Ravyn's Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your ChildHave you ever struggled with how to explain fibromyalgia to the children in your life? Maybe they are your own kids, or grandkids, or maybe they are students or nieces and nephews.

Ravyn’s Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child is written by Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor Melissa Swanson. She is a graduate of my first training program and a close friend. I had the privilege of watching the development of this book, and talking with Melissa about her dreams before it was ever written. I couldn’t be more proud of her and how her book turned out. Ravyn’s Doll is visually stunning and also emotionally powerful.

Ravyn’s Doll is one of the best resources I’ve ever found to help explain fibromyalgia in a way that young children can understand. It can be used in a very interactive way that will bring kids into what might have been a difficult conversation otherwise. As a coach, I often talk with clients who are struggling with how to explain fibromyalgia to the children in their lives. Even if they don’t have small children living at home, there are always young ones around: grandchildren, students, nieces and nephews, and so on. I believe that this book is the answer to their struggle.

The beauty of Ravyn’s Doll is that you can recreate the story in your own interactive projects, creating and decorating paper dolls to illustrate any illness, invisible or visible. I believe that Ravyn’s Doll, and the paper doll project in the story, should be used with every child, in every classroom. This will help our children be more understanding of people who have different needs than they do — which will help them to grow up to be more understanding adults. I often have clients who wish there was something like this for the adults in their lives. I say we start here, and raise up a new generation who is understanding of those who live with illnesses, visible and invisible, acute and chronic. This book is a required resource for my coaching students.

I really do think that everyone should own a copy of this book. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s true. This book may be about fibromyalgia, but it teaches so much more. It teaches children to look beyond the surface to be understanding of invisible illnesses. The lessons in this book apply to things like migraines, diabetes, depression, and so much more. If you have young people in your life, you need to read this book with them. And gift this book to anyone you know who has young ones too. It’s good for family members, teachers, physicians, and more.

About Ravyn’s Doll

All the kids in class made paper dolls to show someone they love who is hurt or sick. When it’s Ravyn’s turn to share, she shows a paper doll of her mom — and it looks like there is nothing wrong!

Ravyn teaches the class that even though her mom looks healthy, she’s not! Ravyn’s mom suffers from fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks. Ravyn’s Doll is a simple and effective way to explain fibromyalgia to your child. In a way that is understandable to children. it shows that not all illnesses are visible and explains how living with an invisible illness affects families’ daily lives. Ravyn’s Doll describes and illustrates why mom or dad can’t do the things they used to do — things that other moms, dads or other family members can do.

Other Resources Contained within the book are internet sites and books to read to learn more about Fibromyalgia and other Invisible illnesses, such as Lupus, Lyme Disease, ME, CFS, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, chronic migraine, and others.

You can purchase Ravyn’s Doll on Amazon here as both a paperback and an ebook.

Update 5/8/18 — Ravyn’s Doll is also available on Amazon as a coloring book!

About Melissa

Melissa SwansonMelissa Swanson is a chronic pain patient, advocate, and author. Through her Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life Facebook page and blog, she offers positive encouragement, medical information, resources, and support to 18,000+ fibromyalgia and chronic pain patients.

I first met Melissa when we both attended the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association’s Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training Program in October of 2014. We instantly hit it off. She was one of the first people to register for my new Fibromyalgia Coach / Advisor training program.

Ravyn’s Doll is named after her daughter, Ravyn. Which makes the mom in the story Melissa herself.

Melissa now works with clients as a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor helping them learn tools to live with the chronic illness fibromyalgia. If you’re looking for a cheerleader to be in your corner with a little bit of “tough love” when needed, Melissa is the one for you. She understands the struggles of trying to balance family life and work while living with the challenges of fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks.

To learn more about Melissa and Ravyn’s Doll, visit the Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life blog and listen to my interview with her below.


International Fibromyalgia Coaching InstituteI am very honored to introduce you to the second graduating class of the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute!

I highly recommend each Fibromyalgia Advisor on this list. If you are looking for someone to help you with your fibromyalgia diagnosis, please reach out to one of these lovely ladies. You can find out more about the work I’m doing training new Fibromyalgia Coaches and Advisors at FibromyalgiaCoachingInstitute.com.

