Photo by Anete Lusina on

I love me a good massage. For that matter, I love me almost every kind of “therapy.” Massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, reiki, reflexology, cranial…all of it. This is foremost on my mind today as I have spent the past six weeks dealing with recurring pain in my right lower inner calf. One day I can barely put any weight on it, the next it feels better. At times it just feels “off”, not painful, but not right. It’s been frustrating. Along the way I’ve seen two chiropractors and a massage therapist twice. They all provided temporary relief, but it just didn’t stick.

Then I had the session that I think finally resolved things. I went to someone who practices Chinese medicine, combined with other techniques that include chiropractic adjustments and cranial therapy. I’ve gone to their centre in years past while in MontrĂ©al, and when I received the email saying they were open, I called.

I’d forgotten that they would start by warming my back muscles – using their knuckles and elbows to massage both sides of my back, from shoulder to foot. Then they get in between each vertabrae as I exhale. After flipping onto my back, it’s time for some traction and cranial work. This is usually done with two people, one at my neck the other putting one hand under my back and one over my heart, right shoulder and right side. It’s always my right side apparently…

This time it also included some soft movement of my hips and pelvis – possibly the cause of the pain in my right leg. One hand was placed under my lower back, the other across my lower belly and right hip. Once that was done and I found myself lying on my back, my body already felt so much better. My body was returning to its normal state.

Sometimes I think it’s a ploy – put me into a place of deep contentment and relaxation, and then CRACK. With my muscles, and entire being, at ease, my skeletal system is ready for adjustments. This starts with a move I don’t always enjoy. Cotton is placed in my mouth for me to bite on. Ethan’s hands cradle my head – one on my neck and the anther under my jaw – and YANK! a quick tug that I feel all the way down my spinal cord. This time, it brought relief to my lower spine and tailbone. It’s the first time I’ve actually enjoyed this maneuver. The “cracking” of my neck, upper, middle and lower back that ensued created longer and louder “cracks” than I’ve ever heard before. Clearly my entire body was wonky.

Not anymore. I left that session feeling better, both body and soul – albeit in a zombie state for the remainder of the evening. I slept well and woke up to a new day, feeling better than I have since May 9th. So grateful for that.

The number of therapy sessions I’ve had over past month and a half has made me think about the value of touch. It can be incredibly reassuring, relaxing and healing. And in pandemic times, as a singleton, these moments are few and far between. Shall I thank whatever happened to my knee/leg/hip/sacrum for providing some? A little silver lining maybe?

I have always loved having someone lightly move their fingertips across my back as I fall asleep. That sweet touch just lulls me into the world of happy dreams. Just ask my ex-husband. I would always say “please draw on my back.” Eventually his response became “I hate your back. I love you, but I hate your back.” Thankfully, he usually acquiesced. The time I dated a man who automatically did that, without me ever asking? Well, I thought I’d found “the one.” (Clearly not only because of this, but it sure did help!) Apparently drawing on my my back as we cuddled and fell asleep wasn’t quite enough to make that relationship last. Damn shame.

The very first time I went for a massage my therapist had a book in her office tilted “Hands That Heal.” Lisa was amazing, with hands that certainly healed. I would leave her office feeling like I was walking on clouds – both physically and mentally. She always said “don’t drive!” I wish I hadn’t lost track of her. Last thing I heard, she’d moved to DC. Lucky are those who enter her office.

All that to say, hands certainly do heal. I’ve had a regular regimen of massage and acupuncture for years now, and I won’t be changing that any time soon. As I settle into life in MontrĂ©al, and discover my “maintenance team”, I am ever thankful to those that help me maintain a healthy and strong body and mind.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata on