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Health Rising Begins

Health Rising's Birthday

Health Rising is ten years old today!

2012 was a pretty good year for starting things. The Open Medicine Foundation, Dysautonomia International, and Health Rising all opened their doors ten years ago. On Dec. 29, 2012, Health Rising published its first blog, “Cort Johnson Says Good-bye to Phoenix Rising…Opens Up New Site”.

My anxiety was high. Phoenix Rising (PR) – the site I’d started 8 years earlier – had become the most popular ME/CFS website on the web. My decision to turn PR into a non-profit two years earlier, though, had backfired.

A series of events had left my relationship with the small PR Board strained, to say the least, and I was starting over. I had one ace up my sleeve, though – Stavya – Health Rising’s technical ace who has seen us through thick and thin over the past 10 years – had offered his services. Still, striking out on my own was full of uncertainties. Choosing cortjohnson.org as the original URL to help people find it, we launched.

Cort Johnson Says Good-bye to Phoenix Rising..Opens Up New Site

An Unexpected Benefit

It worked out well. In the end, in fact, it probably worked out for the best. Instead of dividing my time between participating in the then-massive Phoenix Rising Forums and writing blogs, I focused almost entirely on creating blogs and resource pages, and Health Rising flourished. I lost the Forums – which I loved – but was able to dig much deeper into ME/CFS, FM, and now long COVID.

By the next year, Health Rising was receiving 88,000 pageviews a month, and by 2014, 130,000. Health Rising survived some massive Google Analytics changes and lumbered on in the 130K-170K range until 2020. Since then, we’ve received between 180-220K pageviews a month.

Ten years, 1,503 blogs, 149 pages, 59,000 comments, and 16,500,000 page views later, here we are! Not bad at all for the work of two people, plus our volunteer editors and the occasional guest blogger.

The Top Blogs and Pages Over Time

The big takeaway from the top ten blogs over time: people just want to get better.

The big takeaway from the top ten blogs over time: people just want to get better.

Which blogs/pages attract the most attention is naturally of interest to me. While I can often generally guess which blogs are going to be popular, I am also – as the list of the top ten most viewed blogs of all time will show – frequently surprised.

To get an idea of just how exceptional the below blogs and pages are, note that most blogs get their hits over a couple of days, and then fade. A less popular blog – such as the recent HBOT blog – will get from 2-3,000 pageviews over a week, a quite popular blog will get from 6-10,000 pageviews, and a really popular blog will get above that.

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To me, the really interesting blogs and pages, though, are the ones that have legs. While I may have some idea how popular (or unpopular) a blog might be in the short term, I have a lot of trouble predicting the ones that people will be drawn to again and again and again. Of the top ten blogs/pages below, only three of them (coronavirus vaccine, craniocervical instability, and Mestinon) would have made my list.

The uber-popular blogs and pages on Health Rising indicate – surprise, surprise – that the community is most interested in ways to get better. Note that since it takes time to build up pageviews, many of them are older, so you won’t find many newer blogs on this list (but see below).

Easily the top dog was a page, of all things. Since pages only get promoted through blogs and are not the subject of blogs, it was good indeed to see the “Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resource Center” (297K) page easily take the top prize. (It must have been doing something right because, until recently, it featured some cringe-worthy grammatical mistakes). It was not surprising at all to see the Jan. 2021, Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects blog and poll,  “The Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects Poll for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia” (209K), on the list, but the next blog raised my eyebrows.

Are Oxygen Starved Tissues Causing Pain and Fatigue in Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?” (138K) was purely a technical blog but one which, on the other hand, certainly has more relevance today than when it was written. The “Enhancing Blood Volume in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) and Fibromyalgia” page (107K) highlighted how important dysautonomia and orthostatic intolerance are – and is a really good page to boot :).

The craniocervical instability blog, “Could Craniocervical Instability Be Causing ME/CFS, Fibromyalgia & POTS? Pt I – The Spinal Series” (102K), really drew people in – and for good reason: it featured several severely ill people who had gotten well and had, at least for me, a kind of horror factor (bottom of the brain getting smushed) as well.

