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Yep, you read that right, my massage therapist. I have learned incredible lessons about my body, my self, my psyche, and even my faith as I have processed much with Sassy-girl (name changed to protect the innocent) over the past nearly seven years.

My daughter Morgan and me - taken in 2007.

Seven years ago this spring, Morgan rushed me to the emergency room in the early morning hours. The radiating, excruciating pain I had been having most of that night was not easing up, and I could not take it anymore. Now first you must know that I am not a good patient. I do not like hospitals and rarely stayed even 24 hours after the births of any of my six kids – typically it was more like 4 – 6 hours after when we were heading home.

So after arriving in the ER, going through multiple tests and medications, I wasn’t hurting nearly so badly, and I had had enough. I wanted to go home. The ER doctor that I started with and went through most of the day with at our local hospital was not the one for giving out information, so I did not see any reason why I should have to stay longer. Shift change. New doctor. And after hearing my complaints and requests to leave, he asked me if I knew why they were keeping me. No, I didn’t have a clue. He proceeded to inform me that my symptoms were classic for women’s cardiac arrest – the kind of heart attack that frequently results in women just dropping dead because they ignore the symptoms and don’t get help soon enough.

Ahhh, now when put to me in those terms, I had to rethink my complaints about being held against my will. All I needed was the right information and the issue of compliance changed perspective instantly. The decision was made to admit me for observation overnight and further tests. Turned out to be one of those – oh, I-see-why-now moments. The next morning one of my favorite doctors turns out to be on call. I think she is a genius. She looked at my chart, asked a few questions, listened to my descriptions of what was going on – and nails the diagnosis immediately. One test to confirm her hunch and we find out that I have Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. And the episode of the night pain had been triggered by me being unprepared for a sudden cold wind and a long night at the ball field with my kids. Who would have expected it?

That is how my lessons with Sassy-girl started. A few appointments with physical therapy and massage therapy were prescribed. I got exercises to be continued at home from the physical therapist. But a few months after I started with Sassy-girl, what turned out to be a life-altering car accident transformed my relationship with Sassy-girl from beyond seeking a talented professional to also include trusted friend and timely advisor. She has been with me through major life happenings and often helps me keep things in perspective and reminds me there are always alternative ways of looking at and dealing with the issues of life. And, she’s still at it. Thank you, Sassy-girl.

When you want to ignore something icky that is going on – whether it is pain, or frustration, or someone else – press in, don’t run away. I will be sharing more in the days to come.