WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Ronda Riebman
Lake Zurich, IL

There are few instances where exercise in some form would not benefit a person with a chronic illness. I have seen people with many different types of chronic illness who choose to participate in exercise programming as well as those who choose a more sedentary lifestyle (taking care of the bare minimum that they can practice). Exercise when prescribed appropriately has a way of affecting people in more ways than just making muscles stronger. It impacts positively on lung function, insulin levels, reduces fatigue along with multiple other benefits.

While everyone agrees that exercise is crucial, very little is done to insure that it happens. In the precious minutes allotted to physician's to see patients there are other more important things to discuss in depth. Since 1987, I have worked in healthcare. I have seen sick people get sicker and in many instances due to lack of communication from one physician to another or lack of understanding on the part of the patient, emergencies develop.

There are times when a person is ignoring a symptom and I am the reason they seek treatment earlier rather than later. In the hour (sometimes more) that I spend with each person there may be bits of information that I get that might not be remembered for mention at a short office visit. I realize that the services that I offer are expensive, but the end result is less cost for more complicated problems. More important there is a healthier patient with a higher quality of life.

We talk about chronic illness being inevitable but does it have to be? If it is something we all must expect, does it have to be as bad as many of us experience? I don't think so. I have seen my mother claim to be active all her life -- which meant she would run to multiple grocery stores once a week and park as close as she could to the store, shop and prepare meals, as well as maintain the house (four adults, one child) with the help of a cleaning lady. Not once was she encouraged to exercise. When she developed osteoporosis not one mention of exercise was made. She received cortisone shots for knee pain related to arthritis until the doctor wouldn't give them to her anymore and insisted on a knee replacement. She received physical therapy and stopped the rehab exercises when the therapy sessions ended. She fell, broke her leg received more P.T., stopped exercising when the sessions ended, fell again, broke her leg again, received more P.T. stopped practicing the exercises when the sessions ended and decided to confine herself most of the day to a wheel chair.

Zoe Albright, Stroke
Betty Bennett, Kidney Disease
Roxanne Bedford-Curbow, Seizures
Valerie Brekke, Fibromyalgia
Lily Casura, Chronic Fatigue
Billie Davis, Peripheral Neuropathy
Penny Day, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Julia DeJesus, Seizure Disorder
MS Patient, Fairfax, VA
Charisse Farmer, Hydrocephalus
Katherine Fielder, Chronic Pain
Zoe Francis, Juvenile Diabetes
James Hines, Hemochromatosis
William Holford, Emphysema
Nancy K, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Patricia Lawson, Natural Rubber Latex Allergy
James Locke, Crohn's Disease
Gary Maslow, various
Kathy Matthews, Parkinson's
Andrea Meyer, MS
Gina Owens, Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome
Alicia Salas, Chronic Pain
Allison Scott, Chronic Pain
Deborah Serrano, Stroke
Becky Shively, Phenylketonuria
Jennifer Smallin, Type I Diabetes
Joanna Southerland, Diabetes
Alina Valdes, Cystic Fibrosis
Elizabeth Wertz, Seizures

Jose Pedro Greer, Physician
W.F. Nagle, Physician
Ronda Riebman, Exercise
Cathleen Schilling, Case Manager
Jim Sykes

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