Reflexology & Heart

Today is Valentine’s Day and this made for a perfect treatment day for my husband, Markus. As some of you may or may not know, he walks up to 30k a day on his job as a letter carrier at Canada Post and reflexology is a necessity for his rest and recovery. I love rubbing his feet with Cherry Rocky Mountain Body Butter, it makes his feet silky and smooth while giving me good traction.

After his foot treatment, I did a chakra sweep with the pendulum as a closing ritual and found his heart chakra to be active (the pendulum made small circles – I recaptured this in the video to the left). I placed a rose quartz on this chakra while reciting some of the characteristics. The heart chakra represents love, healing touch, walking (in the forest), and joyful endeavours. I use the chakra system as a means to reflect on different things in our lives, such as the activities over the past weekend.

Vancouver Island just had a huge winter storm bringing with it tons of snow so yesterday we took a walk in the forest near our home. It is a magical thing to be able to walk out of our home and in the old growth forest. Interestingly, Markus heard the eagles while there and today he picked the eagle card (representing truth, power, karmic transformation) from the Wild Unknown oracle deck. He also picked the ‘Right Brain Hado’ Water Crystal Card; a healing card representing creativity.

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problemReflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Markus is still recovering from skin cancer; in June it will be his 1 year since surgery. You can see in this photo – the scar is still slightly visible but he is no longer in any pain. There is still one spot under observation that emerged over the surgical site and will be taken care of in the spring. Skin cancer sucks and I now dread summer because of this. Although we don’t get as much sun during winter, he still needs to protect himself. We need to observe him often as we learned that both Basal cell carcinoma and Melanoma run in his family. I thought this photo provided a decent visual update on his recovery.

Lay back in the Lafuma Chair

@lunarainforest

The #view from inside the studio, laying back in the Lafuma chair, receiving #reflexology #clouds #sky #window #relaxing #zen #stressrelief #vanisle

♬ Tibetan Bowls – Spiritual Moment

Here’s the view you will have when laying back in the Lafuma chair receiving your relaxing reflexology treatment. We have a huge window facing open sky with 15 foot ceilings that offer spaciousness and tranquility. You’ll probably also get a few glimpses of our resident hummingbirds.

Reflexology & Gratitude

This Thanksgiving weekend, my husband received multiple treatments of foot, face and ear reflexology. While I am coming up to my foot reflexology test (October 31), I am also undertaking an ear reflexology course and will have a certificate in that to pair with my main practice. Ear reflexology is especially helpful for people who want to walk away with a self-treatment plan for pain or bothersome symptoms. There are various ways to approach reflexes from different parts of the body; feet, hand, face, ear etc. Auricular therapy (ear reflexology) is a popular one and I am excited to be learning this. I am working on a month-long ear reflexology case study with Markus and once I am certified, I will share the case study here as a PDF.

Markus selected the Lung Water Crystal card, representing gratitude and the Lovers Crow tarot representing partnership. Cards a are a nice gesture of focus and guidance.

Today I focused on just giving him some well-needed R&R from lots of hard work. Markus also complained of stomach issues so I placed ear seeds on the stomach and lung reflexes (on and off tender) and the Shen men reflex that strongly supports other points. Markus used a Dien Chan beauty roller to massage his scar area. This is the first time doing this since the area has been sore over the past few weeks. After the session he felt great on his feet and more energized!

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problemReflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

Skin Cancer Update

Markus in Vancouver

We headed over to Vancouver for Markus’s 3 month post surgery check-up on Sept 21. Surgeon was amazed to see the level of recovery and stated that there has been rapid changes showing incredible recovery of upwards to 6 months. He recommended we keep doing, what we are doing. (This strategy has been a combination of careful consistent coverage of the scar, diet and facial therapy combined with home-mixed jojoba / lavender oil. Markus uses Dien Chan tools and techniques about twice a week to help irrigate and level out the scar.)

There is concern about a new spot that has emerged overtop of the newly formed cheek on the left cheek. The surgeon observed the new spot but says it’s too early to diagnose as the skin is still forming and healing from surgery. It is suspected to be the same that emerged on the left side of his face; a precancerous spot. He is to go to a local dermatologist should he need any intermediate attention for this. We will return at the end of May of 2021 for a 1 year post surgery update where the surgeon will be able to diagnose the spot better as the skin will have healed. At that point, that spot can be treated, like the one on the right side. Because the right side was sprayed by a local dermatologist office, he recommended following up with them to observe that progress.

