After suffering a Stroke, Laurie tries complementary health to improve his physical, social and emotional wellbeing and get back to a fulfilling life – read his story
Laurie found Pathways Trust through our partnership with Mind in Tower Hamlets. Let’s hear how he got on with Pathways’ treatments!
T: Can you tell me a bit about your experience of your course of treatments?
L: I always found reflexology very beneficial and very helpful, especially when you’ve got mobility issues. He [Andrew] massages my back and the tightness around my right shoulder and neck, that affords some gentle release of my muscles tightened up by my MS.
I asked him [Andrew] if he could do a foot massage and he said well, I do reflexology. In conjunction with Andrew we have come to things that are going to support, nourish and uplift my body strength and my mind, and I continue with Andrew’s treatments now.
T: So the reflexology that you’ve been having that’s been the most helpful, has it?
L: Oh Absolutely! My dear friend – God bless her, she’s passed now, she always used to massage my feet and I hers, to have a gentle relief, bringing some energy and vitality, especially for a disabled person who puts more force on their walking gait.
T: Have you noticed a change in your sense of your mental wellbeing from before you started seeing Andrew, up to now?
L: When I used to Volunteer at St Joseph’s Hospice, before my stroke, when I used to come into the ward, I used to display a gentle touch on the hand, gentle touch on the shoulder – connection. Then a smile and a ‘how are you?’ and you listen, and a cuppa tea and a biscuit – I saw how that individual sitting head down, opened up and when I left them we were smiling at each other. When you’ve had a stroke like I – in a wheelchair for four months, then because of Covid I’ve been in the house, virtually for a year, no one was touching me apart from the carer, so therefore I lost who I was as an individual and my interaction with others but through the treatments and the hands-on, that has restored my feeling a bit more. When Andrew first put hands on me, you know because of the stroke I lost feelings in certain parts of my body so I couldn’t really feel it – I felt pressure but I didn’t feel touch. I don’t know if that makes sense but after a while, now I’ve got much more, well I wouldn’t say 100% definitely not, but I’ve got more sensation in my skin now down one side.
T: Do you think that’s from feeling the touch – starting to feel it more and more each time and that ability building up?
L: Absolutely, well I think I may have had 5 or 6 treatments and the first ones they were, well they weren’t really good for me at first I mean I’d never had it before but he said let’s explore and you’re the patient – you know your own body. So the reflexology I’ve had twice, the reflexology and the back massage. He does cupping and that’s very good, he’s a very good therapist, he’s a nice man and I get on well with him. I think it’s very important that when you have a therapist and someone’s touching your body that you have to feel comfortable with them.
T: I agree, so you said the effect was a small gradual, gentle change..
L: there was a slight restoration into my skin and muscles sensation, but only slight but I am thinking now that I’ve found a routine that I’m comfortable with and it is having a gentle …what I call baby steps so I am going to continue with that for another 6 treatments and see how it all develops. I want that routine that I’ve established now with Andrew. I want the back massage with the muscles around my shoulder and neck that I’ve lost the feeling on my right side and definitely the reflexology. He massages my calf, that’s where I struggle with my mobilisation. He just gently rotates my ankle and that’s something I haven’t been able to do manually, and that’s helped me vastly. Now when I‘m at home I do that gentle rotation by myself and that has been encouraged greatly by the rotation in reflexology by Andrew. I walk with a bit more confidence because I can put my foot down and feel comforted because the reflexology or the foot massage has released a lot of tension in my foot. When you are disabled and you can’t feel everything you tend to put your foot down a bit more heavily or awkwardly than the other foot.
T: That sounds great! So it’s helped with walking around..
L: Oh very much so, yeah
T: Do you think any other areas of life have benefitted?
L: It gives me a discipline, forces me to get up and about, whereas on that day I would normally be indoors still.
T: So that’s the effect of coming out to Pathways regularly?
L: Oh absolutely, yeah it helps me emotionally because on that day my mind is conditioned to the fact that I am going to get treatment that is going to be beneficial to me, so therefore I get a bit of a mental stimulus.
T: Like uplifted?
L: Yeah absolutely, that’s the word.
T: It sounds like you’ve really found what works for you?
L: Oh yeah I really have
T: Would you like to finish with sharing highlights and lowlights?
L: I am very pleased to have been introduced to Pathways, I had not heard of it before Mind brought it to my attention. The venue is acceptable, the quality of treatment from Andrew is first class. The venue, I’m gently comfortable with, it’s nothing outstanding – I’d like a little gentle music playing in the backdrop.
T: In terms of the effect, has it improved mostly the Stroke or your mental health?
L: Oh definitely both. It made me feel more comfortable. Also the added contact makes me feel real again, with hands-on. When I come away – well not literally a spring in my step, but I feel more energised.
T: Oh that’s great that it has an energising effect…
L: Yeah! I’ve always been a tactile person, I’ve always been accustomed to shaking hands or hugging someone, but when you’ve been denied all this you start to wonder, who am I? You start to lose a bit of your self confidence. Now I am getting a connection with Andrew massaging my back, feet and legs. I feel it’s amazing, the body cries out for touch and attention. If it’s not given we can slip into a very apathetic and – lose who you are.
T: I totally agree I think physical touch is crucial for our survival. Thank you so much for your time, it’s been so great to talk to you!