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About Us

There’s so much in store

Hi There, I'm Lissa!

I am a chronic pain warrior who began crocheting to as a hobby to help me get through the day. 

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in high school, and I have been on my chronic pain journey since 2007. At first, I felt like my diagnosis was just a way for my doctor to explain away my symptoms and get me out of the office without actually dealing with my symptoms. During the first couple of years, I had to fight to get my symptoms related to my pain checked out by my doctor. Every time I mentioned my pain, it was immediately dismissed due to my Fibro. Once I finally was able to get some MRI's done, I ended up having a torn meniscus in my knee. 

I had my first two knee surgeries while I was still in high school. The first surgery only partially healed because my meniscus tear was too close to the blood supply to remove, so my surgeon opted to "repair" it by stitching it back together. About a year later, I had a second surgery to re-stitch my meniscus back together. 

After my second round of physical therapy, I was still in more pain than I should have been, so my surgeon sent me to a neurologist. The neurologist decided that the best course of action was to kill the nerves in the right side of my knee through a nerve ablation. While the procedure was successful, it didn't do much to relieve the pain in my knee (but now I don't have feeling in my shin, which is an interesting development). The neurologist also noticed that the nerved in my legs didn't react the way they should, so he started some other tests to check my nerve function in my legs and feet. Through these tests, I found out that I don't have feeling in the outside edges of the bottom of my feet, but we aren't sure of the reason. 

After my surgery and tests with the neurologist, my doctors were really at a loss for what else they could do to help me. I still had pain in my knee, along with inflammation in my knees, hips, and lower back. I asked about medication for Fibromyalgia, but I was told it wasn't a good option for me, and I needed to just get used to the pain and work through it the best I can. 

So that's what I did throughout college. I attended Nevada State College from the fall of 2009 to the spring of 2014. I worked for the college as a student worker for the School of Education for the first couple of years before transitioning to the tutoring center, where I was a math and Praxis tutor for the last few years. I also had the opportunity to help the head math professor edit and write problems for the remedial math textbooks that he wrote for the remedial math classes at the college. I graduated in May 2014 with my Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education with an emphasis in Mathematics and a Minor in Sociology. 

I began teaching in fall of 2014. My first year, I taught 8th grade math. I was technically the only teacher in the school licensed to teach grades 7-12, but because I was also the youngest teacher, none of the admin cared to check this out and treated me pretty badly. I ended up being asked to move up to the high school my school fed into the next year, and I jumped at this opportunity to get out of a bad admin situation (this admin literally didn't know that I was licensed to teach grades 7-12 until I told them that I was moving up to the high school, and then they proceeded to try to get me to stay to build their math program up). 

For the next 3 years, I taught high school math at Silverado High School. I had the unique opportunity to grow with my 8th graders from my first year of teaching, and I ended up teaching the same core group of students from 8th grade all the way to their junior year. I loved working with these kids and seeing them grow, but I struggled with admin issues that culminated in my admin trying to blackball me from teaching because she was old school and didn't like the new strategies and activities that I was using with my students. I ended up interviewing at a handful of schools to get out of this situation, but none of them came through. When I had all but given up hope, I got a call from an assistant principal who wanted me to work at their school, even without ever interviewing. so I jumped on the opportunity. 

Before I left Silverado, I had my last knee surgery. I had to fight tooth an nail to get my surgeon to operate because the MRI report didn't show much, and he refused to look at the MRI himself. I had to argue with him (and yell) because he was just going to let me go without doing anything, when I knew that I was in extreme pain (that was different than my Fibro). He finally agreed to look at the MRI himself, and said something was definitely not right with my ACL, even though it wasn't torn. He opted to do exploratory surgery and ended up replacing my ACL with a cadaver ACL. After the surgery, he told me my ACL was twice as long as it should have been, so it wasn't doing it's job. He also removed the torn portion of my meniscus, leaving me bone-on-bone at 26 with arthritis in my near future. 

For my last 3 years in the classroom, I taught at Basic High School. While I did have some good experiences, I also struggled. I had horrible experiences with co-teachers (from them literally giving answers to them sleeping in my classroom-and not getting written up because they were friends with the principal). I also struggled with the students, who were extremely aggressive and fought daily. The fights would happen both in and out of the classroom, and they got so bad that the students would end up getting pepper sprayed at lunch to stop the fights a few times a month. I also had students physically threaten me (and get sent back to class right after), smoke weed in class, and steal things from my desk and classroom. I ended up leaving at the end of the school year, after we were forced back into the classroom during COVID because I was not given the support I needed from admin after my mom got really sick and ended up in the hospital. When she was released, I needed to help take care of her during the day, and even though we only had students for half the day, I was not allowed to leave to go home and take care of her (regardless of if I came back or took the afternoon off). I was told that no one was allowed to leave early or work from home during the afternoons, and my only option was to take full days off work to care for my mom. 

While I was teaching middle school and high school, I was also given the opportunity to teach college classes at Nevada State College. I was tasked with creating a college course to help students learn and become fluent with the math skills necessary to pass the Praxis exam (an exam that pre-service teachers are required to take to prove general math competency prior to getting licensed). I began teaching my Praxis course in fall of 2015, and helped hundreds of students bring their math skills up until the spring of 2022. I used this course as action research for my thesis to get my Master's in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in 2017. After earning my Master's degree, I also had the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses to teach pre-service teachers about the math topics that they will be teaching their future students. 

