Mar 25, 2017

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Week Five: FOM Midterm!?

After two snow days the previous week, this week was back to the usual schedule, but with more catch-up to play as we learned how the snow days would impact the schedule of classes. Thankfully, it’s minimal impact and they are well-prepared for this to happen. It’s always nice to see a well-oiled machine work smoothly no matter what, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that they really have this program down solid.

This week featured Myology, Foundations of Massage, Pathology, and A&P. Essentially my standard week until sometime in May.

In Myology, we finally started learning about specific muscles; and their origin, insertion, action, and innervation. We also covered some key structural features that lie beneath the skin, and watched a video where they showed all this on what I believe was a cadaver (which was awesome in my opinion). So at the moment we’re working on the intrinsic muscles of the hand, which has us learning ten new muscles simultaneously. It honestly sounds more difficult than it really is, because our instructor is really good (I think) at simplifying the learning process. So right now we’re responsible for the Dorsal Interossi, Palmar Interossi, Lumbricals, Adductor Pollicis, Flexor Pollicis Brevis, Abductor Pollicis Brevis, Opponens Pollicis, Flexor Digiti Minimi, Abductor Digiti Minimi, and Opponens Digiti Minimi. These are all the muscles (and some tendons) that allow us to do fine motor skills with our hands that are also located solely in our hands (hence intrinsic). She taught us some little phrases to remember things too, because the first three do not have in their name the associated action that they allow. So it’s “You put a DAB of paint on your PAD of paper”, because the Dorsal Interossi does Abduction of digits 2, 3, and 4, and the Palmar Interossi does Adduction of digits 2, 4, and 5. Lumbricals she taught us to remember as “L”, because when you bend digits 2-5 at the MP joints, while keeping the fingers straight (extended), you can create an “L” and this is due to the Lumbricals. The rest of the muscles all have in their names what action they perform, and where they’re located, so we don’t really need the little helpers. Aside from the muscles, we also learned about the Flexor and Extensor Retinaculums, which are very cool. The Flexor Retinaculum creates the Carpal Tunnel, and the Extensor Retinaculum does similar on the other side. I love the way hands and feet can move, so all this is fascinating to me. And now, to help remember what the muscles do, I’m trying to think about what muscles are allowing me to perform certain actions as I do them. Started it when I went to a bead class this past Tuesday.

A&P is getting pretty involved now as well. We had our first quiz, so we’ve moved out of the basic units of life and into tissues. We covered that there are four types: Neural, Muscular, Connective, and Epithelial; but we’re really only getting in-depth on Connective and Epithelial for this unit because the other two each have their own units (we need to really know about those for our work). Part of this meant getting to do some coloring on pages from the anatomy color book, and watching some movies to explain certain things. It was really cool to see a camera going just under the skin of a cadaver to show the loose connective tissues that were there (fascia, if I remember right). In addition to that, we were split into groups of three to go down and work in the clinic, where we got to try out hydrocollator pads! A hydrocollator is a piece of equipment that uses water to maintain a high, steady temperature. The pads are hung inside it, and can be placed on body parts (not directly, or they’ll burn) to warm the tissue with moist heat. So we’re trying this out to see how applying moist heat to tense areas can work magic, and experience how it alters tissues. We’ve done it once so far, and we’ll do it two more times so that everyone in the group has the opportunity to feel the heat on themselves, as well as feel how the heat changes the tissues. This couldn’t have come at a better time, either, because it was the same day that we started our FOM midterms, which are done in clinic and none of us had really gotten a good look or feel of the place. Timing was impeccable. I had a lot of fun with it too, because among my group of three there is one other reiki master, and we did joint reiki on our third party member while applying the massage. It’s been a long time since I’ve given reiki, and it felt really good. It was also fun to work in tandem with a second person, and we actually synced up super well. That’s an awesome feeling when you’re able to move in harmony with another without planning or practicing. Such a cool vibe.

Before we talk about the nerve-wracking midterm, how about Pathology? So we went over musculoskeletal pathologies that are commonly encountered in our field, and the appropriate questions to ask if we see them. The beauty of pathology, I’m finding, is that we’re not being asked to really know pathologies. We need the basics, because we’re not allowed to diagnose nor prescribe a treatment plan; we’re only looking to know enough to be safe. How do we know enough to be safe? We ask good questions to make a professional judgment with. If we’re still unsure, then we ask permission to speak with their general practitioner, or specialist, whomever is more appropriate. There are only two absolute contraindications in New York State (aka things that indicate massage should be avoided): The first is that the client (or therapist) is under the influence of a substance that alters their mental state so that they cannot give informed consent, and the second is that the therapist feels that in order for the massage to be safe there is need to consult with the client’s health care practitioner, and the client does not give consent for that. So pathology is really a class about learning to communicate effectively, and efficiently, to determine how to make sure we always give a safe and beneficial massage. We do a lot of role playing in this class, to work on these skills, and sometimes it gets a little silly. It’s a nice class to have once a week though, because I feel like it’s a class where we can chill and relax a bit. Yes, it’s just as important as all our other classes, but there’s something about it that just seems less demanding. Maybe it’s just me.

