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November 20, 2008

Wound Care

I never thought it would be for me. I get queasy at the sight of blood and I'm terrified of hurting someone who is already in pain. One of the reasons I became a massage therapist was to help ease people's suffering.

But I realized that even as a massage therapist, some of the things I would have to do to help people may be perceived as uncomfortable or even painful to them. I would talk to them about a new technique that might be uncomfortable before I started. I put them in control of what they could tolerate by teaching them the pain scale: "Rank your discomfort from 1 to 10. One is no pain, 10 being unbearable. Five 'hurts so good.' If it's more than you can tolerate, I'll stop."

Other cues I would give my clients would be to breathe through the discomfort and try to relax. I reassured them that their discomfort would be temporary. If they could tolerate it, they would feel better when the muscle released its tension. Regular clients learned they could take me at my word; that I would stop when they said to; that a little discomfort in the short-term would give them more pain relief in the long-term.

So what about wound care? First, I've learned that many of my patients acquire wounds because they lack sensation in the area in the first place. Second, necrotic tissue is not living tissue -- it feels no pain. Third, wounds that are well cared for and kept moist heal faster. Seeing a wound heal is a very gratifying experience.

So, now that I don't pass out at the sight of a wound, and while unpleasant, the smell of a dressing doesn't make me nauseous, maybe wound care is the way to go. I still have two more years of school and clinical experience before I have to decide what kind of physical therapy I want to do. But wound care is no longer a big, scary, Christmas-gone-very-wrong kind of surprise under the wrapping of a dressing.

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Posted by linda at November 20, 2008 2:31 PM

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