Touched By an Angel
‘Tis joy when you feel no pain. I’m telling you, if you suffer from any kind of chronic illness, or pain, even fatigue, there is nothing like a good massage. I’m a firm believer in massage and the gentle human touch from one to another. I’ve been lucky to have been the recipient of massages over the years, whether from a loved one or a professional masseuse. I’ve had everything from deep tissue (ow) to Swedish, to reflexology (again ow), to relaxation to hot stone. I’m a believer in each one of these methods. Different things work for different levels and types of pain.
I suffer from fibromyalgia. It’s not a fun thing, and there are days when I wake up and pop ibuprofen first thing, to ward off the pain until I can get in a hot shower for further relief. There are days when it’s not so bad and to be honest, those are the days I’m incorporating some kind of exercise in my life. I’m a big believer in exercise and stretching to ward off pain as well. Unfortunately, I’m not the person who enjoys exercise, even when I’m at my fittest. I just don’t like doing it. That’s a constant battle for me.
One thing I must say, is that after I get a massage, I feel better for a few days. Sometimes a week or two. For those of you who do not suffer from chronic pain, you can’t imagine waking up and being excited not to hurt. It’s an amazing thing. That being said, I was talked into doing this monthly membership at a massage company, as a way of pain management. It was not a bad thing at all. I looked forward to every appointment and temporarily fell in love with Alan, my masseuse. Well, not REALLY in LOVE like I love my partner, but he was definitely a positive ray of sunshine in my life. Then I discovered Simonson’s Salon and Spa. And there, within the confines of all things “spa,” resided Lanier.
When I initially decided to try Simonson’s, I was drawn in by the fact that they were not a “chain” in the sense that we think of chains. Yes, they have a few locations but I do not consider them a chain. Not that there is anything wrong with a chain massage place, but I knew they would not pressure me to join a monthly “membership” and like I’ve stated earlier in a different blog, commitment is not my thing. The prices were a bit higher than the chain options, but only by $20. That was ok by me. Once you decide to spend money on a massage, you know you’re going to be digging a little deeper into the pocket book, so I already expected this.
As I read the menu of massages, I saw one on there that I had never tried. It was called “Naplai.”* When I read the description, I saw that it focused on back, neck and head. It also used aromatherapy, in an herbal filled poultice, which was new to me as well. I needed to see what this was about, and so I booked a 55-minute massage with Lanier.
Ok. I need to say this here and now. Lanier is beautiful, but that is not why I booked him. I initially thought, “oh good- he’s buff, he’ll work out the kinks in my neck and back.” I know, right? 🙄That deserves an eye roll, but it’s true! That’s how far I’ve come, that’s the pain level I’m at, that’s how old I’ve gotten. So. I booked Lanier and the rest is a glorious love story. Read on.
Upon arrival to Simonson’s, the friendly ladies at the front desk asked to take my coat, (no thank you, I’ll wear it- due to the horrifying sweatshirt underneath with holes in it) and they offered me something to drink. (Again, no thank you, I’m aware I have a bladder the size of a gerbil and I just went.) They led me through “the doors.” The doors opened up into a small, low lit room with a few couches. There I filled out a form for first time visitor, which asked the basic questions. Once I filled that out, into the room walked the person who would make a difference in my life as I know it.
Lanier led me to Spa Room 2, where the gentle scent of citrus and ginger filled my nostrils. Here he asked a few questions as far as what brought me in today, and then proceeded to explain Naplai. He said it wasn’t so much a massage in the way we think of massages, although there is massage involved, it was more of a healing and wellness touch technique focusing on pressure points and such. I was hoping my face didn’t fall with disappointment, as I was anticipating him really working out the knots I had. He left the room and I surveyed my surroundings. Low lit and tidy, with spa type music softly playing from somewhere, I noticed a type of rice cooker on the counter. Ok, I thought, let’s do this.
I disrobed to my stretchy pants and socks. The massage does not work on anything below the belt, so to speak. I climbed unto the massage table, laid face down and waited. After a small amount of time, Lanier knocked quietly and when I said, “I’m ready, thank you,” he entered the room. I had my eyes closed but I still could feel the lights getting lower, and the music was turned up a bit. I could hear him doing something at the counter, and then he placed his warm hands on the small of my back and applied a gentle pressure on two points. He held it there for a short time, and then went another couple inches up my back on two more pressure areas where he placed his fingertips and applied a gentle but firm amount of weight. He did this all up on the sides of my spine, until he reached my head, where he placed his fingertips on two points towards the base of my skull and repeated. I was not surprised to feel tenderness there, as I hurt all over. Once he did this, he began with a warm massage oil and gently and fluidly went over my back. At first, I hoped this is where the real digging in would start, but it did not. It felt great, but I wondered if it would be effective or not. I just went with it though and enjoyed human touch for what it was.
Then came the poultice. I was wondering what in the world he was using, but then I stopped thinking about it and just relaxed into the scent of spiced citrus gingerbread and let myself be poulticed away. He applied this to different parts of my back, and pretty soon, feeling the heat of the poultice and being engulfed in the wonderful scent, I decided to keep my eyes closed, lest I ruin the illusion of being in an enchanted forest, which was odd since I could hear seagulls on the spa radio and ocean waves. Maybe it was a forest on the edge of the ocean, who knows. Who cares? It was magnificent. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more relaxed, after a time, Lanier had me turn over on my back. I kept my eyes closed as I turned, and within moments, my head was in his hands, and he was massaging my neck with gentle cupping and pulling motions. I am pretty sure if a bomb went off, I’d not notice, so relaxed was my state of mind.
