04 August 2012

Title:   Two new knees for my long-time friend

The other day I received a fabulous e-mail.  It was from Juzee, a dear friend I have known since 4th grade who later became my best friend throughout Linden, NJ, High School.  It read:  "A great thing happened yesterday - I took a long walk on the beach! I have been reluctant to walk on sand, but yesterday was so beachy that it compelled me to try. I remembered what it was like to have normal knees and to take a normal walk.  I could actually have gone farther but I tried to keep my elation down so as not to overdo it.  I am blessed to be feeling well again, making good progress.  And a lot of that progress is owed to reflexology and you. It is in your hands, literally and figuratively, that my healing progressed at the rate that it did. I better understand the healing process; it's not just taking the medicine and doing the physical therapy. My entire body was reeling from the intrusive surgery, and reflexology got me past the worst of it. I also see why the pre-surgical sessions we had were so important. It prepared the way for this rapid healing. I can't thank you enough for your commitment to my getting well."
It was a happy day when Juzee began coming in for reflexology treatments.  At the same time, it made me sad to see her in so much pain.  The reality was that Juzee's knees were killing her and she had scheduled surgery to replace the entire knee joints of both knees.  To support the surgery she asked if I could give her several Reflexology sessions a week both before and after the operation.  
As I worked on her feet, I witnessed Juzee's capacity to be with her pain in an open and non-judgemental way.  In her own words after a session, " I have been crying a bit and I feel a little dam has opened up to allow me my tears and fears prior to this surgery. I am mourning the loss of my knees but I am welcoming the new ones with open arms".  Thus, the reflexology was the window which allowed her body and mind to relax before the surgery.  Then on Easter Sunday, a day after the surgery, I worked gently on her feet for a few minutes.  Although a bit groggy from the anaesthesia, Juzee, in her own inimitable way, was already bringing delight to the nurses and other patients.  
I continued to work on Juzee at home.  Her knees were soon straight and in her own words,"beautiful",  after being bowed inwardly for so long.  The staples were soon removed and the scarring diminished rapidly from visit to visit.  Little by little the trauma of the surgery was lifted as Juzee realized she was definitely getting better quickly.  
What a miraculous day it was when Juzee came to see me at the Salon for the first time since before her surgery.  Climbing down the steps, walking straight and tall, her face was radiant.  I could not help but feel the preciousness of our experience - how miraculous it was to be allowed to participate in Juzee's healing.  As Juzee discovered - this spontaneous healing energy was at work empowering her in her pain to open to growth and change.  And by putting her feet first, I could see that Juzee was inspired to continue finding other quiet islands for taking care of herself and her loved ones.

01 August 2012

Natalie's baby Maggie

In my last blog I wrote about my client Natalie who decided to have weekly reflexology to carry her through her first pregnancy.  Nearly every week during the pregnancy I was able to pay special attention to Natalie's changing feet and body.  I felt privileged to be allowed to be part of this very special time and to get to know baby Maggie in a unique way.
As a bit of background, more and more Reflexology Doulas are appearing in hospitals, birth centers and at home births around the world.  In England this special training is given in using Reflexology for pain management, to encourage a stalled labor and to facilitate a smooth release of the placenta.  In a 1992-1993 research project conducted by Doctors Gowri Motha, Jane McGrath and Ms. Zia Rowji, 64 pregnant women were offered Reflexology sessions from 20 weeks gestation to term. Thirty-seven of the women completed the set course of 10 treatments and had outstanding results in labor and birth:  the first time mothers and the 20-25 year olds averaged 5-6 hours in labor (textbook is 16-24 hrs); second stage labor (pushing and birth), lasted an average of 16 minutes (textbook is 1-2 hours) and some had labor times of only 2 or 3 hours.  It was also observed, that during the first few hours and days of the new babies arrival there was a calm, an understanding, a wonderful bond between mother and baby. 
Now, what happened in the case of Natalie?  Well in a message she sent to me shortly after Maggie's birth:  ".........We think of you often, especially when massaging Maggie.  ......She is already three weeks old!  As you know, I had the baby the day after I cancelled our last appointment.  I had felt achy and slightly weird all day on Tuesday and I woke up Wednesday to intense contractions around 7:30 am.  The birth couldn't have gone better, but it was shockingly short. All my research and planning was for a long labor, and that got thrown out the window. Thank goodness my husband was so aware; I kept on insisting that we should stay home longer, but when he realized how quickly the contractions were coming he got us to the hospital right away. Good thing since Maggie was born at noon and we arrived at the hospital at 10:15!  We had a natural birth and a good recovery. I don't like being in hospitals, so we were happy we could take steps to leave as soon as possible; we were home with Maggie on Thursday afternoon.  
And since then it has been a whirlwind of amazing. She is growing every day; she is awake for longer, noticing things, holding on to objects (sort of), and holding our fingers with her precious hands. She is eating well, already is over 8 pounds, and I don't think my husband and I could be more in love...with her or with each other.   Of course, everything is exhausting as well, but even that is different than I expected.  I haven't had more than three hours of consecutive sleep (and that is rare), but I am still able to give my best attention to Maggie. It's quite powerful.  We are trying to enjoy and share all this time we have together and take care of our baby girl.  I will send more pictures soon. I hope you had a wonderful start to 2012! "

I got to meet Ms. Maggie in the spring and it was a wonderful reunion.  She is a captivating and exquisite little person............with perfect little feet!!!

