As I am writing "Going the Distance: Healing Trauma Through the Power of Positive Touch (and Running)", it's a wonderful opportunity for me to connect the dots of the past 10 years of this amazing healing odyssey healing the effects of paralytic polio and violence.
There were trials, triumphs, tribulations, tears and deep gratitude for each and every experience that led me to this exact moment in time. As I'm writing about the experience I had with the massage therapist I worked with before Jeffrey Spratt,MT, pioneer of the innovative and life saving Spratt Method of Muscular Therapy, I am able to get perspective on why I'd gotten injured again in December of 2014 and could not get traction on my healing journey.
YET because I was at that particular practice and was so intent on my own healing, wanting so much to believe that I was receiving what I needed even though there was every indication that I was stuck and not able to heal, I was able to meet Dr. Ryan J. Means. Even though I unpublished the book that chronicled the work I did with the previous massage therapist and will include excerpts from "Journey Well" into "Going the Distance," it was because I had the book release party at that practice that I was able to meet Dr. Ryan.
The Patriots had their playoff game that day in January and the weather was lousy. Perhaps if the party would have been more crowded I would not have found myself standing before this powerful presence of healing whose belief in the body's innate capacity to heal and his role in facilitating that healing would catapult me into the past year of my healing journey.
Once we began our healing partnership and as the relationship with that other massage therapist began to deteriorate, I put out the call to the Universe for a new massage therapist. I had suggested to the team at the previous practice that perhaps they would want to donate their time and talent at One Boston Day doing chair massage for the Anniversary of 4/15/13. They declined which made room for the Universe to align for Jeffrey and I to meet.
So many circumstances came together for me to find my way to Jeffrey's practice.
An excerpt from "Going the Distance":
He greeted me at the Front Desk of Wave Health and Fitness. My hands shook as I completed the intake form. Do I dare trust another massage therapist? What if he turns out to be just like all the other body workers I met during these past 9 years? Was he trustworthy? After all the only thing I knew about him really was what I read on his website that contained very little information about him and when I did a google search I learned that he had taught at the Cortiva Institute, had a degree in aviation and had been a practice manager at Massage Works in Quincy. I did some Facebook stalking and discovered we had mutual friends in common from L Street Running Club. I sent him a photo from One Boston Day with a Facebook message letting him know we had Facebook friends in common. He said he was looking forward to seeing me on Sunday.
With his sweeping arm gesture, he led me into his treatment room and said to Tom who had accompanied me to the appointment since I was worried about getting lost, “We’ll see you in 90 minutes.”
He reviewed my intake form and put his black rimmed glasses on top of his head to make eye contact with me.
I briefly told him about my trauma history and a history of polio. “Most importantly of all, you need to know that I had a very serious knee injury back in December of 2014. They told me I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t run again. It showed I had no gastroc muscle but I’m working with a chiropractor to grow a new one. I’m registered to run the Finish at the 50 race on July 3rd.”
“Okay….thanks for letting me know all that. Get undressed to your comfort level. I can even work through your clothes if you like.”
“I need to feel this guy’s touch,” I thought to myself. After all I’d been through with Joseph, my nerves conditioned to abandonment and neglect were on fire. If this was going to be the guy I was going to partner with then I had to let myself be vulnerable and open to experience his touch.
“The towel isn’t heated anymore,” I commented to Joseph.
“Everything gets colder now that it’s Spring. Oh yeah that’s right you had mentioned to me that you enjoyed the hot towel. Once the weather gets warmer outside we turn off the table heater and we don’t heat the towels anymore.”
I undressed and climbed onto the deliciously heated table and got under the sheet. I took a few deep breaths. Jeffrey knocked on the door.
“All set Mary?”
Immediately Jeffrey began to palpate my back through the sheet with strong compressions. He moved his hands over my entire body and asked, “Does the face cradle feel okay? Can you breathe okay?”
“Yes,” I said as I felt a smile come across my face.
“I’m sorry – could you remind me again where you were in the bombings?”
My tension began to melt away.
“What leg are we rehabbing?” he asked me.
“The left,” I replied
He took my left leg, bent it to a 90 degree angle and gently but confidently tapped it on the table and stretched it while using his other hand to apply pressure to different pressure points.
I was intrigued and enthralled.
I had never experienced anyone work with me the way Jeffrey worked with me in that first session. He used very little product, worked a lot through the sheets and rather than attending to an area and having it be once and done, he moved around my body and methodically went back to work on areas a second time.
I experienced complete stillness and peace on the table feeling so comfortable and at ease while Jeffrey worked with me. As he finished with a clearing of the energy, placed his left hand on my right shoulder while he turned his body toward the door and looked back at me gently saying, “Okay Mary…take your time getting up. I left a hot towel for you if you’d like to use it….Please don’t rush. Take your time. Open the door a crack when you’re dressed.”
“How are you feeling?” Jeffrey asked me as he handed me a cold bottle of water as a wine steward presents a fine bottle of wine at the finest restaurant.
“Amazing. I’ve never experienced anything like that before.”
Jeffrey warmly smiled.
“I usually tremble – I have head tremors and body tremors but I was so still and felt so at ease with you.”
“I felt your stillness,” Jeffrey replied.
“I want you to run unencumbered,” Jeffrey said with his piercing blue eyes intently looking into mine. At the time I didn’t quite take in the enormity of what he had just said. He was setting an intention for our work together that I had set early on with my personal trainer and then wrote about in my poetry for the past several years.
“I’d like to work with you,” I said knowing that my life was about to change for the better.
“Next week is after the marathon so I only have a 60 minute appointment on Thursday for you and then I am going away but the following week I can see you at 3:00pm for 90 minutes and can book out your weekly appointments for as long as you would like.”
“Sounds good to me,” I said smiling.
My pen has always been a powerful divining rod for healing since I began this journey. What joy I feel to be able to connect the dots and see the beautiful tapestry of my life as I write my next book.
To your health and wellness!