Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Rolfing® and Chronic Pain: An Update from Expert, Ann M. Matney

September is “Pain Awareness Month”, so I couldn’t think of a better time to share this most important update, or unofficial addendum, to our Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain book.

Expert at the Rolfing Institute, Ann M. Matney, was kind enough to let me know the nitty gritty. Following is what she shared.

As human beings going through life, we develop postural and movement patterns that deeply inform who we are.  From physical ease to chronic pain at varying levels, how we inhabit our bodies creates the background of our immediate experience.  My passion is to guide clients through the Rolfing® ten-series, which allows them to explore posture and movement with new awareness and often releases them from limiting patterns that cause pain and discomfort. 

I am a certified Rolfer® in Bozeman, MT and I’ve been practicing for 14 years.  I want to thank you for writing Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, an accessible, informative book that opens the doors to the world of integrative medicine as treatment for these difficult conditions. 

I found the section on Rolfing® Structural Integration to be well-written and accurate, picking up on many of the subtleties that are often glossed over or misunderstood.  So, I thank you for your careful assessment.

What is Rolfing?

One of the main issues that the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration seeks to clarify in the press is that, despite the use of a physical contact that is comparable to “myofascial release”, structural integration is not a form of massage. Rolfing/Structural Integration is a separate lineage with its own history, as well as its own schools and separate continuing education.  One cannot learn massage at a “Structural Integration (SI)” school, nor properly learn SI at a massage school.  In fact, “myofascial release” and “deep tissue massage” are offshoots of Rolfing.  

The Difference between Rolfing and Massage

An important distinction between Rolfing and myofascial release is that Rolfing strategically lengthens fascia that is shortened, while avoiding lengthening fascia that is relatively long, so that the person achieves maximal balance between agonist/antagonist muscle pairs as well as creating more balance at each joint.  

Rolfing also includes postural and movement re-education for sitting, standing, walking, and so forth, so that the client can consciously integrates new postural and movement balance. I say all this as a means of explanation for why we decline to have structural integration referred to as massage.

Is Rolfing Painful?

Clients with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders need not be fearful that Rolfing is “aggressive”.  When the practitioner has a patient-focused approach, it may be used successfully because current structural integration training and practice is intentionally neither aggressive nor painful. While there was a belief that more intensity yielded more results when Rolfing was first emerging as a bodywork, that thinking has been extinguished for decades at both institutional and individual levels.   

Compliments to Rolfing

Craniosacral therapy and neurofeedback can reduce anxiety and lift depression, allowing clients to experience a sense of peacefulness and integration that compliments Rolfing. I help clients inhabit their physical selves in a new and deeper way so that comfort and integration can become their new normal.  

Ann M. Matney has a B.A. in philosophy from Smith College, is a certified Rolfer® by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration, and she is trained in craniosacral therapy and neurofeedback.  She is currently enrolled as a graduate student in a rehabilitation counseling at Montana State University.


Annie tells me the International Association of Structural Integrators sets the standards for structural integrators. Rolfers® (which should be capitalized every time and followed by the registered trademark symbol for the first occurrence) are one group, namely those certified by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration in Boulder, CO.

In healing,,Celeste

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"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  

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Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Freelance Writer at Health Central & ProHealth Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Sunday, September 18, 2016


"I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company. "

As a retired registered nurse, educator, and author of self-help books for my fellow pain warriors, I am thrilled to say that fellow author, Leslie D. Michelson, has done the patient community a great service by giving us “The Patient’s Playbook: How to Save Your Life and the Lives of Those You Love”.

This book is aesthetically appealing, easy to use, and the author expresses relatable accounts of patient experiences. There are “what to do’s” for nearly all healthcare decisions. You will find tips for finding confidence and courage; asking questions; finding the right doctor; working through the logistics of access, insurance, and cost; exercising patient rights; developing a support team; carrying your entire health history with you; utilizing resources, and much more.

Patient stories allow us to make objective assessments and catalog them in the file of “things to remember before, or when, it happens to me”, because in today’s fragmented and rushed healthcare environment bad things can happen. As the author suggests, hasty judgments, whether from the provider or the patient, increase the likelihood of mistakes, complications, unnecessary interventions, inappropriate referrals and other unwarranted occurrences.

