Why this way? Trauma and problem with acceptance Part I

Sometimes clients, patients, friends, ask why we chose our present profession. But sometimes appear deeper, more personal questions. Why we chose so extended specialization. Here is my, true story:

Trauma and problem of acceptance. Massage supporting plastic surgery and psychosomatic renewal. Moving towards a practice to respond to real needs and human tragedies, not necessarily as a response to today’s trends. 

IMBW sesion

Integrating Body Work Massage concept by Piotr Szczotka.

While searching the Web, reading articles or advertising brochures a potential client, a patient would probably often think that we deal in this specialty because it is a fashionable topic, simply popular. Especially nowadays, when on the agenda there is: information about treatments for relaxation, anti-stress treatments, individual beauty treatments, treatments that support aesthetic medicine and post-operative plastic surgery revitalization. It is much rarer to consider the use of massage and related methods for working with soft tissue in a more pragmatic need, such as reconstructive surgery, treatment of injuries, scars, trauma of combined mental and physical origins. As well as using massage to deal with visual problems that are often called health-aesthetic defects, that is, when aesthetic problems suddenly appear, but they are the result of other ailments and health conditions.
The final article published before the epilogue in the book: „Professional Practice. Massage, Clinic and Passion of Life „, shows examples of how individual situations, relationships, breakdown while facing human tragedy and in which way this can affect our lives, the choice of profession and how it can influence on our further practice. These examples have nothing to do with trends, only with an inherent need at a particular moment in time.

Probably each of us have often asked our friends, acquaintances or even casual travellers, what has affected the choice of profession they perform. On the other hand the moment of self-reflection comes to an equation. What has really influenced our decisions, whether they were conscious or led by a coincidence, an impulse. There are also situations which are causing grounding, focus, the moment in which we operate with a deeper conviction.

Recently, after one of the presentations at a congress, a young student of massage approached me and asked how it happened that I chose to practice (among others) this direction, a specialization such as deep relaxation, bodywork and massage after plastic surgery. Although these are not niche topics, they are rather trends; she wondered whether they can be somehow combined. In addition she asked me would it be better to specialize from the beginning in a strictly therapeutic massage, physiotherapy, etc.

She endeared me with this question and with further discussion, so even more willingly I explained to her that this is therapeutic massage, and the beginning took place not elsewhere, then in hospital. Besides – unfortunately also by simplifying the topic of relaxation in the media – we can have a feeling that professional relaxation massage is quite easier to implement. Nothing could be more misleading, especially if patients are those who have survived a strong trauma. There is a significant difference between the colloquial understanding of relaxation and its medical aspect.

As a certified massage therapist, I took my first job at the Institute of Orthopaedics, State Hospital No. 4 in Poznan, at the Department of Rehabilitation in autumn 1989. The rehabilitation department with hospital treatment meant that my first contact was especially with traumatology and orthopaedics, patients after accidents and with injuries. From this period I remember mostly the three patients who left a profound mark on my continued practice. I remember those situations very well, as if they were yesterday.

One morning I was walking towards the female ward, I had to find the right room and make sure that it was the right patient and order. A teenage girl was sitting on a bed, shocked by the whole situation, shyly nodding, confirming her name. Age: 19. I had a proper look at the order

„A massage, hardening the stump in preparation for prosthesis.” When I started the interview and asked for the permission for treatment, the tension escalated, after uncovering the duvet a limb after amputation above the knee was revealed, result from an injury. I was stunned so was the patient. In one second her tragedy collided with my (or rather our, masseurs in those days) complete lack of preparation in this respect, the psychological side of the matter. Slowly, I began with tests, exercises, before I started with the proper massage. The girl burst into tears, and I was even more irritated. Later, day after day treatments took place more calmly. I read what was only available in medical literature, but about the psychosomatic side of trauma – in terms of therapeutic massage – I couldn’t find anything. The whole therapy was focused on the purely physical side, putting her on her feet. But what does it means to stand firmly on your feet? In the colloquial sense, physiological, or psychological?

Phantom pains were slowly ceasing, deeper work on the thigh was possible, then strengthening the muscles, forging the stump itself. Technical aspects and intuition were important in the treatment.

Today we can find and read in publications that the basis of such treatments are “mosaics” of techniques and methods, involving the work of the fascia, isometric massage, exercises, and mostly working with soft tissues, especially with connective tissue. Furthermore however, a detailed schedule of procedure cannot be found in literature.

On one hand, there is precision, consistency, but also on the other hand sensing small, subtle reactions of muscles, nerves, and the careful study of patient’s behaviour.

will be … in process Next Part. https://bodyworkpiotrszczotka.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/why-this-way-part-ii/

by Piotr Szczotka


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