Adjusting to a Temporary New Normal

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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layers, mentally frame, new normal, other people's perceptions

Last week, I was able to see my massage therapist for the first time in over three months due to the pandemic. About 10 years ago, I learned that massage is an integral part of my pain management. I don’t think I’d gone more than three weeks or a month at most between massages since then! Surprisingly, I’ve done better physically than I thought I might these past three months, but I was curious to see what I would feel like when I actually started getting worked on.

Typically I reach a point of going kind of numb if I’ve been without bodywork or in pain for too long — not literally numb, but a “mentally block out the pain” kind of numb. My muscles reach a point where they just get too tight and settle there, and then they actually hurt less than when they’re actively sore. It sounds strange, I know.

When my massage started, I actually wasn’t too reactive, which kind of surprised me. I’d expected to be extremely sore and possibly even in pain. It turned out that we were basically poking a sleeping bear. At first there was little to no reaction, but then suddenly I was very reactive — my muscles were tight, sore, and jumping all over the place. That’s pretty much the reaction I expected from the beginning.

We made slow and steady progress on some of my main difficulty areas while also being careful not to overwork any of the muscle groups, as sometimes that can actually make them sorer. I knew going in that this first massage would likely mean I’m a bit sorer for a while afterward than I was prior, but at the same time I feel better. I realize that sounds like a total oxymoron.

You see, I may be extra sore in my muscles, but I’m much less all-body sore and far less mentally pain-stressed, both of which mean that my overall demeanor and well-being have improved after bodywork. For the first time in weeks, I woke up in the morning feeling rested. That only happens for a few days after each bodywork session, when I’m feeling better physically. It had been months since I’d woken up rested, no matter whether I’ve slept seven hours or 12. All of these things together are progress.

Even though it’s still going to be months before I can get back to my regular twice-monthly bodywork schedule, being able to go even only occasionally right now is great. My bodyworker is amazing, and I know that she’s taking every possible precaution as she’s reopening. That’s part of the reason I can’t go as often: she’s doing fewer appointments to ensure that everything is fully sanitized between clients. I’ll take any help I can get right now, so I’m thankful for the visits that keep me feeling as well as possible, given the cirumstances.


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