So the big deal this week was the FOM midterm. I know, it seems so soon for a midterm, but we complete FOM in the first two weeks of May so we’re actually right on schedule. Hard to believe that by the time I turn 28 I will have made it through a third of my school’s program. That’s just nuts. So the midterm covers the entire prone (client is face-down) routine. Typically it also includes postural analysis and S.O.A.P. notes, but since we weren’t able to really cover those due to the snow days and a couple other hiccups, they weren’t included. We were asked to at least try the S.O.A.P. notes, since we have loosely reviewed them, but postural analysis was completely out. No lie, I was so nervous about this. Originally I was supposed to go on Monday (which meant I’d have the entire weekend to practice), but then two students who had been absent and needed the extra day to make up the classes were swapped with two of us who were on Monday, and suddenly I was in the first round of students to go on Thursday. Yikes! That was a shock to the system, to say the least. Had a wonderful bout with my IBS Tuesday night into Wednesday morning over it, and then entered into a calm, zen-stress state for Thursday. Practiced Wednesday night on two obliging gentlemen so I knew I had a good flow and time-management down. It did wonders to ease my anxiety. The clinic experience Thursday morning for A&P helped a lot, too, so by the time I got to my midterm I was much calmer. It actually meant I was able to [barely] eat my lunch.

So for the midterm you are paired up with one of the instructors in the school. You don’t know until right before you go down who you were paired with, and you never know who it was that volunteered. I was paired up with our A&P instructor, which some people thought was lucky because we already knew her and her personality (sort of anyways), and some people thought it was really awkward because she is an instructor that we currently have (eventually we’ll have the other volunteers for instructors too, but I guess since it’s after the fact it’s less awkward?). To me, it really wasn’t a big deal. I was glad that I knew the person I was working on only because it meant I knew who I was looking for and already had a general idea of body structure. Took some of the mystery out of the experience, which lessened the anxiety some more. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but I did end up stepping out of the role of student-instructor and into therapist-client, so that I could view my massage recipient objectively.

Once we were informed who we were working on, it was back to clinic we went where we set up our area, and then greeted our client and went through their intake form to determine how our massage should look. These were real intake forms, too. No curve-balls, and nothing that was fake. What was listed were actual pathologies that our volunteers had, and mind happened to have one that was just spoken of the day before in Pathology class. I felt really confident going through the intake form, and as soon as I had greeted her and got her into our little curtained-off space, I was completely calm and ready. I’m really just bad about the anticipation, so once I get going I’m usually fine.

Something I did as well, without planning on it, was casting a circle. This is something from Wicca, that I can blend well with my reiki. So I informed my client that for the duration of our session, it would be our space (and I motioned with my hand to indicate the curtain walls) to raise energy with which we could work. So I cast a circle at that moment, and then I indicated how it would be used which set my intentions for the session. I think it worked too, because I went and grounded while I washed my hands, and when I came back in it was like everything else just melted away. The fact that there were two other students testing in different curtained enclosures meant nothing to me. So with that in place I went through the massage.

After we did the massage, we would let our client get dressed while we washed our hands, reassess the S.O.A.P. notes, and then while they went out to the lounge to fill out the grading sheets, we cleaned our space up. We needed to be out quickly because another group needed to come in and set up. Then we met up with our client-instructor in the lounge to hear our scores.

I did fantastic. I received top marks in all but one area, and the area I didn’t receive top marks in was a place of personal opinion. She felt I checked in a little too often about her comfort, and that it took her out of the place of stillness I was creating for her relaxation. However, she acknowledged that sometimes you need that level of communication, but perhaps I just needed to be a bit more in tune with when. No big deal to me. I did let her know that some of it was because our FOM instructor suggested it and why, and she acknowledged two different schools of thought. Even with one mark that wasn’t the best I could get, I still figure I was at 95% or above for a score (there’s a special scoring matrix that now has to be done to get a numerical score, I’ll find that out next week). She also told me that she must have fallen asleep at points, because she forgot about some of the stuff I did at points in time. I took that as a really nice compliment. She also said that my petrissage was above and beyond what she would expect for someone at my level, and she loved my skin rolling, so I was able to let her know that was my favorite technique, which she was excited about. She apparently also loves petrissage, so that was cool. And, she was impressed by my draping and tapotement. She said my draping was confident and secure, at a level that usually comes around with a bit more practice. Tapotement wise she said she was glad I actually did it, because many students are not fond of it and so they barely do any. I don’t think anyone in my FOM class is shy about tapotement, so we all should receive top marks there if all the instructors are like mine in that opinion. So it was a really good midterm, and I feel really good about how I did. I showed improvement from my touch test for sure, and it really wasn’t as technical as my own head-space lead me to believe.

Congratulatory flowers from my boyfriend for my FOM midterm. ♥

After the midterm, it was back to class where those of us who tested were given massages. I wasn’t sure I’d want to be touched right after, but it actually was very nice. And, I was able to relay my experience to those who had yet to go, which I hope helped calm them some. My FOM instructor was also very excited to hear me say I could step into a client-therapist role, as he said that was the key to keeping awkwardness to a minimum and the sooner we could do that, the better. Score! To top it off, when I got home that night my boyfriend had congratulatory flowers waiting for me. ♥

On a final awesome note, this week we were also able to finally order our tables! So I know some students are already receiving theirs, so I’m hopeful that mine will be here soon as well. I went with a custom size though (in that it’s just not standard, but a different given option), so mine might take a hair longer. However, I do expect it next week at this rate so yay! So excited to be getting my own table finally that I can work on and that I know is top-quality. And finally-finally, we discussed our upcoming community service in two-ish months time. So everyone now knows if they need to get some final immunizations or not (and we all waived the right to keep it private in the classroom), and we shocked the instructor who handles it. He asked for a drumroll, and we gave him one. Apparently most classes don’t do that, but we’re not most classes. We’re a silly class, and we don’t hesitate to act that way. Professional when needed, silly when able.

School is amazing. I’m so glad that I’m part of it right now.

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