resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Women's Hormones: A Western & Eastern Perspective
Sometimes it may seem that you require a degree in medicine to understand hormones and how they function.
Raditation & Your Smartphone: Is it Worth the Risk?
If radial arteries could talk (and in my experience they can to some extent), they would say, "Step away from the smartphone." At least that is the message I am receiving loud and clear as I feel the pulses of many patients.
Is It Time to Rethink Mental Illness? (Pt. 1)
Invariably, patients will ask their chiropractor about depression or various mental illnesses. Some practitioners will reflexively offer a cervical adjustment, suggest St. John's wort or contemplate a referral to a specialist.
Taking the Chiropractic Message to the Press
"There is no better place on earth to have a news event," the National Press Club boasts, and it's easy to understand why: Every year, the 108-year-old Washington, D.C.-based organization hosts countless press conferences on the hottest topics impacting America and often the world.
Why I Quit Doing House Calls
My father was a chiropractor who did house calls, so when I became a DC, I figured doing house calls was part of the job. My March article recalled my experience as a small boy, accompanying my dad while he went to patients' homes to treat them.
A Daily Strategy for Heavy-Metal Detox
In modern society, we are constantly exposed to heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. These heavy metals have no essential biochemical roles in our body, and conversely, can cause us a great deal of harm if they build up to toxic levels.
A Major Role in Back Pain: The Multifidus
Back pain affects roughly 80 percent of the population at one time or another and is one of the leading causes of doctor visits.
An Integrated Approach to Chronic Pain
Findings from a unique Medicaid pilot project in Rhode Island involving high-use Medicaid recipients from two health plans were recently presented to the state's Department of Health, demonstrating stellar outcomes with regard to medication use, ER visits, health care costs and patient satisfaction.
News in Brief
ACA Adopts New Governance Model; ACA 2017 Awards; CCA Helps Calif. DCs "Share the Love"; $1 Million to Help Advance the Profession; D'Youville Raises the Bar on Anatomy Education; ErRatum.
Is the New Medicare Reporting Exemption Right for You?
What you've heard is not a rumor – there will be exemptions for providers of Medicare patients, with no penalties assessed for offices that do not do Quality Payment Program (EHR, PQRS, MACRA and MIPS) reporting.
Creating Good Business Buzz
What do patients really think about working with you? Rarely do you hear the whole truth. Those who improve may be candid in their gratitude.
Give Yourself the Digital Advantage
When you see this article in the print version of this issue and swear you read it already, don't be alarmed: you probably did. That's because by that time, the May issue will have been available online in digital format for three weeks.
Universal Design: Principles & Practice
In many respects, universal design serves as the core of ergonomics. It's also a good tool to use when designing a return-to-work program for injured and/or ill patients. Let's take a closer look at universal design and why it should matter to you and your patients.
An Unexpected Diagnosis: The Result of Lacking Communication
A couple years ago I had a case that showed me the importance of open communication between health practitioners. We need to show up with less fear, and let go of our judgments so we can do better for the patient.
The Visual Error Scoring System: A Concussion Tool
Postural stability and oculomotor function are the most easily recognized physical indicators of neurologic motor dysfunction associated with concussions.
Clearing Blocks: A Way to Improve Cosmetic Acupuncture
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists.
New Relationships, Old Trauma: AOM & Other Healing Strategies
Being in love is one the most beautiful and enjoyable experiences. Most of us are willing to pay almost any price to have that experience, and still often find it elusive or fleeting. Navigating the ups and downs of loving relationships are often challenging — even for the most psychologically balanced among us.
Eczema & Acupuncture: A Sound Solution (Part 1)
Eczema affects approximately 3.5 percent of the global population and is one of the most common skin complaints seen by dermatologists.
Bill With Confidence: Learn What to Collect
Q: I am trying to understand what I may collect from my patient when there is insurance. Do I have to accept the amount allowed by the plan or may I collect up to my billed amount? Please note, I am not a member of any insurance plan.
