Archives for posts with tag: lymphatic drainage

Well that didn’t take too long did it?  Massage therapy clinics have received clearance to reopen by the NSW government.

This information was released a week and a half ago but I have been waiting to see if there were further changes before reopening. I have now received numerous communications from both of my Associations confirming this news.

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I will formally reopen my doors on Monday 4th May 2020.  I will, however, reduce the number of available appointments so that I can maintain distancing requirements and have enough time between clients to sanitise appropriately.  I will be wearing a mask during treatment and will be continuing my strict hand-washing techniques and have hand sanitiser in the reception area for clients to use on arrival.  As always, if you have been away in the last two weeks or have been unwell, please do not come in.

I am offering online appointments for those who are continuing self-isolation until the Government lifts restrictions.

If you do not see a time that suits you please let me know as I will have the flexibility to move things around.  Or you can contact me directly to make a booking.

If you already have an appointment booked in for the coming weeks and would like to cancel or reschedule for a later date then I’m more than happy to do that.  It is important that everyone feels comfortable.

I look forward to reconnecting with you.
P.S.
The clinic has had a bit of a make-over while I’ve been on hiatus – I’m excited to share it with you!

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Online bookings: http://lisahiggins.cliniko.com/bookings

Website: http://lisahiggins.ntpages.com.au

 

In about February of this year, in the middle of Sydney summer, my hands started to swell. And I mean, seriously swell.  Both of them.  To the point where you couldn’t see the ligaments or veins, just puffiness.  In fact, I had gained 2kg almost overnight (I know, that doesn’t sound like much but for me it is).

Initially they weren’t painful, just uncomfortable.  Then the pain set in and I was finding it hard to make it through the day at work. I tried some self-lymphatic drainage and lymph taping without making much of a change to the swelling or pain.

So I looked to diet and went on a three-week reset protocol to reduce inflammation – no gluten, dairy, caffeine or sugar.  Been there, done that, got on with it. Within about three days my levels of pain started to come down a bit but not significantly.  (I dropped those 2 kilos within a month.)

Checked in with my osteopath who felt perhaps it was an auto-immune condition as it was affecting both hands and came on suddenly, though my right hand was worse.  Went to my GP who ran a battery of tests and five pages of results showed everything was within normal range.  Yay!  I’m so very healthy (especially after my reset protocol).  So what’s the problem? My GP couldn’t say.

Weeks went by without much change other that the burning pain which had started in my hands at night, keeping me awake at night.  In frustration, one Sunday afternoon, I went to my local medical centre and the GP there instantly suggested Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. By that stage it seemed the only logical explanation to me and I was hoping to get a referral to have it confirmed.  Let me tell you, a nerve conduction test is not for the faint-hearted, but it confirmed that I had moderate Carpal Tunnel in my right hand and mild in the left.  The neurologist’s recommendation?  Try splints at night for a few months, if it doesn’t settle come back and he can do an injection and if that doesn’t work then he’d look at surgery.

As a massage therapist you can understand how surgery just wasn’t an option. So I went to the chemist and got myself a couple of off-the-shelf splints and started wearing those at night.  By that stage I had already passed the few Remedial Massage clients I had left on to another therapist as I just didn’t have the flexibility or strength to do it any more. But I was still ok with doing lymphatic drainage thank goodness.

Months have passed and I have thrown everything at these hands of mine and I can say that I am at about 80% capability now.  My pain is negligible.

Here are some of the things I can do now that I couldn’t do without pain (or at all) four months ago …

  • open doors using a key
  • carry a handled bag with my actual hand
  • open both hands fully
  • open plastic containers (like the ones you get olives in)
  • put coin change into my purse
  • change gears and pull up/put down the handbrake
  • shake hands
  • hold onto a glass without having to be careful
  • take a pan off the stove
  • chop pumpkin/sweet potato/anything hard at all

Still to improve …

  • strength
  • making a fist
  • using a knife to eat (still using a serrated one)
  • opening jars
  • squeezing lemons for my evening tea

Here are my favourite tools to help me with those things at home …

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Here’s a list of the things I’ve done to bring about my healing …

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My home therapy kit

  • hand physiotherapist
  • custom-made splint
  • gliding, sponge, stretching, flexing, extending exercises
  • massage
  • rice therapy
  • crystal therapy
  • sound therapy
  • natural anti-inflammatories
  • anti-inflammatory creams/oils
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My work therapy kit

If you’ve made to this point, thank you for reading on.  The point of the blog is to show that sometimes healing takes a lot of work and we have to be willing to try lots of different things and different types of therapists.  And very often, we have to do a lot of the work ourselves, looking at the uncomfortable thought or emotional patterns behind the condition.