(Left image: bulging of cheek swelling, right image: irritation, Sept 29 at 11 pm)

Markus followed up with the local dermatologist office on Monday Sept 28 who quickly examined his right cheek and cleared him of precancer on the right side since receiving the treatment spray. He then proceeded to harshly press (with long finger nails) into Markus’s freshly recovering cheek and scar area unnecessarily. Markus pulled back and verbalized pain during the session but the Dr proceeded anyways. Markus is now on day 3 of recovering from pain, swelling and redness to this area after this visit. Markus feels as though he has been punched in the face and it’s been affecting his sleep and is bothersome at work. Markus has consulted the surgeon with photos, to make sure no long term damage was done. We hope this is not the case but either way this is completely unacceptable especially to someone who is currently in the healing process from such major facial trauma.

As this office has shut down, Markus is now left trying to locate a doctor who can over see his situation. Markus went in to pick up his medical records with the local office and found falsified information on his records. Markus will be filing an official complaint. Read the timeline of events to see full scope of problems.

This has been a stressful, frightening and frustrating process for us both.

Case Studies & Ear Reflexology

I have finally surpassed my required 50 treatments and am now hovering around 60, Yay! Sometime in October, I will be assessed and will then receive my foot reflexology therapy certificate! Now, I am spending more time with memorization and making sure I have the sequences down right.

I have also started learning ear reflexology, another yay! Like the foot and hand, the ear maps to the body and reflex points can be manipulated for healing purposes. Ear reflexology has been used for thousands of years and is well known across the globe. I have wanted to add a second modality to the foot and this showed up at the right time. Most importantly, I started consulting ear reflexology to help reinforce healing measures for my husband.

I started a small online course based out of New Zealand with reflexologist Karen Middleton. I choose her course based on the self-paced learning style, the affordability factor and the fact that the course requires a case study to get the certificate. I certainly want to gain the confidence and structure and also enjoy the case study process. I also picked up an ear model and some ear charts from the Pacific Institute of Reflexology in Vancouver and had the privilege of meeting founder Chris Shirley.

I have already started on the readings, and am practicing massage and ear seeding on my husbands ears where there is tenderness. In the photos above, we placed ear seeds on the stomach for digestive issues (left) and lung (right) reflexes for respiratory and skin disorders. Since writing this blog, I have added another seed to the Shen Men point on each ear which is a supporting point for other seeded points.

Ear reflexology is standardized through the World Health Organization and includes the following systems:

  1. Western Medicine
  2. Auricular Landmarks
  3. Traditional Chinese Medicine
  4. Master Points
  5. Zones and Points

Benefits of ear reflexology include:

  1. Release tension in the body
  2. Improve circulation of blood, lymph and Qi
  3. Help the body to normalize its function

Ear reflexology is safe and can be enjoyed by everyone.

Skin Cancer Timeline of Events

This is a chronological timeframe of my husband, Markus’s skin cancer journey. I have been blogging about it and have been treating my husband for stress using reflexology and diet for calming inflammation. Now that we have surpassed the surgery, we still have unfinished business to deal with and I wanted to voice our concern with how things are playing out.

Summer 2019

July 7, 2019 – Markus sees a walk in clinic to get checked for a suspicious spot has emerged on left cheek and not subsided. It has become a small open wound that has started to bleed. Dr suspects skin cancer and refers Markus to a specialist. Markus waits for specialist appointment.

July 2019 (mid month) – Markus sees dermatologist who suspects Basal carcinoma. Biopsy taken, stitched up, and told to wait 2 months for results. This is much too long for a diagnosis. Markus’s uncle removes stitching while we are in Italy.

September 2019 – Markus sees dermatologist (different from first) for follow up. Biopsy results confirming Basal carcinoma, and is recommended for Mohs surgery as it’s the most effective in removing the cancer as other removal processes have required additional surgeries as it is not as successful in removing all cancer at site. Warning of long wait times. Placed on cancellation list. Told to go to walk in clinic for referral if need to see dermatologist again. Once a patient is in the system with a clinic especially when dealing with cancer, why should they have to get a referral? This is yet another unnecessary step within our healthcare system.

Winter 2020

November 2019 – Markus gets surgery date for Oct 26, 2020, and is put on cancellation list as this is very far away. We are very concerned. This will be a 1.5 years wait in total.

Winter of 2019-2020 – Cancer site goes dormant, virtually disappearing. We feel some relief and relax knowing that nothing serious is happening.

