 
 
“Inspiring and insightful personal journey of chronic illness by a young woman and her phy­sician. The message is an important one — overcoming the fear, loneliness and life-changing consequences of chronic illness is an achievable and essential goal for everyone as they work to restore their lives.”
John H. Klippel, MD, President and CEO, Arthritis Foundation 
 
“Living with a chronic illness changes every aspect of your life and when that illness is invis­ible, it changes your life in ways you never could have imagined. Easy-to-read and written from the heart by two experts—the patient and the physician—this excellent book provides the wisdom, understanding, and validation you need to take back the control your illness has taken away. The anecdotes, tips, and strategies give you the tools you need to survive and thrive despite your challenges and in the end, gives you hope for the future.” 
Shelley Peterman Schwarz, Award-winning writer and author of seven Tips for Making Life Easier books 
 
“This book was a tremendous help to me in adjusting to my own life with chronic illness. I consider it a must-read for sufferers like myself, for those who care for them, and for those who love them. You Don’t LOOK Sick! is unique in its approach because it gives us two per­spectives—that of the patient and the doctor. They understand our fears and frustrations and, most importantly, they lay out the steps we can take to find peace and well-being despite this unexpected turn in our lives. People who are facing chronic illness need easy-to-apply concrete tools to help adjust to this drastic life change, and this book provides those tools. You Don’t LOOK Sick! shows readers how to transform the trauma of chronic illness into a life of acceptance, purpose, and gratitude.” 
Toni Bernhard, Author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers