I want to take offense, but I am not sure how to go about it. While working with a client at the Home some ladies came to visit the Matron. We exchanged pleasantries as they passed me working on the patio and they proceeded inside. Minutes later another lady, the driver who was outside parking, came in and we greeted too. She sat a few chairs away from me preoccupied with her cell phone. By the time I was ready to leave she was standing outside the gate. She wanted to talk to me. I stopped and listened. She said that her husband is suffering from GBS. (What’s that, the latest acronym the medical folks came up with? They like to decide on a tongue-twister for a condition, then they reduce it to a few letters because it tires them to say the whole name, and it becomes fashionable. If you don’t know what the acronym means, or pretend that you do, then you are not of superior intelligence). I asked what’s GBS in layman terms. She said weakness and atrophy of the extremities which eventually leads to immobility, but luckily for her husband, he could move his arms. Some luck.

She collected a brochure and said that she would like me to do house calls to work with her husband. Then she asked if I am certified. Yes. Good, because I’ll have to make insurance claims. I told her I am not aware that she could claim for massage treatments. Then she said: You aren’t a Physiotherapist? I told her no. And she said: But I see you working there and you look so professional I said you must be a Physiotherapist. Now, this is what I am trying to decide how to take offense about. Are Massage Therapists generally unprofessional? If that is the impression, it is scary. On the positive side, that she cannot tell the difference between a Physiotherapist and a Massage Therapist says a lot about public perception and the reality that the two professions used to be one until someone decided otherwise.

After I returned home I did a few nicks and knacks and settled down to get some rest. The phone rang. A gentleman who identified himself using both first and surname wanted to know if I do massage in Port of Spain. Yes. That was all. I put away the phone and fell asleep. Only to be startled by it ringing. The same gentleman. Said he forgot to ask the most important question. What’s that? The price. Okay. I told him. He asked if that is for an hour. Yes. And how much for two hours? I told him. He thanked me and the call ended. I could not go back to sleep. Got up and found things to do. Next afternoon he called. Reminded me who he was. Then informed me that he was going to be dropping someone off at NAPA in the evening and he would have about two hours to play with and would like us to spend that time together. Interesting. I reminded him that I do outcall massages in Port of Spain, but he was not reside there. He said that is not a problem as I could meet him near the Savannah and we could work out something. Where, in the back seat of his car? Should I be offended? I told him there is a massage place somewhere near the Savannah, so he could make enquiries and use their service. He wanted to meet me. Meet me? I thought he wanted a massage. Well look at me getting bent out of shape in a back seat for two hours.

The next day I went to work on the Old Road and on my return I asked the driver how much he would charge to collect two boxes from the Croisee and drop them off at my home. We agreed on a price and the delivery was made. He had assisted me in getting them from the store to the car, but when we got to my place I told him my son would fetch them. I got out of the car and called out for my son. He came running down the steps. I commented to the driver that at least he did not have the earphones in his ear. He smiled and said he knew exactly what I meant. I smiled too. When we were upstairs, my son asked who was the driver. I ignored him. After a while he asked again. Usually I’d treat it as a straightforward question and simply answer, but I decided to make a lesson of it. I told him I’m taking offense to him asking me my business. He said it’s just a question. I told him that kind of questioning could easily spark an argument in a relationship. He said I was making a big deal of nothing as he had seen me laughing with the guy and thought I knew him so he asked. Accepted. But a spouse coming from a different background with justified reasons for suspicion might feel that the question goes to the heart of trust. So he has to start, from now, learning to wait for information to be volunteered, or couch the question differently otherwise she might get tired of having to explain herself every time she smiles with a man.

I got some rest and headed back out to do my volunteer thing. For a moment I thought there was a ‘passing out’ ceremony on the Bus Route. I saw officers wearing white long-sleeved shirts in the distance. When I got close enough I realized that it was not their ceremonial outfit, but it certainly facilitated the elegant waving of the hand. They indicated for the driver to pull over. There were 5-7 maxis on either side of the road on the grass. It seemed that once that number was reduced, they pulled over more to keep the numbers up. As close as we were to our destinations we were made to sit and wait while the driver fussed with the relevant papers for the Officer at his window. Then there was a tap on the door. The driver looked over. Another Officer wanted access. The automatic door swung open. He stepped inside. Glanced around. Then said: Good afternoon passengers. Be patient with us. We’re conducting a routine check. Being in vehicle that was pulled over has probably happened thrice in my few years here, and on none of those occasions did an Officer enter the vehicle, or greeted passengers (in robotic fashion without making eye contact), or mentioned a routine check. This was anything but routine…for me. And given that they found nothing more than up-to-date documents, I wanted to take offense because they delayed me.

When I got to my destination I sat watching the ladies do their warm-up. Someone asked who I was and I said a Masseuse. The Coach then said that he was taught that a Masseuse is one who does sensual stuff while the Massage Therapist is the one who does therapeutic stuff. Was he implying something? I told him I believe it is more a matter of language. One is French and one is English, like Adieu and Goodbye. He asked if I was sure. I just looked at him. He probably needs a Masseuse. When they were done inside we went onto the field. I rolled out my mat on the grass and sat on it. A young lady came and sat near me. I had not seen her before. She was late. The Coach came over and asked that I do ‘light drainage’ on her ankle. She took off her sneaker and sock and I saw the ankle was swollen. I asked what happened to her foot and the Coach squatted and told me that the A-something-L was injured, but according to an x-ray there was no fracture and he is of the opinion that there is no rupture either. She asked if he was sure because of the severity of the pain she felt. He said if he had any doubt he would have recommended a MRI. So here again, it is convenient to use acronyms. I figured A was for anterior, and L was for ligament. Not sure what the other letter was. It did not sound like (the much bandied about) ACL.

My client laid prone on the mat. I elevated the foot and worked from ankle to knee. I saw the Coach looking at me because I was not exactly doing what he had instructed, but even he knows that an anterior problem needs posterior attention, sometimes. I gradually moved in on the ankle. There was no significant pain. When I was through he told her to do repetitions of eversion, inversion, and circumduction. Then I stabilized her foot on the ground while she stood and bent her knee forward. Three sets of six. Then it was back on the mat. Supine this time. He did not tell me what to do and I was free to work with my client and learn more of her injury. They were practicing when a player bumped into her and her foot went into inversion. The other player stepped on it putting further strain on the outside while sinking the spikes into the medial side. As I worked with this new picture I was able to find the pain on the medial side between the ankle and the heel where the flexor muscle behind the leg connect with the ligaments that run along the sole. Maybe the Coach should have said: FDL, as in flexor digitorum lungus, and its ligaments by extension.

I deduced that pressure of the spiked shoe holding the foot to the ground while she was trying to pull her foot away stretched the ligaments so much that adequate room was made on the lateral side for the ankle to twist beyond the usual range. Thus leaving no significant pain on the lateral/overstretched side, but rather on the side that was stomped. I told her this and she seemed to understand. I then had her sit up and take off the other sneaker. We compared the ankles. One was definitely bordering on elephantitis. I then placed the heels of my hands under both ankles and swiveled the foot. The good one moved easily, but the injured one remained stiff. She laughed at the difference. I had her lie down again and seriously began addressing the ankle. She exhaled as I applied pressure and swelling was reduced by half after a few minutes. We were now draining the right area.

One of the other players ran onto the sideline. Couldn’t play anymore. The Coach went to her. I was still working with my client as I was hoping to have her ankle back to regular size. He chose not to interrupt me and did something with her. She hobbled back into the game, but was back on the sideline soon after. I told my client we did enough work for one session and she got up so that the player could be helped. She told me her hamstring was cramping. I keep wondering about humans having hamstring. Are we all pigs? I straddled her and used my fist to do compression as well as to stretch out the muscles. Some tension remained, but at least she was walking better in the end. Another one practically threw herself onto the mat. I asked where needed addressing. Hamstring. I did the one leg. She said the other too. I did the other leg. She said her butt. I did her butt. She said her back too. I told her we were on the field, not in a spa. Full body treatments are not the norm on the field. She found that funny. Good. She said that she has foam rollers, but no time to use them. I told her to consider self-massage. She asked if I wanted her to play with herself, and added that she already does that, but it does not take away the pain in her legs.

The next day I went to see a client who I had stopped treating in last January because her family had decided that our mission together was accomplished. So I was surprised when I was advised that I needed to restart treatment urgently. It was a brief notice that did not entail reasons for treatment, but that was okay as I knew that the Nurse would fill me in once on site. When I arrived the pleasantries started flying around. It’s been some months since I had visited that Home and we had to catch up on New Year’s greetings. One lady asked if I had gone ‘back home’ as she had not seen me in a while. I told her that absence makes the heart grow fonder. She said: of another. Wow! Absence makes the heart grow fonder of another. I wondered what else they neglected to teach me in Primary School. I told her I have to hurry and get that message out because there is someone making the terrible mistake of believing that absenting themselves is the way to go. Another bird might be sitting in their nest by the time they return.

While I sat working with my client there was ringside conversation on whether we would have treated Jesus with the honour we do now had we been alive during his walk on earth. I think we spoke of this before, but doing it again was refreshing. I said it’s unlikely. One lady said she felt he would have had a huge aura and she would have felt his divinity. Possibly, but not necessarily. I told her since we have a knack for killing messengers or worshiping them, there are security measures that they come with. In special cases they are allowed to show their true colours, but they are generally chameleons who fit into the crowd and get about their assignments with urgency…as they could be mauled in the streets anytime soon. That took us to the questions: Who do men say that I am? And: Who do you say that I am? The responses are supposed to be different. The public was not permitted to see him the way his ‘inner circle’ did. Projecting his divinity would have been reserved for the inner circle, but john public would have had to listen and discern truth then decide if he was worth his salt. So, he was just another man…until a personal experience with him was had. Which makes arguments of his divinity, and lack of it, valid.

After the massage I took my client for a walk. She usually spends hours in one chair, which is fairly normal in Homes. So it is from the bed to a chair, and one chair to another, independently. This is what we accomplished last year. I took her out on the grass and she walked around, hesitantly. No railings or walls or chairs to hold onto. I told her to let me know when she has had enough, and she did, in about two minutes. I delayed that for another two trying to make five minutes. When we returned to the building she selected a different chair and dropped herself into it. She was tired, but I was satisfied with her efforts. When I had spoken with the Nurse earlier she had advised me that the lady’s daughter requested that I do massage twice weekly. Reason? She wants to take her mother on a walkabout during Carnival. I could not believe my ears, but I remained quiet and listened. The Nurse stopped talking. She said that she has been anticipating my laughter. I invested time and effort to become a professional so that people would take me seriously. Now I have people waiting for me to laugh. Some progress. Okay. I had a good laugh. But I saved some for home where I don’t have to be circumspect about it. So in about three days I went from Massage Therapist (MT), to Physiotherapist (P), to Personal Trainer (PT). Making my own acronyms. Anyway, I am definitely taking my PT role seriously to ensure that granny is able to hit the streets of Port of Spain for Carnival come March 2014.