North Shore Massage and Bodywork by Milica 
 
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Personal testimony: how I started human remodeling massage therapy

copyright 2007-2008 by Milica Barjaktarovic

 

Once upon a time, when I was young and foolish, and in excellent shape, I went on a 10 mile uphill/downhill hike in tight shoes.  The shoe cut into my foot. I was so foolish and did not think of just taking off the shoe and walking barefoot, or stuffing the shoe with something. I just hobbled back home for 5 miles.... I came home and was fine! In the next 3 days, I went dancing, and I was still fine. The next day, I ran on the beach, and the pain begun. 

Well... The pain got worse and I was hobbling around. What to do?

I had similar pains years ago and at that time took X-rays, MRI scans, went for several months to physical therapy, saw several chiropractors, and none of it worked. The orthopedic surgeon had NO clue what was wrong. The "best" physical therapy had no clue. I was in very very terrible pain for 6 months back then, could barely walk and it was very painful. Finally it healed after I quit the physical therapy, rested for several weeks, saw a competent lomilomi therapist, and then started walking a lot. His treatment, the exercise and the proper movement healed it. At that time, I knew only shiatsu and did not specialize in injuries. I worked on myself but had no help.

Since then, I learned a lot more, and worked on a lot of injuries, and was very well aware of the healing potential of massage. So, this time, I could tell there was nothing broken and that it was something about connective tissue that needed help. I had some money to spend. So, let's try bodywork. 

The competent lomilomi therapist who helped me before moved away to help his family. Who else to try? A knowledgeable specialist. They cost money, but. Important: at that time, I did not think of myself as one of those. Sure, I had been helping people with all kinds of injuries. But at that time it didn't occur to me to help myself.

I paid big bucks and went to a rolfer, thinking he will fix it. Rolfers know a lot about connective tissue. However, they have a canned 10-hour program and really are not trained to deal with injuries, which I didn't know back then. The rolfer took my money and proceeded to do rolfing AS IF I had no injuries. Of course, since I was hobbling, all the rolfing had no effect. It was $100 per hour.... When I asked him to fix the problem before anything else, he explained it away. Since I was a "demanding" customer, he treated me like dirt, and unfortunately, since I was too unwell and too ...naive and lazy to look for another practitioner, thinking I will just endure it and it will somehow get resolved, it continued for almost 2 months. Finally, I got smart, realized that the therapist did not care ONE bit for me, stopped going, and almost turned him in. 

This was already a month or two of hobbling. I was in so much pain I was delirious. My life was extremely busy and I went to work and all that, in pain, looking for someone to fix my problem so that I can continue working.

A lomilomi therapist recommended soaking my foot in hot water with salt. Sure, that helped to relax it some, but didn't solve it. In any case, it helped to get rid of the most acute pain, and I could *think* again. So I quickly set to find someone good, called everyone I knew, called the main directories, got some names.

First I went to a chiropractor that a very good "authority" recommended as his friend. The chiropractor was trying to be helpful, but he was not on the same page. I doubt he knew how to fix the foot, because he said that the problem is in the pelvis but started from my neck and neck is always the last one to work on. So, he tricked me and forcefully cranked my neck without telling me he would, and I just froze in terror as he yanked. I was in AGONY. It was extremely painful. He had no idea how to put it back... I could not move... I had to explain to him how to help me stretch so that I could move some. He didn't ask me to pay him. The only thing I paid is $35 parking ticket, because the meter expired... I did not turn him in. 

So I was in terrible pain and very scared. I have never experienced an injury like this. I called chiro referral, they had no idea - told me to ice it and rest... Yeah, sure. 

I went to a (recommended) chiropractor just to check if everything is ok. He took my head and pressed his fingers into my neck and it hurt like hell.... He has no good touch. I was wondering how the heck he works on people with such bad touch?? This guy had a big office too. Can't anyone tell?

2 days later, I went to a (recommended and supposedly even famous) lomilomi therapist. I instantly did not like him, which certainly did not help the situation. He was sick and looking sick, and smoking like a chimney. The treatment room was not exactly clean. I did not like that. He took my neck, and without asking me, yanked it. It hurt like hell!!! I complained. He luckily had enough knowledge to put it back and it stopped hurting. He would not take the responsibility for yanking it and blamed it on me. I was appalled. Unfortunately, he was cheap and I was stupid to fall for it, and I went again later. I called him and said he can work on me but not on the neck. Wow, what a mistake. He gave me to his students without asking me, raised the price 30%, etc. It was an amazing case of disrespect. He told me to see a naturopath for some other health issues I had, which was a good idea.

