One of the reasons that I love being a massage therapist and being a massage therapy instructor is helping people. The feedback I get from some clients is that the work gave them their life back, and I see in the faces of some of my students that the entire way they think about the human body has changed in the time they have spent with me. Every now and again I have an experience that touches me on an entirely different level. One of those happened for me during our class in Cromwell, CT a few weeks back. One of the students told me that she had come to class because of a post I made about a student in Moorhead who had been shot through the ankle and asked if I would work on him. After the first day of class, the student in Cromwell approached me and asked if I would look at her lower legs, ankles, and feet.
When she was 15, she and her brother were shooting guns, something they had done many times, when her brother’s gun misfired and she was shot just above her right ankle, posterior to the tibia and fibula and mostly anterior to the calcaneal tendon. The bullet then exited her right lower leg and went into her left lower leg. It shattered her left tibia and caused extensive muscle damage on the medial side of the distal half of her lower leg. She then had multiple bone and skin grafts, and was told that she would never walk again without assistance.
She now does competitive weight lifting. Her desire when she asked me that night if I would work on her was to be able to get into a full squat with weight. She did not have the range of motion in her ankles to bend deeply. Upon seeing her legs and ankles, I immediately began to palpate the area, including the area on her left leg where most of the bone and skin grafts had taken place and she had a void in the muscle about 3 inches in diameter. I did only three minutes of work on her that night. While I was working she told me that in 16 years no one had touched her legs. Even through massage school, the other students and the instructors avoided her lower legs. She had given up on asking physical therapists, doctors, and massage therapists to work on her. She had given up on getting any relief, and then, she said, she had read my post.
These posts are interesting for me. I am not completely comfortable with these posts. But SMRT is this truly amazing thing that changes people’s lives, both therapists and clients, so I make the posts to tell people SMRT and SMRT classes exist. The morning of the second day of class she told me that just the three minutes of work I had done the previous evening had made a difference in her feet and ankles. I rarely do private sessions around a class day. I think several things happened for me. First, I was fascinated by her injuries and wanted to see if I could make a difference. Second, she was about the same age as my own children. Third, there was something about her that really touched me. I agreed to work on her Sunday morning before class.
The results were instant. Movement that she had been unable to make for 16 years began to happen during the session. Pain that she had learned to ignore disappeared. A few days later she told me her range of motion in her squat was so, so, so much better. But it was when she told me that on her drive home she felt compelled to pull over at a rest area and just watch the toes that had not flexed in 16 years flex that my eyes welled up. Building a business teaching massage therapists is difficult. It takes many years before people know who you are or that they can trust you to put on a good class or that your modality actually works. Sometimes I lose faith and want nothing more than to quit. Then I meet a woman like this and why I do this comes flooding back.