“Wired to the Gills: The Hyperadrenergic POTS Group – The Dysautonomia International Conference #V” (98K) was a complete surprise given that this website isn’t focused on POTS, (but notice the dysautonomia connection), but an even bigger head-scratcher came next: the Big Bellies Bloating blog. “Big Bellies: the Causes of and Treatments for Bloating” (98K). It’s a good, informative blog, but bloating…? You just never know (and again notice the possible dysautonomia connection). The Mestinon Miracle blog, “A Mestinon Miracle: Vagus Nerve Stimulating Drug Helps Long-Time ME/CFS Patient Exercise” (95K), was no surprise; enabling a longtime person with ME/CFS to exercise again is no small feat. (Again, notice the dysautonomia connection.)

Honorable mentions include Lauren Stiles’s (Dysautonomia International founder, and that connection again) 2013 story, “From Chronic Fatigue Syndrome to Fibromyalgia To POTS To Success: One Woman’s Journey Through the Medical Profession” (#11 – 91K), the “Stimulants for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia” page (#12 – 89K) (stimulants! – interesting!), the fascinating (to my mind) intracranial hypertension blog, “Pressure Building? Study Suggests Cerebral Spinal Fluid Pressure May Be Causing Problems in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” (#17 – 78K), and the newcomer: the 2021 Bruce Patterson blog “Has Bruce Patterson Cracked Long COVID?” (#20 – 72K).

The Controversial and/or Exciting Blogs – The High Comments Blogs

Blog that disturbed the status quo sometimes produce a lot of comments.

Blog that disturb the status quo often generate a lot of comments.

Comments are one way to judge interest and sometimes controversy. A popular blog may not necessarily have a lot of comments, but a controversial blog is almost guaranteed to raise them.

Not surprisingly, the “The Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects Poll for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia” (413 comments) blog smashed the competition. James Buselli’s amazing CIRS recovery story, “Up from the Ashes: James’s Severe ME/CFS Recovery/Recovering Story“, garnered an enormous amount of interest (271), as did Dr. Montoya’s shocking dismissal from the Stanford  ME/CFS Clinic, “Dr. Montoya Responds to the Events of the Last Week (268).

The many comments on Bob Naviaux’s ME/CFS work, “The Core Problem in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Identified? Naviaux’s Metabolomics Study Breaks Fresh Ground” (260), provided a reminder of just how exciting it was to have him and his conception of ME/CFS on board. Similarly, the Cortene blog, “The Cortene Way: New Drug to Be Trialed in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) Soon – Pt. I” (260), featured something novel that brought both hope and validation: a new drug was actually going to be trialed in ME/CFS. The 233 comments on Christine’s DNRS Recovery story, “A Nurse With ME/CFS Finds Help in a Surprising Place: Christine’s DNRS Recovery Story” (233), were no surprise given the report of someone returning to health using a behavioral approach.

The 2022 Blogs

A look at the pageviews over the last year provide a look at the community’s current interests. In the main, they haven’t changed – with 10/12 blogs/pages focused on treatment, getting better is still the number one priority. Most of the treatments themselves, of course, have changed.

Given the advent of long COVID, it was interesting to see only one long-COVID blog, “Has Bruce Patterson Cracked Long COVID?” (#7 – 21K), crack the top ten. Instead, it was James Buselli’s story of an amazing recovery from very severe to at least functional capacity, “Up from the Ashes: James’s Severe ME/CFS Recovery/Recovering Story” (23K), that most captured the community’s interest over the last year.

It just blew my mind to see the 2019 POTS blog, “Wired to the Gills: The Hyperadrenergic POTS Group – The Dysautonomia International Conference #V (23K), take second place. That blog, which I haven’t looked at since I wrote it, for some reason, has legs! The 2020 blog, “The Strangeness of Low Dose Naltrexone: Weird Dosing, Backward Protocols, and Rejections – in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia” (21K), I thought was fascinating, and well deserved to show up on the list almost two years after it was published.