March 2020 – Cancer site begins to wake up. See the walk in clinic Dr as referral is required to see dermatologist again. Clinics are closed due to Covid. We wait.

April 2020 – Cancer site appears to grows larger, bleed and fester. Markus experiences burning sensation at site. Another suspicious area on opposite (right) side of cheek emerges. Markus as a frontline worker endures high stress levels possibly worsening the cancer. He covers cancer with bandaids and orders specialized face gaiters and strong UV protective clothing from Australia but is delayed due to Covid. We order additional back ups from Amazon.

Spring 2020

May 2020 – Early May, send updated photos to dermatologist with festering cancer and new spot on other (right) side of cheek but no response. Contact walk in clinic Dr for urgent phone consultation and referral to dermatologist as clinics are now consulting via phone only, not in person. Dr forwards urgent referral. Receive phone message for a phone consultation for June 10, 2020. This is a months wait, not soon enough. Markus contacts walk in clinic Dr again by phone, Dr agrees it’s urgent and sees it as very serious but there is nothing he can do. Markus continues to send more photos to dermatologist office of cancer changes. Apt gets bumped to June 1, 2020. Still too long of a wait. This causes panic, talk to people in Ontario about how to proceed out of province.

June 1, 2020 – Phone consultation with (a different) dermatologist is very short – a couple of minutes. Dermatologist says that cancer is about the same, is not urgent from what he can see and this doesn’t result in any pressure of moving a surgery date closer as we were hoping. Dermatologist makes off record comment that he’s waited this long, he can wait longer. Markus is told to make an appointment to come in person in a few weeks time if he wants to have the other side examined. Gets hung up on before talking to receptionist to make appointment. Markus calls back to make appointment for a few days later – not a few weeks later.

June 5, 2020 – An opening for surgery is offered (called from the surgeons office) and accepted for June 9 in Vancouver.

June 8, 2020 – Markus picks up ferry pass at dermatologist office the morning of and informs of his surgery and to cancel apt later in the week. Office has no recollection or documentation of the original surgery date for end of Oct, makes phone call to surgeon’s office in Vancouver, about it. That morning the dermatologist sees Markus briefly and sprays a solution on the new spot to bring it to surface as seen most likely as precancerous.

Spring 2020

June 9, 2020 – On surgery day in Vancouver, surgeon is surprised to see how large and serious the cancer is. Says that had he waited for original surgery date that the cancer would have further disfigured his face. Surgeon also wished the dermatologist had not sprayed the other side as now the surgeon is unable to diagnose and treat on surgical day. Approximately 2.2 cm by 1.8 cm of cheek is removed and is pitted deep. Flap approach is used to minimize disfigurement based on the large impact zone. Procedure lasts from 11am – 4:30pm. Markus is left with a very large scar from the corner of eye in a Z shape down to the mouth. Healing will take up to 18 months and scar cannot be exposed to UV rays.

Markus is off work for 3 weeks and is very uncomfortable. Most bothersome is the impacted eye; red itchy and burns as face heals. We are now waiting for his short term disability to kick in. Fingers crossed.

June 15, 2020 This coming week – We will contact dermatologist (and send photos of surgical site) about other side of face and be aggressive about a strategy so that it doesn’t result in what happened to the left side of face. Update: apt is made for 3 months away in September to review new spot.

Spring 2020

July 1, 2020 – We begin facial massage therapy in 2 weeks time and continue this for 3 months or longer. Markus can resume more of a typical life at that point if all goes well. I am enrolled in facial reflexology to help with the facial therapy process. I am also consulting Dien Chan experts about approaching the scar with a specific reflexology technique from a non invasive method.

In conclusion, there were too many problems with this process and we cannot afford to have this happen again. Had Markus waited for his original surgery of Oct 26, 2020 and there not been a cancellation, the situation would have become much more dire, further disfiguring his face and possibly his nose. The local dermatologist failed to identify this, putting Markus’s health in greater danger. We don’t trust our healthcare system now as Markus is at risk for more cancer in the future (other side of face not resolved). We have decided to move to the mainland hopefully in the fall where he can be closer to the expert who performed his surgery and who is requesting to have him follow up with him routinely by email until we can see him in person.

Where do we go from here?

