I am employed by a pretty progressive company that lets me work remotely when I need to, has an active office where employees can sign up to use treadmill desks, and invites a massage therapist on-site twice each month, among other nice perks.
Several months ago, I signed up for a massage appointment, but had to cancel at the last minute because I was sick. I decided that today I would get a massage no matter what. First, because I have heard that massage is helpful for some people with firbromyalgia, but also because I wanted to spoil myself a little bit—tomorrow is my 35th birthday!
Sadly, I think it was a waste of money. I am apparently not one of the people whom it helps.
I sat in the massage chair, and the first words out of the therapist’s mouth were, “Oh my goodness, your muscles are tight.”
I sighed and explained to her that I had fibromyalgia.
“Oh, okay,” she said. “That would explain why they don’t feel normal.” She had a few other regulars at her office who had also been diagnosed with it, and told me to let her know if I experienced any pinching or pressure.
I asked her if there was something different she had noticed about fibro patients’ muscles. “Not exactly. The muscles are tense, but there’s also something about the skin. It’s tight too, and just doesn’t move in the same way.” We chatted a little about the dehydrating effects of some medicines and wondered if that could have something to do with it.
The massage itself wasn’t bad, and nothing she did was painful in the moment. But it didn’t feel as great as I had hoped.
For starters, I could not relax in the massage chair. I’d try to force one part of me to relax, and some other part would tense up. That’s nothing new, I can’t even relax in my own bed. And it’s not because of any identifiable mental stressor; it’s just how I am. All. The. Time. At the end of what is supposed to be a refreshing night’s sleep, I wake up to find my neck and shoulders so tight they’re drawn up all the way to my ears. I can’t turn my head far enough to see while I’m shaving under my arms. I “rest” with my jaw clenched. When I sit on the couch, I feel every muscle in my legs contracted. In fact, I don’t know if there’s a single muscle in my body that is ever entirely relaxed, even for a few minutes. I don’t really recall what it feels like to have warm, loose muscles. Even after walking or riding my FitDesk, I’m a knotted up mess.
As I said, the massage itself wasn’t bad. But, here’s the really sad part: I believe it sent me into a flare. Thirty minutes later, at home, I was craving comfort food, feeling low, and becoming more and more exhausted—like I’d been smacked with the flu. The tension in my neck and shoulders was back with a vengeance, and my over all pain rating went from about a 2 to a 7. As the evening wears on, I’m having trouble scooting myself from the living room to the bathroom.
So, safe bet I won’t be doing the massage thing again. I think my already over-stimulated nerves were completely wigged out by all that touch. Everything registers as pain.