June 30th, 2009

Professional Interviews: Kimberly, Registered Massage Therapist

Another in my series of interviews about people’s jobs, because that’s something I’m interested in. Please note that I am still at the stage in learning interview technique where I only do people I’ve known 19+ years, and I’m still fiddling with the format. Please also note that the tone of this interview might have been affected by the fact that Kimberly will shortly be leaving the profession.

Kimberly defines registered massage therapist as “a licenced health-care practitioner who uses their hands, forearms and elbows to manipulate muscles and soft tissues of the body to decrease pain and increase a person’s range of motion.”

Kim works at a spa 1 day a week, and a clinic the rest of the time. She says at the start of their careers, “Most RMTs work in at least 2 different places just so they can get enough clients. Then they gradually switch to 1 place as they build up a client base.

RR wanted to know the difference between registered and non-registered massage therapists…it turned out to be a big issue! Kim says, RMTs have been to school and are licenced by the province they work in, they have liability insurance, and we follow standards regarding hygiene, sanitation issues…someone who is a ‘body worker’ (RR could hear the quotation marks) may not necessarily clean the sheets between clients, doesn’t have a knowledge of anatomy and physiology, they could injure you, they wouldn’t know how to work with a health concern and the type of massage that they would provide would likely be for relaxation only…or for ‘other’ purposes…

“I have an interesting story about that. There’s a place near where I live that had aromatherapy/body massage, which was a cover for a rub-n-tug. And the police found out and the place was fined $1000 for not having a licence for operating that sort of establishment (RR is surprised such licenses are available). What makes me angry is that RMTs have to work so hard to be professional because there’s these places (sigh)…If an RMT were to work inappropriately in any way, and they were caught by our governing board, they would probably be fined around $10 000, stripped of their licence and ostracized by the community. It’s crazy.

“My friend M is a massage therapist at a high-end day spa. She had a client ask her for a ‘release’ at the end of his massage. And he knew she was registered and it was a reputable place. That’s one of the drawbacks of being an RMT, especially if you are a young woman.”

What are some of the pluses? “You get to work one-on-one with people, and people get really close because there’s sort of a friendship that’s built between therapist and client. And you get to see the difference you can make in someone’s life by taking away chronic pain or stiffness, just using your hands. I especially like massaging pregnant women, even though it’s more difficult, because they benefit more from having a massage, because of the way your body changes during pregnancy. Sometimes during a prenatal treatment, you’ll see the baby react to the massage and you can tell that they enjoy it too. Which is really neat.”

What is a typical day like? (we did a day at the spa, because K thought that’d be more interesting than the clinic; hours at the clinic are also longer and more irregular) “At the spa, I work 9 to 5, doing a max of 6 1-hour massages with 15 minutes between. If I’m lucky, the administrative staff won’t book any back-to-back (at the clinic, she books her own) and I will get a lunch, but I’m not always lucky. Sometimes, I have to wolf down a granola bar between appointments. When you are massaging, you are standing 95% of the time, so you are always hungry.

“I usually stretch for a good 20 minutes before work, which is unusual…I think a lot of RMTs forget. Coincidentally, a lot of RMTs injure themselves with tendinitis, carpal tunnel, nerve problems, that sort of thing.

“Where I work, we have to pull each person’s file, have a little mini-interview to find out if there have been health changes and what areas are causing them pain. And then we leave the room while they get on the table. Most people have a full-body massage but occasionally, half a body is more conducive to a therapeutic treatment.

“During the massage, most women tend to talk for a bit and then sort of relax, whereas most men tend to talk the whole time. Especially if they’re a first-time client. Within the first 10 minutes, men will tell me their weight, how much weight they can lift, and whether or not they’re dating someone. It follows a pattern every time, it’s creepy. Most women just sort of veg out.

“I’ve learned from experience that it’s better to answer questions about me in vague terms. The front desk handles all the books and payment, and linen services does the linens. Which is the ideally convenient situation for an RMT, although it’s not as profitable as owning your own clinic and doing it all yourself.”

What sort of person would be a bad fit for this job? “You shouldn’t be an RMT if you need a predictable regular paycheque, which is one of my biggest complaints. If you have any physical problems, [you shouldn’t do this] because it’s a very physically demanding job. If you are a very loud person, that wouldn’t be good, either. You need to have a voice that’s conducive to relaxing. And if you have any weird aversions to people’s feet or bad skin or body odour, or any of the other possible quirks you clients might have, [this isn’t the job for you].