Balancing Spring Challenges
As the winter months come to a close and warmer spring weather appears, patients may begin to present with new challenging pattern presentations.
November, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 11
Bringing Relief to WTC Rescue Workers
Masssage Services Provided at New York City's Stuyvesant High School
By Liz Pasquale, LMT
Editor's note: Liz Pasquale is a licensed massage therapist in private practice in Ossining, New York since 1993.Liz and fellow massage therapist Susan Galbraith (who took the photos presented in this article) were two of many health care professionals providing care to rescue workers at Stuyvesant High School, only a few blocks from the World Trade Center.
The airplanes hit the Twin Towers on Tuesday, September 11th, at about 9 a.m. The next morning, I called my friend, Dr. Antonio Abad. He told me he had gone to the towers Tuesday morning to create a triage center at Stuyvesant High School on Chambers and West Side Highway, about two blocks from the site.
I asked him if he needed my help. "Come on down," he replied. "I don't know if you'll be able to get in, but if you can, we could use you."
It was a sunny day as I walked toward the black mushroom cloud. Emergency vehicles passed every few moments. The scene was overwhelming. I almost wished the guards would stop me, but no one did. In fact, I was given a ride to the door. I stepped out of the van into a sea of billowing dust, smoke and people rushing about in protective clothing.
It no longer seemed like New York at all, or any other place I knew. It was a war zone. I felt like I'd left my home state light years behind.
Asbestos Dust Coats the Air
The wind carried swells of dust into the school with us. It covered everyone. We looked like we were all wearing the same gray uniform.
Signs said, "Asbestos levels high. Please wear a mask." Almost everyone had a paper or surgical mask, generally hanging casually around his or her neck. None had filters. I placed one over my nose and mouth, though I suspected it was no good for asbestos.
I found my friend, Dr. Abad, and he explained my job: to ferret out workers showing signs of extreme fatigue and stress. I was to get them to lie down for a massage. If I thought they were in really bad shape, I was to get him or her a nurse to check them personally. It was pure chaos. One floor housed the food, a central area of communications, and a long hall with cots set up. There were IV units, medical supplies, doctors and nurses everywhere. The police and firefighters were in the school theater.
Everything was covered with that dust. With each step, it clouded around us. The communications center had no phones - the electricity was out. People would just come into the center of the room and ask for whatever they needed. The person behind the desk would shrug. Somebody in the crowd would overhear and point in the right direction, to a police officer or an army staff person or an emergency vehicle out front.
Generators provided the limited electricity we did have. The toilets had just gotten up and running again, for the first time since Tuesday. There were upwards of 200 people rushing about in the dust clouds, eating, organizing, talking, medicating. And always a few search dogs.
A Firefighter Shares His Sorrow
I found a dusty massage table in the midst of everything, so I took it upstairs and found a clean, quiet room. It was filled with school desks and historic pictures showing a barricaded village at the tip of Manhattan. Dr. Abad brought in a middle-aged fireman. I'll call him Paddy O'Flannery.
Paddy was covered with the asbestos dirt. On top of his clothes he wore fireproof gear. He took off his boots, and I had a moment of doubt. How was I going to feel anything under his gear? I decided to start with lymph drainage therapy and began at the clavicles. I could get my hand on the skin there. After that it was easy. The lymph rhythm actually came to me through the gear. I was in it.
Paddy was a chatty guy, but his significance detector quickly indicated we were in deep stuff. He said he had been home when he saw the TV report shortly after 9 a.m. He got over there right away. That was his home turf. He had wondered if his guys were dead already.
When he arrived, he was so glad to see they were all there. A fireman named Ray Downey walked over to them. "Ray Downey is a god," Paddy said. "He's got a chest full of medals. I've been in this business 15 years and I've got two puny medals. He's got a million of 'em. And he went to Oklahoma. Everywhere there's a big fire, he goes.
