Tuesday, May 29, 2012


The cucumber and celery info is clearly pertinent to my juicing every day this week.

I got this info from http://www.facebook.com/healthremedies.awhw

3. CUCUMBER The beauty of cucumber is it’s water content – 95%. That is phenomenal and you won’t find that anywhere else. It’s the daddy of water-content. This of course makes it an incredibly hydrating food to consume, that ALSO contains superb amounts of antioxidants, including the super-important lignans. These highly beneficial polyphenols have more commonly been associated with the cruciferous vegetables, but their content in other veggies such as cucumbers is gaining more and more attention. Cucumbers contain a right load of lariciresinol, pinoresinol, and secoisolariciresinol , three lignans that have a huge and very strong history of research in connection with Reduced Risk of Cardiovascular disease as well as several cancer types, including Breast, Uterine, Ovarian, and Prostate Cancers. The best thing about cucumber is that they provide the base for practically every alkaline soup, smoothie and juice – giving you a very alkaline, very nutritious base that also tastes great. In terms of the actual nutrient RDA per serve, cucumbers contain fair amounts of vitamins K and C, and slightly less of vitamin A and the B vitamins. Cucumbers also contain the following alkaline minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, selenium, copper, manganese, iron and zinc.

6. CELERY - Celery, like cucumber is a favourite because it’s alkaline AND really high water content, so is used very frequently as a base in juices and soups (not so much smoothies as you have to juice it first…and then you have double the washing up). One of celery’s big benefits is it’s vitamin C level, which has the well known benefits – but two of it’s lesser known nutrients are phthalides which have been shown to Lower Cholesterol and coumarins which have been shown to inhibit Several Cancers. The beauty of vitamin C rich foods are that they help with the most common and most challenging health concerns – they support the ─░mmune system, inflammation (so helps with Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Asthma etc), and vitamin C also helps significantly with Cardiovascular Health. If you are on a weight loss journey, you’ll also be happy to hear that this alkaline staple contains plenty of potassium and sodium and so is a diuretic – meaning it helps rid the body of excess fluids.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Why This Juice?

My week-long juice fest started Saturday and I continued through Sunday and Monday, even though it's a holiday weekend that involved weird food choices otherwise. Last night I slept about 12 hours because I was super exhausted from weeks of working way too much- which is another reason I want to boost my health meter a bit with juice. 

In the last post I mentioned the budget concerns of juicing for a week. But aside from being reasonably priced, I need to explain why I'm doing this combo of veg...

Carrots- The Health Online Zine states that carrots Prevent Cancer, Improve Vision, Prevent heart disease, Reduce the risk of stroke, Nourish Skin, are Anti-aging and aid in Dental Health. Dan the Life Regenerator mentioned in the budget video that carrots are cheap and grounding. I desperately need some cheap sources of grounding energy, since my head has been so high in the sky with zany ideas lately. 

Celery- According to Juicing for Health.com, "Celery leaves has high content of vitamin A, whilst the stems are an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C with rich supplies of potassium, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and plenty essential amino acids." Celery is also great for re-hydrating after a workout and neutralizes acidity in the blood's pH. It can significantly lower total cholesterol, can prevent kidney stones, and has a "calming effect on the nervous system." 

Beets- According to Nutrition and You.com, beets "offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke, lower cholesterol levels in the body and have anti-aging effects." "Raw beets are an excellent source of folates. Folates are necessary for DNA synthesis in the cells." A beet "contains significant amounts of vitamin-C."  "The root is also rich source of niacin (vit.B-3), pantothenic acid (vit.B-5), pyridoxine (vit.B-6) and carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese, and magnesium. " In addition, the root indeed has very good levels of potassium.  Potassium lowers heart rate and regulates metabolism inside the cells by countering detrimental effects of sodium."

Serrano Peppers- From Fruits and Veggies More Matters.com, Serrano Chili Peppers are "fat, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol free, an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C, and a good source of fiber, vitamin K, and manganese." Wise Geek tells us that that hot peppers "have been linked to metabolism, insulin levels, natural cold remedies, pain control, weight loss, and endorphins. Hot peppers are the way to go when looking for an energy boost. Capsaicin levels in hot peppers are high, and this is the pepper ingredient acknowledged for raising endorphin levels and improving mood."

Cucumber- World's Healthiest Foods tells us that "cucumbers provide us with a variety of health-supportive phytonutrients. Included among these phytonutrients are flavonoids (apigenin, luteolin, quercetin, and kaempferol), lignans (pinoresinol, lariciresinol, and secoisolariciresinol), and triterpenes (cucurbitacins A, B, C, and D). Cucumbers are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory vitamin K. They are also a very good source of the enzyme-cofactor molybdenum. They are also a good source of free radical-scavenging vitamin C; heart-healthy potassium and magnesium, bone-building manganese, and energy-producing vitamin B5. They also contain the important nail health-promoting mineral silica."

 That's quite a bit of nutritional bang for my juicing buck. It covers pretty much all systems of the body. The cucumber and celery make it a refreshing, lighter drink. The beets add richness and a potent nutritional edge. The carrots add sweetness and help balance the darkness of the beets. The peppers add a whole other dimension of flavor, energy, and metabolism boosting to the total juicy package. 


Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Juice is Loose!

Just stopped at the Land o Lakes Farmer's Market for some vegetation to juice, since I've been feeling moody and fatigued lately. I'm still learning my body's warning signs that I need certain nutrients. For example, when I tried to go hardcore vegan for the first time (9ish years ago) I learned the difference between needing protein and needing carbs. With low protein, I feel it all in my neck and head- a dull ache. Low blood sugar just makes me sleepy and grouchy. I've perfected this balance especially well over the past year with a much higher protein, low carb diet, as I've explained in painstaking detail already, here.

With veggie juice craving, I feel more a lack of benefits, than a specific ache or deficit. When I drink it, my mind clears, I feel like effective problem solving, at least the transcendent type of thinking, is easier. Without the juice, I feel minimal, like my problems are a part of me and I can't see things objectively. Juice gives me more satisfying energy levels, than a cup of strong coffee that has an accompanying nervous, wired feeling.

I've been worried about the budget lately, because let's face it, who isn't worried about their budgets lately. I decided, however, that cutting out the veg was a stupid way to save money. A little Youtubing found a video or two about juicing on a budget. Admittedly, Dan is a character, but very informative and prolific with the informational videos about juicing.

We've been shopping at the Land o Lakes Farmer's Market for several months now. It's hard not to walk away with something free there- today they gave me a huge handful of serrano peppers just because they were a couple days old. I bought a huge pile of veg for $25! Dan the Life Regenerator mentioned throwing a jalapeno into the juicer and I wanted to try that, but they were out today, so I went with the serranos. According to http://serranopeppers.org "The high nutritional value of serrano peppers is probably one reason why it is popularly applied in so many styles of cooking. As compared to many other citrus fruits, serrano peppers do have higher vitamin C content. It is high in fiber, too. Many independent studies claim that the ingredients found in a Serrano pepper are potent in reducing the risk of stomach cancer." Would serranopeppers.org lie to you?

The aforementioned $25 Pile of Veg

Taking Dan the Life Regenerator's advice, I am using carrots "the beauty food" and celery as the base. Cucumbers were huge and 2 for $1. The beets are hugely nutritious, last a long time, and were the  most expensive component of my purchase. I think they cost about $9. The peppers were free. The apples are for Kayla.

Most of the beets were bigger than a granny smith too!
I can easily get through a whole week on these veggies. I got a quart of juice out of about an 1/8 of the total produce pile.

All laid out to go in the Breville

Just the one, softball sized beet.

The 1 Quart line on the Pampered Chef Large Batter Bowl

Two of these very nutritious glasses of juice later, I felt GREAT!

So the 2 serranos definitely added a kick- similar to the mouth feel when you put a teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a large mug of hot chocolate. With such a thick, rich juice, it was hardly overpowering, just a nice warming sensation. 

I have a friend going through the 10 day Master Cleanse and is posting daily video blogs on her facebook page. Since I'm doing manual labor (air conditioned, well moisturized labor) several hours a day, I think I would have a hard time maintaining that activity level while drinking only teas and other very watery concoctions. The idea reminded and inspired me that adding a couple glasses of very tasty, satisfying juice to my regular diet, or in place of less healthful foods, would be a positive step in the right direction. I wanted to buy a week's worth of veggies and drink the same juice recipe every day. Until now,  I have not been consistent with mixtures, frequency or incorporation into my regularly scheduled diet. 

$25 for one week of this experiment seems like a small price to pay for the potential benefit!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Mrs. R. Case Study Treatment Timeline

I realized I didn't put much timing info in the last post...

#1 Thursday May 3rd.           25 mins interview, 30 mins hands on
#2 Tuesday May 8th              2 hours assessment, hands on with stretching/ROM testing
#3 Thursday May 10th           2 hours hands on
#4 Saturday May 12th           2 hours hands on
#5 Wednesday May 16th       2 hours hands on
#6 Monday May 21st            2 hours hands on
#7 Wednesday May 23rd      50 mins hands on

Each appointment involved a lot of dialogue regarding the treatment plan, Mrs. R's perceptions, needs, feelings and the like. I didn't jump into several 2 hour massages without interviewing or asking her anything, obviously.

Altogether it was about 11 hours of hands on time, over 20 days.

Next tentative appointment is Thursday the 31st, due to Memorial Day weekend and her class term starting the 29th.

June 9th- Visit with MD who prescribes the pain meds.

Mrs. R. Case Study Treatments So Far

#1. We did a 20 minute interview regarding medical history, surgery, auto collisions, daily activity, short and long term health goals, and pain management. I was trying to determine how she got to where she is and how to get her to where she wants to go. After the interview, I did about 40 minutes of neck massage. The goal of that neck massage was more for assessment and ROM testing than therapy. Again, trying to find a starting place.

#2. This session was to do physical assessments to coincide with the verbal history Mrs. R had relayed to me. We went through the Erik Dalton Myoskeletal Alignment Level 1 techniques, which I outlined in an earlier post. We also did some ROM testing with stretching of the neck, legs, hips, and arms. Very little of this session was therapeutically minded either- mainly assessment due to very tight, guarded tissue in most areas.

#3. The treatment started with Myofascial release techniques on the back, focusing on scapulae, quadratus lumborum and erectors. The very slow, steady warming up lasted about an hour and had very little direct, focused, pokey pressure.

#4. We did all anterior work, compensating for imbalanced driving and desk work postures. This included neck, pectorals, arms, and hands, concentrating also on opening the tissues to alleviate numbness and tingling coming from the shoulders and neck into the hands and arms. Later we moved to the quadriceps, psoas, and adductors of the leg, doing very slow, subtle stretching of the upper legs to improve mobility.

#5. After watching half of Erik Dalton's MAT Level 1, DVD 3 of neck techniques, I did some neck palpation on Mrs. R to feel for "fibrotic" tissue indicating "cervical fibrosis." Most of the techniques in the DVD were performed side-lying on a shirtless male client. As Mrs. R. is very conservative, I need more time to explore proper draping techniques to coordinate with the new techniques. With her level of cervical dysfunction, I don't want to experiment with too many positions yet. Supine is comfortable, so I kept with that. I also did some back work, finding more Right side scapula (rhomboid, upper trapezius, and Latisimus Dorsi attachment tension) than Left. The Left Quadratus down into the Left hip were more sore and tense- less freely moving that the Right. In the lower back areas I did some of the MAT techniques mixed with MFR to spread denser fascial restrictions. The MAT direct facet joint release type manipulation is still much too tender to achieve any results. Finally I did some pectoral and anterior arm stretches while Mrs. R. was prone.

#6. This treatment was all about the neck. Mrs. R. came in presenting with a headache and neck pain. Both stress and poor sleep were to blame, along with the chronic imbalances. My goal was to decompress the neck, meaning making room for the cervical spine to move more freely. For this I did traction of the neck with gentle stretching by pulling the head upward from the neck by the occiput area. We also did stretching of the neck in rotation in both directions, forward flexion and lateral flexion in both directions. I did deep sustained trigger point work on the levator scapula attachments. I lifted and tried to spread the sterno-cleido-mastoids.

After an hour of this neck work, I asked where else Mrs. R. wanted to focus and she said nothing felt overworked (painful to the touch more than usual) and her back was relatively pain free today. We agreed, together, that her goal of working through the chronic neck tension and imbalance was the priority, and that I should continue. Over the 2nd hour, I spent quite a bit of time trying to peel away the upper traps and other superior muscle attachments from the occipital area- like the SCM behind the ear. These connections, in addition to the posterior scalene and levator attachments on the top ribs and superior medial border of the scapula, respectively, seem to be responsible for much of the limited mobility of Mrs. R's neck and shoulders.

Since I had done at least an hour of neck work on Mrs. R before, and have received more than an hour of neck work on myself several times, and have done it on several neck and headache sufferers in the past, I did not have much hesitation about doing so much at one time. Unfortunately, I should have been more conservative. Mrs. R reported later that after leaving that Monday, she took 1000mg of Ibuprofen and went to bed. A debilitating migraine woke her up and she had to vomit 4 times throughout the night.

#7. Mrs. R came to the clinic 2 days later, Wednesday, for an hour treatment. She told me about the migraine incident and stated that it is not uncommon for her to have such a profoundly intense migraine and that she certainly wanted to continue treatments. Overall her adhesions in the musculature of the neck were improving- feeling (to her) like they are "breaking up." She did not, however, want any more neck work so soon. We focused on the low back and scapula release for half the hour and then moved onto the hips and glutes- all while prone. She laid with her head to the side, on the table, to be most comfortable, stating that the face rest would not be comfortable.

Her piriformes was exquisitely tender along with most points I touched along the SI joint. I did a stretch of the low back and hip- while prone I bend the knee to 90 degrees and internally rotate the hip by guiding/arcing the foot medially. The same motion as the following video, but 1 leg at a time, and 100x slower with a sustained stretched at a comfortable end feel. I then anchor the contralateral QL or superior sacrum area to counterbalance and more carefully control the intensity and intent of the stretch. Did I mention SLOWER?

Having come from work (professional internship) to this 7th appointment, Mrs. R had come wearing 1.5 inch dress heels. When leaving she said she was feeling better in the back and that her heels were not causing any discomfort at the time.

Interestingly, Mrs. R says that she wants to go back to school, which she does next week, so that she will be distracted from her pain again. Not that she's in more pain since we did this barrage of massage, but she's more attuned to it because I'm exploring so much of it mentally and physically and she has the time and leftover brain cells to focus on what her body is doing.

Moving forward, I'm not sure how often I'll be able to see Mrs. R and I intend on being MUCH more conservative with treatment of the neck- The last thing I want to do is cause any more damage or pain to her cervical structures! I am also going to encourage her to see a chiropractor for assessment and am interested to hear what her medical doctor has to say when she goes back for a check up in a couple weeks, regarding her needs for pain meds. We have a loose appointment scheduled for next Thursday, May 31st, which may turn into weekly or every other week, shorter treatments.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Couple of Food Pyramids

Last night I had a client who is obese and has diabetes. I felt bad because I know that my massage was not helping that much in her overall journey towards health- if she's making any real forward progress at all. Today I stumbled upon this article on my Facebook feed from the plant juice Reboot folks from Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead: "A Plant Based Diet May Prevent or Even Reverse Type 2 Diabetes."

The documentary and the spinoff blog and reboot site are all about changing perspective. Plants are food. Plants are medicine. Plants generate life. Animal products are poison. Animal products cause disease. Animal products promote death. I still need plenty of reminders that the pyramid and perspective I grew up with are outdated, inaccurate, and CHANGEABLE.

Then I connected with a new facebook page in my quest to network with the massage therapy world; a fellow ABMP member, Harmony Wellness Massage in Olympia, WA. They posted a Raw Food Pyramid which pushed the Plant Based Diabetes Prevention article's pyramid even further to the vegetation side of the culinary spectrum.