Meet the Newest Fibromyalgia Coaches and Advisors

Emma Christensen, CPAEmma Christensen (Illinois) is a Certified Public Accountant employed full time at a University. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2000 after a whiplash injury from a motor vehicle accident. After two decades of living and coping with the condition, Emma decided to become certified as a Fibromyalgia Advisor. She is passionate about helping other professional people and parents currently working and coping with Fibromyalgia in their lives.

Emma is solutions oriented. She started her Fibromyalgia Solutions Facebook page in 2010 after she turned a corner in her pain situation and became passionate about letting others know that they too can increase their freedom from pain. It took Emma 15 years of trial and error to find the right help. Fibromyalgia Coaches did not exist when Emma was diagnosed. She believes that if she had had a coach, she might have been able to find her own solutions sooner. She is passionate about making sure others don’t have to go it alone and waste time. Emma is looking forward to helping others navigate their way through treatments in order to feel and be better. You can find her online at: FibromyalgiaSolutions.net.

Jane Holmes Martin, RNJane Holmes Martin, RN (Oregon) worked in the nursing profession for 44 years before retiring in 2015. She now volunteers, takes care of her 94 year old mother, enjoys spinning yarn, sailing and playing with her three grandchildren.

Jane has always liked to encourage and help people grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically. In 1990, Jane was in a car accident which started her fibromyalgia. This was before fibro was understood, so she went many years without being treated properly. Jane is looking forward to integrating her knowledge of medicine with coaching — and her gift of encouragement! — to help active women with fibromyalgia so they don’t have to wait years for help.

Kate Chamberlin, RN

Kate Chamberlin, RN, (Oregon) is a practicing RN who provides care management for patients with complex medical conditions. She has been a nurse since 2002. Kate has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Certificate in Public Health from OHSU, in addition to being a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor.

Kate founded her business, Northwest Health Insights, to help patients understand their health conditions, find the care they need from providers, and work through the complex health care system. She has a particular interest in helping women cope with chronic illness and pain, and wants them to continue following their dreams. She has a heartfelt compassion for women struggling with the anxieties that come with chronic illness.

Kate has been meditating for 20 years, and still finds it has a lot to teach her. She learns from Zen and Insight meditation traditions, and often goes to retreats and educational offerings. Her meditation practice has helped her find wisdom, perspective, and a deep enjoyment of life, even with chronic illness. She has MBSR training through the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness, founded by John Kabat-Zinn.

Kate loves nature, and is happiest when she is outside moving. She has found ways to stay very active, and wants to help others be active also. Some of her favorite things are the beach, the mountains, and the sky, wildflowers, birdwatching, hiking, biking, and a good book. She wants to help others find hope, peace in what is happening now, and reconnect to their dreams for the future.

The FibroManual, by Dr. Ginevra LiptanI am so excited to introduce you to Dr. Ginevra Liptan’s newest book:  The FibroManual: A Complete Treatment Guide for You — and Your Doctor.

The FibroManual written by Dr. Ginevra Liptan is truly one of the best books available on treating fibromyalgia. It is a “must read” for every fibromyalgia patient and treatment provider. This book lives on my desk because I look things up in it constantly. I’ve also made it required reading for my Fibromyalgia Coach training class.

There are a few things in particular I love about this book:

First, Dr. Liptan includes all of the little things that have made the biggest difference in my fibro healing. These are all things that took me years to discover on my own — and you’ll have them all right here in one place!

Second, there is a section at the end of each chapter that outlines the things you can do for yourself, as well as the things your doctor needs to help you with. This makes it a very effective book for you to use on your own.

Third, there is a bullet point guide at the back of the book specifically for your doctor. It includes the research and studies that support her treatment recommendations. This means that our busy doctors can read the “cliff notes” version to know how to treat you.

Many people have asked me how The FibroManual differs from Dr. Liptan’s first book, Figuring Out Fibromyalgia. I’m also often asked if they should buy The FibroManual if they’ve already read the first one. If you’re wondering the same things, here are your answers. You can also find my review of Figuring Out Fibromyalgia here.