“The person who should be an RMT is professional, committed to healing pain naturally, likes long periods of time when they can think, and ideally has some time they can afford until their business is profitable. It also helps to want to be your own boss.”

Kim adds this note to you, the blog reader: “The worst part of the job is when a client doesn’t show up for their appointment and you’re left waiting for them, not knowing if they’re late or just not coming. So you wind up wasting your time and not getting paid. So tell your blog-readers to keep their appointments!!”

You’re like an Indian summer / in the middle of winter
RR

April 4th, 2009

As of now

In case the suspense was getting to you, as of now I can speak a little bit, very quietly and squeakily, but at least actual words aloud. Since this is incredible progress over yesterday, which was spent in complete silence, I have decided to extrapolate this progress to me being able to do my planned GritLit appearance tomorrow at 1:30 at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. I plan to spend today resting my voice, drinking all the tea in Hamilton, and feeling that life is extremely unfair, but if I can do the reading tomorrow, I might just get over it.

Complaints I would like to register with the universe:

1) Rainy weekend.
2) Typing this on horrible dial-up connection–probably won’t even be able to post in the end.
3) Movie *Clueless* not as funny second time.
4) Doctor at walk-in clinic was baffled by my condition, and finally demanded, “Well, could you speak *before*?” As if I were trying to pull a fast one and make her give me a capability I never had before, like the old joke, “Doctor, doctor, will I be able to play the piano after the operation?” Except this doctor was not joking at all.

So, as usual, my complaints are not really complaints so much as the usual shoe-scuffs of life. I really do hope to see anyone who is around at GritLit tomorrow–if my plan to attend changes, I’ll certainly post it here and I imagine the GritLit folks have a website where they post such info, as well. I would check into that, but, you know, dial-up!

No way no way
RR

October 17th, 2008

My autopsy will show

Every time I do myself yet another moronic small injury, I wonder if this will be the day I die under mysterious circumstances. Because, as we all know from hearing episodes of CSI recounted to us at parties*, when people die under mysterious circumstances an autopsy must be performed to unmystify them. And the county coroner, when autopsying (verb?), does not just investigate the subdural hematoma or gunshot wound or whatever the ostensible cause of death is. Oh, no, they examine all flaws and injuries of the entire body and somehow, in 49 minutes, knit these together into a brilliant recreation of the poor dead person’s last moments.

I worry about this. I worry that everyone who ever falls into the lake and drowns because his or her shoulder bag is too heavy and gets caught on his or her coat also has myriad other small injuries the originis of which can never be parsed by objective medical science. Examples off the top of my head:

–large round bruise in centre of back? Standing behind door when roommate burst in, euphoric due to larger-than-usual GST cheque. Caught doorknob in spine.
–small, slightly infected puncture wound on upper thigh? Stabbed with pen by toddler furious over denied banana. Ink and fabric fibres from jeans caused infection.
–shallow thick gash on back of wrist? Too fast, too vertical, too enthusiastic attempt to remove soda from soda machine.

And then there are the ever-present burn marks on the tops of my ears.

I wanna be the one to walk in the sun
RR

*I would be ok if no one ever told me about CSI ever again. The one time I tried to watch it, they found a severed head in a newspaper box in the first 90 seconds and then I had to go home.

September 30th, 2008

On Futurity

At reception at the end of a doctor visit.

Me: Oops, I forgot to ask Dr. C. when I have to come back. Do you have it in the file?

A: Yes, it’ll be in a year.

Me: A year! Well, I guess I’ll call–

A: We can book it now–how’s September 20?

Me: September 20, 2009? I could be on the moon by then!

A: The moon?

Me: Well, you know, not actually the moon, but anywhere, really…

A: Is early morning ok? 9 am?

Me: I don’t *know*!

A: (looks at me intently)

Me: 9 am, September 20, 2009 is fine.

A: That’s a Tuesday.

Me: Sure it is.

A: Do you need a reminder card?

Me: I will lose that card in a year.

A: Here is your card.

***

Come *on* now–does anyone really know for sure that we’re going to be having a September 20 in 2009? Who has evidence that we’re not going to get to September 14 and then start counting backwards again?

Is an inability to conceptualize the future evidence of my fundamental inmaturity?

The dancers need a dancefloor / the swingers gotta swing
RR

February 15th, 2008

Car Accident

On the way home from seeing the always charming and thought-provoking Russell Smith speak, the car I was in got rear-ended. Obviously, it was a very small accident, all parties were uninjured, or I would not be cheerfully typing this post in such a devil-may-care manner. In truth, though we’re all fine, the damage was minor, and I was home an hour later, I’m rather alarmed about the whole event. “I was in a car accident” *sounds* so serious, like “I had a heart attack” or “I got mugged.” Ew.

