Massage Therapy and a breath of fresh air!


I will admit it: I am addicted.  

It calms me, it soothes me, it relaxes the muscles of my back and neck which bother me, it stimulates an immune response which helps me manage my RA.  I crave time where I am forced to do nothing but chill.  And this takes the cake.

I’ve been to probably 10 different therapists over the years, most of them good, some of them atrocious.  A memorable one would be the guy who chuckled when he had me roll over and got a glimpse of boob.  And proceeded to stare.  Thank you, douchebag- because of you and how uncomfortable you made me, I now only go to female masseuses.  Have fun at the club tonight by yourself with your balding yet spiked hair and Ed Hardy shirt. I bet you like techno music and use cheesy pickup lines.  

I digress.

I found my current one by chance.  A coworker had a gift certificate that he wasn’t going to use.  “I don’t like being touched and I have a problem laying naked on a table in front of a stranger.”  To which I said “I do and I don’t.”  I called, made an appointment and by luck of the schedule, got this one.

Seriously, she is the best one ever.  Not because of her bodywork (which is great) but because of her interest in auto-immune disorders (family member with Webener’s who is on Prednisone and Methotrexate) and the fact that she’s currently studying naturopathic medicine.  

I admit, if you really think about it, that it’s a little weird meeting someone for the first time and five minutes later, you’re laying there with no clothes on.  Somewhat like a frat party?  (Sorry, Mom- totally kidding.)  It’s even a little more intimidating when you have to explain to them that “hey, I have this thing and these spots that if you aren’t careful, you could really hurt me.”  I’m accustomed to having to explain what and where every time I go to the same people.  I’m also very hesitant to let them touch the spots.  In fact, until this one, I’ve never let anyone touch my affected joints.

So, imagine my surprise on my second appointment when she asked to see my hands before we started.  She looked at them and gingerly touched them.  “Ok, you’re a little swollen today.  I just wanted to check before.  How are your feet?”  Wow.  I seriously think I hugged her.

It’s made a huge difference in how I feel.  I’m getting massages weekly like my doctor recommended for the first time ever with no fear of injury.  She is more in tune with my RA than my rheumy is.  She has picked up on the spots in my wrists that bother me sometimes, which I’ve never mentioned, and this week made me happy by saying “Your fingers really look much less swollen lately.”  I had noticed it too but hadn’t said anything to anyone because I thought it was just me being hopeful.

She’s given me advice on supplements-where to buy and brands to try, recommended a yoga teacher who can help me modify things when I need to, and is encouraging me to try acupuncture.  She’s familiar with my medications and is very empathetic on their side effects.  We talk about diet and foods that are by nature inflammatory.  

 I’ve had better conversations with her than I have with my doctors.  And in some cases, more well-informed conversations.  I really believe in treating the whole person, sometimes I feel that my doctors don’t.

I swear I had a point here.  I’m excited.  I’ve always wanted to approach my treatment as a partnership.  I only want people to understand where I’m coming from and where I want to go.  I want to get a massage as often as my budget allows.  I only want my goodies ogled in an appropriate venue. I want to have clinical conversations about my rheumatoid arthritis that don’t make me feel like crying.  And for now, I have that.

8 responses »

  1. I’m so happy for you! Just having your symptoms validated by someone is a gift in itself! This lady deserves a Christmas gift from you! 🙂 It sounds like she is someone who loves what she does and really wants to help people. What a rare find! Truly, a treasure!

  2. This is great! I’ve found great ones in the past – I love that feeling when you “click” with a massage therapist – but don’t have anyone current who makes me feel that way. I saw someone recently who I thought was good, but after the massage I felt horrible, so I guess not…

  3. She sounds woooonderful! I am another massage addict, but I’ve had some awful masseuses, too. My current once is good, usually, but she doesn’t listen very well when I tell her I’m in pain and please be gentle. My last massage was excruciating – I held my breath the whole time. NOT relaxing, at all. I haven’t made an appointment to go back.

    The main reason I’ve been going to her is that she works out of the same building I live in. I think I might go back to my old masseuse across town. She was gentle in personality and approach, and I always left feeling completely relaxed.

    I laughed out loud reading about the male masseuse. He’ll definitely be in the club tonight with his Ed Hardy shirt.

  4. I love how alternative practitioners really seem to understand what is going on and get to know us in a totally different way. Loved reading this post and is making me itch to get my own massage soon.

  5. I love hearing you found one where you didn’t feel you had to ‘start all over explaining’… I have been scared to get one lately, mainly because I’m worried they will hurt me. I wonder if she has a network of like-minded individuals she would be willing to share with all of us?
    And, btw, I laughed so loud about the frat house comment I woke up my dog! nice one:)

  6. Sounds like you found a great therapist! And as a massage therapist with RA myself, I know how tricky it can be to find the right match.

    I don’t think I would survive without weekly massage. And that has become more important since being diagnosed with RA. And I have a big shout-out to my clients with RA, because working with them made me more insistent with my docs when I started to develop symptoms of my own.

    Massage does not have to be excruciating to be effective. Don’t feel you must stay with a massage therapist who insists otherwise. Especially when you have RA, fibro, or other chronic pain condition. There are countless studies that prove this point. (Maybe I’ll track them down and blog about it myself!)

    Thanks for starting the dialogue here!
    Barbara from This Luscious RA

  7. Iam thoroughly convinced it has made a big difference on my health overall. I sleep better and ‘bad days’ aren’t as bad anymore. I so agree that it shouldn’t be excruciating- its a very vulnerable position for us with RA- and love that so many massage therapists seem to be so knowledgeable and responsive!

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