Chairperson Message: Where did that year go?
By Michelle McKerron
2018 has not been an easy year for some, and I’d like to acknowledge your situation if you have had some tough circumstances to endure.
I hope everyone, however, can find something to be grateful for – in life, but particularly in your work circumstance.
We can actively look for gratitude in the small things. Being employed at all, where others are less fortunate, is one way. Or perhaps in the rewarding nature of our roles as carers in our communities. Maybe you have learnt something new in the management of your business or in your hands-on work, or about yourself. Maybe your positive can be found in having seen results that really only a therapist and client truly understand.
My positive outcome has come in a form I wasn’t expecting. I have been increasingly aware in my workplace, and personally, about how I can speak positively or negatively about another person’s situation and drastically affect it. Whether this is when I am trying to calm one of my children down or educate a client about their pain. I am not an expert in either situation but I have influence.
A recent appointment comes to mind.
I have been providing Massage Therapy to a gentleman in his 60s who is currently under a workers’ compensation case. He has been to our clinic on and off over the years for various minor issues and responds well to treatment. So, when he found himself with a work-related hip injury, we were deemed appropriate to be one of his support network for pre- and post-surgical care.
The hip is his main issue but I address the body as a whole, and we find areas that have been clearly affected by a change in gait and sleeping patterns. As I work, my client starts to speak.
‘I wish my brain were like a computer.’
I am not very technically minded, so I brace myself to listen very carefully because it may not be language I really understand, but that this client’s perspective could be very helpful in how I relay information back.
He tells me that he works on computers a lot. He is not a professional but can rebuild bits and pieces. He gets the ‘inner workings’, to say the least. One thing he deals with is minor error notifications by rewriting simple code. What he finds exciting is that when he has written the new code, those annoying error messages doesn’t pop up as often, or at all.
He expresses a desire for his brain to be able to rewrite the error messages he is receiving about his physical discomfort, so instead of say ‘numbness at elbow’, his brain could ignore it for longer (not draw his attention to it), or morph it into something more manageable.
We discuss how we can rewrite his code by using other senses, such as touch, on the affected areas or by over-riding the messages with ‘thought’ signage such as ‘I can move, I don’t need to fear this’, ‘I can adjust’.
I feel a sense of excitement at having a new way to explain certain aspects of the brain’s function to this particular client. I am also extremely impressed that this client even associated that his brain was telling the story!
We also discussed further complicating factors, such as the myriad of feelings of pain, the helplessness of dealing with a chronic issues, and the inability to think clearly while enduring discomfort. The need for sharing the pain in the form of conversation, or the giving over of the injury to an emotionally and physically disengaged person to deal with, and the openness to trust and go with what that therapy might offer, were clearly all relevant in this case.
At the end of session, in reviewing how the client felt, there was a despondency that nothing felt like it had ‘changed’. We were both disappointed for very different reasons. But we can both acknowledge that there is a new level of communication. It feels like there is so much to work with next visit – a door opened.
I feel more confident in how I am going to speak into situations. I may not use the computer example for everyone, but I will keep listening for those cues that each individual gives out to improve my treatment.
So here’s to a New Year where we keep our minds open. I hope 2019 will be a time of learning for all of us and that at the end of next year, you’ll be excited to look back and see where you find yourself in your journey.
About the Author
Michelle is a wife, mum of four, massage therapist and Manager of a small clinic in Sydney’s south. She doesn’t get bored often. Michelle enjoys watching the AMT membership engage, become mobilised and empowered by the communication capabilities found in social media pages, like this blog.