By Lisa Jisa
In 2015, I was finally properly diagnosed with Lyme disease (and many of the co-infections that come with it). I had been misdiagnosed for close to 15 years! I lived in Phoenix for much of that time, and Lyme wasn’t on the radar there. I still have a lot of family in my home state of Wisconsin, and the potential is that I got an infected tick bite on a trip back, although I never saw the classic bulls’ eye rash.
Lyme disease brought on numerous crazy symptoms. I was in pain often but could never explain why. My muscles hurt, my joints hurt, and I often had headaches. At one point, I developed a case of vertigo that was so horrible, the recovery took weeks. My eyesight was affected. I had anxiety that would come and go, and shortness of breath at times. Other crazy symptoms would pop up and leave, making it difficult to figure out what was wrong. I developed all sorts of food allergies and intolerances. And exhaustion would sweep over me in waves where I couldn't keep my eyes open or even get off the couch. Strangely enough, during those years I also felt good enough at times to run marathons and even a couple of 50k trail races. The symptoms would come and go. My guess is that when I was running at high volume, I was sweating out toxins regularly and keeping Lyme at bay.
Lyme disease is a strange thing. It can lie dormant in the body for years and then decide to rear its ugly head during times of great stress. It took 26 years for me to realize how unhealthy my marriage was and find the courage to leave. High levels of stress were taking a toll on me, both mentally and physically. I won’t go into details here (although if you want to know more of that story, you can find it on my blog at www.lisajisa.com )
To combat the stress, anxiety, depression, and pain I so often felt, I turned to massage. It was the only thing that consistently helped. It drives me crazy when people think of massage as simply a fluffy luxury, because I believe that getting a massage every 2-3 weeks for a few years literally kept me alive. (Note: I have always been a highly sensitive person and hesitate to take “regular” medications because of the potential of adverse reactions in my body. So I couldn’t just reach for painkillers or anti-depressants and had to find natural alternatives.)
Massage has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The soothing strokes from a caring therapist can help to reduce the pain as well. The Gate Theory hypothesizes that nerves can only carry one signal to the brain at a time. If the “good” feeling from a massage stimulates nerves to reach the brain faster than pain signals, they get through the “gate” faster and can block those feelings of pain.
My youngest daughter and I moved to Littleton in 2015 and that’s where we found the doctor who saved our lives! (Yep she was diagnosed with Lyme, too, and in fact I may have given it to her when I was pregnant…) It took two years and thousands of dollars, but I am Lyme-free and forever grateful to Dr. Bob Arne! www.arnewellnesscentercolorado.com
When Lyme is caught early enough, a few rounds of high-powered antibiotics usually knock it out. Lyme was diagnosed way too late for that to have helped me (or my daughter). And I am allergic to most antibiotics. I am so grateful to have found a natural way to get through Lyme and its co-infections. We used herbal and natural remedies, spent time in a far-infrared sauna as part of detox, and used a RIFE machine. That’s a bio-electric machine that can be set to programs of different frequencies that can target Lyme and its co-infections, among other things. It sounded crazy and kooky until I tried it. You hold small metal rods in each hand and the machine delivers little “zaps”—hence our nickname for it, the zapper! (I still use it for Candida and various other things.)
We moved to Wisconsin in 2016 to be closer to more family. As divorce proceedings began to get underway, it became evident that I was going to need a job. My first stint in college was for degrees in elementary education and Spanish. I taught at a school (in Wichita, KS) until my son was born. After that, I stayed home to raise my children, even homeschooling my oldest two all the way through high school! I didn’t want to go back into the traditional classroom and was at a loss as to what I should do. My daughter reminded me how much I loved massage and how much it had done for me, and also mentioned my great back and foot rubs! :-)
I attended the program for Therapeutic Massage at Madison College and graduated in 2018 at the age of 51! To celebrate Lyme being officially gone and the divorce being final, I decided to train for Ironman. I had watched a friend compete a year earlier and was inspired. That’s a 2.6 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. I trained while simultaneously attending massage school. What a crazy year!
My hope was to arrive at the starting line healthy and happy and knowing I was well-trained enough to finish the race. And I was…although the choppy Lake Mendota water that day slowed me down, and I was only 6 miles from finishing the bike course when I was told I was out of time and had to exit the course. I cried and told the officials I was a runner and knew I could make up the time, but alas, my Ironman debut was over. (I’m still an Ironman in my mind! And I don’t ever need to do that again!)
I worked at a massage place in Madison that catered to cyclists and triathletes until I was ready to open my own place in the small town of Pardeeville where my daughter and I lived. I loved my clients and running my own business.
A bad car accident in December 2020 slowed me down…After taking a few weeks off, I quickly discovered that if I gave more than two massages per day, I couldn’t move for the next two days. Then mold was discovered in our apartment, and the landlord wasn’t going to do anything about it. I’d lived in two other homes that had mold (part of the reason it took so long to get through Lyme treatments. Mold wreaks havoc on the immune system.) I knew I couldn’t stay there. My daughter was finally able to attend college in person, so I decided it was time for something new.
I sold or gave away most of my earthly possessions, except for what fit in the car with my toy/mini poodle puppy and me. We moved in with my parents in Durango for what I call “Sabbatical 2021” as I healed, physically as well as mentally and emotionally again. I am grateful for that time to heal inside and out because I became stronger than ever!
In December 2021, I moved to Pagosa Springs. In January 2022, I happily stumbled upon PMAB and loved it—the philosophy of the benefits of massage as more than just a luxury, and the wonderful co-workers. What a great place to be!
There you go—how I got into massage and came to be at PMAB!
Other things to note:
I’m also a flower essence practitioner. Remember the RIFE machine that was set to different frequencies? Well, flowers have their own unique vibrations, too! I make essence remedies as a natural way to combat issues such as anxiety, depression, grief, etc. There is no scent, as no part of the flower is actually in the bottles. It’s just the energetic vibrational frequencies. I’m putting together a new business and website, so be on the lookout for more information!
And…I got my first novel published in 2019. Pearls of Winter is a story of love, life, loss, forgiveness, and moving on. The main character, Olivia, needs a fresh start after her plans are abruptly changed. And so she goes to Africa for something completely new! I’ve been to Africa four times and used some of my personal journals as reference to describe the beautiful country of Uganda. Bookends in downtown Pagosa carries my book, as does Maria’s in Durango. Or you can check it out on my website with a direct link to Amazon! www.pearlsofwinter.com
And last but not least, I am a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. It’s because of His love, mercy, and forgiveness that I am here. Without faith and hope in Him and the prayers of many friends, I never would have made it this far. But the Lord’s plans and purposes prevail!
Healing Circles with Rise Above Violence
By Stefanie Little
2022 is nearing the end, and with that we are also celebrating our first full year of Healing Circle Workshops - a joint effort between Rise Above Violence and PMAB + Movement. This year we have explored so many different healing modalities, all specifically aimed for trauma survivors looking for alternative ways to find growth and healing. This year we have offered workshops on self-massage, reiki circles, flower essences, the art of council, sound healing, and various forms of movement.
Back about a year ago, at the end of 2021, the two organizations sat down for some brainstorming. The weekly peer-supported talk therapy women’s group wasn’t working, but we knew that survivors in the community were searching for something. We talked about how Rise had been doing this work for so long, that now we have a community of trauma survivors who may well be long past the immediate crisis of their situation, have moved on, stabilized their lives, and no longer required Rise’s services necessarily, but there was still healing to be done. We realized that survivors are moving more towards alternative healing methods to continue that deeper personal work.
These Healing Circle mini-workshops came into being for that purpose. How we heal from trauma is different for everyone; one may feel pulled towards sound healing as opposed to art therapy, while another may greatly benefit from some guidance on self-massage, rather than energy work. Oftentimes, you won’t know until you give it a try!
PMAB + Movement hosts these workshops once a month for free for any trauma survivors. They take place every 4th Thursday of the month from noon-1pm at the PMAB studio. We feel the holidays are just as important for grounding and healing as any other time of the year (perhaps even more so for survivors), and our workshop for this month, on December 22nd at noon, will be based around gentle yoga and meditation: “We will do gentle yoga for grounding as well as some heart opening poses, to prepare ourselves for Loving Kindness (Metta) Meditation for oneself. It will be 20-30 minutes of guided meditation after asana practice, for some extra support for oneself, gift giving for oneself, before the holiday! Led by Andrea Peltier.”
We are already gearing up for 2023 - with January’s workshop topic about personal transformation, and we have hypnotherapy and homeopathy on the calendar as well! If you or someone you know is a survivor in Pagosa, searching for community and alternative healing, we hope you will join us at PMAB for these amazing, transformative, and healing mini-workshops. If you have any questions, feel free to call PMAB at 970-903-9278.
These healing workshops are just one way that Rise works with the community to support victims and survivors. Advocates at Rise also offer safety planning, emotional support, help victims navigate the legal system, and much more. Research shows that supportive services that are trauma informed are the best way to get to those who have experienced domestic violence on the path to healing.
Rise Above Violence is a 501c3 non-profit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving around 400 victims each year. Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call 970-264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.