Erica Verrillo explained how this book came about (referring to the first edition published in 1998 by St. Martin's Press). Although she had fallen ill in 1987, that problem was never diagnosed. In 1992, while working towards her doctorate in Speech Communication at the University of Texas in Austin, Ms. Verrillo became sick again upon her return from field work in Guatemala. This time she was extremely ill, was forced to abandon her studies, had to be hospitalized, and was confined to her bed for two years. Her daughter also become very ill during the same time. They both were diagnosed with CFS. (Ms. Verrillo was diagnosed by Dr. Paul Cheney.)
Erica Verrillo read part of the Introduction which describes the premise of the book, "The absence of a cure does not in any way imply there is no treatment for CFIDS." Throughout the ages, many different methods and remedies have been used to care for people—these may provide symptom relief, repair damage, and/or help to restore strength. The purpose of treatment was conveyed in this analogy, "If CFIDS is like falling into a hole, as some patients have observed, recovery is like climbing out of the hole, step by step, rung by rung." Knowledge about effective treatments can provide patients with the rungs leading to recovery. Recovery can vary greatly between patients, can being substantial or partial, but Verrillo thinks recovery is possible at any point based on cases reviewed. [Note: CFIDS is the term used in the first edition.]
Elissa's Quest (Phoenix Rising…by Erica Verrillo
Jane Shiyah, a parent of an adult child affected by CFS, provided a most gracious introduction for Erica Verrillo, describing her as "complex, complicated and multifaceted" as the illness itself. She shared some of Ms. Verrillo's fascinating and wide-ranging accomplishments such as being a classical musician, traveling and learning first-hand about the culture and political issues in Latin America as a hitchhiker, becoming a Mayan linguist, founding an aid organization for Guatemalan refugees, and having a long history as a political activist. Verrillo has also written many short stories and a series of middle-reader fantasies—a trilogy about Elissa, a teen who lives in a magical place and can speak to the animals. These stories were invented by Ms. Verrillo for her daughter who also has CFS.
Erica Verrillo explained that by self-publishing the second edition, it allowed her to give copies of the book away. So far, more than 15,000 copies have been downloaded for free. Ms. Verrillo described this book as a labor of love, created solely to educate patients and the medical community. The information can be downloaded directly to the reader's computer without the need to own a Kindle or Nook, from Amazon for only $2.99. The E-format allowed Verrillo to incorporate links to numerous resources; so everything a patient or a doctor needs is just a click away. This book functions as an encyclopedia on CFS including natural and homeopathic treatments.