This is the final post in a 4 part series about my mission trip to Jamaica. With this post I pick up with a discussion of the observations/lessons learned from the trip.
- Patient stories
- One patient was suffering from hip and leg pain, going down into her feet. I treated her glutes and calves, but it didn’t seem to help her pain much. Randy was occupied, so I figured I would just rub her feet, as that was her main complaint. When she got up from the table, she felt much better and gave me a big hug. Randy and I looked at her chart after she left, and he noted that she was diabetic. He said that rubbing her feet was probably the best thing I could have done for her. It made me feel really good that my instincts were right! This patient came back on Thursday and waited for over an hour for another treatment. Unfortunately, she was still 7thon the list by the time she had to leave. She lobbied hard to get moved up the list, but we were worried about a revolt, so instead of a treatment, I took a few minutes and showed her how to roll out her feet and lower back using a Yoga Tune Up ball. She left happy and satisfied, with some solid self-care tools.
- I had one patient with pain radiating down his leg. I treated his glutes, and the DO student working with me performed OMM on his piriformis, but our treatment did not help and actually seemed to exacerbate his issue. We deduced that his pain must originate higher up in the body – possibly a result of a herniated disc. Randy took the patient back down to the DOs, who agreed that a disc could be a culprit. The DO was able to help with the pain and also provided a referral for an MRI. It was a good lesson for me to see that while we can do A LOT to help patients with pain, somethings cannot be fixed with structural therapy. It’s so important to be part of a medical team, so that patients can get the help they need.
- I had one patient with pain around the sacrum and the xyphoid process.Randy had never encountered that combination of pain before, so he started running through the list of muscles that connect the hips to the chest. Psoas!! I worked her psoas and almost immediately she felt a referral up to the exact area of her anterior chest pain. That was a lesson to me that, if the book doesn’t have the answer, use your common sense!
- I saw several people literally start DANCING when they got off other therapist’s treatment tables! There was a really amazing energy and joy permeating our beautiful open-air treatment space.
On Friday, we got to relax. We took a boat trip along the coast, up Black River, and out to a bar built on stilts in the middle of the ocean. I got to see a real, live crocodile. It was like seeing a living dinosaur. It could have been the coolest thing I have ever seen. The wind was powerful that day, and it was having fun pulling up bits of the ocean and tossing it in my face while we were in the boat. I was obliterated by the wind and sea, and I couldn’t be happier.
In a nutshell, this week showed me the importance of being present with the patient, listening to his or her full story and absorbing all the facts, and taking things slow – no need to rush. I also learned you can’t learn how to do massage therapy by reading about it. You have to DO IT – that is where things start to make sense and you can start to tie the book learnin’ to a body. It is one thing to be told that someone with a lower limb length inequality will have medial leg pain on the short leg and lateral leg pain on the long leg. But when you SEE that on a patient, you remember and integrate it. It becomes part of your muscle memory.
I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to go on this trip. I spent the week in a paradise, surrounded by people I love, admire, and respect, eating amazing food, having real conversations, and learning my brains out.
It has forever changed me. <3