Wednesday, August 27, 2008

My Chemical Cancer

Say hello to my little friends. I don't even know what a lot of them are. C'est la Cancer.

The Tao of Touch

For me, a good massage can hold its own against a good trip to Bergdorf’s any day. There’s something profound to be said for the power of touch. I’ll take a massage when and where I can get one (within reason; you won’t see me in Whole Foods or at the airport). In fact, I may as well admit that one of the reasons I kept an ex of mine around for about four months longer than I should’ve was that he gave amazing massages. Years in the IDF will give you strong hands, apparently. (The other reason was that he also cooked quite well.)

Some people, such as my mom, are not massage-friendly. “I don’t like strangers touching me!” She protests. As a germaphobe, you’d think I would be on board with that excuse. I’m not. The closest my mom has gotten to an actual massage is those five-minute, ghetto, sports rubdowns they give you after you’ve run the New York Marathon. Seriously. Our vacations have taken us to some of the most spectacular spas in the world. Mom never bothers. There’s nothing I can do to convince her, so, more hands for me.

Sometimes my body is more heightened to the sensations of human touch. I began going to acupuncture to seek relief from the constant, dire, expander-caused pain. Once Chad relieved a good portion of that, I was able to relax into the needles and the handwork. As the chemo left my body, my senses became heightened even more. I was feeling things normally again. There was no baseline of pain, so my body was finally just another human body again. As the side-effects diminish, the acupuncture and massage becomes more pleasurable.

And though Chad is a man, it’s not a sexual thing. I feel just as good when a friend rubs my head or squeezes my shoulder or what have you. And my heightened sensory perceptions are not because I’m horny/lonely/damaged goods. Sista actually has a romantic life nowadays, the difference being that I’m not sharing it here.

Today I went in and told Chad that my neck was stiff from yoga. That was my main issue. I’ve also been feeling pretty relaxed, so I’m sure that helped. For the next hour, Chad proceeded to place and remove needles, while at the same time massaging all my pressure points. My neck and shoulders are what always get me, and he was especially adept in that area.

Near the end, (remember, I’ve now been seeing Chad for more than 4 months, weekly) he did something he’d never done.

“Would you mind if I took a look at how they are healing?”

“Oh, the girls? Sure.”
He gently removed the sheet and looked at the ladies, feeling the skin a little. He was quite pleased. I’m not sure why this left me feeling all warm and fuzzy (and not in the hands covering your pants kind of way). I think it’s because Chad’s seen me at every step of the way and is incredibly in-tune with his patients. Early on, he told me that he visualized each of his patients while he meditated. When I came to him, he said, he could tell that I was feeling very unsure with my body and looks. “I just want to assure you that you are still a very attractive woman, Stephanie.” It reassured me in a non-pervy way.
Now, here the same man was today admiring the “after” version of me. And I appreciated his opinion. As both a man and a caregiver.

A few minutes later, I realized that he only wanted to see how they were healing to tell whether he could begin to massage them and let me lay face down for treatment. Ahh. That makes sense.

Now I think I’ll go book some treatments for the Four Seasons Papagayo.