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A Compelling Conversation During Massage

By Brandon Ellis, LMT

Since I have been a massage therapist, many clients have shared their lives and stories with me. I lend an open ear and heart to my clients, no matter what it is they would like to discuss. I keep everything I hear confidential, except for one story, and it is finally by her permission, that I am allowed to tell it. I feel it would be a disservice to the people of Portland and outlying areas if I did not write this compelling story, but it is up to you to decide for yourself.

Debbie had been in a chronic state of pain for many years when I first started to massage her. Her original injuries occurred when she dove, head first, into a hidden rock in a river. She was found floating face down in the water. Since that diving accident, she has also survived a number of car wrecks which have added to her injuries, but it was while she was floating face down in the river that she experienced what is known as a Near Death Experience. (That's when someone dies, leaves their body, has an experience, and then returns back to an injured body). Sometimes she'll share with me what she learned during her experience. She's an amazing woman and her stories are always fascinating. This is one such story:

"Hola!" said Debbie, as she opened the front door. Her dog ran out to greet me, but mostly to sniff my feet. It used to be that he would bark at me, but I figured her dog had finally become bored with it.

"Hey," I said as I lugged my 50 pound massage table up her porch steps and through the entry way of her house.

"How are you doing?" I asked, as I put the table down and unzipped its carry case.

She started to rub her neck like she always does when I come over. "I've been feeling nauseous this morning. I don't feel like I have the flu, though. I know I don't."

"Huh," I said as I pondered why she might be feeling nausea, going through a list of muscles in my mind. "It might be your scalenes," I said, as I unfolded the table to set up in her living room. I slid my fingers down the side of my neck to just above the collar bone to show her where the scalenes were located. "Let's start with your scalenes to see if that takes away some of the nausea. It might be your sternal cleido mastoid muscles as well. We'll see."

"I'm also getting the sharp stabbing pain again," she said, as she pointed to her seventh rib on her right side.

"Okay, just a sec," I said. She sat on the massage table and I started to massage around that rib. "Put your arm up like this," I demonstrated the arm posture by putting my arm straight out to my side and then bending it at the elbow, making a right angle. She did the same as I placed my index finger and middle finger on her seventh rib. "Okay, resist." I pushed her arm down to her side as she slowly resisted the movement. At the same time, I gently pushed on her rib as it slid back into place.

"Is that better?" I asked.

"Much better," she said.

I pointed to the table and told her to lie down on her back. "I'm going to massage your scalenes now." Along with a nausea feeling, a tight scalene muscle can do many other things to the body. It can create pain in the chest, upper back, down the arm to the elbow and to the fingers. Debbie had had numbness and tingling in her fingers for a long time until we started to work on her scalenes, which has greatly reduced the sensations.

As I lightly massaged her scalene, she told me her nausea was starting to go away a little. "But every time I think of what happened at the house I showed Robert, I get the nausea back," she said. I then knew the nausea wasn't because of any muscular imbalance.

"What happened at the house?" I asked as I massaged her neck just above her right collar bone.

"I was standing in the bedroom of this house that I was showing him. We were looking through the window to the view of the high school buildings and sports field, when all of a sudden my feet began to tremble! It felt like the floor was bouncing and my body began to sway from my feet to my knees to my torso, working its way all the way to the top of my head — I felt like a slinky toy! And while this was happening, I felt a horrible nausea swelling from behind my stomach, which also worked its way up my body to my head."

"Wow," I said as I finished her scalenes. I then went to her left foot. It has been swollen for years. "Did Robert actually see what just happened to you?"

Debbie laughed for a moment and continued, "When the trembling stopped, I stood a moment and said to Robert, "Did you feel that?" Robert looked at my face and instantly left the room. He looked blank, as if he didn't know what I was talking about. I looked out the window again, across at the high school building and sports fields and another horrible wave of nausea swept through me. I blurted out, we just had an earthquake! I didn't know if he heard me or not, so I went out into the living room where I found him. I said, 'Did you not feel that?' He said, 'No, what?' I was shocked that he hadn't been shaken by the earthquake, too, and repeated that it felt like we'd just had an earthquake. He looked at me and commented that he didn't feel anything. So, we let it pass and continued to look at the remainder of the house."

I stretched her left foot to get some circulation and better movement as she continued, "We looked at the family room, kitchen and garage, then came back into the living room where he said he liked the place and how could we make an offer. That's when I described to him what had just happened with me and that I was still really nauseated. He looked up attentively and I said, 'Robert, I will sell you this house, but I will always be watching the news to see if Robert's house blew up or fell into a hole, and then I laughed."

"Are you serious?" I asked as I moved onto a muscle on her inner thigh called the adductor longus. I figured a few minutes on the trigger points in that muscle would ease up or eliminate some groin pain she had had for a couple of days. "What did he say?"

"He sort of looked at me," and Debbie's eyes widened as she put her arms in the air and made a 'whoa' sound, mimicking Robert, as she continued, "He said, 'okay — we won't buy this one.'"

