Most recently, I have had the pleasure of working on two patients who were in need of more than just relaxation. Their symptoms and pathology was very different but they were able to benefit greatly from the bodywork they received. I would like to share their stories today. I am going to protect their identity, even though I'm sure they would be happy to have their names used here.
Patient #1 came to me through a referral from another therapist. He was severely depressed, to the point of not being able to live a normal life. I started taking his appointments a year and a half ago. We started out doing CranioSacral Therapy and were seeing a bit of progress in his condition. Little things I made notice of, like he would smile at the end of the session. As he progressed, he would walk taller and was more personable. He also noticed that people out in public were also viewing him in a different way, they were approaching him, which didn't happen too much before. Once I finished my first Brain Therapy class, I brought my new knowledge to the table and we had more options to work with. We again saw slow progress, but progress still. For a time he saw multiple therapists, Brain Therapy, CranioSacral Therapy and an occasional Deep Tissue Massage made up his protocol. Little by little, he started to take back control of his life. He made some realizations as to where he wanted to be and carved out a plan to get himself there but the depression made it still a difficult task to complete. The good news was that he was starting to at least envision a day when he would be able to work again. Recently, he was able to make some really healthy decisions that prior wouldn't have been an option for him. He finally valued himself enough to see someone about his depression, realizing it was a chemistry issue. That gave him the final boost he needed to be able to reinvest in himself. Last week he was able to finish the training he needed to be able to get re-certification in his field and start to consider a stable job again. The last time he walked through my door, he was smiling as he walked in, not just when he left. He has come a very long way and I'm thankful to have been along for part of the journey.
Patient #2 came to me also as a referral from another therapist. She was young, only 19, and had already suffered 6 Traumatic Brain Injuries. She has severe headaches/migraines, memory problems, and behavioral issues. She was taking a medical leave from school in order to get some therapy and hopefully some help with her symptoms. I had only a limited amount of time to work with her because she was going to have to go back to school and was doing so out of the country. I saw her for 4 months, most weeks, at least once a week, sometimes twice. Most visits I did Brain Therapy with her and occasionally CranioSacral Therapy. She, like the previous patient also showed improvement. Her headaches diminished in frequency and intensity. Behaviorally she was much better and seemed better able to cope and her memory improved but with the occasional hiccup. I am pleased to mention though that she was able to go back to school and finish the next part of her educational plan and is moving on to the next step. She mentioned to me more than once that she felt many times that she benefitted more from the bodywork she got as opposed to medicines.
I love what I do. It's wonderful when my patients/clients leave happy and feeling great. It's exciting though to see them able to return to a life they may have thought was no longer within reach. And I am glad to be able to witness it and play some part in helping that process happen.
2015 brought a year of hope and inspiration, a year with new discoveries in healing and a broader sense of our medical system, the good and the bad. I find myself with renewed spirit and an even stronger desire to share all that I've learned this past year with as many as possible.
On a personal note, my partner, Casey Campbell made huge strides in his stroke recovery. A few things can be credited for this, one being a change in insurance companies to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, the other being Brain Therapy. He was able to take advantage of a Tx law that is set up to help those with brain injuries and continue his rehab in not just one, but two neuro rehabs. He spent a total of 4 months at Mentis and moved to a brief stay at a post acute rehab, Coronado, then discharged home with outpatient rehab at NeuroRestorative. He started 2015 unable to walk and has finished it with being able to walk using his walker. I really want to talk about the Brain Therapy though. My instructor, mentor and good friend, Molly Clark worked with Casey over the past year. On several occasions we noticed differences soon after his treatments. The most notable was a treatment we did together, she and I where we reconnected his brain to his left leg, which was still at that time mostly paralyzed. Three days after treatment he was able to use his leg again and this made a huge difference in his standing balance and his ability to transfer and eventually walk. He has also noticed an improvement in vision directly following Brain Therapy, this was also documented by his neuro opthamologist. He also has started receiving acupuncture which has helped him to rebuild strength and increased balance. Stroke can be such a devastating experience but there are many options available and support that many are unaware of.
Professionally 2015 brought me some new client/patients to add to the cherished clientele I have been blessed with. I have expanded my CranioSacral practice as well as my Brain Therapy practice. I took the second of four Brain Therapy classes and I continue to learn ways to use this technique to assist those with brain injury or lesions in symptom management or elimination. I have discovered it useful for a variety of issues including but not limited to ADHD, Depression, TBI, Stroke, and Migraines. It is my sincere goal to take this information to my contacts in the rehab community in order to work with patients who have come to a point of plateau in their recovery and are looking for something to take them to the next level of healing.