Figuring Out Fibromyalgia is limited to what we knew about fibromyalgia at the time it was published (January 2011). As you might imagine, we have learned a lot more in the six years that have passed. Studies have been done and drugs approved (or not approved!) that have changed our treatment strategies. While Figuring Out Fibromyalgia includes more of Dr. Liptan’s personal fibromyalgia journey, The FibroManual was written with your doctor in mind. As I mentioned above, Dr. Liptan includes bullet points at the end of every chapter and a “cliff notes” section in the back for your doctor with all the research links and information he or she needs to treat your effectively.

Ginevra Liptan, MD

I highly recommending getting a copy of The FibroManual — and sharing it with your fibromyalgia team. It truly is a complete fibromyalgia treatment guide that is written for both you and your doctor.

To learn more about this fantastic doctor who is a fibromyalgia patient herself, visit Dr. Liptan’s blog and listen to my interview with her below.

One of the things I find most effective for getting fibromyalgia relief is what I call “topical potions.” These are creams, lotions, gels, or other goodies applied to the skin. I love using these for several reason, but the main one is that they tend to work pretty quickly. You apply them where you hurt, when you hurt, and get relief. Kinda like a magic potion. Who doesn’t love that?

I’ve also learned that these potions can help prevent pain. For example, I get chronic migraines that tend to be triggered by tight muscles in my neck and shoulders. Using something topical on my neck and shoulders helps to keep them happy and loose, and therefore prevents migraines.

Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream

Mo's Dream CreamMy current favorite is Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream, which I’ve been using for about two months now. The creator, Keri, contacted me via my Facebook page and asked if she could send me a free bottle to try. (Um, yes please!) In exchange for the free trial, I promised to share my honest experience, good or bad, with you… and it’s all good!

Disclaimer: Other than that free bottle of lotion, I receive no other compensation for this review or the sale of these products. All opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

The first thing I noticed when I got my lotion was how yummy it smells. It’s made with shea butter and essential oils (orange, tangerine, clove, and wintergreen). The main thing you smell is clove, which is a much nicer smell than something like Icy Hot.

I also noticed that it is quite orange. The capsaicin in the lotion is made from cayenne pepper, which is why it’s this color. I noticed that the palms of my hands were a little orange after rubbing it in, so the first night I chose to wear an old t-shirt to bed, just in case. I will say, though, that in spite of the color, I haven’t had any problems with staining.

Speaking of which, don’t let the word “capsaicin” scare you! There is a slight warming sensation, but nothing like what you’d get with Icy Hot. There’s no “icy” and no “hot” — just warm.

I really like that the lotion soaks in quickly and completely. It doesn’t feel greasy, thick, or oily. I usually apply it right before bed, then wash my hands and brush my teeth. By that point, it’s soaked in. This does mean that you’re not going to use this as a massage lotion. It doesn’t stay slippery enough for a massage. But it’s an excellent treatment cream that you can use anytime, anywhere. There is a little “scrubbiness” to it, to quote my hubby. That little bit of grit is the cayenne, which never dissolves completely. I didn’t find it bothersome at all.

Note: Make sure to wash your hands after applying Mo’s Dream Cream. It’s easy to accidentally rub your eyes and that burns! (Not that I’ve done that or anything.)

Based on what other customers have experienced, they estimate that you can expect the following results with Mo’s Dream Cream:

Pain Type Pain Relief* Longevity*
Fibromyalgia/planter fasciitis 1 – 2 minutes 8 – 10 hours
Muscle cramping (restless leg/menstrual/nausea) 1 – 2 minutes 8 – 10 hours
Nerve/Muscle (general body aches) 2 – 3 minutes 8 – 10 hours
Bone/tendon pain (i.e. arthritis) 4 – 5 minutes 6 – 8 hours
Congestion (allergies/colds) 4 – 5 minutes 6 – 8 hours

*Results can vary depending on person and condition. Listed is typical response time.

I definitely agree with how quickly it works. However, since I have almost no fibromyalgia body pain, I can’t vouch for the longevity.

