Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Amazing Internet: What Works for Those With Invisible Illness

My Favorite PlaceImage by Valerie ReneƩ via Flickr

I can't wait for the beginning of the Invisible Illness Week 5 Day Virtual Conference. Anticipating it today, I thought about how integral the Internet is to my ability to reach out to other people living with chronic illnesses. From a self-help weekly group via a listserv, to several message boards, forums and chat rooms to basic email contact with friends and family, I find myself connecting to people each and every day. In contrast, if I had to rely solely on getting out of the house to make contact with other people, I'd be lucky to connect with other people once a week. More likely, based on my experience with the alumni group at the Cedars Sinai Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia Program, interacting with other people would happen about once a month.

As Lisa Copen explains in her post Chronically Ill Are Perfect Audience for Virtual Conference:

Hard beds, traveling expenses, long walks to conference rooms, peers going overboard on the perfume, and extreme fatigue are predictably part of your average conference. For the chronically ill, however, these inconveniences oftentimes make attending an actual conference impossible. National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week celebrates its seventh year, and with the power of social networking, 2009’s “virtual” conference September 14-18, 2009 is sure to be a success.
I totally agree with her! Beyond eliminating the problems of getting there, surviving the trip and making through each day, a virtual conference offers the ultimate in convenience. There are so many different ways to participate. You can experience each session live by listening online at Blog Talk Radio. During the live seminar, you can call in to ask speakers your questions or submit questions via the chat function. Not able to log on and tune in for the live session? No problem. Listen to the seminar on your schedule through the Invisible Illness website or at iTunes.

What to try it out in advance? You can listen to last year's sessions at Blog Talk Radio right now.

To see the entire schedule of speakers for Invisible Illness Week 2009, click here.

Like every good conference, there is even a place to go and meet the speakers and network with other participants. It's called the Invisible Illness Week Group at the Sunroom social network of Rest Ministries. This is also where you will find any handouts that the speakers have provided. Make sure you go and join this group before the virtual conference starts on Monday so you are ready to participate from the start of the event.

So what so you think? Is a virtual conference for you? Give it a try and let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

Now it's time for some fun. This YouTube video features an early Canadian news report from the late 1980's or early 1990's about the Internet and how it was "catching on." It is a hilariously and nostalgic look back at the recent past, when we dialed up to connect and interacting online with people around the world was still a novelty.

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