This process has taken far too long and has been unreliable. There should be shorter biopsy wait times, a stronger examination process to determine severity of cancer, removal of referrals and a more timely approach for urgent matters. The cancer grew aggressive during the Covid pandemic when clinics were closed. I undertook a short course at Pacific Rim College to help with diet to calm any inflammation within Markus’s body. This seemed to help at bit as the new spot retreated and the larger cancer site stopped burning.

We have endured a great level of stress and now there’s the ongoing mental toll this is having on my husband. His face will never look the same again and tragically this could have been minimized had it been dealt with in a more timely manner, not a year and a half later. When explained to relatives in Europe, they expressed how unacceptable this is and this would have been taken care of in weeks where they live. This is very hard to swallow and yet Canada is rated as one of the best places to live? The toll this has taken on our lives is another level all together. I plan to take this information to VIHA to see what can be done so this doesn’t happen again to Markus or anyone else.

I want to point out that I am grateful to the Dr. who rallied behind Markus and the surgeon who somehow fell out of the sky when we lost all hope. We don’t know exactly how it happened but we suspect a cancelation due to Covid played in our favour. But it should not have come to this. We are traumatized by the outcome and want to seek compensation for laser scar removal. Our healthcare system desperately needs to be reevaluated and overhauled. I’ll have more to say later…

My case studies are on hold until July while I focus on my husbands health.

Springtime in Victoria

Victoria is my hometown, born and raised with the exception of living in Toronto for the other half of my life. But even then, I kept coming back. A few weeks ago, people started to emerge from the pandemic to enjoy some of the beautiful scenery this city has to offer. Here are some photos from the Chinese cemetery and Kitty Islet overlooking the Juan de Fuca Strait. This is actually my husbands old mail route and he misses it!

Reflexology Self-Care Kit

This kit was assembled based on my own self-care needs and includes a variety of tools that I find useful for relieving stress and pain. 

STICK – The ‘Relaxus’ Thai reflexology/massage stick with two sides is made from non-threatened wood; use to pinpoint pressure points on hand and foot.

STONE – The basalt stone feels good rubbed on hands, feet and even face! The more you use it, the darker the stone will become as it absorbs your oils. It miraculously remains darker even after washing. Stone was handpicked from the beaches of Vancouver Island.

RING – Roll the stretchy reflex-ring up and down fingers for a pleasant and calming experience. Use when experiencing stress due to traveling, visiting the dentist or doctor, writing tests, or on a first date! Please note that this item mimics a ring and maybe worn as such unless you feel it is cutting off circulation. Reflex-ring tools are meant to feel snug but not worn for long periods of time.

BONUS! I’ve included some magnetic seeds to use if you experience any hand, arm or shoulder pain. Originally made for the ears, I used these to help relieve pain from tendinitis as an experiment and found that it worked! Simply stick to areas tender on hand and press every so often. Stickers stay on until they fall off. Sorry, they only come in one colour.

I’ve also included a photocopy of my hand chart for treating stress.

Comes in a handy carrying / storage bag.

Each kit may slightly vary because no two stones are alike!

Disclaimer: Reflexology does not diagnose, prescribe or treat for specific conditions. Always seek proper medical attention should you suspect you have a medical problem. Reflexology is not a replacement for medical treatment.

China Beach

Taking advantage of the longer days, my husband and I took a drive out to China beach this past weekend. It was glorious and so well needed. The soft dark volcanic sand hugged the big black basalt stones rising out of the sea floor contrasting perfectly against the bright pacific ocean colours and the blue sky backdrop. It was a west coast serving of intoxicating sights and sounds. Along the way, we admired some beach stones and other ocean treasures such as chiton shells, fish heads, sea weed and even a bit of sea glass. I always feel better when I am surrounded by nature. We are fortunate to be at an arms reach from these places but of course I dream of being even closer; to immerse ones self in nature is a perfect life and it’s one I strive to achieve.

There is no doubt in my mind that even the inanimate natural objects hold more secrets than we can ever know. We take for granted the abundance of black stones all around us, for they are non living, non feeling objects. But they serve a structural purpose for our earth. The interconnectedness of not only living beings but the matter that upholds life provides a ground to stand on. Better yet, it provides a way to ground our own bodies, first making contact with our feet, better experienced without shoes. Spring is close and as the warmer temperatures draw near, it is the perfect opportunity to rub bare feet against these ocean floor basalt stones; for they are the natural masters of massage. Next time you find yourself around soft stones, go ahead and give your feet (and hands and face) a rub. You might be surprised as to how good it feels. At the very least, take a moment to observe their purpose and presence.