18 August 2011

Pregnancy and Reflexology

I feel so lucky! My client Natalie is pregnant and has decided to use Reflexology as one of her holistic support sytems throughout her pregnancy. Natalie's lifestyle is already a healthy one. In fact, she LOVES greens. She eats greens for breakfast - no problem! So it is no surprise that she looks radiant and feels very well. At week 21 - the weight of the baby is causing some stress on the back and belly - but overall, there have been no major discomforts.

The baby is due in December and this summer is Natalie's time to embrace her pregnancy. My zero gravity chair is perfect for her. It is made to allow the client to feel weightless when it's tilted to the back at an angle range. The body will be close to a lying-down position with the person's legs above the heart level. In this position, one is said to be experiencing "zero gravity" because most of the weight is taken off the back. In short, one feels light and weightless. As Natalie stretches out on the chair, her whole body eases into a visibly more peaceful and relaxed state. This allows Natalie to be receptive to the reflexology treatment which in turn helps to keep her body and hormones balanced as well as support and strengthen her uterus and immune system. Not to mention that research has shown that women who have regular reflexology treatments during pregnancy have far shorter labours than those who don't.

But here is the magic!! Sometimes while working on Natalie's feet, I have felt a third presence - something or someone very wise, angelic and curious appears. The first time I felt this happen, I was so moved that it brought tears to my eyes. Was it indeed her little daughter enjoying the reflexology session as well?

12 August 2011

How Reflexology helps a dancer named Oscar

How is it that people change? Isn't it true that it is one of human nature's most difficult tricks? Well, I have seen it countless times as I work on my client's feet. As the feet become open and supple, so it seems to reflect what is going on in the person. Like the peeling of an onion, layer upon layer of tension, contraction and pain start to shed. This is about such a shift in Oscar.

Oscar has been a client of mine for some time. He is an excellent Tango dancer and gifted teacher. Every day his feet take a lot of pressure. I have read that on average we normally spend 4 hours a day on our feet and take between 8,000 and 10,000 steps. Compared to the rest of our body, our feet are very small and every step puts about 50% more than our body weight on them. Therefore, in an average day, our feet support a combined force equal to several hundred tons. Holy cow! In Oscar's case imagine that force multiplied several times over as he leads his students in the complexities of tango's ochos, crusadas, boleos and caminitas. So it is no surprise Oscar has experienced an aching back. Luckily, back pain, caused by a physical imbalance like an injury or psychological imbalance like stress or anxiety, can be treated using reflexology. So I have worked on Oscar therapeutically, much like an Acupuncturist would. By stimulating points within the reflex maps I encourage his body to find a balance for itself. The entire body gets attention, while only the feet are being worked on.

Oscar usually relaxes deeply - sometimes he sleeps - in my zero gravity reflexology recliner. The chair's best kept secret is that is allows Oscar to obtain good posture even when he's relaxing. By maintaining good posture in the chair, his spine benefits and relieves pressure on his back and body. When Oscar finishes his hour - his first impression upon standing is how tall he has gotten! And in fact his posture has improved as the spine and back have released their contractions.

Over time, I have witnessed Oscar's new found dedication to self-care. This has manifested in his paying attention to diet and sleep habits, to taking time for himself to heal potential injuries and to allowing the body to be where it is - without anger or disappointment. As he has become more caring and attentive to his needs, he has also become more nurturing in his relationships. Looking at Oscar, I see a person who radiates a zest for life and a posture of pride and intention. And my hunch is - his dancing has improved as well.

08 February 2011

Our lives have only one name

When my dear friend and client Aro called for a last minute Reflxology appointment, I could tell that something was going on. Turns out she was on her way to get an MRI to find out whether or not she had cancer. Although told there was only a slim (2%) chance that this was so in her case, the MRI did indeed reveal DCIS or duct cancer in situ. As Aro explained it, "from that moment on, everything just went so fast", and from one day to the next she was scheduled for surgery.

DCIS is sometimes classified as Stage 0 of breast cancer, the earliest stage of the disease. The question for women with this diagnosis is not “Will I live?” but “How much treatment will I need?” DCIS is one cancer that can truly be considered curable. However, until the 1980s DCIS was routinely treated in the same way as most invasive cancers — with mastectomy. Now breast-conserving surgery or lumpectomy is often recommended when DCIS is limited to one site and the tumor can be removed with a clear margin. Then radiation therapy is recommended because it reduces the chance of recurrence after surgery. Additionally, a medication called tamoxifen may further reduce the recurrence rate. All this was to be Aro's path for the next few months.

During this period, I worked on Aro's feet almost every week. But doing so was different than all the other times she had come for reflexology. At first all I could think to myself was, "how can I make this go away? " And of course I could not. But over time I saw that what I could do - or what we could do together - was to make our sessions as real as possible. Only by doing this did her feet and ultimately her body and mind relax. And later when she came to me during radiology sessions - I saw that when we could just allow the body to be where it was - sometimes tense or nervous, other times tired or emotional or simply quiet or peaceful - I was able to work even more deeply on the relevant reflex areas of Aro's feet. She always left the Salon feeling in her words, "wonderful".

Aro is now cancer free and "back to her former life" with one major difference - she has put on the breaks. Before the cancer she neglected everything - including herself - to attend to whoever or whatever wanted her attention in that moment. After the cancer - it has become more like this: if Aro is tired, she naps, if she is hungry, she prepares food for herself, if she is engaged in a quiet moment, she enhances that with meditation. She radiates a glow that I would say comes from being loved and cared for - first and foremost by her self - and too by her beloved family, boyfriend and friends.

From my perspective, I saw that our Reflexology sessions gave Aro a refuge; a sense of space to remain herself while being bombarded with decisions she had to make on her journey to wellness. I felt that the best gift I could give her was my presence. In any case the best knowledge that I could give her did not come from my brain but from my heart. But most striking was the gift Aro gave me - the reminder that our lives have only one name - and that name is gratitude.

30 November 2010

Peace in the world - one foot at a time

Very often I get to work on Mana's feet. And each time I do so - I am grateful for the opportunity to thank her in some way for having been one of the best bosses I ever had at the UN. Mana, still beautiful and elegant at the age of 70, is again working temporarily at the UN because, well, because the UN desperately needs her rare talent, a combination of dedication, wisdom and clear analytical thinking. Not to mention her wonderful sense of fun and humour. The very first time Mana came to see me she told me that she never goes to the bathroom while working. Maybe she thought this was a sign of her dedicated service. In response I probably mentioned that our bodies need to rid themselves of toxins and urination was one important way. Anyway, I made sure I worked on her kidney reflex area. So it was no surprise to me - although it was to Mana - that halfway through the session - she had to make a run to the bathroom. That was a good thing - the reflexology was working! And so whenever Mana is able, she comes for Reflexology and I can see that she takes it as her sacred hour of undisturbed peace and deep relaxation. Not to mention that a host of ailments she has carried over time have either cleared up or been reduced consideraby since we began working together. Mana's feet are real UN feet - they have served for many many years. This is really an example of peace in the world - one foot at a time.

12 November 2010

A Dancer's Feet Sorely need Reflexology

Many lovely clients have come to the Salon these weeks but today I want to write about one in particular - a dancer named El. And her feet. El is a talented and beautiful dancer whose specialities are Tango and Theater Arts. For the latter, she pairs with a renowned partner who lifts her and throws her and swirls her through the air. So when she comes to Reflexology, there is often a story behind each band-aid and sore muscle. What is it like to work on El's dancer feet - ones that are, among other things, constantly moving in 4 inch heels and landing difficult jumps? I'll tell you. For example, yesterday El came in and reported that her lower back was sore and that her right ovary felt tender. Checking into her emotional state, El said she was a bit depressed and sensed it as a heaviness in the center of her chest. What wonderful information to work with! I started the session with gentle pressure on the solar plexus, diaphragm and heart reflex areas of El's left foot asking her to simultaneously breathe into the center of her chest. Not surprisingly, the parts of her foot that hurt and thus needed extra attention were the right ovary, the lumbar spine and adrenal reflex areas of both feet. What is unique about El, is that she brings her whole self to Reflexology. She loves herbs and natural remedies, practicing yoga and gyrotonics. These, coupled with her deep interest in returning to a state of wholeness, allow Reflexology to work in an unencumbered way. While working, I felt great peace within my own chest! When we finished, El shared that the heaviness in her chest had eased and that she felt "much better". Checking in with her at the end of that day, she reported that her entire body felt much more relaxed and that she also felt much more peaceful while going through her day - more inner. She also said she was much more energetic - less lethargic and turning the corner to start to feel excited about her weekend of performing. I know she will dance beautifully on feet that are open to the wisdom of healing.