Another thing I’ll add… since I’ve been using Mo’s Dream Cream, the muscles in my neck and shoulders are less tight than they usually are. So much so that my massage therapist even commented on it. I can only contribute that to using the lotion in those areas nightly, because there’s nothing else I’ve done differently. (I’d even just returned from an out-of-state trip when she said that, so I should have been worse than usual!)
If you’re looking for something inexpensive to try, or if you’re looking for an alternative to pharmaceuticals, I highly recommend giving Mo’s Dream Cream a try. It certainly isn’t going to make anything worse, and you just might find a new go-to treatment option!

Special Offer

Mo's Dream Cream PromotionIn support of National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on May 12, Keri has worked up a very special promotion for you: buy two 8-ounce bottles of Mo’s Dream Cream and receive a No Mo Pain Stick free!

Use my promotion code ( Tami4U ) at checkout and receive an additional $8.00 off your order. That’s a $55 package for only $32! Just follow the link, www.mkt.com/modreamcream to order the Fibromyalgia Awareness Day special and at check-out enter promotion code Tami4U to take the additional $8.00 off.

Offer good through May 15, 2016. After May 15, receive $4 off per bottle with the same promo code.

About Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream

Here’s a note from the creator of Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream, Keri Anderson:

Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream was created out of desperation to find pain relief without the use of harmful drugs. After contracting bacterial spinal meningitis, the high fever left me with extensive nerve and muscle damage (Dystonia and Erythromyalgia). I spent 12 years dependent on a wheelchair and in critical physical pain 24/7. The harsh pain meds I was on (including morphine & methadone) left me unable to even remember my children’s names! I was not willing to trade my life for the minimal pain relief I was getting.

I heartily began to study apothecary and Chinese herbology. Over a four-year period of time, I eventually ended up with what is now Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream, named after our chocolate lab (you guessed it – Mo-hogany Dreams) who cared for and watched over me during my formidable ‘wheelchair years’. When Mo began aging, he developed hip dysplasia. We used the lotion on him also and he could run like a pup again! Mo Passed away in 2014, and we aptly named the lotion after him!

Mo-Hoganys’ Dream Cream is made from a homemade, fermented capsaicin paste combined with essential oils and vitamins. Among them are Clove, Wintergreen, Orange and Tangerine essential oils. This combination over-stimulates the nerves, which is a natural way of deadening the nerve endings and is extremely combative against pain! Try No Mo Pain Stick for easy use and Mo Bath Salts Please for relaxing, soak-away pain relief!

My sincere desire is that this amazing pain relieving product helps others as it has helped me. The tears, hugs and love from those who have received immense pain relief with this lotion have restored my soul and made all the years of pain I endured “worth it”!  I invite you to try this lotion yourself! You’ll be so glad you did!

Remembering Sherri Little

March 12, 2016

Remembering Sherri Little | MyRestoredHealth.comRemembering Sherri Little
December 5, 1961—July 7, 2015

I met Sherri Little at the 2014 Leaders Against Pain Scholarship Training Program.

My first real memory of Sherri was during the second night of the conference. On Friday morning, we received the news that one of our members needed to leave early due to an unexpected death in the family. All day Friday, the mood was heavy. That evening, we planned a spontaneous support group meeting, the highlight of which was Sherri leading us in laughter yoga. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard in my life! Sherri had us pretending to be animals, made us laugh hysterically, and changed the mood of the entire conference from one of despair to one of hope.

Rachel Perrin, who attended the 2014 training with me, has this memory of Sherri:

“[I remember Sherri] dancing down the hill at the conference center, when no one was watching, to her knowledge. She communed with nature and wished for deeper connection with others. As a pain patient, it was difficult… Her memory will stay with me as I dance and struggle through my own life!”

Kathy Ott, another 2014 attendee, shared this:

“I found Sherri so kind spirited and willing to reach out. I remember talking with her and she seemed able to tune right into what I was trying to express. And so there was such a feeling of a kindred spirit within that short time.”