One last note about brain injury, if you know of anyone who is struggling to get help in their recovery process, please feel free to share my information with them. I will gladly make myself available to offer suggestions and resources. There are options out there, if not my services, some that are available through the state, and their insurance company that many are unaware of.
I am honored to have been able to share what I do with so many wonderful people. Let's have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!!! See you in 2016!
Many of us find ourselves wearing plenty of hats these days. We are parents and employees or business owners. We are taking care of our mothers and fathers, or even spouses with health issues. We keep up the house, the yard, the cars. We are friends and neighbors and lovers. Life has many of us going in many different directions any given day. How do we find balance in our lives?
I found myself, a few months ago, completely overwhelmed. I was short and snapped at people. I felt tired upon waking up in the morning. I still did the things I felt would keep me sane, would keep me healthy. I worked out, I ate somewhat healthy. And yet, I was finding myself unable to really cope will with the small things that life tossed my way. It sounds so easy to say, you need to take care of you too. I would laugh when I would hear people say this, or just sleep when the baby sleeps. It all sounds really easy but how do we take care of our overwhelmed selves and still get things done?
Here's what I have found works for me now, and understand, this is still a new practice for me.
1. Exercise. This was easy for me as already a part of my daily practice. What I found when I'm overwhelmed though is I need to listen to my body and what it says I need. Maybe a nice run outdoors is what my body craves that day but maybe what I NEED is to stretch and slow down, lengthen and relax, or maybe I need to move my body in crazy rhythmic ways and dance. My first rule of exercise now is, LISTEN.
2. Write it down. Journaling has helped me to deal with so much. I have healed hurts from the past and I am able to really force myself to ask questions and find answers deep inside my soul. This helps me make sense feelings and see, honestly my own behavior and contribution to my stress. This has become a daily practice for me now as well. I have started with a little help and have used intentional journal topics. A few easy ones to start with are: What are you afraid of and how is that keeping you from living the life you want?, What have you done today that makes you proud? What is your battle and what tools do you have to help you fight it? What permissions do you need or want in order to move forward?
3. Gather your tribe. We all have those people around us who lift us up and encourage us to be our best self. Find a community that feels good to be around, who contributes positive vibes but can also be strong enough to approach the difficult topics too. We all fall out of balance now and then and these people can offer suggestions and hugs and laughter.
4. Get outside. Find moments of peace in nature. Listen to the wind, feel it caress your face.
5. Find stillness. I won't say meditate. It's a great idea and really helpful but for some of us, including me, it's hard and I find I have a hard time when I call it meditating. But if I sit in quiet and be still, even if only for a few minutes, I can find a place of calm.
6. Make a list. List the routines in your life that are and aren't working. We can't change what we fail to look at. Look at it, what isn't working and brainstorm ways to change your routine to what does work.
It's truly amazing what a difference a few little changes can actually make in your daily life. All of these are ways to care for yourself, after all, you are worth it!
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Yesterday I got an email from a friend. Not too long ago, he suffered a stroke. I met him while he was an inpatient in one of the neuro rehab facilities I visited regularly. He recently was given a battery of tests to peek inside his brain and see what damage was done and assess his recovery possibilities. In a blunt, no nonsense manner, he was informed that he needs to accept where he is and understand that he will probably NEVER be able to do some of the things that once brought him great joy. He was devastated. I understand needing to accept ourselves as we are in the moment but does anyone overcoming health hurdles NEED to hear the words, "YOU WILL NEVER"? Is it healing to be told of our limitations?
Another friend whose wife is battling a debilitating illness, while at a neurology appointment was told, "she will never get any better". How do such final statements color our healing process?
Yet another friend, a neighbor told me a story of his wife's sister who went to the doctor and they had to do exploratory surgery to figure out that she was full of cancer. They stitched her back up and said, "there is nothing more we can do here". She was given a limited amount of time to live and in the months since she has had them baffled as to why her cancer cells are dying and dropping in numbers, having not been treated at all.
Where do we turn when the experts say NEVER? Words have power and when people whom we have been taught to respect use them, how does this shape our recovery? I've always felt that when traditional methods don't quite get us what we need, we have alternative options. Our minds are more powerful than we think and our bodies are equipped in many cases to heal but we need to support that healing physically, mentally, and spiritually.
