Thursday, July 15, 2010

Bizarre Massage Triangle

I need a weekly massage to keep my neck and shoulders mobile; they and my arms are the primary places I still ache and have stiffness from my Lyme Disease. I have a fantastic massage therapist I see every Thursday, but circumstances conspired that made me miss two weeks of massage back to back, and I knew I couldn't go another week without body work. I decided to take a chance with a massage therapist I found on Yelp, my chief source of referrals. It's generally quite accurate, but fate had an adventure in mind.

I could tell right away that Katherine, the new massage therapist, was a little flaky. She handed me an intake form asking about basic health history. As I took it I said, "The primary information you need to know is that I have Lyme Disease." About seven feet away she started to look up Lyme on Wikipedia. "There's nothing in that entry that will help you with the work that we're about to do. I get a massage weekly, and I'm happy to tell you exactly how Lyme affects my bodywork and how we can make it a good session for both of us," I said. Katherine sat down to review the intake form and asked me where the car accident that I had a decade ago took place. Here's how the rest of that conversation went:

Me: "D.C."
Katherine: "Where in D.C.?"
Me: "Northwest."
Katherine: "What intersection?"
Me: "Why do you want to know?"
Katherine: "Because I like to ask my clients questions."

This struck me as very odd and unprofessional, but she topped the weird factor by asking me who hit me in the accident. "I think that's irrelevant and it was a long time ago," I said. By this point, I was definitely not feeling the love toward Katherine, but I was thinking, "I need the massage badly. I'll roll with it and not come back to this weirdo."

So it was a huge shock to me when she shook her head and declared, "You know, I don't think you're a good candidate for massage. There are other healing things you should be doing, but not this." Incredulous, I replied, "Massage is an essential part of my care plan. Like I said, I get one every week. In fact, I have a prescription from my pain doctor for massage so I get the expense reimbursed from my flexible spending account." I was dumbfounded. Katherine answered, "You also need to change your diet. Honey will help you."

Cue Alice Cooper's "No More Mr Nice Guy." I was astounded and thinking, "Do you know to whom you speak?" But what I said was: "Ok, Katherine. That is completely inappropriate. You know so little about Lyme that you were looking it up on Wikipedia five minutes ago, but now you know enough about it -- and about me -- to give me unsolicited nutritional advice? I don't see an R.D., L.N.D., M.D., N.D., or CHC after your name that would make you qualified to give such advice. And by the way, I've lost 109 pounds, largely because I don't eat sugar or honey. This is way over the line. Give me that intake form back; I don't trust you with my personal information." To my great credit, I said this without yelling, cussing, threatening, or calling Katherine any of the adjectives and nouns I was thinking about her. I wish I had remembered to tell her that the bacteria that causes Lyme actually thrives in sugar.

"Fuck," I thought as I left. "I really need a massage. What am I going to do?" I cursed that I didn't have an iPhone for Internet access, and called the only place in the area that I knew had a massage therapist, NustaSpa. I asked if they could take a walk-in, and they could. It wasn't ideal, because I need a therapeutic massage more than a spa-like massage, but it was better than nothing. NustaSpa was gorgeous and I decided that since I was paying a fortune for a sub-par massage, I would eat it up and enjoy the spa experience. My mindfulness practice became very helpful because every time my brain slipped back into "#@#! Katherine," I could say, "Ok, focus on what Ileyna is doing to you now, in this moment." Rinse and repeat about 10 times.

The massage saga had an interesting end: I was going to call Katherine's boss the next day, but she beat me to it and called me back the night of the breakdown. She was extremely apologetic and mortified, and offered me a complementary session with her head massage therapist. I saw him Monday and he was pretty good and very pleasant, but I can't wait to get back to see Gail, my massage therapist today. I usually hug her when I leave her office, but today I think I'll hug her when I see her.

1 comment:

Stef said...

Wow. Okay, yet again, I am *SUPER* impressed by your behavior today!! Wow, wow, WOW! You were candid and clear, yet not aggressive or abusive. You stated what you needed to say, and took the measures you needed to take, and yet still treated Katherine like a human (flawed though she may be). And you engaged in active meditation practice when you became aware of your mind shifting to the negative thoughts - AMAZING! I've said it before, and I'm confident I'll say it again: Lady, you rock! :)