True healing comes with a marriage of mainstream medicine and complementary therapies.

For more information go to http://lisahiggins.ntpages.com.au

I’m just back from a week in Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia having attended the 2016 Asia Pacific Lymphology Conference.  I’ve made a very short video giving a few highlights for you to view  here.  I’ll be working on a few blog posts over the coming weeks to talk about what I learnt at the Conference.  I’m still processing all the information – my brain hurts!

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I had a request after my last video for one that dealt with legs post cancer surgery, so here it is. Feel free to ask any questions if you need clarification. And if you would like to see videos on any other topics I’m open to suggestion.

http://www.lisahiggins.ntpages.com.au

People are often surprised when I tell them that the number one function of the Lymphatic System is to transport immune cells around the body.  Basically, your lymphatic system IS your immune system.  And yet if you go to the doctor because you are constantly getting sick you could be offered a script for antibiotics because they “may” help, but if you ask them about getting a Lymphatic Drainage treatment their response generally goes along the lines of … “well, it can’t hurt you I guess”.   You can’t blame the doctors though, my lecturer (Neil Piller, himself a Doctor and lecturer in medicine) says that GPs have one class on the lymphatic system in all of their training.  That’s one class, not one semester – four hours.  I have no words for this.  It makes my blood boil.  Apparently it’s exactly the same for nutrition – one class.  OK, I’m going to move on because I get really riled up thinking about that.

So, what does it mean to say the lymphatic system transports immune cells?  Immune cells are stored in lymph nodes for the most part, though there are also some circulating immune cells that do exactly that – circulate around the body looking for infection.  Lymph nodes can also be referred to as “glands” and that’s probably how you are most familiar with them – your can sometimes feel your glands come up when you are sick, particularly in illnesses like glandular fever (or Mono if you’re from the US) or tonsillitis.  You go to the doctor and he has a feel in your neck, under your armpits or in the groin area to see if the nodes are “up” (these are some of the areas where there are large collections of nodes).  And this is a normal thing to happen when your body is fighting infection – the body is signalled to produce more antibodies so the nodes kick into action to make them (getting bigger in the process) and then circulate them through the body to the site of the infection, via you guessed it – the lymphatic system.

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Photo courtesy http://www.humanvitaminhealth.com on google images

What can happen is that with the winter weather our lymphatic systems can become sluggish and inefficient.  That can be due to lots of different things e.g. cold temperatures or exercising less.  When this happens the immune cells circulating around the body aren’t cleared out and replaced with new ones as efficiently as they should be, so the body is slower to respond to an attack of a virus and we succumb to illness.

A regular maintenance session of lymphatic drainage massage helps to stimulate the immune system, increasing circulation and moving out the old immune cells and replacing them with freshly produced immune cells which are more effective at fighting off the viruses.  Immune cells circulating in the lymphatic system can target a pathogen and transport it to the nearest lymph nodes where that cell is neutralised and then the waste material is transported through the heart and kidneys then excreted out of the body.  It’s a very efficient system when it is fully functioning.

I suggest that people who want to keep on top of their immune systems have a regular Lymphatic Drainage massage.  If you are generally healthy and are looking to maintain that health, then I suggest a session at the change of season, so once every three months.  If your immune system is more compromised, then I’d aim for once a month, at least during the colder months when we can all be a little more run down.

If you’d like more information on ways to build your immune system using lymphatic drainage please send me a message or visit my website here.

I was reminded the other day that I do actually do other forms of massage, not just Lymphatic Drainage.  I mean, of course I knew that, but a colleague sent me a message to ask if I did “normal massage” because she’d been reading my blog and it all seemed pretty specialised and she wanted to buy a gift certificate for someone for a relaxing massage.  Could I do that?

Yes!  Of course.  But somehow it’s much more exciting talking about the dramatic results with Lymphatic Drainage.  That’s not to say that I haven’t achieved some beautiful results while giving a “normal massage”.

Here is a beautiful comment that one of my clients, a naturopath, posted on her own business Facebook page …

“I just have to give a plug because this woman is the BIZ for massage. It takes a lot for me to rate someone in the massage stakes but after a particularly stressful time, I relinquished and made an appointment after about a year since last seeing her. Nothing short of spectacular in energy, flow, technique and physical genius. Lisa Higgins, Massage and Lymphatic Drainage in Brookvale. Do it.”

For me, it’s very much listening to what the client wants when they walk through the door.  We discuss how they would like to feel at the end of the session so I can tailor the massage to their particular needs at that time.  And I do have regulars who come in and say, “well, today I think I need something that’s going to energise me” or “I really need to relax and let go of some stress” or “I’ve had some intense workouts this week, you’ll need to get your elbows out”.  Each day is different.

It’s quite funny when I’ve had someone who’s only experienced me with Lymphatic Drainage then they ask for a Remedial Massage because they have some pain and could I really work the area.  It can be a real shock when I do “work the area”, it’s nothing like the gentle Lymphatic Drainage they are used to, but it’s effective.  Of course, I am sensitive to their needs and don’t apply more pressure than they can cope with (I check in regularly to see if they need more or less).

I’m also sensitive to having the right music playing in the background while I’m working as that can enhance a massage tremendously and I have a wide selection available so that I can chop and change between clients.

And I let the client lead in the talking.  For some people a massage is all about zoning out and relaxing and that means shutting the eyes and not talking.  Others talk the whole way through.  Or start off at a pace then after some time the words just trail off into silence.  If someone talks to me I always answer but I never initiate a conversation.  For me it’s all about creating the best environment for you to relax in.

So do I do “normal massage” – absolutely!

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Visit my website here for more information on all the therapies I offer.

I often ask my clients to write guest posts for the blog and most of the time they say, “you do it”.  This week however, I’m posting for one of my clients, Cathy.  Cathy has a real “can do” attitude, she does all she can to help keep her lymphoedema under control and she’s on a mission to spread awareness wherever she goes.  Here’s a short recount of her story …

 

The lump is early Breast Cancer!

On the table are all the cards – fright, fear (and some anger – why me!), surgery, with removal of 23 lymph nodes, chemotherapy drugs, radiation treatment and more importantly, expected cure.

Good news – I’ll be better next year!

That was the plan and yes I did it all.  Lymphoedema from the surgery was the most unpleasant surprise and it was there by the time my drain came out.  All my care givers were most reassuring and early physiotherapy started.  After six months I was attending a “lymph clinic” and measured for compression garments – ugly things but good for control!  A few lessons for self drainage techniques, my swollen and uncomfortable arm became a daily focus, there must be more I can do!

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Compression sleeve and gauntlet photo courtesy Google Images, http://www.justcallushealthsolutions.ca

Google remedial massage – and I found Lisa Higgins – my lifesaver in so many ways.

Regular professional massage treatments have controlled my discomfort, mobilised my lymph flow and with her encouragement and happy outlook I feel good.  The compression garments continue, swimming and exercise do help.

Happiness is my friend,  Cathy

 

Visit my website here for more information

Somehow the word itself gives me the heebie-jeebies.  Hmm, does that say something about me?  No comment.

I seem to have a few ladies who are at that special time of their lives … you know the one … too little sleep and too many hot flushes.

Not many people realise that lymphatic drainage can help ease some menopausal symptoms.  Lymph fluid is made up of many different components – immune cells, waste matter, fatty acids and hormones (to name a few) so when you stimulate your lymphatic system you are making sure that everything is working optimally, including the circulation of your hormones.

T came to see me a few weeks ago.  She was recommended by a mutual friend who had a few sessions and found it beneficial on many levels (better sleep, felt lighter, skin looked amazing).  T had come through menopause but was still suffering from night sweats and waking three or four times every night and had the sweats happening throughout the day too.  Sleepytime tea helped a bit but not enough.  She was exercising lots and eating healthily.

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Image courtesy google images

We started the session with her face down so I could clear the nape of her neck, back and particularly the buttocks area.  Then she turned over and I cleared her neck fully, her abdomen superficially and her face (best way to end a treatment, very relaxing).  She floated off the table.

She came in the following week and sat down exclaiming “oh my God”, I felt like I was in an episode of “Friends”.  Secretly I was thinking … oh my God good or oh my god bad?  She said that about once a year she gets a fantastic night’s sleep and it’s heaven.  After the treatment she had three great nights’ sleep!  She was almost jumping off the chair.  I cheekily asked if she’d like the same again … duh!

She came in for her fifth session this week and said that after each session she gets two or three good nights’ sleep and the following nights she still wakes two or three times.  But during the day now she’s only having one flush and when it happens she has to ask herself if it’s because she’s cooking or doing some sort of heat producing activity.

I think lymphatic drainage has become part of her life now.

This post was orginally going to be written by my very tolerant friend, A.  She’s been my test dummy since I originally started my massage study back in 2004 – she had a lumpectomy a few years before and had developed lymphoedema as a result.  She’d get on my table and let me practice all my lymphatic techniques on her (and her husband donated his body to my remedial massage practice – man they were great friends).

A. has been coming to see me over the years to help her keep her lymphoedema under control.  Sometimes regularly, sometimes not.  Life has this habit of jumping in the way of best intentions.  She was going to write this post, but again, life has jumped in and the time has slipped away, so I offered to write it from her feedback.

