Lori Hartwell has dealt with chronic illness since she was two years old when she first suffered kidney failure. Since that time, she has survived over 40 various surgeries, 13 years of dialysis, and four kidney transplants as well as all types of health issues related to being on meds for so long. When she suggests readers can be “chronically happy,” she speaks from experience.
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.”
Hartwell recommends finding support groups (and of course, these are available through Lupus LA, Click Here for more information about our Support Groups), helping others when you can as that can be medicinal, and treating yourself well: Instead of slapping together a sandwich when you get home from work, take time to cook for yourself occasionally, so you value yourself as you would a dinner guest.
One of my favorite parts of the book are the quotes that are sprinkled throughout the book. As early as page 5, Lori turns to Oliver Wendell Holmes for this: “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Or from singer Jimmy Dean: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”
Lori lives in Glendale with her husband, several dogs, and a parrot named Johnny. She keeps an active business schedule of consulting and public speaking, and is an active participant in several local organizations. She also founded and runs the Renal Support Network, which provides information to patients nationwide.
One of her pet projects through RSN is holding an annual prom for teenagers in Southern California who suffer from kidney disease. Lori missed her own prom because of health issues, so in 1999, she began holding an event that now draws hundreds of young people, giving them a chance to connect with fellow teens in the same situation.
Her book is available through Amazon. Chronically Happy: Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness.
Link to Renal Support Network: http://www.rsnhope.org/