“Curiously uncommon” should be a category of massage for some of the clients I see. Being the lead therapist at a clinically based sports massage facility in a one-of-a-kind city like San Francisco, places you in the crosshairs of some less than typical conditions.
A recent entrant into this category of mine was an 81 year old man with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that affects the lining of the digestive tract which can lead to the removal of portions of the intestines. He’d had a third such surgery earlier in the year, and I figured he was here for post-surgical muscular tension relief.
Surprisingly, he was in zero amount of pain from the procedure! His chief complaint being the lack of any motivation to eat. His doctor recommended visceral massage but warned him it wouldn’t be a pleasant experience.
No problem. I just pulled out the industry standard massage manual on increasing a client's motivation to eat with a systemic condition. Piece of non-existent cake! There are numerous elements I’m aware of when it comes to proper digestion but none that would exactly target someone’s “I want a cheeseburger” center.
His daughter had accompanied him to ask if she should stick around to help manage getting him home after the intestinal mashing. I reassured her that my approach to massaging the viscera would more than likely lead to him napping rather than surviving the experience. She was visibly relieved and exited the room politely.
I decided to go with my instincts and feel for any soft tissue snags along his intestinal tract to free up the natural movement that’s initiated by swallowing. I also had a secondary strategy to utilize my foodie passion and rhetoric to tickle his auditory appetite center.
The strategy worked and before you know it, we were talking about our favorite home cooked meals and I was locating some productive snags under his belly. Our affinity for one another was undeniable and we shared many laughs. The massage was simple but our conversation was all over the place, and the session came to an end far too soon for either of us.
We’ve had three more session since then and his appetite has returned practically back to normal! As far as curious and uncommon for requests go, influencing someone’s appetite has to rank amongst the most unique I’ve ever heeded.