When I got my laser a few months ago, A. was one of the first on my table as guinea pig.  We were amazed at how well she responded, there was significant softening of the fibrosis at the top of her forarm and her skin felt soft for the first time in ages.

After the third week of my Vodder course I persuaded A. to let me again use her body in the pursuit of my studies and she duly rocked up on a Sunday afternoon and let me run wild with her.

I explained that the most significant difference in the treatment protocol was the treatment of fibrosis.  I would normally go in a bit firmer with her fibrosis but really kept in mind the idea that lymphatic drainage should always be gentle.  But with Vodder, “aggressive” is the word they use in relation to fibrosis.  Can you believe it?  I still have bruises on my leg from where the lecturer demonstrated the fibrosis treatment on me – on someone without an issue it’s really painful, for someone with an issue, it feels normal.  Ouch.

So, I watched with anticipation as I started giving her the “aggressive” treatment.  Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped.  Luckily she trusts me.  At the end of the session she had a feel of her forarm and couldn’t believe how much it had reduced and how great it felt.

Then, because she is so lovely, she let me bandage her.  She’s never had bandaging done before, nor does she want it again, so she’s going to be very regular with her treatments from now on to avoid the possibility of ever having to undergo it.   Here’s her beautiful arm …

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A’s beautifully bandaged arm

I spoke with A. on the following Wednesday.  She said that she actually felt sort of bruised on Monday and Tuesday but that on Wednesday it felt normal again, but that the arm was still soft and feeling great.  Normally she says that she’s ready to rip her compression sleeve off by about 8pm, but she was able to leave it on until bedtime.  And normally within a couple days she starts to feel congested again, but not this time.

She came in for a follow up after ten days.  Progress report – her eczema on her hand was playing up, she had a paper cut (man do those hurt!) and a torn “quick” on one of her nails, all on the affected side.  Normally that would mean big swelling and heaviness.  While the arm wasn’t as good as the week before, it really wasn’t that bad, considering all the things that had gone on during the week.

We did another treatment and towards the end my comment to her was “your arm’s squidgy”.  She looked at me like I was a little deranged.  Maybe I am?  She sat up at the end of the treatment and investigated her arm … “you’re right, it is squidgy, and I have wrinkles”.  Her sleeve just slid on.  She had the cheesiest grin on her face – love it.

UPDATE 28/8/13

So, had third treatment today and at the end she was so amazed she said we should have taken a video of the treatment.  Well, too late for that, but we could take a video of her enjoying her soft arm – her favourite spot is the indent that she now has in her elbow, she hasn’t seen that for a long, long time.  The video’s a bit dark, but that reflects the subdued ambience of my treatment room – it’s all about comfort!

This is new territory for me  – I’ve just created my first youtube video!  Here’s the very supple movement of her arm …

http://youtu.be/u3so183HeMs

Gee, those aren’t exactly the words you want to hear when you ask a client how they felt after their last treatment.  “It felt really weird”.  Hmm.  Let’s backtrack a bit.

“A” came in for her first treatment in May.  She’d had a lumpectomy in 2012 and eight weeks of radiation.  She’d had some nodes taken but they were all clear.  She’d noticed swelling in her breast right after surgery but had enough on her plate and didn’t give it much thought.  It hadn’t gone down and had got a little worse.  She goes to the same cancer support group I go to and I had given her my business card a while back and she decided to give me a go.

When she came in, she had some pain and stiffness in the shoulder on the side of the surgery that was impacting on her exercise routine so I did some Emmett Technique quickly to release that then went on to the lymphatic work, clearing pathways away from the affected side and showing her how to clear her own nodes and tissue as well.  At the end of the session her shoulder felt better but she seemed a little skeptical about any difference in the fluid in her breast.  We booked her in for two weeks later.

Two weeks later she came and said that her shoulder still felt better but that the breast didn’t feel any different.  We did some more Emmett, but to both shoulders this time so that she would feel more balanced, then went on to the lymphatic drainage.  This time, while I was working, I felt like we had achieved good clearance and she said it felt pretty good.

 

She came for her next appointment and that’s when she greeted me with “it felt really weird”.  Luckily she followed that up with … “I woke the morning following the treatment and felt my breast and it felt really weird … there was no fluid … it was just breast!  And it felt like just breast for a full week and when it started to get fluidy again I got my husband to clear it away from the breast like you showed me.”  I had to smile, I think her husband clearing her breast is good on so many different levels, not just to move the fluid along but also to empower him to be part of her recovery, not to mention a bit of intimacy.  I think she’s a convert!