30 Days of Thanks Day 23 – Alyssa

One of the best outcomes of my brief employment in an office at the New York State Department of Health was my introduction to Alyssa, my friend and massage therapist. Alyssa brought her massage chair to our building once a week and set up shop in an alcove near the cafe on my floor. I was quickly one of the regulars, reserving the 1 PM spot.

Over the next two years, we swapped stories and developed a friendship as she worked the knots and kinks out of my shoulders and neck. When she moved her workspace into an empty office large enough for a massage table, I lamented that I wished I could get on it for a full body massage.

You know, I don’t mind doing a home visit. Would that be an option?

Wait – she was willing to bring her wonderful hands to my house?! Of course I said yes!

So began our monthly visits. Since I have a fully electric hospital bed, Alyssa does not need to bring her massage table. With the help of my red satin sheet used as a pull sheet, Alyssa is able to move my body into positions which are comfortable for both of us.

I was scheduled to have a massage on the week after I broke my leg. I contacted Alyssa from the hospital to cancel our plans.

I’m going to keep it on my calendar. I’ll plan to come visit you at the hospital.

Alyssa arrived that Sunday to find me whimpering in discomfort. The swelling in my lower leg and foot, below the fracture, was the worst I’ve ever experienced. My leg felt like a sausage under pressure, my skin shiny like a casing ready to pop.

Would you like me to just massage it gently? I see you have some lotion here.

The next hour was bliss. Alyssa dimmed the harsh overhead light, used her iPhone to provide relaxing music and slowly started to rub my leg. Gradually, the fluid started to work it’s way up my leg and I felt the pressure decrease. The pain and tightness disappeared as she worked her magic hands over my skin. When Alyssa was done, I asked her to grab my purse from the drawer next to my bed so I could pay her for the massage.

I’m not going to let you pay me Denise. I didn’t come to massage a client. I came to visit a friend.

Alyssa has become a very treasured friend. She listens without judgement, providing encouragement and support. She frequently shares my writing with others and always takes time to comment on posts she has heard me talking about writing or researching. When I had to learn new ways to move my body after the fracture, Alyssa was willing to adapt our sessions. Throughout this year, she has helped with stretching and massage, providing some of the few fleeting pain free moments I have had since fracturing my leg in January.

Sometimes when people have to provide my physical assistance for the first time, they are nervous about hurting me or doing the wrong thing. Alyssa did not have experience with personal care before she started coming to work at my house. But, she listened to my instructions and very quickly became adept at moving me and working within my limitations to give me the most benefit.

Alyssa knew I was planning to move out of my former apartment this year. She witnessed the stack of boxes growing as I packed my life in June and July. Then, she surprised me with a text.

I’ve blocked out the morning you are moving. Plan on me being there to help, and I’ll try to bring my boyfriend.

Alyssa and Josh lifted and carried many of those boxes in August. Even when her family plans changed, Alyssa honored her commitment to provide help during a stressful time in my life. Because that is what Alyssa always does. She provides relief when I am stressed and anxious.

Thank you Alyssa, for being a true friend through good times and bad. Yes, I love your massage skills and talents. But they pale in comparison to your kindness and compassion. I am grateful to all you do to make my world less stressful and less painful. I function better because you are there whenever I call.

Two open hands.
Alyssa’s hands after a massage.
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