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Wendy Hammarstrom massages Freida Wone, Innerworks Center, Philadelphia

Although I have expressed my frustration with the process of becoming credentialed through the California Massage Therapy Council, as have many others, I was thrilled to hear the following news, in a letter from Ahmos Netanel:

You might have heard by now that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1822.  The CAMTC and the massage therapy community strongly believe that the governor listened to reason instead of rhetoric in making his decision, and that the veto itself reflects the disciplined, transparent and cooperative approach we have brought to certification of massage therapists in California.

In his veto message to members of the Legislature and the public, Governor Schwarzenegger wrote:

“I am returning Assembly Bill 1822 without my signature. This bill is unnecessary and inappropriately requires specific law enforcement association appointments to the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC). This Council is already working closely with law enforcement professionals across the state to ensure the profession is appropriately screened for past criminal activity before being certified. In addition, there are members of the public, not associated with the massage industry, already appointed to this Council. For this reason, I cannot sign this bill.”

In a decision of equal importance, the Governor signed Senate Bill 294, by the Chair of the Senate Business and Professions Committee, Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod.  This measure contains language written by Legislative Counsel and supported by the massage therapy community, clarifying that statewide certification by the CAMTC does allow CAMTC certified massage professionals to practice anywhere in the state – in general law cities and charter cities alike. 

On behalf of the CAMTC Board, I would like to thank all of the therapists and practitioners who stood up for their profession. The Board is very proud of how the massage therapy community so cogently expressed to policymakers the critical role they play in providing safe, quality care in California.  You and your colleagues are the ones who told the story of an honorable profession that is doing an extraordinary job of working constructively with law enforcement to weed out the bad apples. It is rewarding that massage professionals were able to make their own case against very difficult odds, but it is equally important that we leave the door open to our critics so they can be further educated about the benefits of massage therapy.


 Ahmos Netanel

Chief Executive Officer



mandala celticI am confused.  My understanding of bodyworkers in California getting state certified was so we wouldn’t have to pay every city or county we worked in!  How many other jobs ask that of their employees?  Does that mean I need to pay a business license fee (about $75 in Murrieta) if I work in Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, Escondido, Fallbrook, Menifee and Moreno Valley?  As it is many of us are getting paid less than we received when we started.  (In 1982 when I began doing massage therapy professionally, I would not accept work that paid me less than $30 an hour. ) And sadly, places like Massage Envy came into the area advertising $39 massages.  The public response is of course to expect that from any bodyworker.  I would be the first person to suggest people pay less money for healthcare and I hope we get a non-criminal health care system soon.   I hope massage therapy becomes covered by insurance, as it is all over the world.   This all feels wrong to me.  I will get back to you after I consult with the California bodywork certifying agency!

I am enjoying teaching this class. So far mostly new students. Today we focused on hip stretches and strengtheners, from mat work to partner stretches to standing poses. As always, I included some dance warm-ups, self-acupressure with tennis balls, and upper back stretches with larger balls. People seem to enjoy seated spinal twist with a partner as it is easier to go deeper into the pose and also flat back stretch, where we counterbalance, and have to trust each other. The energy in the room at Korrie’s Pilates Place is wonderful—very inspiring and peaceful. We ended the class with savasana, complete relaxation pose as I asked the class to visualize breath and energy coming in left hand and swirling around body, and whatever we don’t need flowing out the right side of body through the right hand.
Thursday mornings, 10-11:15AM, Wildomar, CA. Call 951-677-5962.

Green Star James Marcus’ article, “Faint Music,” in June 2008 Harvard Review, inspired me to write about my trip to the ER in Murrieta, California, the night of April 7th.

Going back two years, I had a gall bladder attack one morning while I was driving to my new doctor’s appointment, conveniently scheduled it seemed. Her office, however, had failed to call me to tell me my doctor was unavailable. So I went to the local hospital ER, spent the day in pain, but not so severe I couldn’t breath into it to make it better. I managed to drive home to check on my daughter and pets and then drive back, during the time I was supposed to sit there and wait. Eleven hours after the pain began I was home with strict instructions from the doctor how not to eat for the rest of my life, with his recommendation I meet with surgeon and discuss GB removal.

