Year 2020 has been a very interesting year so far. We are only in Mid-July and already so many people’s lives have changed several times. At the beginning of the year, things were going pretty steady. People were going to work as usual and kids were going to school. Yep, pretty boring. And then, we started hearing about this strange virus in the eastern Hemisphere. Older generations of people started to get fatally sick and started to show up in different countries and continents. People started to get nervous and scared. Then we heard many cases in Washington, and then NY and then other states in America. And then the virus started to get closer to home when Ohio had their first case, then Hamilton County, and then Cincinnati! Stores were getting wiped out of toilet paper. I never heard it causing diarrhea so never understood that one. Hand Sanitizer and Hand Soap was becoming a hot item. (Side Note: I always wondered what people did before this outbreak if they washed their hands.) It was chaotic and everyone of us stared at the TV trying to find accurate news. People glued to their phones seeking information of what is going on and how close it getting to us. So much misinformation was flying every where and no one knew what was correct or wrong. And then…. The State Governors started to shut things down to help “flatten the curve.” There was shock, relief, anger, and fear in the air. Millions of people stood in front of the TV or looking down at their phone when they heard the news that they were out of a job, out of business, unable to go to work because their children’s school or day care had shut down. I was already contemplating of closing and had cancelled a few days already due to the fear of spreading the virus. Then, I heard the news as I was sitting there on the couch with my daughter that I had to close. My normal changed. There was no work to go to or sheets to do for my upcoming appointments. My normal was to hunker down at home with my husband and keep our daughter safe. To only go out when needing groceries with masks on and bleached rags to wipe everything down before entering the house. And to watch the news for hours to see what additional information they have collected. To know how many have been affected by this deadly virus. This normal lasted about 10 weeks.
Then the normal changed once more. Governors started to open things up with certain rules and regulations by the Department of Health. Masks were recommended everywhere you go. People wearing gloves when they go out. (Everyone of them that I saw were using gloves incorrectly.) Touching a person was now a voodoo because you could get their “cooties” of the virus. Humans, especially children, are not meant to have no physical touch or no interaction with other people. We are meant to engage, laugh, and hug each other to share connection. The new normal is very sterile and strange. I am so happy that I am able to help with the power of touch. Following the new regulations, I am still able to help people who have lost that connection of touch. To help them ease some stress from the body, mind, and soul.
Some people have asked what is the new normal for Massage Therapy since we are in close quarters with another human being and do have physical contact during there treatment session. I cannot vouch for all Massage Therapist but here is my play by play of a “normal” day. First, before I leave for work, I take my vitamins and a good dose of Vitamin C to help maintain a healthy immune system with plenty of water. Also, my temperature is taken to ensure I am not showing any symptoms of illness. Then I take my freshly laundered aprons and blankets from the dryer (this is done every day) and fold them into a basket. I go into the garage where I leave my “work shoes” by the door. Once in the car, I use my Hand sanitizer that is in my car door to ensure clean hands and wipe on steering wheel and shift. Once at my office, usually an hour earlier, I prep for the day. Even though I wiped everything down the day before after my sessions, I wipe everything down again with a hospital grade disinfectant. I share with other businesses and never assume those companies wipe anything down. Therefore, I start outside and wipe everything that I believe a person would touch on the way to my office. This includes the railing on the outside stairs, the doorknob, the midsection of the door where a person might use to help put the door open, and the door jam. Then the walls in the hallways get wiped down from waist to head height and then the banister and railings of the stairs. The wall on the opposite also gets wiped down since people like to use it to help balance themselves going up. Then I continue to wipe the railing and wall to the bathroom. With a refreshed rag, I wipe and spray the doorknob, door, jam, light switch, the sink area, and toilet area. And the bathroom windowsill. I try to imagine myself of what people would touch absent mindedly and that is quite a bit of area to wipe down. After the shared area is clean to my satisfaction, I proceed to the treatment room and wipe almost everything down which includes the door, doorknob, door jam, light switch the whole client area of the walls and bench. The shelves, cabinet doors, desk, the iPod I play music, the door handle to the hot towel warmer, practically any visible service in the treatment room. Even the floors and rug get mopped. For the treatment table itself, the whole area around the face cradle gets wipe down completely, including the floor underneath. No germ is going to get by me! After spraying the table with disinfectant and letting dry, it gets covered with a waterproof mattress protector and wiped again. Then the freshly laundered sheets are placed along with the freshly laundered blanket. Once everything is clean to my “germaphobe” satisfaction, I am ready for my client.
Once my client arrives, I don my freshly laundered knee length apron and my new disposable mask before greeting her/him as they wait in the car. I asked him/her to wear their mask and do a prescreen check to make sure they are not showing signs of illness by asking certain questions and checking their temperature. When they pass the test, they are asked to wash their hands thoroughly before the treatment begin. Intake forms are now online so there is less risk of contamination. During treatment, a fresh, clean, and sanitized squeeze bottle is used for the massage oil/lotion. This helps ensure no contamination to my oils/ lotion supply. It is contained in my apron pocket so not placed all over the place. Each client has their own bottle and gets cleaned at the end of the day. I do let them know that taking off their mask face down is ok since breathing is a higher priority than germs. Besides, I do a rigorous clean in that area to ensure their safety and mine. Once face up, the mask is requested to be on during the rest of the treatment. If there was any object that was touched or used during the treatment, I place it in the designated area to get wiped down after session. If there are any pillows or bolsters being used, they get wiped down completely before and after use. When over, I use a wipe on the doorknob and go straight to the restroom to wash my arms and hands for over 30 seconds. Check out has stayed the same, mostly. I do try to encourage clients to have their card on file to ensure less contact. After signing their name and a following appointment, has been scheduled, a sanitizing wipe is ready to wipe the iPad down before on the clean desk.
After the client leaves, the whole wipe down process begins again. Gloves are donned to remove the sheets and blankets and into a closed dirty laundry basket along with the apron. The squeeze bottle is placed in the “dirty” basket to get cleaned at the end of the day. New sheets and blanket are put on the newly wiped table and a new apron and bottle is prepared for the next client. This process usually takes about 20 minutes. That is why there is a 30 minutes break between each client, so I have time to checkout and clean everything before the next client arrives. At the end of the day and after everything wiped down, the mattress protector gets taken off to be washed and all the laundry is put into bags to take to the laundry service or home to be washed. All the used bottles are cleaned before leaving and the floor mopped once more. But it does not stop there. When I leave the office, I drop off the dirty sheets at the laundry service and go straight home. The shoes are taken off at the door and sprayed. I march straight to the laundry room to start washing the blankets and aprons. Clothes are changed to ensure I did not bring anything home. It takes me a lot longer to get everything finished but it is well worth it. The safety of myself, my family and my clients are a priority. I am here to help, not to hurt. Even though the restrictions are ending in July, as of now, I will keep going with this new normal. I am sure there will be a lot of things that will never go back to how it used to be. But sometimes change is good. It helps us grow and be better.