The caption on this raw pyramid said something about eating lighter for the warm months. I've always felt that it's ridiculous not to enjoy all the amazing, fresh, local produce, being a Floridian. I am again, inspired and challenged to invest in my health by putting more and more leafy greens on my plate and in my juicer. Prevention and reversal of damage to our bodies is so easy. I wish I knew a way to share that motivation with clients who seem to be barely keeping their head above water, nutritionally speaking.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

5th Treatment Audio Notes

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Got some more notes from my treatments on Mrs. R. Got a couple days to plan out the next step.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mrs. R. Case Study Part 3 - Goals and Causation

Primary Goals for the Client:

1. Pain free mobility of the neck, especially anterior restrictions which cause chronic headaches.

2. Improved range of motion in the low back, hips, and upper legs.

3. Flexibility of the leg adductors, psoas, quadriceps, and hamstrings.

4. Reduction of medically prescribed pain medication to alleviate interactions and side effects. (next Dr. visit is June 9, 2012)

5. Improve overall postural stability and soft tissue function to allow for exercise, improved strength, proprioception, and grip.

As a longer term goal, the client wishes to have 4 babies over the next 5-7 years. In her current state, that would be devastating to her body, causing, in my opinion, many further years of intense pain and dysfunction. From the very beginning of Erik Dalton's text on Myoskeletal Alignment, he addresses the foolishness of  "chasing pain", because that simply soothes a symptom but does not address lasting causal patterns. The "Baby Situation" with Mrs. R. is the big goal to me for that reason. I'm not fixing pain with massage treatments, I'm providing lasting balance in her body, so that she can do exciting, satisfying, mentally, spiritually, and physically transcendent things, without soft tissue dysfunction standing in her way.

What's causing #1? The levator scapula, scalenes, and sternocleidomastoids on both sides are very tight and continually pulling the neck and head forward. The pectorals, major and minor and also hypertonic, pulling the shoulders forward and consequently, adding more pressure to the forward head posture.

Check out this interactive DIAGRAM which includes pronunciation of the major muscles of the neck.

 The upper traps and suboccipitals are also out of balance with the anterior neck muscles. This imbalance along with car collisions have caused herniation of at least 2 discs in the cervical vertebrae.

There is poor grip and sharp pains shooting down the arms of the client which could indicate nerve impingement by the cervical spine or soft tissues.The ulnar nerve, for example, is probably responsible for shooting pain on the pinky side of the hand. Tight muscles surrounding that area, where the ulnar nerve passes between the clavicle and the top ribs, could be pulling bony structures out of alignment.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

4th Treatment Audio Notes

This are the general, not super scientific, notes regarding the 4th treatment of Mrs. R in my therapeutic massage case study.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mrs. R Case Study Pt. 2 Initial Assessment

For Mrs. R's second day of the plan, I went through some assessment techniques from Erik Dalton's Myoskeletal Alignment Level 1 course and some Myofascial soft tissue assessment I've learned from several sources, which included a bit of stretching to find range of motion limitations.

Mrs. R reported that her left hip is usually the more problematic. The lumbopelvic firing order was off when extending the left leg while prone. The contralateral erector fired first and the glute fired very quickly second. The hamstrings and ipsilateral erector fired virtually at the same time- the hams seemed to stay just ahead after 5 repetitions of extension. According to Dalton's book, "The ideal firing order sequence is hamstrings, gluteus maximus, contralateral erector spinae, and ipsilateral erector spinae."

Extension of the right leg presented the "ideal firing order sequence" but was weak and shaky- 3 repetitions were difficult for her to complete.

Both hamstrings had good muscle mass but had very dense, cable like segments in the medial, ischial attachment area. Neither presented any pain with firm fist compressions.

After having Mrs. R turn supine, I discovered that both quadriceps, especially the rectus femoris, were visibly tight and were very tender with light direct pressure with my fingertips. The right quad was more tender and tight- presumably from the many hours of driving each week.

Very little difference in leg length- If I had to pick, the left was maybe a millimeter shorter.ASIS comparison did not reveal any dramatic difference either, but I have very little practice on either test, so far. 

The piriformis test/stretch showed fine movement from the piriformis and IT band- normal range without pain to the midline, but I stopped the crossover stretch due to shooting pain in the adductor/groin area. As the text cautions, "...femoral nerve entrapment is possible..." but could also be due to "...adhesions in the anterior joint capsule."

