My Little Angel
by Anthony Cerabino
Last month I had received three phone calls in a span of one week from someone who needed my help. I was recommended by a friend of hers. The first message said she was paralyzed from a rare disease and was in a tremendous amount of pain. She was trying to get someone to come to her apartment and help her to get out of pain. Message number two was very similar but included that she had been trying to get help for about a month. Message number three was similar to the first two messages but added that she did not have her service dog anymore because when she tried to ride her wheelchair with him down the street, there was too much vibration from the bumps on the streets which caused debilitating electrical pains running up and down her spine. I heard desperation in her voice but something was different. By the third phone call, I knew that I had to see what I could do to help her.
Before my first session of meeting this person I had visions of “gloom and doom” and what could I possibly do for this person? I had visions of negativity and of a dark, dingy, unpleasant smelling apartment with unwashed dishes and disorder everywhere.
As I approached the back door of this downtown apartment complex a man with a long beard approached me and said, “You must be the acupuncturist.” I said yes and marveled at how news travels fast since I had just spoken to this woman only a few hours prior. The building looked freshly renovated with a buzzer door entrance, a shiny new tiled floor and a crystal chandelier in the hallway. He said that she was on the second floor to the left. As the elevator door opened I saw a vision of light that was filled with the smile of Annie. I had never seen a smile so big and warm. The entire hallway had become her glorious smile.
My first spoken words to Annie were, “Hello, my little Angel.” I wanted to start this healing relationship with some humor and light. She welcomed me into her apartment which was extremely organized and had brightness to it.
My experience up to this point was all positive. Annie kept on smiling while I took a long health history to figure out if I could do anything for her. Did I mention that Annie kept smiling? I did massage the first treatment. The second treatment was a combination of acupuncture, massage and breath work using aromatherapy oils. The third treatment was similar to the second treatment with the addition of very light traction to the legs that would create a gentle stretch to the low back. A couple of days after the third treatment, Annie called to say that the pains in her back were not as sharp. I was very excited by this report and continued to treat her with similar techniques. As I have mentioned many times to my patients in the past, “The breath massages the body from the inside out.” The breath can literally shift soft muscle tissue and extracellular fluids gracefully enough not to startle the nervous system which is already unsettled by the “pain spasm cycle” and take pressure off of the nerve endings.
For approximately six treatments I have watched Annie feel better. I knew that I would not be able to get her to walk again but at least I could improve the quality of her life on a few levels. After the last treatment, Annie felt like she might have a chance to get her service dog back.
As per every treatment, when I opened up the elevator door to her apartment hallway Annie would greet me with a “larger than life” smile but this time she was accompanied by her service dog Charlotte.
The “healing mechanisms” or clinical evidence supporting acupuncture and massage therapy demonstrate a powerful combination of “bodywork.” Both systems of healing can relieve pain effectively by relaxing the Sympathetic Nervous system (your fight or flight reactions) and by activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System which stimulate endorphins that are natural opiates to relieve pain. Acupuncture and massage therapy enable the body to “reset” itself. If effectively treated, the muscle tissue will “relax” into its normal space and take pressure off nerve endings that might be irritated by tense muscles.
May everyone find this autumn season to be a time of change and renewal. Helpful people are everywhere. Sometimes it takes a persistent search to find the right person for your concerns.