We all need to understand the power of our words and how they affect others. What seems to get missed at times is that individual person and their will and motivation. Some patients are extraordinary, they defy the odds and thrive despite their illness severity. Maybe we NEED more of these stories!!! We NEED to remember that ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE, especially while we are healing. Sure, accept your situation, right now, right here... you've had a stroke, or a physically debilitating illness, or cancer but your current situation is ALWAYS subject to change just as life itself is.
In much love and light...
Good morning! Many have asked about my recent trainings concerning the brain technique, which I like to call NeuroStructural Release. In Brain 1 I studied basic brain anatomy and main structures, also how to facilitate release in those structures, by being still with them, like we are sharing a cup of coffee. How many times have you come home from a bad day at work and just needed someone to hear about it? They did nothing, just listened but after sharing with them you felt better. Sometimes we just need to be heard. Sometimes your tissue just needs to be heard. Brain 2 took us deeper into the anatomy of the brain and also gave us a better understanding of the connections between the structures and more technique to assess what, more precisely, needs to be paid attention to for deeper release.
After thinking about it all and letting it soak in a bit, I see touching the brain as being fairly similar to touching muscle tissues. When a massage therapist works to release restriction in the muscles, it is beneficial to know the origin and insertion of those muscles plus the action that particular muscle participates in. And once you have an understanding of where and how that muscle is, you need to know the neighborhood it lives in because other muscles close by are often affected by a restriction in the muscle in question. When working in the brain, it is not so different.
If you have ever been a participant on my table, you most likely know that everything in your body is connected. I get asked a lot how I am able to access the structures and tissue in the brain. If you think about everything being connected, it is easy. I touch bone, which touches the dura mater, which touches the arachnoid space, which touches the pia mater and so on. How often have I worked on a muscle in your neck that connects to a place in your hand, arm or even down your leg? It's pretty much like that. Also keep in mind that the human body is more than 60% water. Blood is 92% water, the brain and muscles are 75% water and the bones are about 22% water. We really are very fluid, think of it like that. Having been trained to feel subtle movements in the body helps also. The structures feel differently, so the places that hold fluid feel like fluid and some are rubbery, others greasy and so on.
Brain 2 has helped me to understand how things work together to complete even a seemingly simple task. It also explains how when there are lesions and damage to the brain it can mean a very complicated recovery process. In knowing first hand just how difficult that can be, I see no reason to doubt or even question whether or not this is a type of work that would be beneficial to the healing process. For brain lesions and restriction it's extremely valuable but the value extends beyond that because so much of our body is governed over by our brains. It's grand central station for the body, all actions in or out, all feelings and reactions, everything we sense travels through the brain. It's all pretty amazing.
We also touched on some brain chemistry in this class but will explore that further in future classes. Man, when did I become such a geek?
I'm so excited to be able to share all of this with you.
On a personal note... During my brain breaks, which I find SO beneficial when learning, I was able to explore the central California coast, found a most excellent coffee shop, (Joe Momma's Coffee on Avila Beach) and tried zip lining for the first time. It won't be the last! Zip lining is so much fun if you have never tried it, you seriously NEED to! I'll leave you with a scenic view of Morrow Bay...
Dear Health Care Professional, including but not limited to: doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers,
Please keep in mind the person you are treating is just that, a person. They aren't their condition, their disease or a statistic in a book. They live and breathe. They are walking miracles. Life itself is a miracle. We are all each unique and the possibilities are infinite. Having journeyed through the healthcare system, it has become abundantly clear to me that assumptions are made on a daily basis about a patient's limitations as per their current diagnosis. I have watched as physicians, and therapists made assumptions as to my boyfriend's abilities by only seeing him sit in a wheelchair. Yes, his posture is poor, he sits in a chair, all day. Having had a stroke, they tend to disregard the things he tells them, thinking he can't surely know his own body. Listen to him, he knows more than you can imagine. My shiatsu instructor, Shinzo Fujimaki used to say, "In shiatsu your patient is your master".
“Disease is surely one of the ways in which we are tried by life and offered the chance to be heroic. Though few of us will win Olympic gold medals or slay dragons, disease can be the spark or gift that allows many of us to live out our personal myths and become heroes.”
― Bernie S. Siegel
Let's find a way to all work together for the greater good of the patient. Disregard the statistics, envision possibilities. I love that I am starting to hear of more referrals for CranioSacral Therapy, Lymphatic Drainage or Myofascial Release. Allow us to work with you to help your patients through their condition/disease. Your challenge as a therapist, nurse, or doctor is to help your patients live a better quality of life. Open your minds and your hearts and see them as heroes!
Wow, what would that look like?