I recently experienced the fall out of hastened, fragmented care. My rheumatologist became my advocate and ordered the blood tests I felt my symptoms warranted, despite the new endocrinologist telling me my symptoms couldn’t be explained by my “numbers” and to discuss my symptoms with another doctor. When my results came in, my thyroid levels had swung from critical high to critical low in 7 weeks. Because of stories like mine, finding a doctor who is a skilled diagnostician who listens and cares about patients getting the care they need is imperative. Leslie Michelson has the information you need to make that happen.  

I love this subheading in chapter six, “Forgetting Who’s in Charge. (Hint: It’s You.)”

Every patient is vulnerable when illness strikes, despite the nature or urgency. As a nurse who cared for people in the emergency department, I know patients and family members are at their lowest point, they feel they have lost all control and their duress interferes with their ability to think logically. Often, the nurse or doctor must lead the patient or family member to give them the information they need. But, this doesn’t always happen. The Patient’s Playbook gives us what we need to be in command, whether it’s finding a new doctor or being hospitalized. It teaches us to be assertive, tolerant, proactive, and partners in our care.

Lastly, a good self-help book gives the reader/learner the ability to interact with the material on a personal basis. The chapter summaries, “Quick Guides”, allow us to swiftly review areas of the book that provide information we need under certain circumstances. Even if you aren’t sick—right now—you can use the information found in The Patient’s Playbook to advocate for those you care about.

“By the time you finish reading this book, you will have completely rethought the way you interact with caregivers and hospitals.” ~ Leslie D. Michelson

Leslie Michelson, J.D., “healthcare quarterback”, CEO of Private Health Management, says his book is “A call to action to change the way we manage our health”, and that is certainly motivation enough to read it. Please take a minute and visit ThePatientsPlayBook.com, “Look Inside the Book” at Amazon and check out the “Table of Contents”, “Read a Sample” at Barnes and Nobel.   The paperback will be released on Oct. 18.  Amazon

You can also find him on Facebook at Leslie Michelson @PatientsPlaybook.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ravyn’s Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child by Melissa

The author of Ravyn’s Doll: How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Your Child, Melissa Swanson, has been a close friend. We met on-line through our endeavors to raise awareness for fibromyalgia. It’s true that I mentored her by sharing my knowledge as an author and advocate, but she has taken that information far beyond my wildest expectations. And now, we share even more as published authors.

I had the distinct pleasure of unveiling my signed copy of Ravyn’s Doll with a mutual dear friend, Cindy Leyland. Melissa shares our friendship with Cindy as a fellow Leader Against Pain, and me as a participant in the citizens leadership group, PAINS-KC. I do not believe it is by chance that people come together across the miles when they share core values.  

Following is my review. My eyes are welling with tears of appreciation that Melissa would include it in her book.

“Fibromyalgia is difficult to live with, but we often forget how it affects those around us. This children's book means something to anyone who reads it. Even physicians can learn what it is like for the family. Who among us can resist the innocence of a child? Ravyn's Doll gives an honest account of fibromyalgia in a helpful and meaningful way, which is so important to a child's understanding. I find this treasure a must read for any family whose member has a chronic, invisible illness. “

(Available by clicking here.)

I hope you will share this extraordinary book with those you love. 

You can read more about Melissa in my two part interview with her. Melissa Swanson: A Rite of Passage with Fibromyalgia  and Melissa Swanson Interview: An Advocate’s Journey Cont’d.

In healing,,Celeste

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Freelance Writer at Health Central & ProHealth Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Learn more about Celeste’s books at her website or find links here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Inspiration for Reclaiming Control over Pain and Illness

A Beholding Forest©

A respite in the Rockies is something my husband and I have enjoyed for thirty-five years and since we are in our sixth and seventh decades of life, we are grateful to have done it yet again. It’s a marriage retreat of sorts, a time to appreciate my husband’s hard work, allowing me to use my photography to escape into the bowels of majesty.

I feel an intimacy with nature, wild flowers coloring the landscape, wild animals outside our RV door, rainbows that astound us and pink sunsets that devour our sensibilities. I am touched by my husband’s desire to find joy in something I love. My soul is awakened when I hear these words…

Come quick; grab your camera!

Young Buck Innocence©

Early fall makes itself known in the mountains where summer is short. The aspen’s are beginning to turn and as their  leaves shudder to meet the sun’s rays, I am reminded that the warm days of summer will soon give way to crisp chilly air that awakens the season of harvest and preparation.

Chronic pain and illness dictates that we adapt to change. But, unlike nature’s beings, it isn’t always instinctive. I know I need daily reminders on how to apply the things I learned when writing our first book  (with contributions of my co-author, Jeff Miller, PhD).

Fall is looming and change is upon us. Find out how you can adapt as nature does by using the daily tips in the Fall Devotions edition of the book series. If you already have the book, it's time to get it out and re-explore. I suspect you will see things from a different perspective this year, and you will learn something new to share.

Find detailed information at CelesteCooper.com:  

September is pain awareness month and a busy one for those of us who advocate for balanced affordable care for everyone. My greatest desire as an RN is for patients to have choices. It’s empowering to reclaim control over the thing we can change, and I hope you find Fall Devotions helps you do that.

Here’s to a colorful and hearty fall season.


Amazon in paperback 
Amazon UK Kindle 
Amazon Canada Kindle 
Barnes and Nobel paperback 

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Scheduling Medical Marijuana-A Letter to the President

As a post note to my interview with Sue Rosen, RN CLNC and legal liaison for the American Cannabis Association, Sue encouraged me to write to President Obama. Following is my message. I used her letter as a guide and I encourage you to do the same. [See followup note.]

President Obama, pick up your pen and sign an executive order to remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Please do right by the children and adults who can/will benefit from this plant. The research to its benefits are overwhelming, and like all drugs, we understand there are risks, but first consider this. Alcohol has many risks, and no benefit as great as the anti-oxidant and neuro-protective effects (prevention of cellular destruction) patented by the United States (US Patent 6630507).

Please help; don't just leave. Speak publicly about the outrageous Nixon cover up of 1974 Medical School of Virginia findings. Thank the brave people who were able to use the Freedom of Information Act to declassify the study findings. Leave with respect from parents and medical professionals who are tired of politicians imposing their non-evidence based personal opinions on innocent people. We cannot simply choose ideas that fit within our own framework; open their eyes to all the evidence. I understand nothing in life worth having comes without risk, but it should be up to Americans to decide if a plant works for their children or for them, not politicians.

Most importantly, leave with love and compassion for all who suffer at the hands of politicians who are either ignorant to the medicinal benefits of cannabis or driven by some personal secondary gain.

Respectfully, Celeste Cooper, RN

Follow up note:

Since writing this letter to President Obama, the DEA denied the request to remove cannabis as a schedule I drug. According to the DEA,

Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:
heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote

There is one caveat, the DEA will allow research. Advocates will continue to push for rescheduling. It is interesting that the DEA says they have not turned down a research request of legally grown marijuana/cannabis. I ask, "What would the Feds consider legally grown?" And, they state there is no research showing benefits. Through my personal investigation, I found plenty. You might be interested taking a look at what Patients for Medical Cannabis have to say. 

Articles regarding my investigation into the benefits and use of medical marijuana at Health Central:

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Monday, June 27, 2016

The FM/a® Blood Test – "How To" and My Results

As many of you know last month  I wrote, Blood Test for Fibromyalgia: FM/a Test® Is Real, QA” for fibromyalgia awareness. My opinions for that article are based on research review and news articles surrounding the test.

As promised, I will now share with you my personal experience. 

My test results are in!


Following are the steps I took.

·        I went to https://TheFibromyalgiaTest.com/ scrolled to the “click me” button in the “Ready to Get Started” area at the bottom of the page.
·        The next page - The FM/a®  Test must be authorized by a licensed physician. My rheumatologist ordered the test for me.

*Note: If you do not have a physician, please call 310-277-4600, M-F, 9am-5pm (PDT) and we'll help you find a fibromyalgia-friendly doctor at no charge. 

·        I printed the Physician’s Authorization Form, filled out what I could, and left it at my doctor's office for him to sign. My doctor's nurse, who is a peach, then faxed it to the number on the form.
·        Next, I answered "Yes" to 11 of the 12 questions. *You must be able to answer yes to at least four questions.
·        I filled out the Customer/Insurance Information Form.


Within a few days, I received a phone call from the coordinator letting me know my insurance provider authorized coverage (as are many). She answered all my questions and reassured me the test kit would include step-by-step instructions. (Something very important to those of us with fibrofog). 