The naturopath saw me for 1 hr and took $100 and told me everything I already knew. She also had a rolfer there, a fresh graduate, and I paid another $125 and this rolfer totally maimed my foot. The treatment was so painful as she went too forcefully and I was almost screaming. She stretched EVERYTHING - and that was the problem, as I learned later - some tissue needs to be stretched and some needs to be tightened. You cannot just blindly stretch everything.

I went to a very experienced and well known rolfer. She was very encouraging and made me realize I needed to stop listening to other "authorities" and listen to my own body first. And, her treatment was rather gentle and worked instantly. I was walking fine and my neck was fine! But only for 1 day. The foot klunked back in pain. Obviously, something was not quite holding up. I went again, the same thing. This rolfer was $125 per hour, so I decided to fix other things first.

I went to a local Buddhist temple and asked the priest to say a prayer for me. I was desperate and needed help on this mission impossible. I needed the right state of mind. The priest sat me down for some tea and cookies and talked to me like a father would. He said that in times of chaos we need to carefully observe, without any judgment, without any criticism and condemnation of anyone, including ourselves, and learn from our mistakes. To take the time to appreciate the lessons. And to move on. Then he made me chant loudly, stating that I am sorry for my mistakes, ready for help and that I will do my part to fix it. 

Also, by this time I became very curious as to how the whole healing thing worked. Plus, my adventures were helpful, teaching me various modalities and what they are good for and what they are not good for, and also exposing me to various professionals and their work strategies. Also, I begun to understand what my clients were going through. 

I talked with my healer friend who lives far away and he said it is a simple thing, just push the heel bones up. Well, nobody local knew how to do that. 

Then follows a long suite of so called "healers" and bodyworkers. They all missed it. Each one of them provided a little tiny piece of information and no relief from the pain.

I went to a spiritual practitioner who specializes in driving away bad spirits. That was interesting, and it certainly worked as a great psychotherapy session, to help me see different parts of me. He tried to convince me there was nothing physical with the foot since nobody could help me; thus he would be the only one to help me, and for some big bucks. He tried selling me his classes, etc. Wow. What if  the whole thing is because the practitioners I went to did not have enough knowledge to fix it? Especially since his treatment did not provide any lasting relief. 

One chiropractor adjusted my tail bone, which was an old injury. Adjusting it helped A LOT - with headaches :). He also yanked something in my head and foot, and scolded me and threw me out of his office when I said it hurt and he should stop. He was yelling at me for "telling him what to do" and that "he knows better." He yelled that he smelled trouble and would not even allowed me to make an appointment with him. I insisted that it was my body and if it doesn't feel right, I want him to stop immediately. His wife tried to sell me some fancy expensive supplements. The therapist who referred me did not even want to hear about her little darling friend being so nasty. 

One lomilomi therapist worked on my foot for a whole hour, which made it feel better and gave me a clue to work on the sole, and he totally missed that the bone was off - because he didn't use his hands but a tool. He also did massage my whole body and I was so relaxed and happy, for a day.

Another lomilomi therapist said that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my foot, it was just emotional stuff because my emotional issues were xyz. She was right about xyz, it was helpful to hear that. My foot and neck still hurt though.  

A "medical intuitive" chiropractor charged me $300 for some Chinese herbs and energetic clearing of pesticides and very very lame barely touching my body. She did say that the adjustment will not hold... of course it would not. She has no hands. It was all make-believe fluff stuff. Con job.

Another lomilomi therapist worked on me and that was helpful to relax me, but he had no clue about how to deal with injuries. He helped me deal with my ex-boyfriend, though.

An auyrvedic doctor gave me some herbs and told me that they can be of some help until I get ready to deal with certain emotional patterns, as only that will provide for true and lasting healing of some other health issues I had.

By this time I had no money anymore, and my insurance covered chiropractic for $15, so I went there. 

One decently competent chiropractor adjusted my neck and it made it feel better, for a day. He had no idea what to do with the foot. I asked him to adjust my pelvis, which helped (I found that by doing hip circles myself). I (and he) had no idea WHY it was helping. It was psoas, of course. He referred me to his friend who deals with soft tissue.

That chiropractor had really bad touch, his adjustments were terrible, and I was cringing. He did work on the soft tissue and that helped a little and gave me some ideas as to what to work on. He said I needed to buy some insoles from him, for "mere" $300, I think. One good thing is that he had his chiropractor father, who was visiting, sit me down for a fatherly talk and tell me how to go about life. That was very encouraging and sobering. 

As far as modern medicine, one famous orthopedic doctor who advertises for helping with sports injuries looked at my foot and said that it doesn't hurt enough for him to be able to diagnose it. He told me to cross-fiber the injury, which is the exact thing that hurts it more. How do I know? Because one of the massage therapists did that, and it hurt for 2 weeks. Later I learned that cross-frictioning is one of the most misused old school therapies and actually produces inflammation.

