Jamaica Trip – Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the Jamaica series!  With this post I continue the review of my observations/lessons learned from the trip.

  • I definitely experienced many highs and lows over the course of the week. After some treatments I was in the depths of despair, feeling 100% inadequate and overwhelmed.  And then the next patient would respond really well to the treatment and to me, and I was back on cloud 9.  It was a complete yo-yo of emotions, both exhausting and exhilarating.  On the bus back to the hotel each night, I would reflect on the day, on how hard it was, on how I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was doing, on how uncomfortable I was, being in a position of uncertainty and doubt. Net, even with all the discomfort, I was so much happier after a day working on and with my fellow humans than working in an office on a computer all day.
  • I need to study more! We learn so much so fast in this program.  I need to find a way to remember what we have been taught because in the thick of things, my brain really struggled to retrieve all those trigger points, muscle attachments, and protocols.  I could feel the solution to the puzzle just outside of my consciousness, but I could not quite grasp it.
  • If/when I do this again, I need to learn Patwa! While most of the patients spoke English, with the accent and with being slightly hard of hearing, I had SUCH a difficult time understanding exactly what was being said.  Thank goodness for gestures!!
  • I need alone time!! Seven days surrounded by 30+ people was a bit overwhelming.  I meditated almost every morning for 30 minutes, sitting within ear shot of the ocean.  I think that contributed so much to my sanity.
  • My preconceived notions about who we would be treating were completely misinformed. My first patient had been a stockbroker in NYC for several years!  Many of patients had lived in England for years and retired back home to Treasure Beach. One of my patients had actually been to Iowa State University to learn about agriculture!  These brilliant, sophisticated, kind people had moved back to their roots and were busy improving their community.  Very inspirational.
  • Hugs and blessings are a very fulfilling form of payment, especially when your food and housing needs are met.
  • I want to learn more OMM (osteopathic manipulative treatment) from the doctor of osteopathy students. From the glimpse I received, it really piqued my interest.  It seems as if they use longer holds (moving patients into areas of the “barrier”) to effect changes in the tissues.  I want to learn more about this, as I have a few patients who are very pain-sensitive, and I think this might be a gentler approach for them.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the 4th and last installment. 🙂

Jamaica Trip – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the Jamaica Trip series. 🙂

On our way back from the Falls, we stopped at the Sports Clinic that would be our base of operations for Monday – Thursday.  A few members of our group had been working ALL day to organize the rooms, equipment, and pharmaceuticals that would be used by the osteopathic doctors and students. They were set up on the first floor of the facility.  Our neurosomatic therapy group (4 students and two teachers) would be set up on the second floor of the building, which was an open-air area overlooking the sports fields and a big hill.  The view was awesome, and more importantly, the area was super breezy and open.

Monday started our first day at the clinic.  We didn’t know what to expect – would the Jamaicans be interested in neurosomatic therapy?  Would we be sitting on our tables, staring off into the hills for 8 hours?  The answer was a resounding NOPE!  Starting with the very first day, we were BUSY, seeing patient after patient after patient, breaking briefly for lunch and water and bathroom breaks.  Word had gotten out that muscle and joint pain treatment specialists were in the house, and we were booked solid, with patients waiting all day long to be treated.

I wish I had taken better notes over the course of the clinic days. I fully intended to, but with my day starting at 5:30AM and ending around 10:30PM, I just couldn’t find the time to write!  But here are some general impressions, memories and observations about the experience.