·       The kit arrived within a few days, along with a prepaid Fed Ex bag.  

·        Paperwork included physician contact information, a medication list form, and a patient information sheet. (Because my rheumatologist was ordering the test, I was instructed to put the physicians signed order sheet in with the blood sample or to have my doctor’s office fax it to them, which in my case was already done.)

*Note: The medication form instructs, “Do not take the following drugs for 5 days prior to having your blood drawn, steroids, anti-cancer treatment drugs, or anti-rejection transplant drugs”.

·        I prearranged the Fed Ex pick up for the same day my blood was drawn.
·        Quite helpful is the specimen submission checklist because it has specific instructions on what to include with the specimen, handling and packaging of the tubes, Fed Ex copy, a contact number if you have questions, and the phone number for Fed Ex.
·        The specimen must be received within 24 hours after the blood is drawn.
·        DO NOT draw blood on Friday because "Overnight" express will not deliver until Monday, which the coordinator had told me during our phone conversation. 


I hadn’t thought about all of the things that are included in the cost of the test.

·        Arranging for a phlebotomist to collect blood samples.
·        Pre-authorization with your insurance carrier.
·        Phone consultation regarding instructions and concerns.
·        Working with physicians, or finding a physician if necessary.
·        All supplies.
·        Expedited mailing.
·        A specialized lab for running the results. 
·        Dr. Gillis being personally available to patients to answer any questions. (That’s unheard of these days.)


I mailed my specimen on a Wednesday, and the results took about a week.

FM/a®’s test results are based on a 1-100 scoring system; patients with active disease activity score 51 and above. (My personal information was purposefully covered.)
“FM/a® is a multi-biomarker-based test which concerns immune system white blood chemokine and cytokine patterns. Patients with fibromyalgia have a significantly dysregulated pattern regarding these proteins.”

The FM/a® test gives me concrete objective evidence that I can share with all those on my healthcare team. No more questioning that my symptoms are due to a biological problem.  If you have read Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Myofascial Pain: The Mind-Body Connection,  you know how important it is that I make sure all my doctors include the report in my medical records. 

It is equally reassuring to know that I contributed to changing the way fibromyalgia is perceived.  


After decades of literature review, maintaining a website and blog, contributing in the past as a fibromyalgia expert at Sharecare, and writing for ProHealth and Health Central, my work and my diagnosis are validated. Will I continue to follow my own advice for living with fibromyalgia and the overlapping conditions I experience? Yes, absolutely. The coping strategies we discuss in our books are paramount to emotional, mental, and spiritual healing for any chronic illness.


Pioneers are those who trudge forward among adversity. Because of Dr. Gillis, Dr. Wallace and the many devoted people involved in this endeavor, as Dr Kevin White said in his book, Breaking Thru the Fibrofog: Proof that


With the FM/a Test® available to researchers, there leaves no margin for error in identifying study participants. And, like HIV and AIDS, one day the consequences of fibromyalgia will be arrested.

In healing and hope, yours truly, Celeste

Additional reading:

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Melissa Swanson Interview: An Advocate’s Journey Cont’d

Advocate - Melissa Swanson

In part one of my interview, Melissa Swanson: A Rite of Passage with Fibromyalgia, we learned how Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life came to be.  Now we will explore how she became a leader, an advocate, a writer, a certified fibromyalgia coach, and author. 

Celeste: What have you done to promote awareness of fibromyalgia? 

Melissa: I am a co-leader of an in-person fibromyalgia support group and an online support group, Fibro Warriors Facebook page. Our group now has over 18,000+ likes.

I began writing for FibroModem's emag, Living Well with Fibromyalgia, March 2013.

In 2014, I attended the Leader Against Pain Action Network training program in Salt Lake City, sponsored by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) and began volunteering as an advocate.

In the past two years, I secured a proclamation from Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, declaring May 12th National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I wrote for the NFMCPA's newsletter Advocate Voice and worked as a volunteer at the TAP conference sponsored by the NFMCPA in Washington, D.C. And, I helped host NFMCPA’s first annual Together Walk

In June 2015, I was hired as a contributing writer at ProHealth.com.