I moved directly into the adductor assess and stretch and found very limited range of motion before painful results. Then I had Mrs. R do a bilateral adduction squeeze with her knees bent while I resisted, to test the pubic synthesis. The squeeze was very weak- barely perceptible each of the 3 repetitions. There were no noticeable audible cracks or adjustments.

Next I performed a straight leg traction for the low back, but pulling the ankles. Then I moved laterally while maintaining the traction. Each direction got about 40 degrees from midline before any discomfort. No noticeable problematic side. Both can be improved by further stretching.

Because I already know the right is tighter, and it's clearly visible when standing, I skipped the levator and trapezius assessments.

The only therapeutic technique I performed was Walt Fritz's "Lumbar Myofascial Release Lift." The only modification was that Mrs. R was wearing sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt that I could easily work under.

She reported that it "felt good" and did not cause any pain. Her tissue warmed and loosened within 3 drags from sacrum to mid-back- less than 3 minutes altogether.

In his blog entry, Curiosity and the Magic Wand, Walt Fritz, PT  explains an interview technique where the therapist asks the client to describe one thing that could magically be fixed, what would it be. To answer this question, Mrs. R. stated she would get a new neck, because her current neck is "ruined and damaged." Strong, meaningful words to say the least! Later we came back around to the "Magic Wand" question and she changed her answer; it would be more important to "Take out the balls in my shoulders." She was pointing to her neck at the levator scapula attachments on the scapula. She has referred to those "balls" before where there is dense adhesion and possibly scar tissue. The reasoning is that they "connect the neck pain to the shoulders." I would paraphrase that to mean she wants to disconnect and mobilize the neck from the head from the shoulder, so that they can all work as fluid, separate, healthy structures. I'm excited to explore this line of questioning with further clients, because it created an intriguing dialogue that allowed my client to explain her needs without relying on medical jargon.

It was an interesting appointment for several reasons. Mrs. R. abruptly changed jobs two days earlier due to a timing conflict with an internship. She was mentally stressed by the task of finding a new job to pay for school which would be flexible enough to continue her internship and full time school schedule. She also had a keen eye on her phone because she was expecting several calls about jobs. Thankfully, during this assessment session, she was fully clothed in comfortable work out clothes, giving her security and ability to jump off the table and answer the phone the couple of times it did ring.

Despite the underlying stress, Mrs. R. was cheerful, very accommodating with my requests for random movements, and was excited to continue treatment based on my findings. As she walked out towards the door to leave, she said she felt some relief in the back and that walking was a little looser feeling, even with the minimal movement and stretching we did.

This treatment was Tuesday the 8th and she is due back Thursday the 10th.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Therapeutic Massage Case Study- Mrs. R. Pt.1

One of my ongoing challenges as a Massage Therapist is getting empty vessels (people who need what I have to give) on my table with enough frequency to really meet their needs (transformative, lasting, structural improvement). Read this explanatory post if "empty vessels" seems like a completely random and weird metaphor.

At the beginning of my career I worked primarily on tourists and seasonal guests to Florida's Space Coast, so I rarely saw the same client twice, and never for a series of therapeutic treatments. Later in Tallahassee, I had that opportunity with a few devoted clients at Massage Envy, but I was still a part time LMT with a much larger scale day job which took much more of my time and attention. Now, however; I have a 2 year history with several clients at Massage Envy and find myself in need of some expertise in developing a cohesive treatment plan.

The 5 minute interview, while the meter is ticking, so to speak, at ME is not conducive to an in depth assessment, review of medical history, muscle testing, and range of motion testing. Even bi-weekly clients take about a month for me to get well acquainted with (remembering their face and issues as soon as their name appears on my schedule). As I progress through Erik Dalton's Myoskeletal Alignment home study course, I'm challenging myself to adapt the assessment techniques into the shortest possible intake interview, which will take practice.

Which brings us to Mrs. R. 

She was referred to me by another massage therapist based on my skill set and experience with neck and low back issues, for the times when Mrs. R needs treatment, but the other therapist isn't available. I've worked on her a few times at the clinic, always at least a month between treatments and always to put out the fires- never to make constructive progress. 