Lanier massaged the sides of my neck, up and under my ears, where sinus passageways lie and I’m sure some various kinds of glands. I don’t actually know, I’m not a doctor, all I know is it felt fantastic. He used the poultice on these areas as well, switching up with his hands in order to keep warming up the poultice when necessary.
The a-ha moment came as he began work on my eyebrow area, gentle massaging my face with warm, oiled hands. With this part of the massage, came the realization that Lanier was not a sexy man beast. Straight, gay, bi... none of it applied. Why? Because – Eureka! Lanier was not human! He was a celestial being that existed only in the heavens, which is where I must be. If I opened my eyes and saw him sitting there with wings hovering over his back, I would not be shocked. I accepted this as truth and became putty in the potter’s hands. I was being brought back to life by an angel of God. And... was that ENYA on the spa radio now? Ah yes, of course it was. No, it wasn’t “Sail Away,” it was “So I Could Find My Way.” I wanted to cry, this was so amazing.
When my 55 minutes was up, I still didn’t open my eyes for a moment. I waited as I heard him wash his hands and tidy up a smidge. Then he said in his celestial voice, “Alright Sara, you can get up and get dressed, I’ll wait for you in the lobby.” I opened my eyes so he knew I was alive, and said weakly, “Ok, yes. Thank you.” He left the room and I lay there for a second, wondering how I would be able to sit up, I felt like jello. I did manage, though, and after dressing and wiping the massage oil from my face, I came out of the room to the cozy lobby and it’s warm lighting, where my hero was standing with a cup of water in his hands. I reached for it and as I did so, he also gave me the poultice to use at home (as if I would try and recreate what just happened) and a few instructions for doing so.
I’m sure I tipped obnoxiously, but I couldn’t think straight. I was truly pain free, there were no knots in my neck or back, and I felt airy and light as ever. I came home and the high lasted all day. I kept repeating, “Devante, I have no pain!” over and over as if it were my afternoon chant, to which he was delighted to know I wouldn’t be bugging him to rub my back.
Friends, I’m here to tell you, the pain did not return for a solid month. I’ve never had that happen to me before. Never. My family noticed that my face was brighter, more alive looking and I wasn’t wearing an expression of fatigue. I felt great the next day when I woke up, and the next day after that and every day for a month after that. I rewarded myself with lots of water and sitting up straighter. I smiled more. I breathed more deeply and moved with more purpose.
I book Lanier once a month now for this Naplai massage and will probably never feel the need to do anything else. Perhaps I can start going every other month once this becomes more permanent. I’m hopeful.
If you make it down to the cities, and you are in pain or maybe just in need of a massage that will make you feel alive and good- the trip to Simonson’s is well worth it. Go see Lanier. I feel like his name should be “Lumiere” as he is a beacon of light for a lady that was dealing with pain on a regular basis.
Much love, quiet, healing love I send your way. Be well my friends.
*Naplai or Samuprai Massage
Defined: Of all the various therapeutic massage techniques available in modern times, there is one that originated many years ago that is particularly effective in relieving sore and achy muscles. This tried-and-true method is called Thai poultice massage.
Thai poultice massage is a technique that involves special poultices made of herbs and spices that are wrapped in muslin or cotton and steam-heated. Steam heating allows the natural essential oils and aromas of the herbs and spices to be released. During massage, the poultices provide moist and nutrient-rich relaxation to the skin and muscles. While offering comfort, the poultices also work with the body’s natural energy to promote harmonization of the body’s energy flow. They do this by loosening energy blockages and stimulating blood circulation.
Thai poultice massage originated in Thailand during the Ayutthaya period (14th to 18th centuries). The poultices were used on soldiers returning home with painful, weary muscles. The poultices were applied directly to the body in a kneading and systematic manner. Today, Thai poultice massage is becoming popular in the United States. Licensed massage therapists use the technique to alleviate pain and inflammation, as well as to relieve the stresses of modern life that accumulate in muscles and joints.
Typical ingredients of Thai poultices include: prai (a herb specifically from Thailand), used for relief of sore muscles and tired joints; tumeric, a natural analgesic that contains anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antioxidant and antibacterial properties, refreshes the skin and boosts the immune system; lemongrass, which regenerates connective tissue and ligaments, supports thymus and spleen function, aids circulation, reduces fevers and infections, improves muscle tone, aids athletic muscle pain and sprains, stimulates lymphatic detox, aids edema and fluid retention, and helps skin blemishes; kaffir lime, for toning mature skin and boosting circulation; and camphor, which stimulates the circulatory and nervous system, combats inflammation and eases spasms, various pain aliments and sore muscles. Camphor is also reported to aid digestion, kill internal parasites and minor infections. Many other beneficial herbs and spices may be used as well as these.
Thai poultice massage is not recommended for women who are pregnant. Also, persons who have rheumatoid arthritis should get the approval of their medical doctor before receiving a Thai poultice massage. Otherwise, any of us leading an active lifestyle, especially anyone feeling sore and achy, would truly benefit from the deep, soothing, aromatic comfort that comes with a Thai poultice massage.