Once again, I feel compelled to blog about a recent client I had a Hospice massage session with. I received a call last week from a lady who was dealing with her aging parents, one of whom was under hospice care at home. She asked if I would be available to travel to their home, as both parents were immobile, and relied heavily on a home care nurse to help them move about, as well as the normal daily functions. I agreed to visit them at a convenient time in the morning just after breakfast, and just before nap time. I arrived at the house just a few minutes early to greet the couple and talk to them about why I was there, and then prepared some light emollients for the massage.
There was no need for a massage table, linens, or talk of problem areas and amounts of pressure. Joe and his wife were both nearing 90 years old, and they simply needed some healing therapeutic touch. Their bodies were frail, their skin nearly translucent and quite fragile, and there was not much more I could do than to try and comfort them while they sat back in recliner chairs.
Joe was my first client, as the hospice nurse told me he was soon to take a nap. Starting with a nice soothing hand massage, and never have I had to be more delicate with a client than I had been with Joe. Due to age, as well as the medicines he was on, his skin was so thin it was obvious too much friction or pressure was to have injured him. I carefully massaged his palms, as well as some light circumduction on his joints to help ease the discomfort of rheumatoid arthritis entangled in his fingers. I finished with the hand massage and then stood behind him as I lightly worked his shoulders and neck area.
The session was quite silent except for the faint sounds of relief coming from Joe as I continued the massage. A couple of times during the session Joe and I bantered a bit about women, where our families were from, just simple conversation, but enough to make a friend. I finished the massage and left Joe to relax while he watched his sermons on TV with a random pastor.
Just a couple of years younger than Joe, and suffering from a bit of dementia, there Dotty sat with a big smile on her face. I could not help but mirror her smile. I can only imagine how much inner strength and heart this couple had in order to deal with their situation,
finishing my session with the lovely couple I kneeled down beside Joe .“I hope I helped you relax a bit Joe, it was a pleasure to meet you, and wish you well on your journey.” Joe softly nodded his head, and his eyes told me he felt a little better. Thanking the hospice nurse for her help, I gathered my gear and left. A bit saddened at what that couple and their family were going through, as well as being in deep thought that one day, I too will be in this same position.
And then the call came the next day… it was Joe’s daughter. She sounded a bit distraught and said something that still makes my heart sink to think about. “I think you were an Angel Michael, and I thank you for helping my dad pass away peacefully. My dad took a nap right after the massage and passed away shortly after you left.” And then she began to cry, and I sat there and wept with her. Rest in peace Joe… rest in peace, my friend.
I’ve felt compelled to write about cancer and the benefits of massage for a few days now. I’m not speaking about aiding recovery with therapeutic touch. Modern medicine has made leaps and bounds in fighting and winning against cancer. I would never make claims that massage can battle cancer.
This conversation is about the healing and therapeutic touch of massage with someone who has terminal cancer under the care of hospice.
This is for CJ, the quickest friend I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She was courageous, she was beautiful, still young and full of life, and dieing. “I have terminal cancer,” she said, as I stood there surrounded by her sister and husband. They were all smiling, joking, and excited to see me. I have dealt with a lot of different people with varying health problems. But CJ, I could not help her nor heal her, but I could be there to make her feel better for a little while.
Her sister jokingly said, “I think this is the first time your husband won’t mind you sharing the bed with another man CJ”. We all chuckled, but CJ was bedridden, her muscular atrophy was severe, and she could not move around anymore. So carefully we positioned her as needed, as I crawled around the bed to work each area.
CJ was such a courageous woman. She said to me, “I’ve said my peace and I’m ready to go, but this is the stuff I’ll miss”. I felt a knot in my throat, and near difficult to fight back my tears. I was surrounded by incredibly brave people that refused to mourn the end. I’m sure they knew I felt the loss that they were enduring.
Massage and many cancer types go hand in hand. If for anything because one of the most memorable things we take with us is the loving touch of another human. I’m writing this as CJ’s last days are coming soon, as she stopped eating 27 days ago. But before I left, she told me “If I’m alive next week, I’m going to call you again”, And I truly hope I can see my friend again. Rest in peace CJ.