I obeyed his rules for a long time(except for meeting with the surgeon), until I became comfortably secure that I would not ever suffer that pain again. Slowly, I started letting myself have an occasional pizza, then an occasional ice cream and even an occassional mousse. I thought since I have been more and more active, doing native plant tending at a local property, consistently doing yoga, taking hikes and starting to work out, not to mention giving about ten hours a week of deep muscle massage therapy, I would be covered.

But my liberal eating habits, my precarious financial situation, the lawsuit with my lender to keep my home, and months of intensive care for my ailing dog and her recent death all culminated in the form of a gall bladder spasm, due, in part, to gallstones getting stuck in the bile duct.

My holistic friends have been telling me for a long time to do a cleanse to release gallstones and other unwanted material. They swear by cleanses—and it may be the answer. Just wish I could bring myself to drink epsom salts then wait for god knows what to exit the body.

My doctors say its time to get the gall bladder removed, before another GB attack results in a life threatening situation.

My daughter drove me to the only local 24 hour urgent care where I was told my health plan/MediCAL, would not cover me. As I was almost passing out from the pain, we had to negotiate that. Then the doctor came in and said we will give you a shot for the pain. If it does not feel better in five minutes, you should be worried as you could have pancreatitis, which could be fatal. There is nothing else we can do, you need to go to the ER. After I paid them for the shot, a urine test and not much help, $140 later we were watching TV in the nearby hospital ER waiting room, as Sean Penn got separated from his daughter, (blanking on her name), because she was smarter than him.

An hour later I was escorted to my little private place. I have no complaints about the quality of the hospital ER personnel. But I do wonder why one doctor had to be in charge of all of us coming in with emergencies. My male nurse was great and he listened to my daughter tell him how horrified she was with the last place and he confirmed he has heard it before and people never go back there. He gave me something for my pain that took it away in a few seconds. In my haze I was flashing back to my dogs’ last two days, my father’s last few weeks. How vulnerable we all are, how we all need love and care when we feel that way. I remembered my father’s needs his last few weeks, and how I wanted his care to be better. His hospital, like every other, was severely understaffed. I was lying there thinking how health care has to improve, and why it is so lacking, and where does all this wealthy nation’s money go, and even, the sooner we stop wars in the Middle East, the less dire our nation’s health care system will be.

But mostly I was grateful to be there, and thankful as the nurse administered the pain meds, thankful that it appeared not be life threatening, and amazed that my daughter was taking care of me. (More grist for the mill for my process of preparing for empy nest syndrome…..)

Eventually the unltrasound man came to get me and wheeled me on the stretcher through a hall of people lined up in wheelchairs and stretchers (caught in the netherland between ER and hospital surgery?) and we discovered what little things were causing this trouble. Seven or eight gallstones of different sizes were causing the upheaval. The ER doctor came in and said “It is your friends again.” Two gall bladder attacks in two years, so you may want to consider removal of the GB.

He is right, I may want to consider removal, especially since laser surgery is relatively comfortable. But then, I may not.
Was this a wake up call to eat better and take care of myself? I have been procrastinating on dental work, and other tests for a while, saying, “when I get time.” I told my daughter the day after our dog Rosie was euthanized that it was time for me to catch up on my own health. Well I guess my gall bladder decided to make sure I didn’t forget.
So —- time to decide. I will meet with a surgeon and see what s/he says, cut out most the fat in my diet and maybe even do what I have been attempting to do for years, just eat fruits and veggies.

Today I am fasting on apple juice, because that, I am told, shrinks the stones. Tomorrow I will start eating pears, also good for shrinking the stones, and maybe bananas and apples. I will without much effort lose some pounds which may help.

In oriental medicine the gall bladder/liver represents anger and frustration, perhaps helplessness.

We shall see…..

Next blog:
42 Reasons to stop eating meat (I personally stopped in 1968, with a year or two back on)