Healing Hands – How My Housekeeper Massaged Me Back to Health

I threw my back out this week.  It’s been happening a couple of times a year for as long as I can remember following a car accident I had when I was 18.  Well, it wasn’t so much a car accident as much as I was hit by a car while riding my 10-speed bike down a dangerous stretch of road in southern California.  Since then, from time to time, my L4 shifts a bit out-of-place and I am instantly rendered immobile until I make it to the chiropractor and they adjust me back into place.  Job done.

Well, I hadn’t been to the chiropractor since moving to Bangalore in May, 2011.  Turns out there is only one in town and this week they had a special event taking place and had shut the office for two days.  This meant I would be lying on the floor and taking three minutes to just stand up for over 48 hours until they could see me.  Trust me, it’s not fun and it hurts like hell.  And when I’m down on the floor I look something like a turtle or pill bug that has turned over on its back and can’t quite sort out how to turn back around.  My daughter always laughs just a little because it does look damn funny.  I spent the first day like this, with our sweet housekeeper Pathima Mary looking at me quite strange as I lay on the floor watching a DVD and not moving.

I think I might negotiate a new deal with my housekeeper now that I’ve learned her secret power 🙂

The next day I was up when Pathima arrived and she could see that I wasn’t my normal self because of the idiotic way I was lowering myself to grab my mobile from the dining room table.  She asked if it was my knee for some reason.  I replied while pointing to my lower back and she immediately lifted her hands and said “massage, madam” and ran to the kitchen to wash her hands and grab some oil.

Wow, really…my housekeeper is also a freelance massage therapist?  I sure wasn’t going to say no so I started my slow decent onto the floor to lay on my stomach.  Now what happened next is one of the most random moments I’ve experienced in a really long time.  In the flash of an eye she had me basically down to my underwear and there I was with Pathima – who I communicate with using more hand signals than words – massaging me on my living room floor.  I wonder if it’s the first time she’s seen an employer in their undies?

Honestly, all joking aside, it was one of the most amazing things.  She had the same techniques I’ve experienced from the professionals and she knew exactly how to isolate the area that needed to be dealt with and cure it.  In just a couple of seconds she had located the nerve or muscle that was giving me a hard time and started attacking it.  Pathima is a tiny little thing but her hands are so strong that I was sore and a bit bruised (and still am) from the pressure and accuracy that she displayed with her massage.  When she was done she instructed me to put heat on periodically.

But unfortunately that didn’t cure me.

Then the next day when Pathima returned she could see that it wasn’t healed and she ordered me again to lie down and this time she added in a couple of new moves on the vertebrae itself.  Well, 10 minutes later she asked me to stand up and walk around and – viola – I was cured!  She made me immediately do a couple of exercises to stretch the lower back and sent me to the shower to apply heat to it but I truly feel fixed.

Just cancelled the chiropractor appointment and I’m heading into work for the first time in a couple days. I really had no idea that massage could also cure this particular back problem that I have.  I’ve been going to a chiropractor now since I was 20 – I am a huge fan of chiropractic – and I know that I will continue to go for the rest of my life for “maintenance” and for my neck from time to time and for my back when things are bad.  But it is nice to know that there are possible alternative solutions when the problem isn’t too severe.

When I asked my driver Shiva if he knew if our sweet housekeeper had worked as a massage therapist he replied emphatically no and told me that this is something all Indians know how to do.  Wow, I really have to investigate this because I find that to be amazing.  I also find it hard to believe but if it is then I want to learn how and when this training begins because it is AWESOME!

Shiva also told me something funny.  Apparently there are lots of lazy husbands who tell their wives to give them nightly massages.  He swears that he isn’t one of those guys but he has heard the wives of some of his mates speaking and apparently the men demand it but don’t give their wives massages in return.  We are joking around now wondering if Pathima’s husband is one of these guys and that’s how she has become so good at it!

I already knew that all Indians can dance but if the whole country is also filled with professional ‘closet’ masseurs and the word gets out then I bet there’ll be an immediate influx of expats looking for an Indian husband or wife!

XOXO Angela

© 2012 Angela Carson

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Angela Carson

At 21 I left uni, jumped into my Jeep Wrangler, and drove from my native California to live an adventure in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I've explored 32 countries on 4 continents, residing in 7 of them (currently Kuala Lumpur is my home). By day I'm a digital nomad and by night I'm a passionate storyteller. I even have a private pilot's license and was shot at once by bandits!
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5 Comments on “Healing Hands – How My Housekeeper Massaged Me Back to Health

  1. Good and nice fun article hehehe. made me smile on certain instance.. 🙂 But really good experience. When I was in my college days, I used to make my friend step on my back, and for quite bit of nap, he would walk over my back finding out joints and giving twists, and wow so relaxing it would be 🙂 You made me remember those days.

  2. Massage is so integral here in India. 🙂 The whole massage thing starts at birth — both newborn babies and their mothers are given massages over the course of many weeks to aid their health. It’s quite remarkable. All the things we’re missing out on in the west! Glad you got cured!

  3. I totally agree with @Sharell…. Massage is regularly used in India for the promotion of general health and fitness as well as in treating minor health problems. The usual massage method is similar in some ways to the western method. The Ayurveda system, moreover, has a wide range of special massage methods which are used to treat particular illnesses. In India, common, traditional massage is usually employed based on ancient experience. And It is a huge part of our Indian culture…. When I was small kid, My grandma & Mum use to give me plenty of oil massages & Castor oil bath(s) And Now that I’m a ‘grown up kid’ 😛 – I don’t have time for those things 🙁 …. It’s sucks to be a grown up (sometimes)… 😉

  4. Its really difficult to live with chronic back problems, so yaay for Patima Mary. (Do you think its maybe Fatima Mary – Fatima being a common Catholic name as well, and maybe she (and possibly her parents) mispronounce it? )

    I dont know if you practice Yoga, but after consulting with both a doc and a yoga teacher, you might be able to create a routine of yogasanas to keep your spine both flexible and strong. I made up a routine for myself and it works for me, so I hope you will research the yoga option as well.

    My family seems to have lost the Indian tradition of massages, and I’m always so scared to let a stranger give me a massage, cos I cant tell the quacks from the really good ones. Glad P(F)atima turned out to be a Pro.

  5. This was such a cute post! 😀 I’ve been missing out on a lot of them.. 🙁
    It’s true about massage being something that we just do. If anyone in the family has a backache or even if they’re simply tired, it’s pretty common to give them a massage. And like Ahmed said, it was common for my grandmom to give me an ‘oil massage’ every few weeks when I was a kid. Now they just scold me for not taking care of myself. 😛
    Although I must admit, the idea of you spending 2 whole days on the floor is more than just a little scary. Thank God for P(F)atima.. 🙂 🙂

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