This happened recently:
One of the tenants in my building had family visiting and wanted to treat them to massage. I was all set and ready to give their young, female relative a terrific first massage.
We went through her intake form and I noted that she was healthy, no medications and no obvious contraindications for massage. So I did my usual verbal intake which includes a verbal “so have you taken any over the counter meds today?”
That’s when it got interesting.
The verbal intake jogged her memory and she mentioned that she had a rash on her chest. Since she was visiting from another part of the country, I needed to figure out if it was allergy related or something else. Further questioning revealed she had swollen lymph nodes that began a few days previously, corresponding with the rash. She had no fever and no itching, but she was also taking Benadryl and ibuprofen, which would suppress fever and itching.
It seems she had been river rafting a few days prior and had worn a ‘gross’ life preserver and that her rash was located where the PFD touched her skin.
So here I am with an otherwise healthy 22 year old woman presenting with a rash and swollen lymph nodes but no other symptoms. I had to disappoint her and tell her that she shouldn’t have a massage. She was pretty cool about it, but I could tell she was disappointed and probably thought I was nuts.
In all honesty, I questioned my decision afterwards. Was I being overly conservative? Would Ruth Werner have approved of my decision? (really, I thought of Ruth Werner). This self doubt lasted about 20 minutes before I convinced myself that I wasn’t being a nervous nelly.
2 days ago I bumped into my fellow tenant who thanked me for turning her relative down. It seems that the day after our massage appointment, the young woman’s illness finally peaked and she spent the next day or so vomiting and running a high fever. She’s all better now, but everyone is more aware of why a massage therapist might send someone, who appears healthy, home rather than go ahead with the massage.
By the way, I don’t charge a client when this situation comes up.