This is a story about the evolution of a real, honest to goodness, massage practice. One where you build your client base, maintain your clients base and evolve, change and learn as that client base changes.
When I started my massage practice, I was in my early 20’s. I was strong, fit and I enjoyed working on the pretty bodies. Most of my clients in those days were people who went to the gym several days a week and were raising young families. I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to work on Olympic level athletes.
I not only worked on the young and athletic people; some retired folks were also my clients. They were for the most part active and healthy, not much challenge to deal with. Easy peasy right?
Well guess what? Those clients who were vigorous and healthy retirees got older and needed me more than ever, for more than just a massage. My new phase into becoming more than just a massage therapist to my clients began with a simple request, “Val can you drop me off for knee surgery tomorrow”?
As I had become friends with many of them, my typical response was ” sure, no problem”. There was one time in particular that a client asked for my help. When I picked her up to deliver who to the hospital, I noticed that my client’s ankles were quite swollen. I had worked on her for years and I had never seen her ankles swollen like that before.
When we arrived at the hospital, I mentioned her swollen ankles to the admission nurse who set up a post-op consultation for a cardio doctor. Upon examination, her physician discovered she had advanced breast cancer. The next thing you know I’m assisting with a knee replacement and breast surgery on the way and then radiation.
It was this same client who a few years after the breast surgery after effects turned into lymphedema. Now there was another big task to assist thru. Fortunately, prior to my career in massage therapy, I had four years of experience on a surgical floor as a unit secretary with nurses who were generous with their knowledge. Because of that, I wasn’t scared of difficult cases.
If I was sent to a person with a challenge, I hit the books. I read and informed and sought information from other professionals. I became skilled at attending Doctors’ visits as the patient’s advocate. I respected the position of the medical staff as well as the patients.
I attended Physical therapy appointments to learn skills the patients needed long after the insurance was exhausted from allowed visits. As often is the case more than one thing was happening in the health industry at the same time.
At the same time that there was a huge increase in personal trainers and massage therapist, there was also a health care crisis. Insurance companies now decided what patients needed regarding their care. It would be great if all the patient’s needs could be met by ten visits to a busy understaffed facility.
Clearly, they were not. In addition to cutbacks from Insurance Carriers, people are now living longer. Previously fatal heart disease could be addressed with meds and advances in surgical techniques. Many cancer treatments are now having more successful results.
That’s where I come in. I help my clients to heal and repair the damage and get them back to living their lives.