Not A Bad Day
by Angela Davis (Review Fuse user AC)
It is Christmas Eve day and inconsiderate people cram my treatment schedule—ill-tempered people compelled to share their holiday negativity or those who lack personal hygiene decided to grace my table. This day is never ending. I’m more than ready for it to be over with.
Only five more minutes left to endure the unbearable ache in my hands and the kink in my neck that shoots bullets to my brain. Five minutes until I can cover the client’s exposed body, wash my hands and leave for home. The countdown begins—I persist until the end.
“Okay, Mrs. Jones. How are you feeling?” I flash my most pleasant smile.
“Wonderful. I could go home and take a nap.” Mrs. Jones stretches on the table.
“I’m glad you feel better. Please remember to do your exercises and stretches this time. Drink plenty of water and I’ll see you next week.”
Finally free! Free to go soak my weary body in a hot bath. Six hours of massage a day is far too many to suffer through. Today, in particular, is difficult with clients who refuse to care for themselves on their own. No matter how many times they are told, they never do their homework. Yet, they wonder why they’re in pain. Go figure.
I rush through the office to gather my things.
Karen, the caffeine-driven medical assistant, steps in front of me. “Sue…Are you in a hurry?” she asks.
“Uhh, yeah.” Afraid to inquire why, I smile and maneuver around her toward my things.
“I have a favor to ask.” She grabs my arm and drags me into an empty exam room.
“What’s up?” Not that I really want to know.
“I kinda told this woman out front that you’d be able to work on her son. He’s in a lot of pain and needs a massage.” She justifiably braces herself for my response.
“Karen! I can’t believe you did that to me. I hurt…I’ve had a long day…I want to go home. What were you thinking?” How dare her schedule someone without asking me.
“He has MS,” she whispers.
Great! Guilt. Now how am I going to say no?
I sigh. “Okay. Give me the file.” I snatch the file from her hands and walk out to the waiting room.
Sitting across the room is a stout woman reading a book to a small fragile boy with fingers and arms curled close to his chest, skin pale as snow. Although his body is sickly and small, he has a glow about him. His soul radiates through his eyes, ever smiling.
I clear the irritating lump in my throat that tends to rise when inspiration sparks or when an invisible dagger smashes through my heart. “Mark? Are you ready for your massage?” I smile at the precious child.
Mark looks up at his mother.
“It will be okay honey. I promise it won’t hurt.” The mother stands to help her boy to his feet.
He stands with legs that don’t want to cooperate and begins his slow trek, one step at a time, leaning against his mother for support.
Finally, he enters the treatment room.
“That was awesome Mark! My name is Sue. I’m going to give you a massage today. Have you ever had a massage before?” I ask.
He looks up at his mom with big brown eyes.
“Not a professional massage,” she says. “He has been in so much pain lately and is very sensitive to touch. Even clothes rubbing against his skin causes him pain. My sister suggested that a massage may help him.”
Little Mark doesn’t look so convinced.
I sit down on the table. “How old are you?” I ask.
“Are you scared?”
“There is no need to be scared…okay? I will touch very lightly and you can tell me if you like it or not. If it hurts too much, we will stop. Okay?”
“I’m going to step out for a moment and I want you to take your clothes off but be sure to leave some shorts on. You can then get under this sheet on the table. Okay?”
When I enter the room again, Mark is curled up in a ball under the sheet. His mother sits in the corner.
I dim the lights and turn calming music on.
Using plenty of lotion, I ever so gently begin my work on Mark’s legs. Little by little he uncurls himself, becoming more comfortable.
While working on his back, a loud gurgle startles me. I pause and look for reassurance in his mother. She looks as unsure as I am, but when Mark doesn’t protest, I continue cautiously.
“Oh, that’s nice.” He says.
The mother’s face becomes flush and she bites her lip.
The lump in my throat returns as I fight back the burning in my eyes. This sweet little boy warms my heart.
“Do you like that, Mark?” His mother’s voice crackles.
“Oh yes. It feels nice.” His face beams. He giggles.
The mother loses her battle—tears stream down her face. She looks directly into my eyes and whispers: “Thank you.”
I nod, knowing that if I spoke, I too would be a sobbing mess.
Mark turns his head toward me and hands me his disfigured arm. “Can you rub here now?”
No longer do my hands hurt. The kink in my neck isn’t really that horrible. And my day? Well, it’s not so bad after all. This may be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever received.