Sunday, October 28, 2007

Massage College

Often when talking to friends about college the question that comes up most frequently is, "okay, but what do you do at college?", normally qualified with questions about whether we actually do practical massage, or how we fill a full week, never mind 18 months of full weeks, with massage.

So here we go people, a full week of massage college:

8:15-2:15 - assessments class, where we learn postural assessments, range of motion for all the different joints of the body, and approximately 300 tests for different conditions, syndromes, and general ailments.

8:15-10:45 -palpation class, where we learn how to palpate ("feel out on the body") all the bones, muscles, joints, bursas, and ligaments that we need to be able to identify in order to properly massage. If someone says "I hurt here" and points, we need to be able to identify what structure that is, and what other structures are likely involved. It's not enough to learn the textbook anatomy since no one person actually looks like a textbook cadaver.
11:45-2:15 -regional anatomy 2, the follow up course from regional anatomy 1, where we learn the textbook anatomy. While last term had us learning all the bones, muscles, joints, and ligaments of the body (excluding the head), this term we learn the anatomy of the cardiovascular system including names of all the veins and arteries as well as the structure of the heart itself, and all about the bones and muscles of the head which is intensely confusing due to its 3-dimensional set up.

8:15-10:45 -anatomy and physiology 2, a continuation of anatomy and physiology 1, where we learn about the chemistry and biology that allows the anatomy of the cardiovascular system to function. We also learn about the body's chemical response to stress, and sleep, and how those impact our general system.
11:45-2:15 -pathology, where we learn in depth about various diseases. So far we've been focusing on the different types of arthritis, as well as lupis, and how to distinguish them from one another, and which massage techniques to use, and which techniques would be potentially harmful.

8:15-10:45 -manual skills, where, you guessed it, we learn massage techniques. A new technique always starts with a class of notes on the theory behind the technique, what it does, who it helps, who shouldn't have it, and whatever precautions need be taken. The following class after will begin with a teacher demonstration of the technique, and then we are divided into pairs and the classroom is partitioned into cubicles and we practice while the teachers walk around, give us pointers, correct our posture, and answer any questions we have about that technique on its own or in combination with others.
11:45-2:15 -neurology, where we learn about all the nerves in the body as well as the layout of the brain, and which lobes are involved with which parts of human life, and the spinal cord.

8:15-2:15 -manual skills, all day.

In addition to these 30 hours of class time, we each also have 5 hours of clinic a week, scheduled for one consistent day each term (I have mine on Fridays this term). The student clinic has a ratio of 12 students to one registered massage therapist, and we treat the general public who come in. We go through a standard intake procedure, do a postural assessment and test ranges of motion and use whatever assessments we've learned that may be applicable. We then do a full consent, and a full 1 hour massage to address whatever problem has walked into our cubicle. As well as the one day a week of clinic, we also have 1 Saturday every 4 weeks of clinic.

As if class time and clinic weren't enough, we're also expected to complete a certain number of outreach hours by the time we graduate. These we sign up for as fits our schedule, and come in various styles and time commitments. There are sports and hospital outreaches, both of which we have to complete a certain number of hours in (8 for sports, some higher number for hospital). If you complete 50 hours in either one (or both) you get a certificate of specialization along with your graduation degree. I'm going to try to get mine in hospital.

And that, in a nutshell, is college.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Today Greg and I celebrate our anniversary. That is, we would have celebrated our anniversary if I hadn't been working until late afternoon and he hadn't had a bachelor party to go to starting shortly thereafter for one of his former roommates. Figuring out that we both had rather important commitments (I need to work to pay rent, and he shouldn't let down his roommate), we arranged to go out yesterday morning for breakfast at one of our favourite breakfast places and celebrate then. Oddly, the reaction from several of my acquaintances to this piece of information was "you did what? You let him get away with that?" which left me with nothing but puzzlement. What, exactly, did I let Greg get away with? And why was the emphasis put on his getting away with "it"? Didn't I, too, "get away with" working on our anniversary?

This idea that the world should fall away in order to allow sentimentality seems strange to me. The world doesn't keep track of our important dates. And really, where's the logic in throwing a stinking fuss about celebrating on the exact date? Sure, I could have thrown a massive fit about Greg going to a party on our anniversary, but that would have resulted in either:
a) him canceling his plans and being angry, and me feeling a combination of guilty and vindicated, or,
b) him refusing to cancel his plans and us both being angry, me feeling rejected, and him feeling guilty.
Where, tell me, is the good in that? Our relationship isn't built on this kind of selfishness, but on generosity and rationality. It's rational that we arrange to celebrate early when things are in the way. It's generous of us both to grant the time for one to work and the other to support a friend. And really, isn't the point just to make sure the event is recognized? Does it matter if the significance and recognition happens a day early? "Darn you, Greg! How dare you tell me you love me on a day other than our anniversary!" Poop to that.

I have to look at these women (because, yes, they were all women) who were aghast at my sacrifice and wonder if this has something to do with the reason they all have such a bad track record with men...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Space In Between

Sometimes I think that there isn't enough present. The past seems so full and heavy, the future seems looming and gigantic, and the present is just a gasp in the middle. The pause in the middle of a sentence when you briefly wonder if what you've just said makes any sense -- and what you're going to finish the line with. The past is full of good moments and bad, and the future holds the potential to be so much better than you'd imagined. Sometimes I get so caught up with the bad moments of the past and the fear that the future will be no better. Sometimes I remember fondly pieces of the past and anticipate the glorious future with such anxiety that I can barely stand to be stuck here where everything is yet to happen.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not a present-oriented person. I never have been. Yet slowly I've been becoming sick from the focus on what has been and what will be. I've felt out of place, out of control, and constantly out of time in the now. I suppose that's why I stopped writing in the blog. I wanted to disconnect. The only problem is that I missed the writing. So I was stuck between not wanting to come back to writing at a place that had a set of predetermined expectations about what I would write about and who I would be, and not wanting to not write. I'm not sure why it took me so long to come to the determination that what I needed to do was clear the blog. So here it is. My new unmarked trail. For those of you that want to be able to look back, the old content and layout can still be found here. I'll develop a new layout in time, and post when I am able. I'm running a pretty busy schedule these days, but it's nice to have the clear white space to fill with the present. It's important to remember that the present is the only time we really live, and I should learn to appreciate mine more.