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Chronic Illness Workbook


Chronic Illness Workbook

Handbook of CFS

Managing Chronic Illness


Chronic Illness Workbook: Strategies and Solutions for Taking Back Your Life

Chronic Illness WorkbookThe Chronic Illness Workbook:
Strategies and Solutions for Taking Back Your Life

by Patricia A. Fennell, MSW, LCSW-R

$24.95, Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-9796407-1-1
Albany Health Management Publishing
Revised edition February 2012

Available from:

The Chronic Illness Workbook brings clarity and order to what feels like an unmanageable and isolating experience. It shows both those who are ill and those who care for them how to live a full and meaningful life despite undeniable difficulties. Using her extensive experience with chronic illness patients, Patricia Fennell has created an original, comprehensive, research-validated approach that considers not only the physical aspects of chronic illness, but the psychological, social and economic aspects as well.


Revised Edition:

"Most of all, Fennell celebrates your daily acts of bravery that lead you to a more authentic self. I must give it the highest recommendation I can give as a writer — I wish that I'd written it myself!"
— Susan Milstrey Wells; author of A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully with Chronic Illness


"Fennell cares for everyone's health: no matter who they are, whether or not they are experiencing chronic illness. That is the beauty of this book, it can be read and used by everyone."
— Zhenyi Li, PhD; School of Communication & Culture, Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada


"A diagnosis of a chronic illness can be overwhelming. Patricia Fennell's workbook allows a 'bite-sized chunks' approach to regaining control, concentrating on the possible, celebrating small achievements and most of all being kind to yourself."
— Jane Grose, PhD, MBA, RN, RMN; Research Fellow, Sustainability & Health, University of Plymouth, UK


"In her unrelenting quest to meet the ever-expanding, complicated world of chronic illness, Fennell's workbook leaves no stone unturned. The book's unmatched comprehensiveness is matched by sheer simplicity of style and level-headed, jargon-free language."
— Amir Cohen-Shalev, PhD; Associate Professor of Health & Welfare, University of Haifa, Israel


"The Chronic Illness Workbook is a must read for providers, families and patients with a new confusing illness or known chronic illness."
— Steven S. Overman, MD, MPH, FACR; Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Washington; Director, The Seattle Arthritis Clinic


"The Chronic Illness Workbook is a superb tool for anyone dealing with the myriad issues presented by chronic illness."
— Lynn Royster, PhD., JD; Founding Director of the Chronic Illness Initiative, DePaul University; Former VP/Director, CFIDS Association


“Fennell shines light onto the challenging terrain that characterizes life with a chronic condition. She empowers readers to navigate beyond cultural obstacles that fuel judgmental attitudes, blame, and shame, setting forth ways of viewing, doing, and healing that are built upon respectful, compassionate, collaborative relationships with self and others.”
— Diane Bossung, PT, LCSW-R, Assistant Professor, Sage Colleges School of Health Sciences


“[Fennell] offers a clear framework for understanding and navigating this largely uncharted terrain, specific suggestions for practical problems, and outstanding support and guidance in finding new meaning and direction in life.”
— Lynn Royster, PhD, JD, Founding Director of the Chronic Illness Initiative, De Paul University; Former VP/Director, CFIDS Association of America


“There is simply no better guide on the journey of chronic illness than Patricia Fennell. As you learn to heal your physical self, your emotional self, and yourself in relation to others, she guides, inspires, and supports you… Read this book with highlighter in hand — it will change your life.”
— Susan Milstrey Wells, author of A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully with Chronic Illness


“Fennell lays out the tangible components of an effective care program, which integrates the care of the physical, emotional, social, work, and even spiritual aspects of illness. In her Four Phase Model for chronic illness care, she shows how the whole person needs to be assessed and cared for over time and offers an important roadmap for a patient’s journey with illness. This journey is never a straight line, since there are detours and retracing past experiences as illness comes and goes, but each cycle prepares one better for the next time through.”
— Dr. Steven Overman, MD, MPH, FACR, Professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Washington; Director, The Seattle Arthritis Clinic


“Fennell’s book is an excellent account of what people with chronic illness experience. Readers are taken through a journey, written as the Four Phases of chronic illness, to which they can relate, come to terms, and learn how to recreate themselves as they integrate their illness into their new lives. The Workbook provides practical strategies for living the best quality of life in a society that does not recognize chronic illness as legitimate. I commend Fennell’s Four Phase Model which greatly helped my family cope with our daughter’s illness when she was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at age 12. I highly recommend this book as a valuable asset to persons with a chronic illness and their family and friends.”
— Lorraine Steefel, DNP, RN, author of What Nurses Know About Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


“Fennell has the rare gift of balancing practical, grounded advice with insight-based exploration. Individuals living with chronic illness will find this Workbook easily accessible in providing grounded approaches to dealing with the many important and often overlooked aspects of change in their lives — such as work and finances, sexuality, and activities in daily living — while giving equal attention to the intense emotional pain, loss, and meaning-making that is inherent in learning to live with chronic illness. To borrow a phrase from this book, those dealing with the ‘dark night of the soul’ will find the wisdom and support of this work a welcome companion on their journey.”
— Sara Rieder Bennett, PhD, Licensed Psychologist and Coordinator of Research Services for Counseling and Psychological Services, Clemson University


“It’s a very adaptable workbook full of good ideas and everyone can learn something from using it.”
— Jane Grose, PhD, MBA, RN, RMN, Research Fellow, Sustainability & Health, University of Plymouth, U.K