An osteopath who specializes in sports injuries and is even an official help to a major athletic organization told me he could not do anything for me, he only adjusts the spine, and he could just write me a prescription for an X-ray. Plus, I had to wait in his office for about 1.5 hrs to be seen, which, I was told, is typical. I said fine, I feel very very sorry for the athletes you are taking care of! 

By that time, it was obvious that most of those "professionals" had no clue and were not true healers, but just asleep people like anyone else and could not help anything real. But they made a living at it! So obviously there was a market. What are people paying money for? It didn't seem that people were getting positive results.... 

And I was. So, maybe it was time to take the matter in my own hands and be my own healer.

This was in July, and I was injured in December of PREVIOUS year. Don't ask me why for so long I waited for them to fix. me. It came in stages - at first I was totally expecting "them" to "fix"  me. Later I was looking for a competent practitioner and not working on it myself much. I would call it childish illusions and laziness and lack of confidence. In any case, I finally started to WAKE UP and started taking care of me.

I phoned back the osteopath and asked him to write me a prescription for an X-ray. We had to fight about it because I insisted it had to include the foot, not only ankle. 

The X-ray had one funny spot. How do we read the thing? Another (recommended) orthopedic doctor who looked at the X-ray said that everything was fine. She said to wear insoles. I asked her about the funny look around the toe bones, and she said it was just arthritis. She barely touched my foot to examine it. 

I touched my foot and felt one bone off. It was sticking out. The bone was totally out of place and I was walking on it... No wonder it hurt to step. So, I worked on that bone, and it went back a little. Finally I found one chiropractor who knew how to put it back, and she did. That helped a lot to reduce the discomfort.

She didn't fix the whole thing, though. The foot felt better but then it went back with a big CLUNK! and a lot of pain. Obviously, something else was holding the bones and the chiropractor didn't have the tools to deal with it. 

I went to another chiropractor who made it feel better, but not healed. He really didn't know why or what was happening, he just tried to make things balanced. And there was no homework for me. By this time, I was wise enough to know that:

It ain't getting any better unless 

1. the connective tissue is worked out. Which one?

2. I do something at home. What?

I also found a chiropractor who finally was able to put words to the issue and talk about what can be wrong. He was the only one with enough medical knowledge and anatomy to even talk about it. When he mentioned the diagnosis, which involved muscles, I looked it up and found out what to do, and did it. It helped.

I also attended James Waslaski's orthopedic massage class and got a few more tips and some stretches to try. Knowing what could work, I tried some techniques and stretches, and it worked. I went over his book over and over again, using more and more techniques and stretches, reading more and more fine print, and applying it to myself. I got better. 

Meanwhile, I saw zillions of clients with foot and neck injuries, pelvic issues, low back tightness, knee issues, and I was very much able to help them. I understood. And, working on my own body taught me a lot about muscles and where to look and how it all feels. In short, I had practice and experience, first hand. 

Also, what I gained through the whole experience is confidence in my own abilities. Helping people with injuries and pain is a lot like detective work. First you have to find out what to work on. Then, you have to have the skill to actually help. Good wishes and kindness and "good hands" are not enough, there has to be some real technical knowledge. Then, you have to have intuition and really follow the trail. And I can do that! I have a Gift. Being able to remodel people. That is a Gift from God and that's why I am here. 

 

In summary: at the end, it was me who found what was wrong and "fixed" it. Some things I had to outsource to other professionals to fix, because I didn't know how (e.g. putting a toe bone back) and/or I could not physically reach it myself. Some things I fixed myself, like the foot pain and a lot of the neck pain. 

Overall, nothing happened until I opened the anatomy book and looked carefully at each muscle, cross referenced other massage texts, and used all my knowledge and wits to help myself. I did the self massage, stretching, relaxation, all that. 

One major breakthrough point was when I looked at the anatomy book in sheer marvel of human body, and realized how I took my own body for granted. That was deep remorse, apologies, forgiveness, and moving on. 

In short, I started taking care of myself, valuing myself, appreciating myself. That's how healing happened and pain went away, on many levels. 

 

So, if you think you have a problem that you want resolved, then ask for help, AND do whatever you can to help yourself. After all, we live with ourselves for 24/7. What we do every day is what determines our life. A bodywork session here and there is a great tool and a wonderful help, and it is not enough. Clients have to do their homework. 

Homework can be fun! I prescribe hula aerobics my clients. Get out into your living room and shake your hips with some music!

 

I hope you find the massage therapist that is just right for you and receive the care you need. I would be happy to answer any additional questions. Check out my blog and essays on http://HumanRemodeling.com.   

Milica Barjaktarovic L.M.T. #8348 

Holistic practitioner on North Shore, Haleiwa and Waialua area, Oahu, Haleiwa, Hawaii