Massage Contraindicated


I received a copy of a highly amusing poem about Cancer today. Not that Cancer is a laughing matter, but the poet captured the procedure so well that, without having any knowledge of the routine, I clearly saw and sympathised with what she went through in the name of a breast examination. And, as many of the names of things, and things themselves, associated with women (menstruation, gynaecology, etc.) are linked to men, so also was the equipment used in the procedure. Hence the suggestion was made that the inventor should have his pair of testicles taken through the very procedure so that he may know what a pair of breasts really feels. Is the inventor still alive?

This reminds me of one of my clients who learnt detachment early in his life, Cancer runs in his family. Many of his beloved relatives went to meet their Maker too soon. Needless to say, he does not pass up an opportunity to advise a woman to do a Mammogram. His crusade was wasted on me. Anyway, the whole Cancer thing has led to his decision not to have children. To him this meant that no child or grandchild of his would ever experience the horrors of being eaten alive…from the inside out.

While his journey with female relatives through their ordeal with Cancer has made him humble, and quite respectful and knowledgeable of our gender, his love life suffers much. For though he is the kind of guy that women dream of settling down with and making a host of children for, the persistent ticking of the noisy biological clock drives him out of the relationship.

As a child, spending the August holidays by my great grandmother was always an eye-opener. I remember her going next door to assist (daily) with a Cancer victim. The lady had Breast Cancer for a long time, and they had been treating her with homemade remedies. In the last stages of her fight, they used to put pieces of beef on/in the ulcer. When it was removed, it was a pink shadow of its red self, as the blood was sucked out of it. Another piece would then replace that. ‘Vampire’ was not in my vocabulary then, but I did have ideas of something evil living in that woman that had an insatiable appetite for blood.


Today I went to bond with my elderly friends. I saw a new face. One of his daughters was visiting with him. I introduced myself and moved on. I usually massage all the women, then massage the men, so I had some time before I heard his story.

Well, let’s get to it. I had not reached him yet, but I observed that he was having hiccoughs, and I immediately felt something was wrong with his nerves. I enquired and learnt he had surgery…the abdomen. Ah-ha. Surgery saves lives, but I have seen so many persons with nerve damage coming out of surgery. It is sad. I am big on unsolicited advice, so I gave them my take on the hiccoughs. I did not have the name for it then, but phrenic nerve suffered some damage.

When I did get to my one-on-one session with him, I explained that massage is contraindicated, but at least we could spend the time in meaningful exchange. I learnt he had the surgery last month, for Cancer removal.

Let’s do this in chronological order…

In 2007 he was diagnosed with Cancer of the Colon and, thanks to the company with which he worked, all expanses were taken care of. Private medical institutions were involved, so he received very good (leaving room for improvement) treatment. There was the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy, and this and that. He was fine again.

In 2009 he started experiencing severe abdominal pains and it was then found that he had a ‘blockage.’ Hmmm. They went back in and removed the ‘blockage.’ According to him, the radiology had shrunken and knotted up parts of his large intestine, so sections had to be cut out. Of course, it was more complicated than that, but in the end, all went well…again.

‘The Saturday after Carnival’ (2011) he went back into symptoms mode, and back to hospital. It was found that the Cancer had taken over his entire abdomen. This was shocking to him, as he had been attending clinics over the years and no Doctor ever said anything. As far as he knew, the Cancer was dealt with back in 2007. Uh-huh. So, surgery had to be arranged quickly. They went into him and came back out to tell him that it was so bad that they were only able to remove the ‘pulps,’ but bed from which the pulps sprang up, had to be left alone. Sounds like gardening to me.

Employers would not hang onto employees with terminal illness, even when, in this guys case, he has been up and about and doing things as normal, so I was not surprised to learn that he had long been relieved of his duties, and that the expenses of this last surgery was on the family.

Up to a few weeks ago, he was still in hospital recovering. He recalled that one night ‘a Doctor and two Interns from UWI’ went into his section of the ward, of which himself and two other men were occupants. They walked past the first two patients and attended to the third. The Doctor-led trio then walked back out. As they did, one of the Interns enquired after the other two patients. The Doctor told them the other two were ‘as good as dead.’

Forgive me for sticking my opinion all over the story, but…is this allowed? I do understand that, based on years of experience and whatever else, the Doctor had a right to his opinion. But did he have to voice it in earshot of the patients? Isn’t there like a Doctors Quarters in the building where the door is kept shut while opinions fly around?

I would think that the Medical professional has a similar ethic to the Legal profession…alive until proven dead/innocent until proven guilty; which means, even if the Doctor knows the exact time that a patient will die, he/she is still obligated to respecting the life in that body.

Anyway, my dear friend and the other unattended guy were upset. He got on his cell phone and called his family and told them he was leaving the hospital. The next day he discharged himself and went home. But he needed medical treatment, so the following day he was back in hospital. He was monitored until they felt he could be properly discharged, and such was done.

There is some other procedure to be undergone, but he has to build up his blood count first. I asked whether he was given a diet sheet, or told what foods to use to meet this requirement. ‘No.’ Okay.

Meanwhile, he occupies himself with much reading. And while technically, he may be a dead man walking, he is one of the most upbeat persons I have ever met…in or out of a Nursing Home.

According to a much older resident of the Home, we have to learn to work with the hand that life deals us. And in his opinion, the Cancer patient is doing well. Very well.

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