After I quit working for the school district, I had planned to focus on teaching college and getting my PHD, but my body had other plans. About 2 weeks after the end of the school year in June 2021, I woke up to excruciating back pain. At first, I thought I just threw my back out, but after a few weeks, I went to the doctor. I found out that since back pain is so common in adults, patients must have the pain for 4+ months before it can actually be looked into further. During the next few months, I was in so much pain that all I was able to do was lay in bed with ice packs and just survive. I was still teaching my college classes online, so my weeks revolved around my pain and getting ready to teach live classes through video chat two times a week. 

By November, I was finally able to schedule a MRI to see if there was something actually wrong with my back. When my results came back, I was relieved that they actually showed an issue. I had a herniated disc that was bulging into my nerves, which caused the pain and nerve issues in my Sacroiliac joint. I was referred to a neurosurgeon for surgery, but it was another month wait before I could be seen. When my appointment finally arrived, he scheduled surgery for the middle of February. It was decided that I needed a discectomy with a laminectomy, which basically meant that they were going to cut one of the bones in my spine in half to give the disc extra room to spread out. The recovery time for this surgery was 12 weeks.

At my first appointment after the surgery, where I was able to get my staples removed, the surgeon wasn't available, so his assistant handled the appointment. I explained the pain I was still in, and was told that I needed to just push through until my next appointment (at 6 weeks post op). About a week before my 6 week appointment, I received a call that my appointment needed to be rescheduled because the surgeon wouldn't be available for an entire month. I ended up waiting another 8 weeks before I could get an appointment with him. When the appointment finally came, I explained how much pain I was still in and discussed all of the nerve issues that I was having, which included severe nerve pain (and passing out) when I tried to poop, almost constant twitching of my legs, and my legs and arms falling asleep extremely fast and for no apparent reason. The surgeon had me rush to get a new MRI done, and while it looked like the surgery had helped the original issue, he found that I had pretty bad disc compression. He told me that while I would need surgery to fix the issue, I was too young and he didn't necessarily want to do it. He had me wait another month to decide if I wanted the surgery or not before coming back in. The entire time, I knew that I needed the surgery, so it was really just his way of making me wait longer. When I got to the next appointment and told him that I still wanted the fusion surgery, he pushed back with me and said that I was too young and they typically do not do this surgery on anyone in their 30's, let alone early 30's. I had done research of my own and brought it with me to show him that it has been done on younger patients with success, and I argued with him that I had my entire life ahead of me and that by not doing the surgery, he was forcing me to live on bed rest for the next 20-40 years without it, which effectively took my life away. After this, he agreed to do the surgery, and I had a spinal fusion at age 31.  

My 3 month recovery was tough and painful, and I still had the same nerve issues that I had prior to the surgery, but the pain from the decompression was relieved. At my final appointment with the surgeon, I was told that I will most likely be in the same pain for the rest of my life, since the nerve root in my spine was damaged by the herniated disc and the decompression. He told me that my pain would probably stay at around a 4 out of 10 forever, but this was better than the 7.5-8 out of 10 it was prior to the fusion surgery. I was told to keep working on walking and strengthening my core on my own. While I was no longer medically required to spend time in bed resting, my pain and nerve issues persisted. 

In the months since my release from surgeon's care, I have been working on walking longer distances, sitting up for longer periods of time, and bending to do normal household chores. While I have improved with each of these things, I still spend the majority of my day in bed resting due to my pain and nerve issues. Currently, I can get about an hour of chores in each day before my pain becomes an issue. I can walk around for a couple of hours without issue as well, but I really struggle to stand in line and wait for any length of time. I'm also able to sit in a chair with a back for a couple of hours, but eventually, the pain worsens and I have to lay down more. 

Since I spend most of my day laying on a wedge pillow, I needed to find something to keep myself busy. For the first year of bedrest, I watched a lot of TV, but eventually it got to the point where I had watched everything that I wanted to. I tried a few different hobbies out to see which one was the best for me and my back. First, I tried resin crafting because my sister-in-law had started doing it and it seemed really fun. Unfortunately, it requires a lot of sitting, so I ended up not being able to work on resin crafts more days than I was able to. Next, I tried drawing/coloring. While I am decently artistic, I definitely cannot draw anything that is supposed to look like something. I have always loved patterns and abstract designs, so I got into Zentangle and doodling. Using a lap desk, I was able to design/color some bookmarks, coasters, and random doodles. I still struggled to sit up for long periods of time to work on things, so I wasn't very productive, even though I really enjoyed it.

 

I finally decided to try to crochet, which is something my mom has done as a hobby since she was a kid. I knew the very basics, like how to make a chain, and while my mom had tried to teach me a few times when I was a kid, I never really got into it. I got some supplies and chose my first pattern to try. My mom agreed to sit and help me learn more of the basics so that I could get through the pattern. It took me a few days to get through all of the small parts and eventually put my project together, but I was so proud of my creation! Since I could crochet while laying down, crochet was the best option for me. So I ordered some more yarn and found new patterns to practice with (I also found out that I did my entire first project wrong, but the flaws were on the inside, so it wasn't noticeable). Since then, I've been crocheting and creating most days. 

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