Stories like this are the reason we do what we do!
At the start of this, the third year of massage therapy, I want to take the time to say thank you. Regular Massage Therapy has made life in this aging body easier, with less pain and greater mobility. We have spoken briefly about my history but for the sake of others who may read this I’ll mention that my body has served me well for 61 years.
Growing up I was an active boy, I participated in all the things boys did in the 1960’s. I’ve been in more than my share of accidents, sports injuries and fights, among other things. My body has served me well thru an enlistment in the Army, a decade of body building, a decade of overwork, and another of distance running, including 8 marathons. When I went to college in my 40’s I forced it to sit for long periods of time, while still continuing to work full time and sleeping only occasionally. Thankfully that only lasted 4 years. However the stress from this unnatural lifestyle, poor food choices and 2 years in a failed career change contributed to a heart attack which resulted in open heart surgery. My once strong energetic body was beginning to show signs of wear and abuse.
A few years later an old injury to my lower back caused such intense pain I could barely walk. Sitting with the neurologist, we decided surgery was not a good choice for me. The road back involved chiropractic, rehab, medications and my return to yoga. I had begun yoga in 1982 and practiced occasionally until about 10 years ago when I again gave it more time. In the intense pain of my back problems I began to listen to my body more closely. I still had problems and hated taking opiate medications daily for the pain. When my employer offered a health care plan that included Therapeutic Massage I jumped at the opportunity.
Now I had my share of fears, I had lived for 50 some years and never had a real massage. I didn’t know any man who had Therapeutic Massage. (I thought that was something rich women had done on cruises.) A co-worker urged me to try it and the desire to feel my body more aligned and at peace with less pain pushed me to walk thru the door and make the appointment, I probably should have just called. Following that first session I felt a tremendous sense of relief, my body began to feel more natural again. I moved better and could walk better.
In the past 2 years Massage Therapy has been the springboard from which I have lost over 30 pounds. Sure my body still has many problems, now I get to experience arthritis in both hips and shoulders along with Carpal tunnel syndrome. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time is definitely not natural and my body doesn’t like it. However it allows me to do a job that I have come to love. I work in Mental Health, I am a Crisis Counselor. Some of you know what that is but most people probably have no idea. So picture the worst day you have ever had, any or all of the really bad things we all dread have happened and imagine you can’t go on, so you fall apart emotionally. Many, not all, of my clients are actively suicidal. These things happen to real people not just the other guy or “those kind of people”. Like first responders, ER staff and police, we go to and assist people at a time when they cannot help themselves. We enter into their trauma. I enter into the world of my clients and often experience their emotional pain. I have found that experiencing this trauma from the lives of others over and over again causes a residual effect. Massage Therapy has allowed this negative energy to flow out from my body. I find that I no longer carry the stress effect left deep in the muscle tissue of my body.
So you ask me how I feel after a massage. It is again comfortable to be in my body, for a brief period the pain is gone. The lasting effects of this activity have allowed me to decrease the amount of medications I use to control pain and I am on track to stop all opiate pain meds this summer. I think clearer and have more balance in my life. There frequently is no one solution to a problem. Most of the time it takes several years and many contributing factors to mess up a system. In a similar way there are generally many contributing factors to overall wellness. For me Massage Therapy was the part I was missing. I thank you, my body thanks you.