I had the privilege of working with Sherri as her coach for the two months prior to her passing. We talked often of her desire to change the way pain patients are treated through telling her story. She made it clear to me that she wanted her story told, even if she wasn’t here to tell it herself, and gave me permission to share this with you. Sherri also traveled to Toronto, Canada, to be interviewed by Tina Petrova with Give Pain a Voice, who is now making a film about Sherri’s life and death.

During the two months we worked together, we tried to find Sherri medical treatment for her Clostridium difficile infection. This proved to be an essentially impossible task. Sherri called numerous doctors all over the country. Even though she offered to pay cash, no doctor would accept her as a patient because she didn’t have the right insurance. Eventually, we were able to get her insurance changed on July 1, 2015, but it was too late to be truly helpful. (C. diff is a bacteria that can cause life-threatening inflammation of the colon, fever, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. You can read more about C. diff here.)

While I was working with her, Sherri was unable to eat solid food, and survived on juice delivered to her home. Even the juice was hard to keep down, with all of the nausea and chronic diarrhea, which lead to Sherri becoming severely dehydrated. Sherri likely lost 20-30 pounds over the last year of her life due to being unable to eat and absorb nutrition.

On Friday afternoon, July 3, I received a voice mail message from Sherri saying that she was going to the ER at Cedar Sinai Hospital due to her dehydration. That was the last time I would ever hear from her. She passed away just a few days later. Lynda Mannion, Sherri’s mother, struggled for months to obtain copies of the coroner’s report to find out exactly what happened. Although Sherri died in July 2015, Lynda did not receive the report on Sherri’s death until early 2016.

The coroner states that Sherri’s death was a suicide due to “combined effects of medications.” However, I can say with 100% confidence that we cannot blame Sherri’s death on medications. We talked many times about her pain, life, and death. It makes me angry to think that Sherri’s death might become a statistic used to deny chronic pain patients medication that could make their lives bearable. There are a lot of questions surrounding Sherri’s death, but for me there is no question about why she died. Sherri died because her pain wasn’t controlled or illnesses treated properly. If Sherri’s death teaches us anything, it is that untreated pain kills. You can read more about all of the unanswered questions we have about the last four days of Sherri’s life in the excellent article “Sherri’s Story: A Final Plea for Help,” by Pat Anson, Editor for the Pain News Network.

I feel fortunate that I came to know the vibrant, passionate, and deeply caring woman behind the face of Sherri’s pain. Most people didn’t get to meet that Sherri. We often talked about how hard it was for her to make friends as a chronic pain patient. She struggled to get the support she needed for even the simplest things, like getting groceries or going to a doctor appointment. It was her dream to set up a foundation which could provide this kind of support to other pain patients.

“Sherri sparkled in certain situations, when she was understood and validated as a human.” says Rachael Perrin. “She and I spoke for many hours. She so wanted to create a refuge for others who hurt.”

In the days before she died, I received an email from Sherri asking if I would be willing to administer a nonprofit in the event of her death. In that email she said, “I am frantically trying to save my life while also making plans for my possible death.” She went on to say that this nonprofit would provide “those who suffer horrible pain—without family or other loved one(s) support—with small grants to see them through hard times.” Sherri’s estate is still in probate, so it will be some time before her wishes can be honored.

As a way of continuing the work that Sherri started, The Sherri L. Little Organization (www.SherriLittle.org) was formed in August 2015 by Tina Petrova. I have also created two scholarship programs in Sherri’s honor.

  1. The Sherri Little Fibromyalgia Coaching Scholarship provides coaching sessions to qualified fibromyalgia patients, giving them the support that Sherri wanted for all pain patients.
  2. For those interested in providing support by becoming a Fibromyalgia Coach or Advisor, I have also created a scholarship in Sherri’s honor for the Fibromyalgia Coach Training and Certification Program.

People like Sherri are the reason that I do what I do, and I invite you to join me. We must be advocates for those who don’t have the strength, support, or resources to speak for themselves. We can honor Sherri and her struggle by telling her story. Through her, we can put an actual face and name to the struggle to find life in the midst of chronic pain.

My prayer is that Sherri will see the good that comes from her death and, just like she taught us in that laughter yoga session, clap her hands and say, “Very good! Very good! Yay!”