Guess what? I’m reopening tomorrow! Per Governor Scott and the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s phased reopening, massage therapists can begin to see clients again. I’m super excited about this because I’ve missed working so much. I feel best when I’m helping – It’s why I was called to do this work in the first place. To sit back and watch as my community struggles with the stress and uneasiness that COVID has brought to our lives and be unable to do anything about it has been torture. I can’t wait to see you again and get back to doing what I’m good at (side note – overseeing my boys’ remote learning is not something I’m good at).
Are you ready to get back on the table? Read this first!
Massage is tricky my friends. There’s no way around it. You and I will be in a small room and my bare hands will touch your bare skin. There is risk involved in engaging in this kind of work/self care and I cannot deny that. I’ve decided to reopen with some new procedures in place that make sense to me. If you read the link above to the ACCD’s phased reopening outline you will see that because I work alone, one-on-one with clients in a low traffic office, it’s quite easy for me to follow their guidelines on how to safely reopen.
Here’s the nitty gritty of how things will go in my practice:
- You will still book online here. You may also email or text me for appointments, and I’ll respond as quickly as I’m able. Note: Phone calls are not the best way to reach me quickly. You’d have better luck with messenger pigeon than a phone call (don’t worry, this drives my mom nuts too).
- I’ll see clients in my office as usual, but I ask that you not enter the building until you hear from me. I’ll call or text you when I am ready, and then I will come downstairs to greet you and walk you up.
- I will sanitize all surfaces in between each client, including the restroom, door knobs, hand rails etc. I’m leaving plenty of time between each client to do this. Arriving on time and waiting outside until I let you in will ensure a safe, disinfected space for your massage.
- I thoroughly wash my hands/arms before and after each client. (I mean, duh! I do this anyway!)
- I sanitize linens after each use. (Again, this is standard procedure).
- I will diffuse an antimicrobial, immune-stimulating essential oil blend for every client who wants it, NO CHARGE! Please notify me if you are sensitive to essential oils.
- I provide hand sanitizer.
- We will do a quick check in where I ask you about your exposure potential and health status. You will answer me honestly, and understand if I feel it’s appropriate to postpone your session until a future date.
- I will not come to work if I am feeling unwell (coughing, sneezing, fever etc) or if I know I’ve been exposed to COVID-19. I will cancel appointments as soon as I realize I’m unwell or exposed, but please understand this could be last minute.
- I ask that you do not come to your appointment if you are feeling unwell (coughing, sneezing, fever etc) or know you’ve been exposed to COVID-19. I understand that this could be a last minute decision, but ask you to give me as much notice as possible so I can fill your spot.
Some things I have decided not to do at this time, (but reserve the right to in the future) and why:
- Taking your temperature: I could purchase an instant read thermometer and take everyone’s temperature, but this puts more responsibility on me than I want to take. If you aren’t sure if you have a fever, and rely on me (or any other non-medical professional) to monitor your health in order for you to make appropriate decisions about your actions and behaviors, you are giving me more power than I want. It is your responsibility to monitor your own exposure risk, possible symptoms and health status, and act ethically based on what you know. Did you spend the weekend at a crowded campground or attend a gathering with a bunch of people you don’t know? Maybe Monday morning isn’t the time to book a massage. I know you don’t want to get sick, and I know that even if you aren’t worried about getting sick, you won’t put me and my livelihood at risk by exposing me. I guess what I’m saying is, I trust and empower you to be informed about this virus, make good decisions about where you go and with whom and act accordingly when it comes to showing up in my space. I have children and parents in their 70’s. Whatever risks you’re willing to take with your own health can impact me, mine and my family’s, and I believe you will take this into consideration before booking.
- Making you wear a mask: I am completely fine with you wearing a mask, and I am happy to wear one as well, but I will not insist that you do so. Again, this feels to me like a personal choice we each need to make, knowing that the homemade cloth masks do not protect us from contracting the virus, they just lessen the likelihood that we will transmit it if we do have it. Here’s the deal; if you even suspect you have the virus (you show symptoms, you have been exposed etc) you need to stay home. All you do is send me a message saying “I’m unsure of my status, let’s reschedule” and I’ll gladly rebook you for another time down the road, no charge. It is simply not ok for either of us to show up to the session if we have any doubts about our health and hope that wearing a mask will mitigate our risk. Again, I am more than happy to wear one, and I will discuss that with each client prior to their session.
A word on the ethics of reopening:
Are you shocked to learn I’ve thought a lot about whether it’s even ethical and safe to open up my massage practice? Probably not, huh? It is my personal choice to reopen at this time, but it wasn’t an easy one to make. There is so much uncertainty around COVID-19 and the information available to us is widely varied, not to mention the spectrum of opinions on what is “really” going on, what should happen and how much fear is appropriate. I’d be lying if I said I had much clarity about any of it. The only things I do know are these;
1) We have to take personal responsibility for our own health, not just as it relates to COVID, but to what we eat/drink, what activities we engage in, what things (chemicals, pathogens, information, ideas and attitudes) we expose ourselves to and how we care for our bodies. If taking responsibility for your own health means evaluating your own risk factors and choosing to self-isolate, please do that. If taking responsibility for your own health means stretching more, drinking more water and less booze and booking a massage to combat pain and stress, please do that.
2) We need to think beyond ourselves with our choices. These are murky waters and it’s hard to know just how or when things will get back to “normal”, but simply wanting them to and therefore acting like they are probably isn’t the most appropriate course of action here. You may feel it’s fine for you to get COVID, but you have to be prepared to act accordingly if you do, which means being ready to go into quarantine at any time. We hope that everyone else will take responsibility for their own health, but we have to balance this with a sensible approach to life so that we can give our vulnerable populations a sense of safety.
3) For me, reopening isn’t about money. I’m as worried as the next person about the economic fallout of these shelter-in-place measures, and it’s been pretty dicey over here, but I’ll be fine (see number 4). For me it’s about serving my community in the only way I really know how. It was a long road for me to find a career that gives me a sense of purpose and allows me to help people; being without this outlet has been hard. I’d like to say I’ve experienced all kinds of personal growth, but the reality is that things have been pretty hard at times. My idle mind can find all kinds of unhelpful things to think about, but one of the more useful thoughts I had was “If I’m struggling to manage this stress right now, I bet some of my clients are too.” But what can I do to help from the confines of my home? My words only provide so much comfort, and even those became harder to access as my own mental health declined. I’m repening because I have something to offer, and when I do, we all benefit.
4) People are amazing. When I had to close my practice back in March, I wasn’t sure how I would get by financially. I knew the process for filing for unemployment was complicated for everyone at that time, and impossible for the self-employed. The ONLY reason I managed to stay afloat during these past three months is because of the incredible generosity of a handful of clients, friends, family and even my landlord. The kindness these people showed to me still brings tears to my eyes. People paid for sessions they would have booked while I was closed, and refuse to accept credit for those sessions now that I’m open. People prepaid for sessions they will use down the road. People bought packages and gift certificates for massages that I know they’ll never use (because they live way too far away or just don’t get massages very often). People brought me groceries, and even flowers, just to give me a boost. People sent me poems and cards, and checked in on me with such dependability as I’ve never known. I’ll never be able to express the level of gratitude I feel for these individuals who kept me out of the weeds (financially and emotionally). To those who helped me (you know who you are), thank you, I love you. Because of you, I have chosen to expand my free massage offering. More on that to come!