Friday, November 30, 2007

Just Like Monica on Friends

It had to happen eventually. Every massage therapist has at one point or another had to deal with it. With one of them. I suppose I'm lucky that my first happened while I was in the safety of the college clinic with my supervisor a mere towel-throw away.

We have very established rules and guidelines for this sort of thing. If you are unsure or uncomfortable about anything at all, you throw a towel out from under your cubicle curtain and your supervisor will check on you. If you feel at any time unsafe you leave, you talk to your supervisor, and they will (depending on the issue) find someone else to treat your client, treat your client themselves, or kick your client out of the clinic. Really, given all this, it was very lucky that I was at the student clinic for tonight's...experience.

My client arrives and I greet him in the front lobby. We walk back to the treatment room, and into my cubicle. He espouses stories about his hip and gluteal pain and problems. I do some basic postural assessment and orthopedic testing. I decide on a course of action. I explain my plan for treatment to him. He okays it. I leave. He gets on the table.

At this point I talk to my supervisor about techniques for the condition he presents with, she gives me some tips. I wash my hands. I announce myself. I reenter the cubicle. I arrange the pillows. I undrape his leg. I do some light compressions on his right glute. I begin with the knuckle kneading....and it happens. He lets out a sound. Not a polite expression of his enjoyment and comfort, but a full out loud right-from-the-bottom-of-his gut moan. The type of moan that, had it been sounded from your teenage bedroom, would have sent your parents racing up the stairs sure to find you in mid-coitus.

Oh. God.

Okay, wait, I'm a professional. I can handle this. Think back to professional development last term. I ignore it. I continue with the massage, and it continues to happen. After ten minutes of continued moaning I hear a choking sound from beyond the curtain where my team leader is sitting at a table with my supervisor. I hear muffled giggling. Someone is desperately trying to keeping from laughing uproariously at the moaning and now running commentary coming from my client. Because, yes, as if the moaning was not enough, he's decided to throw in delightful phrases such as "oh yes, just like that", and "don't stop doing that".

It's like a really tacky porno with absolutely no sex.

My supervisor calls out from beyond the curtain, "Haley, are you okay in there? Do you need any help with anything?" She clearly is concerned that my oh-so-verbal client has nefarious ideas or plans. I reply that I'm fine, because as simultaneously awkward and hilarious as the situation is, I am 110% sure that the 54 year old man lying on my massage table has no intention of giving off any sexual vibe. And, as it turns out, I am right: after an hour of moaning he gets off the table and leaves like any other client. Some people just let go of stress in different ways than the norm, and I am professional enough to allow him his safe space.

Of course, as soon as he leaves I burst into laughter and have to hop up and down shaking off the creepy residual feeling. My supervisor catches me in mid shake-off and smiling and shaking her head says, "well, I guess you know that he really enjoyed his massage".

And I suppose that's rather satisfying, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who Sent You?!?

Clinic outreach again today at the nursing home. I had a woman who only spoke Spanish the first block, which was a stretch for my limited Spanish vocabulary. Compound this with the fact that she has Alzheimer's and isn't always completely lucid, and you make for an interesting time. The following is our conversation. Me speaking in Spanish is red, me speaking in English is blue. All of her speech was in Spanish.

Hi, my name is Haley, I only speak a little Spanish, understand?
blank stare
Is it okay if I massage you? (Let's face it, that phrase is beyond my translation capabilities)
blank stare
Have you any pain?
blank stare, followed by a shift of the head so she was looking away from me, and falling asleep. After about 10 minutes of massage she woke, obviously confused, with rapid breathing and wide eyes staring at me.
It's okay. You're okay. I'm Haley.
She looked puzzled. I wonder, is this language barriers, or the Alzheimer's? She went back to sleep. Ten minutes later she woke up again, obviously upset.
You're okay.
Her forceful reply: "Who sent you here?
Your family.
Her reply: "Get out."

Teehee. She wasn't angry or forceful, just to the point. I cheerfully quipped a "See you later" and headed out. Now I wonder, was she just done with the procedure, or does she dislike her family? "My family sent you? Get out!" She still got 20 minutes of her allotted 30 minutes of massage, so it's not the end of the world.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Minutes Jam-Packed with Hours

This week has flown by. Greg and I went to a wedding last weekend for one of the guys that he used to live with. It was a great weekend, and a nice wedding. It was certainly nice to get out of the city for a while. We stayed with Greg's grandparents who have a beautiful house on the lake near where the wedding was. This is one from the wedding of us:

Then this week was nuts for me for massage. Because we left for the wedding weekend on Friday (Greg had a rehearsal dinner - he was in the wedding party), I had to get one of the girls to cover my clinic shift that night, meaning that I picked one up for her on Tuesday. So Tuesday I had clinic, Wednesday I had outreach, Thursday I worked, Friday I had clinic, and Saturday I had clinic. Today I did nothing. Ha!

Outreach is really cool. Last week was the first one I'd done. The college makes a bunch of them available and we sign up for ones that interest us. Each one is a different kind of massage and a different length of time commitment. We have to complete 8 hours of sports and 24 hours of hospital (two categories of outreach) by the time we graduate. If you do 50 hours of either you get a certificate of specialization.

The outreach I picked runs every Wednesday afternoon all this month, and is at a local nursing home. Both my clients this week had dementia and were nonverbal. It's a challenge ethically, because you're not dealing with people who can give their own consent, and their family who've requested the massage aren't there when you get there. It was a very different setting than I've worked in before, and I really enjoyed it. I think I'm going to try to get my certificate of specialization in hospital. Sports massage doesn't interest me really, but this work in the nursing home is really fulfilling.

Even the conversation I had with one of the residents in the lobby was fantastic. I sat down to wait for my supervisor at the end of the night and he asked me if his son had sent me to visit with him. It was mildly heartbreaking, and we talked for about 10 minutes. His memory was gone, and by the end of it he'd decided that I was born in the UK and came to Canada just like him. He said that it was a pretty good place to come live because everyone spoke English.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Just a Short Delay

Getting in to see a doctor is, to say the least, tricky. Never mind the fact that I don't have a family doctor of my own, finding one who will see me for little things within my class schedule is tough. I managed to make an appointment for during my lunch break today though. I got there, and was seen relatively promptly (only 15 minutes late - pretty good for a doctor). I got weighed and measured, and then in to the little room and onto the table and covered with one of those little sheet things, and I waited. And I waited. And then the nurse came in. "Um, Haley? The doctor had to go perform an emergency C-section, would you mind waiting 45 minutes?"

Two and a half hours later I got my appointment, which lasted all of 3 minutes.

Sigh. Well okay, I guess you can't predict birth. My neurology class sacrificed for someone else's little miracle.