"So he walks over to us and says, 'Hey, why don't you stand back a bit. This is looking pretty sketchy.' So my guys turn around and start to walk back, and the other guys next to us walk to the right. All those guys, my buddies who walked to the right, they all got it. All gone. And my guys, we were running for our lives cause at that second it all comes down.
"And Ray Downey is gone. Thirty seconds after he told us to get back, gone. He was a god to us firemen."
A Stairwell Landing Becomes a Crossroad of Care
I noticed that a few chiropractors had set up on the landing between the first and second floors, so I joined them. We were between the door and the food, so everyone saw us when they passed. It was a never-ending stream of people carrying supplies, talking, and kicking up dust. Yet even in the chaos people would get up from the table after their sessions and say, "That was the most relaxing massage" or " I feel like I've slept for a week."
For days we treated overworked, traumatized firefighters, police officers, rescue workers and debris diggers. Some of them were brought there by their bosses and slumped onto the table wearing whatever they had on - bunker pants, harnesses laden with clips and ropes, gun belts, flashlights, pockets filled with tools. All covered with that gray dust. I had started working on Thursday. By the time most men reached my table, it was the first break they had allowed themselves since they began Tuesday morning.
I got into the habit of starting with lymph drainage therapy because it immediately relaxed them. Working over their clothes was no problem. I'd switch to CranioSacral Therapy, then to visceral manipulation as we went along.
Other massage therapists soon joined me. Eventually, we had about six or seven chairs and four tables set up. Most therapists were doing Swedish massage over clothes. Some did acupressure and shiatsu, while others worked on floor mats. After four days it grew to be 12 to 15 massage therapists on the landing, with two or three chiropractors who had moved to the 3rd floor.
A rough schedule evolved. It became busy around 9 p.m. The therapists were swamped straight through until dawn. Most of us worked without a break as long as there were men waiting. The funny thing was, I never felt tired. When people did, we would badger them to take a rest.
Then morning came and the night shift would leave. I'd have breakfast, shower, and sleep. Fresh faces would appear to man the day shift, which wasn't nearly so busy. I'd work on and off during the day when I wasn't napping. Then in the evening we'd be ready to start the all-night massage marathon again.
Emotional Releases Run High
Ordinarily in my practice, about 20% of my clients - usually people I'd seen a few times - experience an emotional release. But here, more than 80% of these men discharged their emotions, often in the first 5 to 10 minutes. Most of them I'd never met, and they'd never had a massage before.
This is how it went: First I'd give each man some water when he arrived. A quick evaluation always pointed to restrictions of the thorax: compromised lungs. This wasn't surprising, since they'd all been inhaling smoke for hours. Grief appeared to be omnipresent at the heart level.
I would check the cranial rhythm, which usually seemed shocked - very faint or completely stopped. Then I'd start with lymph drainage therapy at the clavicles, proceeding up the neck to the face. That's when the sudden presence of tears rolling down the man's face would alert me.
Only one policeman cried in silence, not telling me his thoughts. All the others related some traumatic event, usually involving a search through the debris.
Afterward, each man would continue to process quietly in what resembled a deep sleep. I would continue following the body, doing CranioSacral and visceral work. By the end of the session, the cranial rhythm would have revived somewhat, even approaching what one might consider normal. I often ended by inducing a few still points or returning to lymphatic work.
Memories Help Ease Fluid Dynamics
Before this tragedy, I had just returned two weeks prior from an Upledger Institute workshop in the Bahamas. We spent four days on The Upledger Foundation's boat, and had two sessions swimming with dolphins.
During the day we did bodywork in the warm, shallow water at remote beaches. The movement of the ocean became integrated with the cranial and lymph fluids we were palpating, which helped facilitate healing.
Now as I worked on this crowded, noisy, dirty balcony, I drew on that experience. I imagined all of us at the beach, immersed in water, using that vision to access each man's internal ocean. I imagined dolphins assisting us. As I did I gained easy entry into each person's fluid dynamics, and together we moved toward healing.
