relax, this won’t hurt..

i’ve made some referrals to the torturer in london these last months, and i just realised i’ve never even told you about him. as an explanation for my new readers, i suffer from a bad back, lumbago used to be an annual nuisance for me, and in the end, one doctor gave me the diagnosis degenerative disc disease.

for years, i’ve been seeing regularly both a physiotherapist, as well as a massage therapist, both of which have helped me enormously, but never really removed the pain. when i travel, i usually bring a whole arsenal of painkillers with me, and often i’ve felt old and boring, standing on the side, watching others having fun.

in january, when in london, my back decided to take a turn for the worst of the worse. the stuff in my purse didn’t last as long as i had hoped for, and long story short, i’d already spent a fortune on whatever i could get without a prescription from boots, when i started googling for massage therapists. what an utterly hopeless task that turned out to be, and the prices.. omg the prices. i sat for an hour in the bath, crying, hoping i would get miraculously cured.

when i had run out of tears, i had to decide. i went for a place promising to be the urban pit stop, with “a mission to transform a nation of stressed out, overworked souls into relentlessly fabulous, happy, shiny, pampered and polished princes and princesses.” the list of employers all showed pictures of happy women my own age, and the answer i got to my distressed email was warm and welcoming. i got an appointment for the next day, and i dragged myself there, still feeling mushy from all the crying. a girl met me in the reception, took my coat and gave me a glass of water. “here sweetie, wait here, let us take care of you”
i felt confident everything would soon be better, some nice little girl would pat my back a bit, the pain wouldn’t necessarily go away, but i’d feel better at least.

a manly “christina? hello!” woke me from my daydream and i turned around. and there he was. standing right in front of me, between me and the door, was a man i immediately recognised as my warden from a previous life. he had been sent here to kill me. i wanted to scream, and run… but the reception girl had my coat, and i couldn’t possibly run anywhere with my back being like it was.

“if you’d be so kind as to follow me down to the treatment room in the basement”

i have, seriously, never been so afraid in my whole life. i was absolutely sure this man would be the end of me, but he had kind eyes, and seeing as i already was in a lot of pain, i decided to just get it over and done with. goodbye, cruel world.

to my surprise, he told me he’d first ask some questions, and do a small examination, “since you have chronic pain, i don’t want to do anything that could harm you”.

during all my years with back pain, i’ve met my fair share of masseurs, physiotherapists, doctors, and whatnots. i could recognise the first parts of the examination; bend here, bend there, do this, do that, where does it hurt the most… but then he started doing things no-one’s done, nor asked, before. i had never thought about the pain *here* having anything to do with the pain *there*. and all the above-mentioned whatnots, when i’ve asked them if *this* might have anything to do with *that*, they have all told me no (with that annoying “don’t be silly”-tone doctors can have if you have tried diagnosing yourself). but not this man. this man looked at me with a smile, and said “so you’ve noticed it yourself, good”. i was baffled, and was still thinking of this, wondering what kind of education massage therapists in the uk get, when he with one little movement made the pain disappear. only after this little exercise, was i even ready for the massage i had come for.

it’s fair to say, what happened next, was torture. where all other physio-whatever-people have been massaging *here* because according to them that’s where the pain originates from, this man went straight to *there*. where all others have been easy on the hand, not to hurt more, this man pressed even harder. at one point, i was sure i would pass out, and i probably would have, if it hadn’t been for him asking me how on earth i had found him anyways. “ggghhooghle… wanted a nice little massagghheeau..”

he laughed, and said i was very brave, he had clients who had told him he has clearly missed his calling as a torturer at the tower of london. i couldn’t but agree, and that’s when he told me that, truth be told, he wasn’t really a massage therapist (no shit sherlock, is this where you’ll kill me?), he was just doing that to get some extra income (from the mafia, i presume?), he was really doing a PhD in lower back and hip problems (huh, what?)

“so you see, you are a walking example of all my case studies, and that’s why i was wondering how you found me”

maybe it was the other way around. maybe he already killed me in that previous life, and now he came back to make amends…

the next day i did feel like a train wreck, can’t deny that. never before had i experienced that kind of muscular pain. but i could also feel something else happening, behind the veil of that pain. i could feel my body healing. i could feel it whispering a silent “thank you,” for finally finding someone who really listened, without devaluing what it was trying to say.

this week, when my back went out completely again, for some unknown reason, i realised that – except for a few days this summer, due to walking wobbly because of my broken toe – i have not felt this kind of pain since that week in january. this used to be everyday news for me, and i have no idea how i survived it all those years. just one day of it was enough, and i really had to dig to find my old painkillers (they do not accompany me on travels any more, nor do i have them next to my bed, in case i can’t get up in the morning). furthermore, i had forgotten how high i get from just one single pill. it was actually quite scary.

looking back, that man might have cost me £68 for 45 minutes of sheer torture, but last year alone i paid 10 x 40 € to my physiotherapist, and about the same to my massage therapist, neither of which i’ve seen since last december.

what’s even better, i no longer say no to half of the things i used to, and i no longer get snappy because i’m in pain.

and i can’t but thank the universe for listening to me when i sat there, crying in the bath.

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