Peri-operative Massage: Physician, Heal Thyself

“Stress kills.”

We’ve all heard it so many times that, anymore, we really don’t hear it. But I can help with that if you give me a minute. See, there’s not one, but two people inside of us (some folks, way more!).

One of the two is driven to run through our health budget like a teenager with Mom & Dad’s credit cards. The other lives only to pay off those cards: to remain solvent –and healthy.

These are the “Autonomic Twins.” The first is named the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The second is the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS).

Under SNS dominance, we are in what we experience as our “fight or flight” mode of being. It’s what empowers us to temporary superhuman strength and oblivion to pain.

In the extreme, this condition exists to ensure our survival …or die trying. But living in unabated sympathetic dominance -pretty much our way of life these days- leads to the compromise and demise of many vital organs: Think strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, immune deficiency, etc. (three or four “et ceteras” would be unseemly, but not an overstatement).

This is why we hear that stress and its offspring, fear and anxiety, kill: They can and do. So, if whatever stresses us doesn’t kill us, our response to it can finish the job! But….

With our PNS running the show, legions of cells and an array of metabolic processes hop to the business of fixing all the damage, rebuilding & restoring us, and letting us feel things like safety and love. Can we control it? True believers rail on either side of the Autonomic Nervous System argument. But believe this: It’s like you’ve got two guard dogs inside – YOU decide which to unleash.

I see a hand in the back of the room…? Oh, yes: about pre-operative massage!

Consider how our “guard dogs” view an upcoming surgery: Strangers dressed against the mess in overalls, hats, masks, and gloves; menacing machines and lights, tubes and wires, needles and knives; and the first order of business is to paralyze us via a partial death!!!

This is not the time to tell your SNS “fight or flee” dog to heel. Too late. He’s already crashing about inside, already causing damage to tissues and organs and systems you‘re going to be counting on for recovery!

It IS the time to have your PNS cuddle-pup nuzzling your hip, calmly watching everything and faithfully reminding you with those big brown eyes that everything’s OK.

Here’s where, again, I come to the question of “Why Massage” (please see previous column for more).

A long, slow, soothing massage via trustworthy hands, atop a comfortable bed, swathed in warm linens, with soft lighting and music and the occasional reminder, “Let it go; Just breathe,” is the gold standard procedure for bringing body and mind into Parasympathetic Dominance.

We cannot serve two masters; we cannot walk both dogs.

Massage is an elegant and dependable trigger of the profound physiological and emotional relaxation response. And THIS is the way to enter the operative suite or clinic:

Ready to Heal.

Paul Royer RN LMT can be seen in Akron at 1101 W Portage Trail Ext (rear offices at Coach Campana’s) … and at Paul’s home office 10 minutes south of Montrose, just off S.R. 21 outside of Doylestown. He may be reached by:

Phone 330.608.0490


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