I worked on a man named Michael, who was there with his dog, Max. They had driven up from Mississippi in record time. "I saw it on the news at 9 a.m. By 11 a.m. I was 300 miles away, headed here," he said. "The police in my home state gave me an escort, changing as I crossed each county line. After I left Mississippi, each time a cop stopped me and I told him where I was going, he waved me on."
Michael had trained Max himself, and they had had a good day yesterday. But today was Max's best day. He found 17. "Most were parts. Confused the bejesus out of Max," Michael said. "He's not used to this. But neither am I. That's why I don't do this anymore. I usually train. I just come out for the big stuff. Like Oklahoma. But this is the biggest. Today we found a kid's hand. I can't take this anymore. I lost a kid myself, so I just can't take it." After I finished working on Michael, I worked on Max.
Light Touch Brings Profound Results
Later that night, Dr. Abad and I met privately. He wanted to know how it was going. When I told him most of the men I was seeing were having emotional releases, he was shocked. I told him it was the nature of the work. Lymph drainage moves fluids and tends to draw emotions out of the places they're buried. CranioSacral Therapy and visceral manipulation have the same effect, I told him.
"Keep it up," he said. "The others are only massaging for 20 to 30 minutes, mainly doing muscles. What you're doing is different and very helpful." At that point, I felt like every workshop I'd ever taken had led me to my work here, one week in time.
Sorrow Reflects Off the Altered Skyline
It was 2:30 Friday morning. The massage tables and chairs were full, and there was no sign that it was the middle of the night. As I gazed out the window, I was constantly struck by what wasn't there. I never thought in my lifetime there would be no Twin Towers. I remembered years ago when they were first built. People said they were so tall they might just fall over.
James was a volunteer from Connecticut. His boss's daughter was on Flight 11. He was working in the rain. Lasers are trained on the buildings still standing, so the emergency personnel can tell if they're going to fall. When the buildings move, they trip evacuation alarms. The rain had made the buildings heavier and the alarms were going off.
"Scariest thing I ever heard," James said. "I heard that alarm and ran as fast as I could. Everyone was in a panic. I saw a girl get trampled. They knocked her down. A fireman stopped to help her out. I just had to take a break after that."
Another man, Mario, began to shudder during his session. His body jerked as tears streamed down his face. "It's not right," he said. "I pulled a young woman out of the rubble today. She was in terrible shape. She was dead. She had red fingernail polish," he sighed deeply, "and no head."
Common Cause Transcends All Barriers
And so it goes, night after night. Generally, it seems to slow down during the day, pick up around 7 or 8 p.m., and then gets really busy around 11 p.m. and stays that way until 4 in the morning. By the fourth day, someone actually made a 3 a.m. appointment with me.
Eventually, I had a real respirator that filtered asbestos. I worked and slept with it on. Other supplies were plentiful. One hallway was packed with donated clothes. New socks, underwear, t-shirts, even boots. On the 5th floor I could take a shower, even a hot one by the fourth day. There was shampoo, soap, towels, toothbrushes, deodorant, anything you could imagine. The generosity was overwhelming.
And the food was really good. They eventually got the 7th floor kitchen operating, so the city's great restaurants started sending their chefs to our kitchen to cook. Hundreds of workers came in every day to help with it, all of them volunteers. Many lived here and just walked in when the trouble began. Others came from up and down the East coast.
"The Department of Health was in here today," Suzie said as I worked on her. "They told us to leave because we're not their employees. So I asked them, 'Who's going to feed all these people?' Now they're letting us stay."
So here it is, five days later. I'm still wearing my respirator and working on people wearing flak jackets, bunker pants, harnesses and gun belts. One man asks me if I've had a lot of marriage proposals this week. "More this week than ever in my life," I reply, my voice contorted by the respirator. "And they haven't even seen my face." He laughs and says, "We're not marrying your face. We're marrying your hands."
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