I placed my right index finger and middle finger on Debbie's stomach just laterally and below her belly button on the left side of her body, "Lift your leg." As she did so, the psoas muscle contracted against my fingers to let me know I was on the muscle. "Did you end up showing him more houses?"

"Yes," she said, as I pushed a little more on the psoas to release the tension in her low back. "The next time out, we found a house he really liked and it fit all the criteria he was looking for and it was a lot nicer than the other one. We both agreed that it was almost as though 'it was meant to be' and we were both very glad I'd gotten goofy on the first one. It was an icky house compared to the one he bought and they were both priced about the same." I started to jostle her leg back and forth to contract and relax the psoas which allows the muscle to ease up more quickly as she continued, "He loves the home and I feel it has excellent drainage so if the flooding occurs he'll be fine. It has a wonderful garden area so he can feed his family no matter what happens around him and he feels that his new home is in a safe place." (As it turned out, Robert was later referred to me by Debbie because of a painful limp he'd developed after a pin had been placed in his femur (upper leg). In the first massage session, Robert verified everything that Debbie had said).

I went to the left side of her body and pushed down on the psoas to balance her pelvis out a little more, which also eliminated the stabbing pain in her hip. It also alleviated much of her lower back pain. I have found the psoas to be one of the most important muscles to work on in rehabilitating any chronic and acute injury, even if the injury is in the neck since 'it's all connected'. Then I said, "I forget exactly, but what were you told during your death experience… that you'd be selling real estate and guiding people around?"

"I was told that I'd eventually get a real estate license and sell real estate. When it got closer to the time of the earth changes, I would help people sell their homes and I would guide them to houses in safer places."

"So, you can look on a map and know what regions are safe and which regions aren't?" I asked.

"Yes and no," she said. "Yes, I can look on a map, but it's mainly what I was told in my death experience. I can look at the topography of the land as well. And then there's the information I obtained when I took the earth sciences courses in college, which helps out with the general understanding of how it all ties together."

Even though we'd had similar conversations about this on several other occasions, I still looked at her in amazement. "In any event, what I do is, well, let's take Robert for example," she went on. "He wanted a specific high school because his kids were already attending that school, he needed a specific price range, he needed so many bedrooms and so many bathrooms, he needed a large lot because he wanted a garden and with that criterion I did a search." I finished with her psoas and told her to flip over as she continued to explain, "I showed him the houses that I felt to be in the safe areas, but one house showed up across the street from the high school that I knew would be destroyed. I didn't want to show him that house. And that was the house where I felt like I was in the middle of the earthquake."

Then she commented, "The only problem is that I still have nausea every time I think about it, and especially when I visualize the view of the high school and sports field!" She laughed, but looked as though she was still struggling with the nausea. I was sorry I couldn't alleviate it for her.

I went back to her swollen ankle. I gently massaged a deep calf muscle called the tibialis posterior and a muscle on the outer side of the lower leg called the peronius longus. Both muscles are known to reduce swollen ankles when the trigger points in those muscles are released. I pressed with both of my index fingers on the muscles and asked if they were tender. They were. Then I asked, "Where exactly are these earth changes in Portland that you're talking about?"

Debbie lifted her face out of the face cradle and slowly shook her head no, "I don't want to interfere with property values and I don't want you to put that in any of your articles. It isn't fair to the homeowners. I don't want to jeopardize any property values."

"Oh," I responded. I moved on to her right piriformis and lateral rotators that are located just below her gluteus muscles to reverse the external rotation in her right leg. "Well, can you tell me what the earth changes are?"

She put her face back into the face cradle and said, "Yes, in part, because I worry about saying these things while being a professional real estate broker. It's not like I broadcast this to all my clients and colleagues." She breathed deeply as she said, "But, it always amazes me that Portlanders and most people that I talk to aren't aware of Portland having any fault lines at all, much less dormant volcanoes. When I took the classes in volcanology, geology, and oceanography, I always wondered why I was taking these weird classes. I was drawn to them and loved them. I got A's in them. This is before I died, when I was only 19 or 20 years old. The classes, of course, emphasized the Pacific Northwest geology, which I've nicknamed 'volcanoeland'."

I grabbed her right ankle and lifted her lower leg off the table, making it a 90 degree angle from her upper leg. "Okay, I'm going to pull your leg out towards me and I want you to resist when I tell you to resist." I pressed on her piriformis and moved her lower leg toward me until I felt it catch. I said, "Resist," which she did for ten seconds until I told her to relax. We repeated the process two more times to reduce the tightness in that muscle.

"So," I said. "What types of earth changes are going to happen?"

"One of the main thoroughfares in Portland was built along a main fault line. My eldest brother will be on the farm when he's killed in a particularly large quake where the ground will shift, causing the underground aquifer to drain off. Clean drinking water is going to be a problem. And I don't think I want to say any more about earth changes because of the reasons I stated before," she said as she smiled at me sweetly.

She then summed up by saying, "What I do is show people homes in areas that I either know or feel to be safe."

I went to Debbie's right SI joint to perform a myofascial release. As I did, I remembered a conversation we once had about Mount St. Helens and thought it would be appropriate to ask her about it.

