I am not an expert on bipolar disorder... I just live with it. This is my blog of hope and encouragement.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tropical relief

Having recently returned from a Caribbean cruise, I am all about relaxation therapy and the Spa. While on the Carnival Legend,I indulged in several "treatments," all of which were geared toward relieving my sciatica and fibromyalgia pain. There were massages and sea weed wraps to help remove toxins, dead sea salt scrubs, and acupuncture. I even had little grape seeds bandaided to my ear for pressure point therapy.

On the first day at sea I arrived for my massage at 8:00 with a little assistance from a deck hand...I still wasn't sure where I was on the boat. I was greeted cheerfully by the attendant and directed to the glassed in lounging area to drink lemon water and fill out an extensive questionnaire about my overall health...chronic ailments, pains, medications, lifestyle,... I was soon approached by Lillian (I think that was her name), a tiny thing with perfect skin and delicate features. She led me to a treatment room that was softly lit with ambient light from the deck through gauzy white drapes. Typical of Carnival cruises, the decor and linens were rather ornate but the bedding was luxuriously soft. Lillian and I sat for a while while we discussed my health condition. She was going to focus on my back and hips. She left me to undress and climb on board the massage table...which was tricky with the rocking of the boat and the restriction in my left hip.

Lillian returned to the room just as I was dozing off face down on the bed. She quietly and gently began the massage with wonderfully warm aromatic oil. This little bit of a thing was strong. She eventually focused on some stubborn knots in my upper back and deep inside my shoulder blades. This was no longer a calming relaxing experience but I knew I would feel so much better when it was over...which I did. In all fairness, she often asked if the pressure was too great and I repeatedly said no.

Alas, my time was up all too soon. After I dressed Lillian brought me lemon water and I sipped as we discussed a therapy plan which included some diet changes (no sugar or artificial sweeteners) and an herbal soak. (I'm a sucker for spa stuff.)

On Wednesday, I had an acupuncture session which was not my favorite treatment. It actually hurt a little bit. It may have done me some good but did not endear me to do it again. The worst was the pin between my toes. She even warned me with a "deep breath!" She applied grape seeds embedded in tiny bandaids in my ears to press to relieve the pain in my hip. Well, truth be told, pinching seeds into my ear did make me forget the pain in my hip.
We finished up with a discussion of diet (get more ginger and tumeric) and herbs (Chinese herbs formulated for back and knees). More lovely spa products to take home and extend the experience.

On Friday of the cruise, I spent 45 minutes in the whirlpool hot tub. I would have tried the sauna or the steam room but I was already weak from the pool. More lemon water and then a long bask in the sun had me ready for the regular salt water pool...cool and lovely. Later that afternoon, I returned to the spa for a pedicure. Rhonda had given my daughter, Sarah, a pedicure earlier in the week and so we were on good terms from the get go. She loved Sarah and we enjoyed sharing stories.

My feet were a little rough and needed lots of work. However, I was still able to enjoy the experience. Again the filtered ambient light was soothing and the aromatic salts and lotions relaxed me. After buffing and scrubbing the history off of my feet, Rhonda very carefully painted my now baby soft tootsies and helped me into my flipflops. More lemon water and I was on my way with some frangipani oil for my soles and tea tree oil for Sarah. I also learned the benefits of daily brushing the skin in the direction toward the heart. This stimulates the lymphatic system...supposedly. It sure has my skin in better shape.

Saturday was the best of all...the sea weed soak. Same type of treatment room...lovely lighting and ornate decor...but this time I was instructed to lay on shiny silver sheeting reminding me of lunar landings. For the life of me I can't recall which came first, the massage or the wrap...but there was a shower involved. It was all so luscious and relaxing...little did I know that it was all intended to get rid of toxins. After I dressed, Emily and I discussed my situation...again...and I was encouraged to indulge in more spa products...this time a detoxifying soak to be used twice a week.

I'm home now and using my products religiously and luxuriously...all wrapped in my Carnival Cruise Lines bathrobe. I must say my skin is in better shape than it has been in years and my feet remain baby soft. I wish there were a better way to test the effectiveness of the detoxifying soaks and Chinese herbs. It's difficult to determine if fibromyalgia is 'better' or not...it fluctuates so. My sciatica is not as bad but is still there. I'm sure these things take time...and repeated treatments.

All in all, my treatments in the tropics were wonderful and memorable. All I need to do is open the elegant little dispenser of frangipani oil and I am transported to the lounge chair beneath the date palm trees on Maya Key. Yeah, mahn.

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