My spa-rometer

Starting about 15 years back, professional spa treatments and I became fast friends. That was before lupus had set in, and in those days, the spa treatments always came in the form of massages. I didn't have them often, most of them coming once or twice a year as a reward for a job well done from my company or an appreciative client, but when I did, they were a welcomed treat.

Once lupus arrived on the scene, however, massages had to take a back seat - the pain and inflammation in my joints were too much to handle on their own, and there was no way I was going to pay someone to rattle those joints even more. So, just like most things when it comes to lupus, I made a change. Instead of a massage, I opted for a facial, or sometimes a manicure/pedicure, although I usually skipped the massage part of those services, too, as my jaw and hands/feet were some of my sorest joints. But as long as the service required as little jostling and prodding (and as little movement on my part) as possible, it was relaxing and enjoyable.

Later, as my health improved, I slowly worked back up to full service facials and mani/pedi's - including the massage part. It was a sign that my body was healing...and even though I only had them once in awhile, I relished in the fact that life was very slowly returning to normal.

The next step on my spa-rometer was to try an exfoliation body treatment...acknowledging that even though I might not be ready for a full-body massage yet, the idea of being exfoliated from head to toe with the equivalent of granulated lotion sounded right up my alley. And you know what? It was! (For those of you who like your back scratched, I think exfoliation treatments might be for you, too.) I loved being scratched all over - it was so relaxing and it felt great. And my skinned glowed for days afterward. And given the fact that my joints felt good enough to enjoy the treatment was cause for celebration. Healing was continuing, and my choice of spa treatments was a telltale sign.

And the most recent benchmark that I've reached on my spa-rometer? The massage! That's right - I've worked my way back to a full-body massage - having no pain, soreness, or inflammation in sight - paving the way for an enjoyable and pain-free massage. I still only have them as a special treat...but my annual massage came just a few weeks ago, and it felt just as good as it did pre-lupus. You wouldn't ever know this body was chronic-illness ridden - and aside from my bony looking fingers - I don't think the massage therapists would guess it, either. (Of course, I ALWAYS disclose the fact that I do have lupus - it's very important to clue them in to what's going on medically/physically.)

Already looking forward to next year's treat - although I may even try to fit in another treatment later this year. Why not do a little living well, despite lupus, eh?


HealingWell said…
Great post! I love the spa... could spend days there. Like you, massage can cause havoc with my joints, so I have to pick and choose when to pamper myself.
Sara Gorman said…
Choosing wisely at the spa isn't such a bad deal, right? :)

Thanks for stopping by.
Jami said…
I am the opposite. I go in for massage every 2-3 weeks to keep things moving. My muscles get so stiff and tight that I can't function without regular rub-downs. The woman who does mine is amazing, and works very well with how much pressure I do or don't need at that moment. I don't do it for pampering... It hurts every time. I call it my regular oil change. Just something I have to do regularly to stay healthy!

Funny how people with the "same" ailments have to treat it so differently! (Not that anything about lupus is the same person to person!)
Sara Gorman said…
It is nutty, isn't it? Lupus and its manifestations present themselves so differently in each of us, but the end result is the same - the accommodations, the adjustments, the strategies, along with the commitment (and resolve) to living well, despite it.

Keep up the positivity and thanks for sharing!
Amy said…
Sara - I enjoyed reading this post. I am under the care of a rheumatologist who is treating me for "a suspected autoimmune disorder". She mentioned something about me having bony fingers - I hardly have any meat on them. I am curious - is this a sign of Lupus? Also, are you familiar with the facial rash? I seem to get the butterfly-shaped rash, but only when I'm in the sun. It doesn't hang around long. Just curious.

Thank you!

Eva said…
Hi! I am waiting to see a rheumatologist, but my doc & I are thinking that I have lupus. I went in this past weekend for a massage. It felt great while I was having it done. About an hour later my skin felt "hot", almost like sunburn but my skin was not red, and a have been in pain since then (about 48 hours). I feel like some one took a bat to me. Is this what you felt?
Hearts 4 India said…
I am new to trying to understand the ailments of lupus. My neighbor has it pretty bad. My question is, would a heated pool or sauna feel good or be advised for treatment or for relief?
Sara Gorman said…
Thanks so much for your comment. I personally find heat to be very therapeutic, but it really depends on the individual. My pain level and treatment preference may be very different from your neighbor's. And when the disease is active, the body tends to be very sensitive, so what usually works may not during a severe flare! She might also want to consult her doctor before beginning any new therapy, but you are so nice to express concern. I would discuss directly with her - she'll be thankful for your compassion!
Hearts 4 India said…
Thank you for your timely reply. It has helped.

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