PeejHello family and friends!

I have shared with many of you (some of you would call it whining) that I have a sore shoulder that stems from having broken my stupid wrist while stupid skating.

I found out from my Russian buddies here in Sochi that the massage therapists were great at our Sanatorium so I signed up for a course of 10 massages and 5 electronic stimulation treatments and I am seeing improvement but not without a price. (The actual price is less than $200 – so that’s great!!!)

My first massage therapist – Misha the Magical and I had sort of an understanding…well let’s put it this way – I understood him because of my fancy phrasebook and the fact that my basic Russian is getting quite good.



Massage here is more like physio – and he definitely put me through my paces – he would also say in a tone that would be the one you would use when talking to frightened 3 year old ha-ra-sho ha-ra-sho — it was meant to be comforting when he had me in a headlock ‘stretching’ my shoulder.

Nothing could have prepared me though for Vera who had me in her clutches for five consecutive sessions ( she is dangerous enough that I like to refer to her as a Vera-saurus).

First of all she would make me sit on a stool facing the massage table with my head on my hands while she insisted on chatting in very rapid Russian.

Did I mention that Misha and I had an understanding? Well that was because we instinctively knew that we could only speak about a variety of safe or ‘go to’ subjects that I had in my back pocket in Russian like : today – breakfast – Russia’s skaters are doing a good job and I like Sochi. Fertig. Then I would put my head down and we would ignore each other in blissful silence.

Vera was not to be dissuaded and brought out a page of translations that she would point to that my colleague Elena had done to direct another non -Russian speaker during the massage process. She wanted me to do some breathing exercises as she tried to kill me.

Seated on that stool she took my (sore) arm – insisted I breathe in, hold my breath and breathe out. The object was to increase my range of motion which I did because every time she stretched it around behind my back – I would scoot around on the stool following said shoulder. I was also laughing – which  is my ‘go to’ stress reaction.

Sidebar – this is also the same strategy I used when my Mom would tie a wiggly tooth to the door knob in an effort to yank it out. The strategy was that I would stand still while she would slam the door shut and my tooth would come out of my head. Every time she slammed the door I would follow it – and laugh. I don’t know why I laugh – it is quite embarrassing in a moment of stress – but laugh I do.

Vera would stop trying to dislocate my shoulder for a moment and rotate me back on the stool to where I started. We would then proceed with the whole thing again with me following my arm around the back of my body in an effort to stop the pain of the stretching (or as I like to say dislocating). I would then laugh almost hysterically as she made me scoot back to facing front. This pas de deux went on for some time as she was admonishing me (I think) and sweating from the exertion and frustration of dealing with me.

I have to say that as much as I wasn’t sure if I was being helped, I am now pain free. I was so impressed that I let another English-speaking-shoulder-paining friend in on my secret weapon: Vera.

Little did I know, wanting to impress me, Vera insisted on the ‘full Monty’ treatment for my friend. Let’s call her Hyacinth. When Hyacinth and her assistant Mitzy arrived for the appointment, Hyacinth was full of hope that she too would be shoulder pain free. She was taken to a little room where she saw a full bathtub. Panicking a little she wanted to know what would happen next as I had never mentioned the tub. (Only because it didn’t happen to me!) She was asked to strip and drop into the tub. She did! What comes next is so scary I can hardly write it.

Deep breath.

The Vera-saurus took out – as Hyacinth called it – a ‘power washer’ and started hosing her down. And I mean all of her. Now, the scariest part of all is the fact that like when you put your hands under a Dyson dryer in the loo – the skin moves all around the place and not in the prettiest way.

“Hold your feet down” Hyacinth was told in the most stern tone, as they floated to the surface . Wedging herself into the side of the tub, Hyacinth was able to achieve that while losing her dignity at the same time.

“RELAX!” Barked Vera and when Hyacinth didn’t comply because she couldn’t understand, assistant Mitzy was called into that tiny tub room to translate. With Hyacinth’s flesh rolling under the hose stream manned by a now soaked Verasaurus, and panic and fear in her eyes, Mitzy took one look at what was going on and turned on her heel. “You’re on your own for this one – boss or not – this is too much information!”

Hitting the table after the ‘relaxing’ tub treatment should have been a breeze but it turns out that Vera know how to ‘treat’ (read dislocate) a shoulder more easily from this position.

I am not sure this helped Hyacinth but it sure helped me. What is more irresistible than a killer embarrassing story that doesn’t happen to me for a change. As her name might imply, Hyacinth is very ladylike. In her family, the power washer is reserved for Spring cleaning the back deck or the siding and is almost never used on a person and certainly not by a stranger in a strange land.

In the meantime – I have coined a new term (which is now copyrighted – so don’t get any ideas…) ‘Hur-pful’ /when a massage therapist has to be cruel to be kind to your sore shoulder.

Continuing in the same medical vein:

I would like to share the strangest Tweet that has been said about me – ever – this is from someone I don’t know who lives in New York and was tweeted during my time as the figure skating PA announcer at figure skating in Sochi:

The lady commentator of the @NBCOlympics pairs free skate has the soothing tone of a gynecologist.

I told you this blog was medical. I am not even sure what this means?

She went on to tweet at me directly and say that I had a very soothing voice.

I guess she figured out that a: I don’t work for NBC and b: I am not a Doctor – I only play one on TV.




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