I guess I should begin by saying that I am a closet devotee. Conveniently, I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and I have a client who uses a wheelchair due to a disease called Friedriech’s Ataxia. For the sake of client/therapist confidentiality, I’ll call him James. His mother had an appointment with me and told me about him during her massage. She asked if I would be willing to bring my massage table to his apartment and work on his neck and back. She explained to me the extent of his physical disability. She told me that I would have to help him transfer from his wheelchair to the massage table. I figured it wouldn’t be a problem for me as long as someone explained how to do it properly first. So, I told his mom to have him give me a call if he wanted to set up an appointment. I was secretly hoping he would call soon so that I could meet him. His mother told me over and over again how handsome he is and how his morning aides are always flirting with him. I thought to myself, “Self, you gotta take this client!”
Well, three days after his mom’s appointment with me, I got a phone call on my cell. I was a little surprised by the voice on the other end of the line. Due to his disease, his speech is very slurred and a little hard to understand over the phone. I knew it was him after hearing him speak because his mother had told me before that I may have trouble understanding him over the phone. After we set up a time and day for his appointment, I hung up the phone and bolted down the steps to my computer. I was bound and determined to learn everything I possibly could about Friedreich’s Ataxia before our first appointment. I guess I should also mention that I’m a little bit of an “over achiever.” I am an excellent massage therapist. I have a degree in Neuromuscular Therapy and lots and lots of different certificates from various weekend learning workshops. I love my job and having the opportunity to work on someone with a rare, neuromuscular disease is a new challenge for me. I was excited!
On the internet, I searched medical information sites, personal websites, and then I came upon a couple of sites about sex and disabilities. I decided not to go to the sex sites just yet. I mean, I hadn’t even met the guy yet! I did, however, find some helpful information about the benefits and contraindications that massage therapy has on a person with his form of Ataxia. Luckily, as it turns out the benefits outweigh the bad stuff by a mile!
The day of his massage, I packed up my table and threw it in the back of my truck. I stuffed a duffel bag with all of my massage essentials. I made sure to set my massage table on its lowest setting to make it easier for him to transfer onto it from his wheelchair. I also made sure to pack an extra pillow for him because I read on the internet that people with FA often have difficulty swallowing. I figured that if I propped him up with a pillow a little, it would make it easier for him to keep his airways open. I did a double check in the truck to be sure I remembered to bring all the necessities. Satisfied that everything was there, I went to his apartment.
I knocked on the door to his apartment just as the sun was setting. I smiled to myself about how beautiful it was and how nice it would be to share it with someone. I came back to reality when I heard a voice yell from inside, “Come in!” I had butterflies in the pit of my stomach as I opened the door. I was surprised to see a man lying on the couch in the living room. I tossed all of my bulky equipment into a corner of the living room and said, “Hi, I’m Sarah, I hope you’re James.” He smiled at me and I plopped down on the floor and sat cross-legged. I wanted to be able to introduce ourselves properly by looking into each others eyes.
“Yeah, I just happen to be James.” He said in a sleepy voice. “It’s nice to meet you, Sarah.”
I had gotten there a few minutes early in order for me to help him fill out his new client form for my office records. I asked the questions and he gave me the answers and I wrote them down. We made a good team and filled it all out in like 5 minutes.
“Okay, James.” I said as I stood up and put his file back into my bag. “Are you ready to get started with the massage treatment?”
“Can you help me get ready for the massage?” He asked.
I made him laugh when used my best Superwoman voice and said, “Sure, you just tell me what to do and we’ll get you ready and relaxed on that massage table in no time!”
He told me what to do to help him get into his wheelchair from the couch. This turned out to be a little more difficult than I’d expected. I took the blanket off of him to make the transfer a little easier on us both. I thought I had hurt him in some way because all of a sudden, his body jerked and it looked like his whole body was in a painful spasm. He must have noticed the distress on my face because he smiled at me and assured me that spasms are normal for him. I hooked his arm with mine and pulled him up into a seated position. I helped him swing his legs so they were touching the floor. I couldn’t help but to stare at his legs. They were stuck out straight from spasms. I massaged them for a second to break the spasm and bend them down so he could use them to help me lift him into his chair.
“Okay, now what do I need to do to help you?”
“Unlock the brakes on my chair and then roll it over here next to the couch.”
After fumbling a little with the brakes, I figured them out and rolled his chair closer to him.
“Stand there in front of me and put your arms around me like you’re giving me a hug. After that, you just lift and try to get my butt on the seat of the chair.”
The whole process took a little while, but I got the hang of it. I put the foot rest things back on there for him and strapped his feet in to keep them from flying off the rests. He asked me to buckle his chest strap so he doesn’t fly out of the chair.
I decided that since his living room was spacious, I could set the table up in there and have plenty of room to move around. I started getting my things out of the bag and I unfolded my table in the center of the room. James sat and talked to me while I was getting everything set up. We really had a lot of stuff in common. We found out that we enjoy the same music, books, food, movies, all sorts of stuff. I had been completely set up for like thirty minutes when we realized that I had already been there for an hour and had yet to begin the massage.
He looked at the clock and his face turned bright red. I didn’t know what he was embarrassed about because I was having a really good time and certainly didn’t mind the delay.
“It’s almost eight o’clock, Sarah. We don’t have time to do the massage. My night care attendant will be here to help me get ready for bed. I’m really sorry, I should have hurried us along.”
I didn’t know what to say. I really wanted to keep talking to him. He was so damn sexy!
“Well, can I stay until she leaves and then give you the massage? I don’t mind. I’m having a really good time hanging out with you.”
“Okay, that sounds good. Are you sure you don’t mind waiting a little bit?”
The smile on his face at that moment made something sparkle in his bright blue eyes that sent a chill down my spine. It was beautiful.
“Of course I don’t mind!”
His care attendant opened the door without knocking and was a little surprised to see me sitting in the living room watching TV with her patient. James introduced me to Ellen, his care attendant. She shook my hand and then looked at James.
“James, let’s get this show on the road.”
All of a sudden, I felt kind of awkward. I realized that the reason she was there was to care for his personal needs.
“Are you sure you want me here?” I asked him in a tone that sounded a little embarrassed.
I guess he answered my question by telling Ellen to go on home because he wanted me to help him get ready for bed that night.
Ellen smiled at me and walked out the door.
He asked me to get him a drink of water and when I got back with the water, he put his arm around my waist and pulled me to him and kissed me. It was a nice kiss. It was a magical kiss.
To be continued...