What is pain? Many are turning to Massage Therapy as a means of alleviating pain, which should mean that Massage Therapists know what pain is and how to deal with it. But do they? I’ve long concluded that pain is mysterious. We have gadgets with which to see air, but pain holds exclusive rights to invisibility. When it wishes to make its presence known, we feel it. For that matter, I think pain is like God. Everyone experiences God, but never in His entirety. And everyone experiences pain, but I doubt they want to have a shot at pain in its entirety. So we get doses. We encounter God as El Shaddai, Vishnu, etc. And we encounter pain as Toothache, Backache, etc.
I was massaging the arms of a petite Spanish lady (Sister B) who is bedridden, has bed-sores on her buttocks, and whose lower right leg shows severe deterioration with an open abscess near the ankle. She has Diabetes. It was our first session of therapy and she spoke of dreadful bouts of pain. She complained that her left leg is especially painful. At nights, she said that her ankle and knee pained so badly that she is forced to reach for the painkillers, which put her to sleep. She swore that had she known that she would still feel the pain even after the operation, she would have kept her leg. Yes, the very left leg that pains badly at nights is not even there. It was amputated last November because it was in a worse state than the right side and the Doctor said it would poison her…which meant death, and she wanted to live.
So I ask again, what is pain? If pain is resident in a leg that is physically absent, how could massage help that foot to feel less, or no pain? When our clients come to us expecting a good massage that helps to relieve the pain in their body, what are they really asking for? And what are we really giving to them? An impressive handful of techniques? Are we really convinced that it is the physical act of massaging that alleviates the pain? And what does it mean, after we would have done the best massage, and the pain persists? Does the pain back out of the flesh and into the aura from which position it mocks us, knowing that it can carry on its function uninterrupted by the mime of our physical efforts to eradicate it? Or are we to consider that the pain was never in the flesh at all?
That which goes on during a massage is something an Electrician understands better than many Massage Therapists. Except for the odd occasion, during a massage the recipient is imbued with a complex combination of harmonious energies, which create that good feeling. The Massage Therapist functions as the channel for these energies. As humans, there are times when our circuitry gets faulty and we need the gaps bridged. The Massage Therapist stands in the gap. But he/she would be deemed incompetent if they were to just stand there holding the client’s hand, so we have been trained to do a few manipulations so that we look like we are working for our money.
Some folks just need a top up, so a little massage here and there does the mending and their circuitry is okay for a while. For other folks, massage is needed on a regular basis at short intervals in order to deal with the major repairs needed in their circuitry. And there are other folks who have weak/leaky valves, so the energy runs out as fast as you put it in. While working with them, they are fine. When you take your hands off them, they relapse. The pain kicks back in almost immediately. Since it is impractical for the Therapist to maintain the connection indefinitely, the client has to learn to alternatively manage the pain until the next scheduled visit.
This next scheduled visit should be at the Therapist’s discretion, since the client is like one of those babies who pull hard and long on their mother’s nipple, and still need a bottle of porridge afterwards. If the visits are too regular, the Therapist can suffer serious negatives effects, regardless if he/she has learnt how to open themselves to the flow of Universal Energy through them to the client, rather than feeding the client from what they have stored; one reason why it was persons with Shaman-like character who did rubbing. Pain was respected as being an entity that cannot be subdued by any and everybody.
Back to the sisters. It was Sister A who invited me to do the massage. She had long been enquiring about a Massage Therapist and no one seemed to know anyone who would visit her home to massage Sister B. In our initial telephone conversation she had painted the most dismal picture about her sister’s condition, and I was uncertain that I wanted to take on the job, but we agreed to meet. It turned out that they have different mothers and are only a few months apart in age. They have never had a close relationship, but after the operation and the amputee sister was discharged, there was no place else to go. To date, Sister A is still flustered at having this responsibility thrust on her. She talks all the time of the maintenance cost. She would have nothing to do with pamper changing, or bed-sore cleaning, so she has hired two Nurses who spend about an hour a few times per day. And while she feels that Sister B could benefit from massages, she is uncertain when the next session would occur as she has other expenses.
But I am not convinced that she really wants the help of a Massage Therapist. At the end of the session she asked if I think Sister B will walk again? If so, how soon? She badly wants that lady to be up and about and back in her own home. So I told myself what she really needed was the help of one of those Holy men who walk through villages doing random miracles on their way to enlightenment. It took her sister years to get to such a deteriorated state. Am I to now whip out oil and techniques and make her whole again? And, compared to the messy business that the Nurses have to deal with, my little game of oil and techniques is close to trivial and cost more than what the Nurses charge. She has informed me that when she gets money again, she will call me.
Well, that was not before she read the leaflet I gave her and she told me that she would consider having a massage too. She said that some time during the late 90s she went to a Chiropractor in the East and when he was done straightening her she had that I Believe I Could Fly feeling. So she flew up off the table like a young sprightly chick and when she landed, she twisted her left leg, and it has not been the same since. So, yes, she is personally considering a massage, or rather, a miracle at the hands of a Massage Therapist.
Enough of that. Tanty is back home. She called to let me know that I should come over. Fine. When I got there I enquired about what was permissible and what was not. She said I could massage her all over. The Doctors who fussed over her had pronounced her case inconclusive. One day the tests they did showed that there was a high percentage of red cell which had her blood clotting willy nilly. A few days after the new tests showed that her white blood cells were the abundant ones. They don’t know what to make of her condition. So they sent her home…with a prescribed 15-tablets-per-day diet.
While on the inside, they injected (it seemed) everything that could be paid for. Her arms look like she is a Junkie…incision marks at the wrists and elbows. Her abdomen looks like she had Liposuction…incision marks around the navel area. She said that after each injection in the abdomen, there was a severe burning sensation that lasted about half an hour. Guess that was to melt the clots. In addition, there is a transparent plaster above her left breast which is supposed to draw the pain. Her skin looked like such a mess I told her it is a good thing that she doesn’t have a husband.
She is grateful to be back home, and her children did a little thanks. She believes that had she not been having massages, she would have been in a worse state. When she was initially checked into the Hospital, her tongue was heavy and no one understood what she was saying. She feels that she is not praying enough and is not as faithful to her God as she should be. So she resolves to be more diligent with her religion and to use more green food. And of course, have her massages. And she tells me that the mistake people make is to feel that the Doctor knows everything. They don’t know plenty things. You pay plenty money and they can’t stop the pain. And she recounted the ordeal of a woman in the ward who was in much pain because she was being continuously bitten all over her body by things that the naked eyes could not see. Tests were being doing to determine what exactly her problem was, meanwhile, she lay in bed bawling. Tanty took it upon herself to advise the woman to go and see a Priest.
Maybe that is it. Massage Therapists need to become Priests. Pain sometimes require exorcism. While it could be argued that the Nervous System is the culprit, we should remember that for all the autonomy that that system has, it is answerable to a higher authority. Becoming Priests should enable us to identify this authority and bargain with it on the client’s behalf, which could only mean well for the millions plagued with pain. But that would be the cold day in Hell, for while many would be healthier, many more will be on the bread line; as the Pharmaceutical Industry may suffer from a Nervous Breakdown.