The “Coronavirus Vaccine Side Effects for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia” blog (21K), was a no brainer. I would have bet good money that the “$8 Million Clinical Trial of a Mitochondrial Booster Underway in ME/CFS” (21K) blog would show up, and it did –  that was an exciting blog to write. I was a bit surprised to see the Berlin Cures blog, “Berlin Cures…? Could BC 007 Help With Long COVID and ME/CFS?” (20K), make it to the top ten given how new and untested the treatment is. Some promising anecdotal reports, no doubt, boosted it up.

The Low Dose Naltrexone Resource Page, “Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resource Center” (17K), is a perennial favorite – so no surprise there. I was gratified to see the FM clinical trials blog, “Looking Forward to 2022 Pt. II: Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS Clinical Trials Plus Six Potential Game-changers” (17K), show up, as those blogs take a ton of work.

More treatment blogs – “Oxaloacetate: the Best Mitochondrial Supplement for ME/CFS (and Long COVID?)” (16K), “A Burning Question: Can Niacin Help Mitochondrial & Blood Vessel Issues in ME/CFS, FM and long COVID?” (15K), and “Bye-Bye Fight or Flight? Hello Better Blood Flows? Stellate Ganglion Blocks, Long COVID, and ME/CFS/FM/POTS” (15K) filled out the top dozen.

The Future

Big Map Project

The Big Map project will transform how you communicate with others and how you find helpful resources to combat ME/CFS, FM, long COVID and others on the web.

So much for the past – what about the future? Our hoped-for future, of course, is a cure and when that comes Health Rising will be all over it.

Until then, Health Rising is going to take a massive turn in a different direction in 2023. The blogs, of course, will continue to be my priority. Other things are going to change, though.

After years of promising them, four programs will finally show up in 2023:

  • Lives Interrupted – Beta-users are shortly going to dive into the Lives Interrupted program that is going to, in a very direct and demonstrative way, highlight the economic and other costs of having these diseases. Be prepared for some shocks as the program calculates, in a quite conservative manner, your economic losses.
  • The Big Map Project Pt. I – That Lives Interrupted program is part of the, for the want of a better term, Big Map project, the first part of which is going to provide a way for people with ME/CFS, FM, POTS, long COVID, and others to put themselves on the map and communicate with each other.
  • The Big Map Project Pt.  II – It is going to give you ready access to resources, resources, resources… You’ll be able to find and review doctors, physical therapists, research studies, clinical trials, and professionals such as attorneys, and others. The goal is to enhance your participation and find the best, most effective practitioners and other professionals in your area.
  • Treatment Review – Finally, some time ago, Health Rising bought the Patients Like Me treatment review website… Thanks to a volunteer, that program has been rewritten in PHP and is basically ready to use. That rewrite job was a massive effort – an unexpected gift – from an ME/CFS patient and is greatly appreciated. The Treatment Review will be unveiled in the coming months.

Volunteers Requested! 

I’m committed to keeping my focus on writing blogs. With that in mind, we’re looking for volunteers who can help us with the Big Map project.

Big Map Hosts Requested!

We're looking for volunteers who can help keep the Big Map ship-shape and on track. That would include keeping up to date on studies and clinical trials (adding ones underway/deleting past ones), doctors and other reviews (adding addresses/contact information), communicating with us about things that need fixing and providing ideas and stuff like that.

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On Health Rising's 10th birthday please consider supporting us :)

On Health Rising’s 10th birthday, please consider supporting us 🙂

The reason that Health Rising’s been able to do what it’s done, and will be able to do what it will be able to do in the future, is because of the support from over 2,100 donors over time. Whether it’s $5 or $1,000, your support makes a difference.

Health Rising is not a hobby enterprise or something I thought to do in my spare time; it’s an ongoing enterprise that keeps me and Stavya afloat and the website on the web.

If having Health Rising around benefits you, and it works for you financially to support us – please consider doing so. Every bit makes a difference. On that note, thanks to the over 430 people who have contributed to us thus far in your end-of-the-year donation drive.

 

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