  • A patient, calm teacher with a good sense of humor is invaluable.
    • I have not yet learned how to treat the lower body. However, each day of treatment presented a consistent theme of pain focused on the lower body.  On Day 1, everyone presented with knee pain. Day 2 was sciatica, and Day 3 was lower back.  Day 4 was a blur.  When in doubt, all I had to do was catch Randy’s eye, and he was there in a flash to give me guidance and insight on what to do.  I worked on so many glutes, TFLs, psoas, and upper traps!
    • In some instances, Randy palpated with his hand on top of mine, helping me understand where to go, what I should look for, and what I was feeling.This was SO HELPFUL!!  It put my sensations into a context that immensely increased my awareness and understanding.
  • Growth/challenges.
    • As I mentioned at the outset, I really struggle with self-confidence.This has especially been an issue for me as I’ve started massage school.  For the past 20+ years I have worked in business and banking, so the majority of my time is spent in my head and not in my body.  I only used my fingers to type on a computer.  While I can learn things cerebrally quite well, embodying the knowledge into a felt sense is extremely challenging. I often find myself just going through the motions (e.g. Step 1, compress.  Step 2, compress with opposition. Step 3, glide).   I have bouts where I seriously doubt my ability to be a successful therapist.
      • Working on over 25 people over the course of 4 days helped me see that, while I still have SO MUCH more to learn, I already have the ability to help people feel waaaaay better over the span of just 45 minutes.  By Day 4, I had found my flow. I was comfortable with the patients, could chat and treat, and I was having FUN.  I was finally RELAXED.  I no longer had to hold my breath while I was treating. J.  The bonds with the patients were becoming more synergistic – I was able to solicit better feedback from them, and by working together and communicating constantly, I was able to sink into the tissue and effect change.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3!

Jamaica Trip – Part 1

Well, I’m back from Jamaica.  It seems very surreal that I was there. I still can’t quite believe it.  To be honest, before I left a big part of me was kind of hoping that something would come up that would prevent me from going – I would get a debilitating case of diarrhea, my boss would forbid me to go because I am SO vital to the ongoing operations of the bank, my passport would get revoked by the US Government – SOMETHING.  I knew this trip was going to force me out of my comfort zone, make me grow as a therapist and as a human being, and put me in situations where I did not automatically know the A+ answer.  It’s SO much more comfortable to avoid growth, you know! Fortunately, the Universe did not comply with this latent desire.  My karma in this life is to become more self-confident, and the Universe was happy to oblige to make sure this happened.

The trip started off with an easy plane ride from Orlando to Montego Bay.  And then I hit the first snag.  My school, The Center for Neurosomatic Studies, was donating 3 massage tables to The Treasure Beach Women’s Group for use during this and successive clinics.  Shipping the tables proved to be prohibitively expensive, so 3 of us therapists brought tables along with us.  I dragged my 30 lb., unwieldy table through the airport to the “Nothing to Declare” Customs lane.  I assumed that since the school was DONATING the table, it did not need to be declared. The Customs clerk quickly disabused me of this notion and sent me over the much longer “Declare” line, full of people with 10-foot high stacks of luggage.

When it was finally my turn, I explained the situation to the clerk.  After lots of questions about the table, where I was going, what I was doing, who I was doing it with and for, the clerk seemed very confused about what to do and consulted with several other clerks in the areas. Eventually it was decided that I would have to pay some fee in order to bring the table to the clinic. Argh.  They assessed the fee, plus several different taxes, and then sent me back into the airport to get some Jamaican dollars so that I could pay the fee. I paid the fee, showed the proof to the clerk, hoisted the table onto my shoulder and escaped into the heat, where the rest of the group was waiting for me so we could start the 3 hours mountainous trek to Treasure Beach.

If you are at all faint of heart, or if you do not enjoy bumps, sudden, unexpected increases and decreases in speed, barreling around blind corners, sharing very narrow roads with cows and speedy on-coming traffic, I highly suggest doping yourself with Dramamine or some other sedative for bus trips into the heart of Jamaica. That being said, it was actually a really fun ride, especially since we stopped for some amazingly delicious Jamaican food on the way.  Jamaican food is the best food.  ‘Nuff said. We arrived at our hotel late Saturday night, found the treasured remote controls for the in-room AC units, and crashed into bed.

On Sunday, after a stop for snacks at a supermarket (which was made up of 95% carb snacks and Coco Mania rum), we headed out to YS Falls, a gorgeous natural waterfall that offers zip-lining and rope swings into mint blue-green water.  It was stunningly beautiful.  Like most of the jungle and coastline I saw in Jamaica, it was so beautiful that it looked almost unreal.  Such a beautiful country!

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2!