By Taylor Mason and Katherine Carol
Three times a week, Taylor receives this message.
“Where are we meeting today?”
“How about Starbucks on Colfax?” She replies.
“Sounds good. See you at 10:30.” Is the answer.
Three times a week Martie and Taylor (or Martie and one of Mikelle’s other support team) have this conversation. Each one sparks a quick flurry of actions. Preparations to head out are swiftly made, last minute trips to the bathroom, and reassurances that; yes, the coffee will still be here when we get back. When the weather is nice we like to meet up outdoors. We especially like meeting at parks so we can people-watch and enjoy the sunshine.
Once we arrive at our destination we greet Martie with enthusiasm while setting up Mikelle’s iPad. Every session is a new opportunity for MIkelle to practice her conversational skills. Each visit we try to help her prepare her questions or comments ahead of time. Once a week we like to tell a joke to Martie. It gives Mikelle lots of practice and it really makes Martie feel like Mikelle is enjoying their time together.
As Mikelle begins searching through her speaking app, Words for Life, Martie starts the massage by taking off Mikelle’s shoes, commenting on which cute socks Mikelle has on that day. The tasseled unicorn socks are a favorite. Since she doesn’t spend a lot of time walking, Mikelle can have poor circulation in her feet and thus they tend to get chilly or a little mottled. As Martie’s skillful hands massage grapeseed oil into her legs and feet, you can see Mikelle’s muscles relax, the color brightens and Mikelle takes in a deep breath. Once done with her feet, Martie moves up to Mikelle’s hands and shoulders, tense and tight with muscles fighting for dominance. Martie strokes Mikelle’s non-dominant hand, her neck and shoulders leaving Mikelle’s dominant hand for last so that she doesn’t disrupt the conversation.
Clearly, it is Martie’s artful professionalism and warmth of spirit make us appreciate Martie.
Some days Mikelle cannot wait to see Martie as she eagerly shares every detail of her weekend or the adventures we have planned for the day. Other times she can be lackluster and unwilling to talk about anything but her main focus for that day, Martie probes and questions trying to engage Mikelle, but on these days Mikelle ignores her attempts focusing choosing to ignore Martie and focus on her own agenda.
Mikelle and Martie are troopers as they pursue the comfort zone. Martie carefully negotiates Mikelle’s down days and is bubbly and full of light on Mikelle’s up days.
Massage is making a difference. Before massages began, Mikelle could be very uncomfortable after spending hours in her chair. Often complaining about a sore back or incorrect positioning. Nowadays she rarely asks to be repositioned or taken out of her chair. She’s more relaxed and comfortable and I definitely attribute that to her time with her masseuse Martie.