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Saturday, May 22, 2010, 10AM-3PM

Come get a mini table massage from me, and check out first edition of my new book, Circle of Healing: Helping Extraordinary Clients with Yoga and Massage, A Practical Guide.

Pechanga Resort & Casino

45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula, CA 

Sponsored by Riverside County (CA) Commission for Women

60 vendors and speakers

Admission free with non-perishable canned food item or grocery store gift card for $5.  Refreshments provided with admission.

The County of Riverside Commission for Women seeks to improve the status of all women by ensuring opportunities for each woman to develop to her full potential.  In support of this mission, the Commission for Women identifieis problemsl, defines issues and recommends policies and procedures to the County Board of Supervisors regarding, but not limited to, women and health, the workplace, family, education, violence, law and society.

More information, contact me at 951-677-5962 or Michele Broad, Women’s Health and Wellness, 951-304-3180.

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Last summer my ninety year old father was hospitalized for a broken hip.  He was not getting much touch as his nurses were over-worked, and he developed a MRSA infection which meant no one could touch him without wearing plastic gloves.  In addition, his hearing aids were lost, and perhaps most challenging was the fact that he was brain damaged from an accident forty years ago.  When I got there his legs were blue from the knees down, and his feet were ice cold.  He was sleeping but seemed agitated.  I massaged his legs, feet and back.  He never woke up but when I left him he was sleeping with a peaceful look on his face.  The next morning his feet were warm and his legs and feet were a healthy color, and he was in good spirits.

Due to several complications he died several weeks later.  But during those weeks, at my insistence, he was graced with caring and loving touch from his immediate and extended family, and his entire Quaker meeting.  We in turn were graced to be sharing that sacred time with him.

Most people, like my father, appreciate caring touch.  Many, unfortunately, experience touch deprivation including people with AIDs, people with cancer and other illnesses; infants in Neo Natal Intensive Care Units, especially those who have been abandoned by their parents; people with injuries and amputations and deformities, the not very visible part of our population that is challenged with physical abnormalities; those recovering from addiction; victims of physical and emotional abuse who find it difficult to trust any touch; those suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome including victims of natural and man-made disasters and even car accidents; the elderly and the dying, and many veterans returning from Iraq who are suffering from the wounds of war. 

During times of high stress and financial hardship, healing touch is a gift you can offer someone, either done by you or if you prefer, you can find a reputable bodyworker who will work with you financially to find a price that works; most massage therapists I know offer holiday gift certificate specials.

Besides the emotional comfort of caring touch, massage therapy oxygenates the cells which increase endorphins, the body’s natural pain killers; it increases flexibility and movement in joints and eases stiffness and pain in arthritis sufferers and it gets the “chi” or life force moving, which helps us feel revitalized.  Healing touch reduces or eliminates stress related headaches, eases digestive disorders and chronic muscular pain including fibromyalgia, improves body image and speeds healing after surgery, and improves the immune system.  By increasing circulation, massage is invaluable in preventing bedsores that are so problematic, and too often life-threatening for the immobile.  It relieves agitation in Alzheimer’s patients, enhances blood pressure and pulse in geriatric patients, and helps women with all phases of the childbearing years.  Massage therapy comforts and relaxes children with attention deficit disorder, those with autism and people with many forms of mental illness.

You can start with those closest to you — your family and your immediate circle, including your pets.  My teenage daughter reminds me constantly that she needs massage to loosen tight muscles after an extreme physical work out, or to help her get to sleep when she is over-excited.  Our aging dogs need massage to help them with a myriad of conditions.

As vital as food and water is to our survival, so is touch and giving from the heart.


LightI have noticed that we as Americans often look through the elderly as they pass by, and we avert our glance to avoid making contact with a person who has injuries or deformities. I think we as a nation are treating returning soldiers in a similar way. Don’t look at them when they return in caskets, and don’t look at them when they come home alive. Sweep the whole issue of post-war needs under the rug, and keep sending more men and women out to fight. Why isn’t care for our soldiers of primary concern, and how does bodywork fit in?

I surprised myself when I called nearby Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California for information about therapeutic programs and modalities for returning veterans. As I was waiting on hold, I found myself struggling with thoughts such as, do I really want to hear how veterans have suffered and are continuing to suffer? Do I really want to know the situation? It felt very charged to me, and then I realized one of the reasons.

When I was the age of many of our veterans my father suffered a stroke while riding his bicycle in the New Hampshire Mountains. When paramedics reached him, part of his skull was smashed and his brain was protruding out his right ear. The doctors had to remove part of his right frontal lobe. My father was not a veteran; during World War II he was a conscientious objector doing civilian service, jumping out of airplanes to put out forest fires in Montana.

But what I hear about the “epidemic” of brain injuries in Iraq war veterans reminds me of my father’s recovery process. After being in a coma for forty days, he regained consciousness only to experience a tearful phase, followed by an angry and violent period during which time he had to be tied to his bed, and then a defeated and self-destructive stage. Gradually he began to recognize faces, gain clarity about the meaning of words (he would ask for lawnmovers at suppertime, when he meant peas), and learn how to walk again. My father spent his last forty years in recovery. He had many dark days and there were also times when we were graced with his warmth, wisdom and humor. (He used to carry a small wooden cube with him to show people how much of his brain was removed.)

Of the thousands of Iraqi war veterans who have returned home, many are suffering from head and neck injuries that also have long-term implications. Although the new body armor protects soldiers’ bodies, their limbs and minds are still vulnerable. Many survive but as did my father, suffer from memory loss, headaches, attention deficit disorder, depression and anxiety.

My father did eventually see a psychotherapist and received medication that at times helped some of his symptoms. He also received some massage therapy and breathing and relaxation exercises fsrom me, at a time when I was just beginning to learn about ways to help myself. He was open to receiving acupuncture for chronic pain as well, and even traveled to India to visit a Swami MD friend for help.

But how many veterans suffering from brain injury, or even more common, post-traumatic stress syndrome, are receiving help? According to the National Center for PTSD, of eighty percent of American Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who had serious mental health problems, and acknowledged it, only forty percent said they were interested in help and only twenty percent reported receiving formal mental health care. This reluctance is partly from a fear of being stigmatized, as many soldiers are told to suck it up, soldier on or deal with it. In addition, the veterans fear if they admitted they had PTSD symptoms they would be required to stay at their base to receive treatment rather than reurn home.

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Amost five hundred thousand Vietnam veterans suffer from prolonged cases of PTSD; another three hundred and fifty thousand struggle with moderate PTSD symptoms. As many as thirty percent of the homeless in the US are said to be Vietnam vets suffering from PTSD.

According to one author, “Vietnam vets are still checking the perimeter of their safety zone for danger.”

To be continued…
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“Of all forms of inequity, injustice in health care is the most shocking and the most inhumane.” Martin Luther King