June 1, 2019
You had a what?!?
The session went so well. Wrapping up, as I massaged the scalp of my brand new client, I felt an unusual formation along the front right corner of her skull. I use a firm pressure on the scalp with the intention of moving the skin under the hair. Now I’m curious, did this client fall on her head at some point? Maybe when she was a kid? Did she have a car accident? Wait a second, this isn’t a dent, it’s more of a raised bony ridge. I decided to ask, “Did you have a fall where you bumped your head? There is a pattern here that is kind of different.” The client replied quite matter of fact, “Well, I had a crani-otomy.” I stop rubbing. I remove my hands.
My eyes opened wide. I asked, “You had a what?”.
She replies, “I had a tumor removed from behind my eye and they went in thru my skull.”
Holy mackerel. That wasn’t a part of our intake.
Well, here’s the truth: we didn’t really have an intake. My bad. I arrived at her home and she was already in her robe. She watched as I set up the table. We chit-chatted about the weather and where she’d be spending the summer. Once the table had sheets and a blanket, I made eye contact and asked, “Are there any conditions you’d like to let me know about?” She smiled and seemed to be thinking about the question. I clarified, “Any conditions or surgeries that could affect the massage?” She shrugged her shoulders saying, “No, not really.”
Oh, hell yes there was. But I didn’t follow the proper procedure and have her fill out a written Health Intake form. I didn’t want to delay getting the massage started. You would think that she would have mentioned a major life-threatening surgery. Maybe I’d want to know that she had a hole drilled in her skull, a tumor removed and oh yah, some plastic surgery to repair effects of the procedure. But nope. Nada. Not a word til the end of the session.
In retrospect, maybe she didn’t share that little tidbit because she has been refused a massage in the past. Maybe she thought I’d be freaked out. I was more freaked out that I was running rampant all over her surgically compromised cranium. I was more than a little concerned at my firm palpation exploring her skull. After that kind of trauma the skin, bone and nervous system can be very sensitive. After such an invasive procedure, she may not have wanted her head touched at all!
Lord have mercy. Once I got more details about the operation, we continued the session with a more gentle approach to that specific area. She gave me feedback that forehead, TMJ and work around the ears (“V” fingers in front and behind) felt really good. I was relieved. I was stunned. That could have been turned out very differently.
I share with you my rookie mistake to remind me, and you: don’t rely on one or two questions prior to the massage to design a safe effective session. Don’t ass-u-me that feedback during the massage will reveal all the answers we need. I have 25 years experience – I know better, but I got lazy.
Moral of the story?
Do a Health Intake with every client. Duh.
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