April 23, 2012

Therapist Notes from the Passenger Seat of a Low-Slung Sports Car

Sometimes when I am square in between someone’s shoulder blades, I find myself thinking about how some of these knots got there.

Most are whiplashes and hard work – a traffic encounter followed by running a lathe at the machine shop, or writing some intensely detailed thesis. No fun involved.

Once in a while somebody has a different combination.

This gentleman had back pain. He told me he had a brand new promotion and lots of extra stress with it.
As I worked on massaging his muscles, he told me the one fun thing about the promotion.

He celebrated by getting the dream car. Not that I know that much about cars, he was clearly having a ball driving his super-charged, T-topped Corvette.

“Have any trouble getting in and out of the car?” I asked.

There followed a long, ugly pause. His back stiffened.


Never mess with a dream.

“Tell you what, I bet you will love that car even more when I show you a couple of tricks
on getting in and out that will help your back.”

“Um. OK.” He started to relax.

Should this client be driving a roller skate with jet packs? Heck no.

But oh heck, later, when I stood looking at the Cherry-red (never maroon) super-finish of this slinky corvette I had to say: “Some people have all the toys!”

“Want a ride?

“You bet!”

Hair flying in the wind, I had to wonder: How am I going to get out of this car?   

April 17, 2012

What these Suds?

When busy, delegate, and that’s what I did. The book has been awfully busy in my therapeutic massage practice, so it was getting difficult to get all of the laundry done. Honey volunteered to help out by making sure the sheets were cleaned, dried and folded.

Excellent idea, delegation. Takes the load off your shoulders, eh?
So I was about to toss some of my favorite organic, no-dye cotton sheets on the table when I saw it. This little milky way of grey dots floating across the bottom sheet. Dust? Heck no, these were part of the fabric. Stains! And no way to turn the sheet over...I turned them top to bottom instead.
After my client left, I put on the bright lights and looked at my sheets. Every single one had trails of grey dots, some big, some small, looking like a mad painter had flicked a loaded brush onto my sheets.
Luckily, I had enough color and patterned sheets to get by for the day. Later that night, at the house, I asked Honey, nicely, how doing the laundry was going.
I was reminded of the scene in “Young Frankenstein” when the young Dr. Frankenstein decided to quiz Igor. Cue the sad violin music…
“Tell me where you got the brain, it’s ok. Just tell me where you got the brain for my creation….”
            Igor: “Hmmmn. Let’s see. Ahhhhhh, no that wasn’t it. Ahh, yes, yes it was Abby. Abby something. Yes, that’s it. Abbynormal.”
“So how is the sheet biz going, honey?”
            “Fine. Do you like the way I fold them?”
“Seems very tidy to me…. Hey, have you tried anything different?”
            “I was wondering if you would notice….I found some great detergent on sale at Big Lots. It’s that same fragrance-free stuff you like for half the price.”
            Half-price, eh? I held up one of the suspect grey sheets.
            “Oh dear,” Honey said.
Hey, it was a good idea, to cut costs. And hey, it was a bad idea not to tell me an let me find out on my own. And hey, if I can charge people enough to do a massage, I would like to have sheets that do not appear to have been through a mud run at the Marine base.
And fudge crumpets, I need to be able to delegate some things around here. Harumph.  Cue the sad violin music….

April 10, 2012

Where Did the Energy Go?

I confess when I started massaging I didn’t believe in energy at all. I thought it was some kind of weird ESP-y woo-woo that some folks in my classes pretended to sense as a way of seeking attention. Piffle, poppycock and humbug.

No one is more surprised at me than I to be writing about energy in massages. Trust me when I say massage will teach you things you need to know, even if they are ridiculous, absurd, fuzzy and woo-woo.

A good teacher once warned me about taking on clients’ energies, and I have to say as best as I tried to ignore that advice, I found out in the field it was very important.

My first knock on the head happened with a patient referred by a doctor for chronic neck pain and stress. The lady was a single mother who also had a severe auto-immune disease. She came in for her massage, talked the whole time and left saying she felt better. I felt like the side of my head had been hit by a brick. I couldn’t keep my eyes open and I couldn’t fall asleep either.

I called one of my woo-woo buddies from massage school who was delighted and amused that I had discovered energy. After she stopped laughing, she gave me pointers on how to keep from getting sucked.

Later, I actually recoiled when one of my associates volunteered that she routinely sucked energy out of her clients and found it wonderful. (!) So sidestepping another’s vortex, even though I didn’t really believe in them, is good. It keeps you from contaminating your energy with another person’s.

Oddly enough, giving massages can boost your energy. Lots of people think the process should make the therapist tired, but I often find it has the opposite effect, giving me a little extra get-go especially when the massage seems to have gone well.

I don’t know how that all works, but as a massage therapist, I have noticed that I can see one person and feel tired and work all day on several folks and feel energized.


April 6, 2012

Creativity and Massage

We like to think of ourselves as creative, don’t we, doing massage therapy and adapting to the moment, to the mood and the mode.

I am fascinated by creativity is my hands (oh, old fascinating me) but it is outshone by the creativity I see in my clients. I have had two (count ‘em) two authors in my quiver and have been with them through the long grueling, exhilarating, exciting months of timeful tapping as they bring their manuscripts to life.

My first author, though, I can lay no claim to massage helping in the initial stages of the project.

He had written his life story already, and was being pestered by his children for the details, the many details, he left out. He had been a guest of the Third Reich in the waning days of the war, and had left out a lot of what went on for sensibility’s sake. Sensing the missing bits, the “kids” and I must say I, lobbied for the rest of the bits.

Like the proper way to hunt for frozen turnips or the proper way to position oneself in a barn so the fulminate diarrhea did not get on one’s own pants. Or the proper way to tease new German soldiers into the no-walk zone at the prison camp so they would get shot.

“Remember the Pilgrim fathers,” I said. “They landed and took over an Indian village that had been emptied by pestilence. Most of them, and all the women, died the first winter, and they stayed on despite the bitter cold and bad soil because they felt God had brought them to a better place.”

I remembered a snippet from a diary I had read of one of those long winter nights, included a line from a founding father “My Goode wife died today of fever…. I ate a breakfast of boiled milk.”

No one would know how bad those days were, or how people persevered, if not for simple farmers and their plain speech. If not written down by the people who were there, then it is lost to history, or somebody’s story. I hope my part gave him a little spur to get the book done. It is called “Before I Forget,’” by Robert D. Davis, is as good a rippin’ yarn as any Mark Twain tale twice-told.

My other client author is just as creatively productive and has something important to say about things we use everyday. Elizabeth Plourde has written “Sunscreens Biohazard” about what we need to know about toxic chemicals used in sunscreens. They not only affect children and adults, they have severe effects on marine life and coral.

I am happy to say, on the periphery at least, that I helped these folks get this important work done. Massage of me…….