WeCroak, Day 2: A Touching Career

So, I know in the last post I said that I was doing my WeCroak app inspired writings everyday, and you haven’t seen much.  That’s because it’s all been taking place on my email list.  I’ll put them up here on a three day delay.  Just so you know, I tend to take out certain stuff in these public posts, but you are welcome to subscribe to get the latest up-to-date and most accurate information. Enjoy!

I’ve worked at a lot of massage jobs where I didn’t have very good boundaries with the amount of work I did.  Sometimes I would do 8 massages in a day because I wanted more money, or my employer would guilt me into it.  There’s typically always someone around willing to do the work you won’t do, and I don’t know why I thought I needed to be that person.  For years, I thought doing the most massages would get me far in my career, but it really just gave me a lot of physical pain.

Most of my work has been in the spa environment, which can be competitive, and not the most rewarding.  You often aren’t treated well by wealthy-ish clients.  When I racked my brain for the rewarding experiences I had in massage I was able to come up with a handful.  One of them was a woman in the middle of cancer treatment.  I could tell it hurt her just to exist, and I felt really good when she left feeling more relieved.  I once gave a two hour massage to a man who was leaving the next day for his deployment in Afghanistan.  I never knew what happened to him after that.

Mainly, I remembered a client that I saw in a nursing home.  She was my age (late twenties at the time).  She was in a car accident that left her in a vegetative state.  Her mother had visited the spa I worked at to get a haircut, and asked me if I did outcalls.

She explained that her daughter’s hands and feet were starting to curl up and atrophy due to lying in bed for so long.  She just wanted me to rub her daughter’s hands and feet for thirty minutes.  This mother held on to hope that her daughter would one day need to use her hands and feet, and was encouraged that her daughter’s condition had recently been upgraded from vegetative to “minimally conscious.”

The client Hannah (name changed), was my age, married, and she was in a nursing home filled mostly with people 3 to 4 times her age.  She wasn’t able to communicate really other than open her eyes and slightly move.  I had no idea really what to do, other than use soft pressure, work the “shortened side” of the hand and foot to get them to lengthen.  I spent most of the time showing her caregiver (who stayed with her during the day while her mother was at work) how to massage.

I have no idea whether Hannah liked my massage, but her digits were starting to look less curled after a few weeks.  I always would feel a presence with her that I didn’t have with regular clients.  In fact, I see in retrospect that I had done my spa massages so many times it was easy for me to check out.  But this wasn’t another rich housewife who needed to relax.  This woman and this family had endured a tragedy.  I wanted to ease Hannah’s pain, if she had any.  I wanted to help her mother hold on to hope.

I always was amazed at Hannah’s mother.  She was determined to see her daughter living life again.  She wanted her feet to be ready for when she would ultimately walk again in spite of what any doctor said about it.  She often would administer some sort of infrared treatment to her daughter’s head near the brain stem.  She had read an article that it would help regenerate cell tissue.

After a while, her caregiver took over massaging duties.  I moved to New Hampshire, and I’m not sure what happened to Hannah until about a year ago.

My husband and I went to visit his grandmother who was near death in that same nursing home where Hannah was.  As I walked down the hall, I saw name plates of patients, and I saw hers.  She was in the same room.  She was still there.

Maybe I had held onto the hope that she would have walked out.  I wanted to stop by and say hello, but I didn’t know what to say.  Did Hannah even know who I was?  Maybe that doesn’t even matter.

When I tell this story to people they usually commend me on my strength or my big heart.  I don’t know if I have either of those.  But it was one of the handful of times where I felt that massaging people was really important work.

Maybe that’s what I’m missing in my touch career:  I want to be of need and of value to someone.  I want to help people that are in need that others don’t want to help.  (I guess I still want to do things other people don’t want to do.)

I spent the morning looking up training for massage in palliative care.

Just keep living,
Lauren

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