Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rotations: Day Two

There's no question about it, I'm definitely enjoying this rotation. For one thing, as a friend reminded me yesterday, the techniques tend to come back once we start using them. I think muscle memory plays a role here, the hands remembering things the mind thinks it's forgotten. An understanding supervisor makes a tremendous difference, her ability to recall what it's like being in shoes similar to mine drives away the tension. Forgiving patients who tolerate my fumbling efforts and offer thanks when leaving, make me think there's hope for me yet.

Something I'm noticing more and more is how common some types of dysfunction tend to be. One patient has a rotated pelvic bone and then another and another after that. In lab we see this sort of thing in isolation from daily life. They're exercises rather than the lived experience of someone in pain. And for the most part, a rotated pelvis isn't the primary consideration, but addressing it enables a person to walk with less stress and strain, placing fewer demands on the rest of the body to compensate. When my supervisor tells me to examine and treat what I find and then returns later to check my work and responds with a pleased, "Mm," it's gratifying to say the least.

I've mentioned at least a few thousand times before that I'm a psychiatric guy. I see patients with physical problems and can't help but look at their facial expressions and listen for the energy or the lack of it in their voice and speech patterns. How does pain affect a person in ways we can't see? And how do these signs change as treatment progresses? I love the friendly banter my supervisor engages in with patients and encourages from me. It's a chance to loosen tight muscles by drawing personality into the mix.

The beauty of working in an established practice is you get to work with patients who aren't new to OMM. They're accustomed to having relative strangers touch them in really quite intimate ways and I marvel at their trust. I'm grateful for this, especially, because it helps me think of myself as a medical clinician, doing the best I can to help them feel better, while learning as I go. Their willingness to allow my unfamiliar fingers to probe and manipulate is turning each day into one marked by self-discovery, by the process of finding the healer within me that I have so frequently admired and sought to emulate within others. I don't know how they do it but I'm very glad they do.

(Creative Commons image entitled "M is for Muscle Memory" by stuant63 via Flickr)
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