“[Carol has] had a chronic illness for over 20 years. Ms. Fennell’s miraculous book will lead you out of the tunnel of darkness. It is long overdue. As healthcare workers ourselves, we have seen that there was very little tolerance for chronicity in the medical world and in the real world. The Chronic Illness Workbook is a great companion for those of us struggling with longstanding illnesses. It hits the nail on the head. It has helped our family navigate the twists and turns of life with chronic illness. Thank you, Ms. Fennell!”
— Carol & Rick Tobler, RNs


“[The Workbook’s] no-nonsense lucidity succeeds in flushing out the hidden, suppressed corners of contemporary society’s avoidance behaviors with regard to chronic illness and its often unnoticed patient. It makes the reader aware of what motivates and drives this behavior, even as it formulates strategies and tactics, for the patients to forge a new, integrated self and an altogether satisfying life. “
— Amir Cohen-Shalev, PhD, Associate Professor of Health and Welfare, University of Haifa, Israel


“Although written for the chronically ill, The Chronic Illness Workbook is a recommended read for anyone who interacts with the chronically ill. The book provides insights into the challenges that need to be addressed by the patient recently confronted with devastating chronic illness. Perhaps most helped by reading this book will be family and caregivers, for they are ones who need to be best attuned to the sensitivities and challenges their family member or patient are confronting.

“It is a privilege to read The Chronic Illness Workbook. Masterfully written, the Workbook provides insight and shares the innermost struggles of patients who suffer catastrophic chronic illness. The Workbook’s triumph is its logical explanation and progression of steps that can be taken to overcome the loss of identity that accompanies the onset of catastrophic chronic illness and to emerge from the process an individual with repaired and/or re-envisioned psyche. The Workbook’s direct language and authoritative style provide a sense of being privy to the innermost concerns of the chronically ill. Of greater importance, however, The Workbook permits the reader to understand the process by which chronically ill patients can rebuild their lives by redefining themselves and re-envisioning their futures.”
— Ken Friedman, PhD, Treasurer, IACFS/ME; Director of Public Policy, P.A.N.D.O.R.A.; Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Physiology, New Jersey Medical School (retired)


“Two of my favourite chapters in this book are number eight for ‘caregivers, couples, and children’ and 10 for ‘health care professionals.’ Fennell includes people who ‘live in the culture at large’ when talking about chronic illness. This is not only smart but also right. How often has our attention been overpaid to people experiencing chronic illness so that we start to neglect ourselves and other people around that patient? How often do we overstress the vulnerability of a patient by taking health care professionals’ safety and health for granted? How often do we forget about the ‘interaction’ and ‘influence’ between people receiving and giving care? How often do we stare at one point and ignore the big picture?

“Fennell is a professional with attention to both particulars and the whole story. In each chapter of her book, she lists facts, details, specifics, and essentials but never forgets to remind us that we need to put each puzzle piece together for the holistic context. We shall see our experiences with chronic illness as an ongoing interaction with the disease, our bodies, our families and friends, health care professionals, and society, rather than a lonely battle against the windmill.”
— Zhenyi Li, PhD, School of Communication & Culture, Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada



Old Edition:

"If you or someone you love has been recently diagnosed with a chronic illness, the first thing you should do is buy this book. The Chronic Illness Workbook is the first comprehensive guide to learning to live well with illness. It's like having a wise and caring friend along for your journey."
— Lisa Lorden, Guide to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia

"If you want to recover not only from your symptoms, but also from the way society has treated you as a person with chronic illness, keep this book by your bed with a highlighting pen. You'll think Ms. Fennell has read your diary, and you'll know she's on your side."
—  Susan Milstrey Wells, author, A Delicate Balance: Living Successfully with Chronic Illness

"The Chronic Illness Workbook takes its readers on a journey of self-discovery, enabling them to overcome the challenges of chronic illness and learn how to live a life bursting with self-compassion and fulfillment… Ms. Fennell delves into every aspect of this subject and provides her readers with an in-depth, practical, self-explorative way to learn how to live a 'full new life.'"
— Lynne Matallana, President of the National Fibromyalgia Association

"Chronic illness is not an event. It is a journey. Pat Fennell’s developmental theory of chronic illness provides an invaluable paradigm for understanding the social, emotional and physical challenges of living with chronic disease. It is not only that her theoretical constructs are clear and comprehensive. More importantly, they ring true. As I read The Chronic Illness Workbook I was able to make sense of my struggles with chronic fatigue syndrome and to better meet those struggles with understanding and compassion. Fennell’s opportunities for journaling and self-reflection provide opportunities for greater clarity, self-knowledge and self-exploration. As a psychologist, I appreciate the depth and sensitivity of her psychological understanding of the challenges of living with chronic illness. As a chronically ill patient, I am grateful for her help in providing guidelines for a journey that is difficult, daunting and all too easily leads to despair."
— Dr. Ruth Durchlsag

"The Chronic Illness Workbook is a valuable contribution that will be welcomed by the many sufferers of chronic diseases. It is of the greatest importance that patients learn to cope with the problems that cannot be remedied. Patricia Fennell's book provides an original and incisive approach to coping with chronic illness."
— Noel R. Rose, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Autoimmune Disease Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health

"The fact that multiple sclerosis affects each person differently is precisely what elevates The Chronic Illness Workbook to 'must-have' status for anyone with MS."
— Dan Digmann, InsideMS, January-March 2003

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