Last summer, my daughter and I traveled to Boston so I could Interview former New England Patriots NFL player, Dominique Easley and his 16 year old sister, Destinee, who has fibromyalgia. We attended the kids training camp orchestrated by Easley and several of his teammates to raise funds for fibromyalgia research. Finding balance between work and play, my daughter and I went whale watching, toured Salem, and waded in the ocean. As daughter and mother, we learned and shared together because of this unique experience.

Celeste: How have you expanded your support role?

Melissa: I love to teach others how to help themselves, so I attended the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute and became a Certified Fibromyalgia Advisor. I wrote about my experience in a ProHealth article, Everyone needs a Coach in their corner.

Celeste: What can others do to help support and encourage their friends and family?

Melissa: This is a message to friends and families. If you know someone who has a chronic pain illness, don't assume the person feels good because they don't look bad. Fibromyalgia, and some of its sidekicks, is invisible. When you ask how your friend feels, validate what they tell you; otherwise, she/he may feel you have become desensitized to what we experience. What we need to hear is that you believe us.

Don't give up on us! Just because we have turned down your last 5 invitations, it doesn't mean we don't want to spend time with you. For instance, I have one non-fibromite friend who has learned I can't go to coffee at 9 a.m. She knows I probably won't say yes to a long day of shopping. Instead, we may meet at 10:00 for coffee or we arrange to sit in the sun and chat.

A great way to support your chronic pain friend or family member is to share your life struggles or concerns, and be willing to share what you need for support too. When you do this, we feel needed and you understand why it is important to have mutual support, such as listening when we tell you about fibromyalgia and advances that are important to us. It is mutual sharing and caring that helps a good relationship become great.

Remember, asking small favors such as, can you turn off the light downstairs, drop off a book, or cook a favorite meal can be stressful depending on the circumstances surrounding the moment. The hallmark of fibromyalgia is its unpredictability. One day, one hour, we may be perfectly able to do an errand, but in the next moment, we are not. And, please don’t ask why, because we don’t know the answer. We are not faking it, and when we feel you don’t remember our character is the same, it chips away at our independence.

Lastly, don't be surprised if you text your friend and she/he does’t need any help. We still have good days, even great days, depending on how we are coping in the moment. What’s important is that you took the time to ask and make the offer.

Celeste: What is in your future?

Melissa: My first children's book is to be published this summer.

CelesteHere is a brief introduction to Ravyn's Doll: How to explain fibromyalgia to your child. 

All the kids in class made paper dolls to show how someone they love is hurt or is sick. When it's Ravyn's turn, she shows a paper doll of her mom — and she looks perfectly fine!  Ravyn tells  her classmates that even though her mom looks healthy, she’s not! Her mom suffers from an invisible illness called fibromyalgia and its evil sidekicks.

 "Ravyn’s Doll helps children understand an invisible, 
chronic illness and explain it to others." 
~Jan Chambers, 
President of the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association

I am so excited about this book. It is truly different from anything else available, and it is needed. I am honored to have the opportunity to give a review, which you can read when the book is published. Please join me in wishing Melissa great success as a soon to be published author. Congrats, my friend and thank you!


I did this interview because I wanted you to know more about Melissa. When she first asked if I could help as a mentor, I had no idea how rewarding that would become for me.

Not everyone has the same talents, and what a blessing that is. If you are an advocate in waiting, don’t dawdle; reach out the way Melissa did. You have something to share and it’s important that we keep the torch lit.

“Everyone has been made for some particular work,
and the desire for that work has been put in every heart.”

I am so proud of Melissa’s achievements, but most of all, I am proud of the example she sets for her daughter on overcoming obstacles, turning them into triumphs. This is a lesson we can all learn and carry with us throughout life.  

You can subscribe to Melissa’s blog, Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life, to receive current news and information on giveaways.

Besides being a staunch advocate and a National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association Leader Against Pain Melissa is a Chronic Illness Blogger and contributing writer at Prohealth. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~

"Adversity is only an obstacle if we fail to see opportunity."  
Celeste Cooper, RN
Author—Patient—Health Central Chronic Pain Pro Advocate

Celeste’s Website: http://CelesteCooper.com

Learn more about what you can do to help your body function to its potential in the books you can find here on Celeste's  blog. Subscribe to posts by using the information in the upper right hand corner or use the share buttons to share with others.

All answers and blogs are based on the author's opinions and writing and are not meant to replace medical advice.  

Celeste's Website

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