I had my first ever massage yesterday. More specifically, it was a therapeutic massage, which, at least in my mind, makes it markedly different from what I expect one gets on a cruise, at a resort, or otherwise at any place referred to as a “spa”. I have intentionally *not* gotten a massage as a matter of principle, like my avoidance of mayonnaise, visiting the Big Apple, and watching Gone with the Wind. I have to take a stand somewhere, and, in general, I’m really not into a stranger’s hands on me. But, chronic back pain, edema, and other aches and pains point to issues with posture, circulation, and overall muscle tightness. These issues could be due to physical activity (or lack thereof), the impact of surgeries, and even the side-effects of the “therapeutic” drugs that I’ve received the past four years, and they have turned me into an old man in middle-aged clothing.
Well. You know that feeling you have after you get your teeth cleaned and you almost don’t want to eat anything (and certainly avoid coffee) because you want to preserve the smooth, fresh feel of your teeth and gums? This is how I felt about my back when I got home. I didn’t want to use it. I wanted to simply lie on the couch and knead the muscles of my back and thighs, remembering that they were meant to be soft and supple when not in use. Instead of having what feels like overcooked pork tenderloins running down my spine, my back muscles were flat and relaxed. Thank you SO much to Elise Eison at Hand to Sole Reflexology & Massage (Facebook) for the incredible experience. Professional, reassuring, and definitely effective. I left feeling like I had taken a 3 hour afternoon nap, flushed and disoriented (in a good way).
So now I’ve had my first massage. I think I might make it to New York City next year for Owen’s 13th birthday (a family tradition). Maybe Kim will get me to watch Gone with the Wind. But I won’t ever eat mayonnaise, if I can avoid it. And don’t try to deceive me by calling it “aioli” or any other fancy word for mayo (rémoulade anyone?), and you can keep the Zaxby’s sauce or the 30 Keba sauces not named “Keba sauce.” (Sorry, I get worked up about mayo).
I’ll finish with this. Elise had sent me her address via instant message, and I plugged the address (54 S. Main Street, Watkinsville) into Google maps and let my car guide me there. As I approached the city, I knew exactly where I was headed, to what was formerly a small home only about a quarter-mile from downtown. It also used to be the photography studio of a friend of mine (shameless plug for the Known Project), and it was there, just under 4 years ago that a group of faithful Christian men laid their hands on me and prayed for me after I discovered that the cancer that we had hoped had been eliminated had returned. And here I was, returning to that same house to have my first massage, to have hands laid on me again. Just another almost imperceptible reminder of God’s work and love. The lightest yet strongest of hands, always on me.
That night in 2014 with those trusted men around me, I remember Pastor Don asking me if there was something specific they should pray for, and I had answered that “I’d stay on the path to cure.” Well, doctors don’t talk much about cure when it comes to chronic cancer and we’re still in the midst of the fight for my life, but, in the immortal words of the aged peasant in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as he lay upon a pile of deceased folks to be carted away, “I’m not dead yet.” I have no idea what the future holds, but I’ve survived long enough to see the world with ever-renewing eyes. Perhaps someday I’ll be cured of something even more sinister than cancer: doubt.
Just FYI, after a family vacation to a dude ranch Wyoming next week, I’ll return to a battery of tests to see where things stand on the cancer front. As always, we treasure your prayers as we pray for you guys too.