Mrs. R is a 27 year old student in law school in Orlando and is also a paralegal at a firm in Tampa. She drives at least 20+ hours a week to get to those computer intensive, seated occupations. Those things alone could cause chronic headaches, neck pain, and low back dysfunction. She has also been in at least 2 car collisions resulting in now chronic back and neck issues. 

She came to me at the clinic- again after more than a month since the last treatment, because she needed to decompress her neck after intensive final exam preparation. We made a noticeable amount of progress by focusing the whole hour just on the neck. We decided to see how far we could get with more, well planned, very specific treatments in a cohesive treatment plan. Our window is small- 3 weeks before classes start again, starting now!

I sat down with Mrs. R at my house the other day and talked through her pertinent history and needs. She was surprised by my thoroughness because she hasn't ever had a clear treatment plan, despite years of different types of therapy for her neck and back pain. I would like to emphasize here that in the name of science and non-compete clauses, no money is changing hands during this experiment.

The top priority is her neck. She has daily, painful, "hot, tingly, nerve numbness" coming down from her levator scapula attachments and flowing down both arms. She has 2 herniated discs: between C 3 and 4 and between C 5 and 6. She also experiences weak grip in both hands and sometimes drops things because of the nerve and muscle miscommunication. One of the car collisions resulted in a Labral Tear in the Left Shoulder which she also suspects causes weak grip, after the surgery to repair it.

She was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which she states she doesn't believe in. I took that to mean that because her pain is so clearly related to spinal alignment, disc herniation, and severely tight soft tissue, slapping an ambiguous label on her does no good. I'm no doctor, but I agree.

Mrs. R really wants to lower and eventually discontinue pain meds, because they seem to be interacting and causing side effects, such as foot cramping. 

She had a Percutaneous Discectomy 2 years and 3 months ago at L5/S1 which is currently mobile (not fused). Her low back and hips are also quite painful on a daily basis. 

She does not exercise at all, aside from walking to and from the car to work and school, because it is too painful. She does no regular stretching. The only current therapy she gets is 1 hour of massage, if she has the time for it, monthly.

During the next 3 weeks, I intend to provide Mrs. R. with 2 hour therapeutic massage treatments, twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays- 12 total hours of treatment over 21 days. I will frame my results using Erik Dalton's MAT assessment techniques, range of motion improvement in the neck, shoulders, low back and hips, and finally client reports of pain relief, stress relief and mobility.

Tell me, what do you have in the house?

Yesterday at church, Pastor James Dodzweit reminded me of a powerful, perspective enhancing miracle from  2 Kings chapter 4:

A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors; empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”

The key points that resonated with me: Don't focus on the negative (I have nothing but ___) when you can focus on the benefits of what you do have (what can I do with my jar of oil?) There will always be another empty vessel, as long as you seek them out, but that doesn't matter when you're following the Lord's will. He has promised to provide for all our needs and is the giver of good and perfect gifts. James 1:17

I believe in tithing. Whether it's 10% of income from my paycheck going in the collection plate on Sunday morning at church or by less conventional means, tithing is vital to our understanding of commitment, submission, charity, and selflessness in relation to God's overwhelmingly generous and loving blessings. Since we've been without a regular church home since we moved to Tampa 2 years ago, we haven't had a regular collection plate to give to. Our transitional employment statuses have also left little budgetary wiggle room. We do have time to give instead of cash.

If I give my time, in the form of massage therapy, I can use my specialization (as an economics term), to leverage my time for the greatest benefit for charitable causes. This allows me to specialize further, meet my paying clients' needs more effectively, and network in a philanthropic, soul soothing way. I sincerely believe the Lord gave me this gift of healing skills in the first place (along with all the blessing I have) so giving back is a no-brainer. As the last line of the story clearly shows, it's not just one way, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.”

This is the set up for the intensive case study and treatment plan I am undertaking on a client in the next few weeks and how that fits into my overall charity based learning and marketing plan. That will be at least 1 other post, including some very nerdy massage talk. 

I also have the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Lutz coming up soon as well as some other tricks up my sleeve- stay tuned!