Monday, July 05, 2010

Crossed the Line

My work is changing.  It has been changing for a long time but I feel like it has finally become, sometimes, something completely different.  When I went to massage school we were taught to work on everything.  If there was an injury we would focus more on one part but it would still be a full body massage.
The other day a client got off the table and cried into my chest, saying that she had been wanting this for her shoulder for so long.  She was happy and grateful and I am guessing revealed on a scale beyond my understanding.  I told my father about this and he asked for some of whatever she had.  I asked what he would like and he said he had leg pain now for 8 years.  It started out as an intermittent annoyance but now it hurt just to stand. I spent two hours working on just one muscle, the one where people normally feel shin splints, Tibialis Anterior.  He stood up and the pain was gone.  Two weeks later and the pain is still gone.  Eight years of pain, because he did not know that this kind of work was possible.  To be fair I didn't either.  This is the line I have crossed, where I can spend two hours on a single muscle.  
More recently a woman came in with neck pain.  It was so bad that she could not sleep at night.  After several minuets I was able to tell her we could fix the problem.  She could feel it moving in the right direction and was so grateful.  I spent the first twenty minutes working an area smaller than a square inch.  I have never been in so much pain that I could not sleep for more than one night.  I can't imagine what that suffering must be like, but if the intensity of the gratitude at relief is any indication I hope to never experience it.  She had for years gone to doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and physical therapists, and never before had anyone told her it could get better.  
It's not rocket science.  There is a tight muscle.  I rub it. It softens.  The pain goes away.  Why did I not figure this out ten years ago?  My best guess is that I lacked the physical strength necessary to take as long as I need and the confidence to let go of the rest of the body.  
Now don't get me wrong, there are plenty of things out there that I can't help with, and more often than not pain is not removed with a single magic moment.  But something has changed and it is a good thing.  
I still give full body massages the majority of the time.  There is something wonderful about wringing out every single muscle in the body.  It's my first choice if there is not something terribly wrong.  But now I have more options for when people are desperate.  
All of the external validation and gratitude aside, I really really love my job.  It is such a good thing and I am so lucky to be a part of it.  Thank you.

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