"Back in the 80's, I was working downtown in a law office," she replied. "I was on the 8th floor with a clear view of Mount St. Helens. Occasionally I would look at it because when I took the volcanology class, I knew that if it blew this way, we could be in a terrible situation. I think the entire city had an underlying current of anxiety. It wasn't very pleasant back then, waiting for it to explode. I knew that historically, the pyroclastic blasts kill more people than the lava flows. That wasn't generally realized until recent years since the lava flows follow the pyroclastic blasts. The archeological evidence, such as Pompeii, show people along the coast encased in lava. The bodies are incinerated, so everyone for years, just assumed that it was the lava that had killed them. So when Mount St. Helen blew on the opposite side, I was extremely relieved."

She lifted her head and thought a moment, "With Mount St. Helen, it's very interesting that it already has blown. It's like a pressure valve. It releases pressure from the earth. I think if Mount St. Helen hadn't blown, we probably would have already been experiencing earthquakes and possibly live volcanoes."

I finished with her SI joint and walked around the table to the other side of her body to balance her out as I asked, "Is the fault line running through Portland well known?"

"It's been so long since I took the classes, I can't remember if the geologists know about it or not," she said as I worked just below her gluteus muscles on her lateral rotators. "Not all fault lines are known. The scientists know about the ones of record, but there are a lot more out there yet to be discovered. We always seem to think our scientists "know everything", but time tells us otherwise. When I died, I was told about it and definitely hold that as fact."

"Oh," I said, as I told her to resist as I moved her lower left leg to release the tension in her left piriformis. "Were you told of any other realtors that could find houses in safe areas for their clients?"

"I was told there would be one other person. I know who she is. I have never talked to her about it. I don't know if she is fully aware that she is doing it. I know when I first met her, she wasn't fully aware of this. Now she may be. She's also been a realtor for many years in Portland. Both of us are very seasoned realtors and are very qualified to do this work. She is a very personable and a heads-up realtor."

I noticed that the left side of Debbie's pelvis was being pulled up by her lower back muscles. I knew it was a muscle called the quadrates lumborum, or QL for short, which was pulling up her pelvis. The QL, when the trigger points in the muscle are released, helps get rid of the "short leg syndrome". When Debbie's left leg is slightly shorter than her right leg, a simple QL release lengthens both legs equally.

I placed my thumb just under her lower left rib and slowly pushed in towards her spine, "Is that tender there?"

"It's tight," she answered. "In any event," she continued, "I have spent since 1985 learning the Portland real estate market from Mt. Hood to the coast. I have lived and sold all over town. When I started out in real estate as a rookie, we were advised to pick a specific area and work a specific neighborhood to gain market recognition. But, when you work with buyers a lot, you aren't limited to specific neighborhoods. A buyer's price range will dictate where they'll end up living more than any other factor. But, I've taken a lot of flak from my peers for working all of Portland and the outlying areas. I kind of earned the nickname of "I'll sell anywhere, Debbie", but I do know Portland extremely well because of it. My clients would call and say that I have a house in such and such a place and I would crunch the comps and go over there and list it. My feeling was that the clients dictated where I would sell."

I moved my thumb to the second trigger point on her QL. "Other realtors don't do that?" I asked.

She slightly jerked from the pressure of my thumb, so I backed off my pressure a bit while she explained, "Most realtors will pick an area and develop name recognition in that area. I must admit," she said. "I didn't develop a high profile in any specific area. So, economically, it cost me to do this, but on the other hand, saving lives is much more important than being rich."

I put some oil on my hands and slowly glided my hands up her back for about five minutes. I then wondered how other people might be able to feel earthquakes or natural disasters before they happened and asked what she thought.

She took a deep breath, exhaling as she said, "Just knowing that its possible helps to activate people. It isn't just 'special people'. Everybody can sense with varying degrees, but I was wondering why am I doing this now and why is it getting stronger? I think it's enhanced by whatever I put or don't put in my mouth, and exercise. Our bodies are walking antennas, particularly our brains. We all have auric fields. During the death experience, it was explained that our bodies are like lightning rods…like tuning forks. Our bodies and our brains are tuned in to the earth." Debbie sighed and said, "The all American diet clogs up the system and blocks our senses. It deadens us. Once you change your diet, give your body what it needs, and clear all of your junk, then of course you become more sensitive, and of course you become more tuned into the life all around us. The result is inevitable. Most Americans aren't ready to do that, so cancer and chronic ill health are prevalent."

I went over to Debbie's other side and again put oil on my hands and glided up her back as she continued to talk, "Once you get off the junk food and start eating raw foods, and especially raw organic vegetables, it converts your system from an acidic base into an alkaline based system. Since I dramatically changed my diet, I don't get sick anymore and that's wonderful. I'm very happy with that. If the price is that I deal with some earthquakes and have a few visions, then I'm fine with that."


About Brandon Ellis

Brandon Ellis, LMT #12645 has been a massage therapist for several years and an energy healer since his late teens, more than ten years ago. He lives in Portland, Oregon and can be reached at ellismassage@gmail.com.