Plus, and this goes to show what a creature of media I am, I was very freaked out by the fact that vehicles colliding in actuality is nothing like how it is depicted in films, on tv and in books. When I had surgery last year, I was thrilled to find that ORs really look like those on tv, and coming out of anesthesia feels like it’s described in fiction. On the other hand, filmic car accidents seem to have more give and crush, metal bending into metal. In real life, it’s an unyielding feeling, like being whoomped in the back of the head by a brick wall (we were stopped at the time, maybe that’s why). It feels like the end of time, this awful if really short silence before everyone yells, “Are you all right?”

We all were, I can’t emphasize that enough. It’s just another illusion shattered really. Plus a taillight.

I would’ve hit them
RR

April 27th, 2007

Poor day

Yesterday was hard, as days go. I had a nonspecific plan to go get bloodwork done, which is hardly traumatic, but I wasn’t looking forward to it, so I dillydallied around the house writing a letter and other stuff that I don’t even really remember, until it was late enough for the clinic to be *really* crowded, and then I finally set off.

When I got inside the medical complex, a middle-aged lady with, I think, a serious developmental delay, asked me for help. I was confused at first, but she said she had hurt her knee and needed to go upstairs. So we had to wait for the elevator, which was semi-out-of-order, for about five minutes, her clutching my arm and pointing me out to strangers the whole time, instead of me just scrambling up to my second-floor clinic like always. When finally we reached the office she specified, it was vacant.

“Do you think they moved? Do you have an appointment?” I asked her.

“We’ll go up to the fifth floor, ask the nurse,” she said confidently. We examined the stairwell, but she said she couldn’t manage even one floor with her bad knee. So we went back to the elevator for another long wait.

When the doors open, a man stepped forward and said, “Got away from me, did ya?” Turns out, her appointment was on the first floor where I met her, and he’d just gone to park the car. I apologized profusely, miserably, and ran away downstairs.

I wonder why she did that? Maybe I can see it as being like a kid, is that comparable? As a kid, I was scared of strangers, but if I hadn’t been I would’ve certainly thought it more interesting to set off with one of them, rather than my boring parents. And, well, I don’t want you to think I was a dishonest child, but before I I really understood the concepts of truth and lie and story, I occasionally changed the truth to make a better story. Once, I remember, I fabricated a mouse infestation in the sandbox, because I figured my mother’s reaction would be interesting. And it was, until I embroidered just a bit too much and she figured it out. I don’t think that many mice could’ve really hidden in the sandbox.

Downstairs in the clinic, it was of course packed. I waited about a half hour with the blood-test-ee ahead of me, a six-month-old baby who was already fussy before he was taken into a small cubicle, restrained and stabbed multiple times with needles. The kid totally lost it. His parents were great, the nurses were great, but you just can’t explain to a baby that they aren’t being grievously tortured when all evidence suggests that they are. He was wailing so hard he lost his breath, and you could hear him gasping for air to muster sound, all a desperate cry for someone to intervene and make the needles stop.

The waiting room was like death-row. I got really nauseated and realized I’d been unconsciously mirroring my breath to his, the beginnings of sympathy hyperventilation. I stopped it. The kid left with his stoic folks…you could hear him wailing some more at the elevators. My own needle barely hurt at all.

And then I went to Scarborough.

Did I mention I was carrying 30 pounds of exams through all this? And yet such is the weather funhouse that I was blown off course by the wind as I walked from RT to bus, and I’m hardly a wisp even without that weight’o’knowledge. A positive light is how terribly nice everyone in the office is at the campus there, even though I was handing stuff in late and asked a million questions and my lunch tupperware leaked on the exams. Also, when I took the remaining lunch to eat in the cafeteria there, it was a really nice space.

The day brightened considerably after that, partly due to the fact that I no longer had unpleasant things to do, and partly because I took a nap on the subway. Eventually, my charming family arrived, bearing soda, tomato sauce and potting soil, and bound to take me out for Italian food to celebrate my successful defense. It’s been a week, but when I remember that I actually did it I am still sorta elated. Ok, no sorta about it. Elated.

The food at Grazie is always splendid, and the crowd makes you feel like you are at a giant party, not just a table for four. And well, hell, it is always nice to celebrate. So we did, and then I went home and wrote, and considered the day really a success, not worthy of the subject line, but I’ll leave it for now.

He’s not here but / he’ll be round
RR

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