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Massage Today
April, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 04

The Phantom Massage

By Robert Stump, LMT, NCTMB

What follows is a personal account of an unusual massage... of a missing right leg.

A man and his wife sponsored a wedding party at our spa, with a day of massage provided for the entire party.

The man and his wife were the last to arrive, because the man had to finish an IV at his doctor's office. Three weeks prior, his right leg had been amputated due to a bad infection. He did not have a medical release for massage, so we could not massage him.

That's where the story begins.

We catered food for the party, and offered the man and his wife a seat by the food table. Food was provided downstairs and the massages were provided upstairs. I gave the wife a short, quick head and shoulder massage, then left the two downstairs, as they both seemed relaxed and at ease.

I continued massaging other clients upstairs, but was called about an hour later, between massages, by the wife of the one-legged man. Apparently the man had fallen down two times before he arrived at our spa, and now was quite uncomfortable. The epicenter of his distraction/discomfort was an unbearable pain in the bottom of his missing right foot.

He said, "Bob, this pain is so bad that I can't stand it. It has been hurting for 12 hours now. Can you help me?" From his description of the pain, it sounded like his flexor digitorium brevis was paining him.

I said that we would help him. The man said that he would be grateful for any relief I could provide.

All the treatment rooms were full, so I sat him in the waiting room. I got a stool and towel and sat in front of him. I placed the man's left leg on my right knee and began following the form of his left leg from mid-thigh to foot, with my hands cupping his leg (like a light effleurage). I did this about five times. He was wearing shorts, so my hands were right on his skin.

Next, I turned my attention to the missing leg. It was a high amputation, at about mid-thigh. I cupped the air about an inch below the stump of his right leg and followed the outline of where I guessed his leg would have been. I followed down the phantom leg twice. No real effect. I went to the left leg and followed it down three to four times, and immediately went to the missing right leg and followed it down two times.

After doing this three times, something curious happened.

As I began to follow down where I estimated the right leg would have been with cupped hands, I began to feel a strong sensation -- what I guessed to be the aura of the missing leg. I went down it twice and then back to the left leg. After stroking down the left leg another three times, I turned my attention back to the phantom right leg again.

This time, I felt a clear outline of the missing right leg in my cupped hands. The energy was so strong that I felt I was stroking an actual leg. The man said, "Hey, I feel a twinge in the calf of my missing leg!"

At that point, the stump of his right leg began to gyrate as if it was moving his leg around. I went down the leg again, starting from about an inch below the stump, and felt the aura of the leg as strongly as before. He said that he could feel his calf and his foot as well as if they were there.

I moved back to the left leg again; this time, at the end of my downward stroke, I massaged the bottom of the left foot with the fist of my right hand. I massaged his left foot for about 1-2 minutes. I moved to the phantom right leg again and stroked down the leg to where the foot should have been. The stump of the man's right leg began gyrating again, and he said he could feel his leg again. As I held his phantom right foot, I cupped my left hand in back of the imaginary right foot and rubbed the bottom with the fist of my right hand. I left about the thickness of his foot between my left hand and right fist and massaged for about one minute.

The man's leg stump continued to gyrate as if I was tickling his foot and he was moving his foot around. Then he calmed down and said the pain in his phantom foot was gone. I stroked the air where his right leg should have been, as if I was doing finishing strokes, and did the same to his left leg. He was now calm and relaxed. He said he was grateful and that the pain in his missing right foot was gone.

We shook hands; I wished him a good day and good luck, and went about my other duties.

I still remember the wonderful feeling of helping someone in need with the special skills taught me by my expert teachers at the Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy in Virginia Beach, VA and by Mary Hannigan-Nelson (originator of La Stone Massage), who taught me to feel the client's needs with my heart and spirit.


Robert Stump is a licensed and nationally certified massage therapist who graduated from Cayce/Reilly School of Massotherapy in Virginia Beach, VA. He is also a graduate of Basic La Stone Therapy, and plans to become a hypnotherapist by year's end. Robert works part-time at local spa and full-time as an analyst with a technologies corporation.

 

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