Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Shiatsu, Beer and Cigarettes

Acupuncture chart from the Ming Dynasty: The P...
Shiatsu is a Japanese acupuncture without needles. In shiatsu points on the body (tsubos) are pressed in. Shiatsu always  has appealed to me as it totally one to one, no oil no needles.
Recently I was asked by a friend who wants to get involved with Complementary Medicine if I could recommend anything.
Just to give you a  quick background as to why they should ask me, I have studied various different types of massage, reflexology, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Nursing for people with learning disabilities.
The massage training was in a purpose built building in Melbourne, it was a very professional school, not only did we have to learn every muscle in the body we were taken to the local university to examine cadavers (cut up bodies in formaldehyde) to actually see the muscles and muscle groups and see how they worked.
With my new learned skills I searched for a job and found myself working as a physiotherapy assistant in a nursing home in a Melbourne suburb, it was a bit of a con really, there was no physiotherapist for me to assist, the nursing home could not afford one and I knew nothing about physiotherapy! As it happens though, it turned out to be the best job I have ever had in my whole life.
With no knowledge of physiotherapy I was given a free hand to use the skills and knowledge I did have, I tried to be as professional as I knew how, keeping notes, making assessments, formulating achievable goals and treatment.
Treatments would consist of many types of massage, exercises, heat treatments or just having a chat.
Nearly all the patients in the home were stroke victims, I was only paid to work mornings and there were 60 patients which meant I had to ration my time, in my head I had this concept that there were three types of patients there, those that were actually physically or mentally incapable of improvement, those who were physically able but had no will to improve and those who had the will to improve physically, it was the latter I concentrated my time with.
This gave good results to those I chose to work with and caused friction with the nursing staff who wanted me to work with their ‘favourite’ patients.
The nurse in charge was a lean mean through and through hard Aussie ‘Sheila’ I could not stand her and she could not stand me, so after ignoring her taunts that I only treated my favourite patients she ordered me to do some work with a patient that was special to her.
To me this patient was a complete lost cause and I was angry that I was going to have to waste my precious time with this poor soul who never spoke, was incapable of much movement and spent all day either in bed or in a chair asleep in her room.
Not really having a clue what, if any, treatment I could give the woman I asked the nurses to get her out of bed and into her chair, this they did and left the room.
Traditional Chinese Medicine has a method of diagnosis that has never failed to amaze me with its accuracy and that is pulse diagnosis. One takes the pulse at three different levels and depending on the whole quality of the pulse (not just beats per minute) one can get an insight into the patients condition.
I took this woman’s pulse and the ‘picture’ I got from her pulse was heart energy problems. I had studied Shiatsu in Melbourne and part of the course included various treatments, one of those treatments, pressing ‘tsubos’, acupressure points on the inner fore arm, was a treatment for heart energy. So I proceeded to ‘treat’ this lady.
I took it slow, one of the reasons being I was not even sure this woman was aware of what I was doing and I did not want to frighten her. The ‘treatment’ lasted about half an hour, by the end of which I was pretty sure she had known what was going on and had enjoyed it.
The nurses came in to wheel her chair into the corridor and the lean mean nurse in charge asked the woman if she enjoyed her massage. To my complete amazement the woman opened her eyes and in a broad Aussie accent said.

“Yeah that was great, now all I need is a beer and a cigarette!”

There was a complete uproar of laughter from all of us.
The now smiling woman was wheeled into the lounge for the first time, a table was put next to her and completely against the rules, she was given her beer and ciggy!
I learned that day that lean mean Aussie nurses know their stuff, we both developed a healthy respect for each other, from that day on the patient spent her days chatting in the company of her peers, I would like to think she still gets her daily contraband beer and ciggy, but most of all I learned that Shiatsu really works!

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