Before every massage I conduct a small dialogue with clients designed to obtain pertinent medical information and to discover their expectations which will help in determining the area of focus and my course of action.
This procedure is known as the “Intake”. Basically, I ask a few simple questions like have you had any recent surgeries/injuries, do you have a medical condition that I need to be aware of, and do you have any allergies? I also ask what areas they’d like me to spend extra time on and what type of pressure they prefer. Most people say things like, “Oh I have a cut here, my neck and shoulders are killing me, and I like deep pressure”, or “I’m training for a marathon, could you please work on my calves really well?” or “My feet are extremely ticklish.” I welcome this type of information because not having it could mean the difference between a good massage and somebody kicking you in the face. This is also a good time to disclose that you have eczema, are pregnant, or have the bubonic plague.
Some people deem it necessary to use this time to divulge the most inconsequential details of their existence like how they caught their husbands with another woman and are secretly plotting his demise, or when they fell off a horse when they were 8 and now they can see spirits (I should seriously start writing some of them down). Anyway, every now and again people forget to mention the most monumentally important information like hypersensitivity to temperature, *a missing limb, or that their back is so acne ridden it resembles the surface of the moon.
One of my clients this past weekend was, for the most part, like any other. I had started this particular massage face up and worked my way from her head down to her ankles, remembering that she can’t stand having her feet touched. When she turned over, I worked on her calves, hamstrings, and glutes and then pulled the blanket down to massage her back. Now, understand that the lights are dimmed almost all the way down and since the majority of light I use to see, comes from a few flickering candles around the room, I didn’t notice anything unusual about her back at first glance. As with every massage though, what my eyes fail to see, my hands always notice. Let’s just say that it felt like massaging a gravel road. Its one thing to give a client a salt glow or sea-salt scrub, but it’s entirely different when it’s the client’s skin producing the exfoliating beads and lubricant.
Although I was sympathetic to her condition many thoughts began to flood my mind, like “Thanks for the heads up asshole”. You know we have gloves for this kind of shit, did you just think that I wouldn’t notice that your back feels like bubble wrap? Honestly people, I always warn my dentist about the 12 course meal I had right before a cleaning, don’t therapist deserve the same consideration? If you have some weird fetish where you pour sugar on your back after a bath then roll around in a colony of fire ants, by all means, that's your God given right. All I'm saying, is at least let a brotha know.
* I once went to massage a client’s arm that wasn’t there.