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May 31, 2014

Racheal's story in her own words:

I had my first session with Melissa in July of 2013. I had been thinking about making an appointment with her for years – ever since my difficult labor and birth in 2009. I had heard about Melissa’s work from two different people whose opinions I trusted immensely and I had met her briefly through a common friend. Still, I was hesitant because her services were expensive and not covered by my insurance plan. So, instead, I went from allopathic doctor to allopathic doctor for years. I saw an obstetrician/gynecologist who suggested that my bladder and pelvic issues were due to the fact that I had planned a home birth with my first child and my midwife had “mismanaged” my pregnancy and labor. She gave me a self-catheterization kit and told me I was just lucky that my son okay.  I saw a family practice doctor who referred me to a surgeon. He recommended a CT scan and possibly even exploratory surgery. I did the CT scan. It revealed nothing abnormal. I declined the exploratory surgery. Tired and defeated, I stopped pursuing a biomedical (or really any) solution to my pain and discomfort. I just learned to live with it until … I wanted to get pregnant again.

So, four years after the birth of my son, I decided that I needed to take action to improve my bladder function, heal a pulling-sort of pain I had in my right lower abdomen, and address chronic pain and numbness in my right shoulder and left lower back. My husband gave me the final push I needed to make an appointment. For my birthday, he gave me a check written out to Melissa Cathcart.

Seeing Melissa was so reassuring and validating. She acknowledged my pain and suffering and she trusted what I knew about my body. During my first session, she used visceral manipulation, massage, and acupuncture. She placed needles in a circle around my bladder and around the small lump on my lower right side. She then inserted needles right into the middle of those circles. It was amazing. The placement of those center needles was exactly right – right where the discomfort and irritation were the worst. I had never had anyone hone in on the locations like that before. She put an infrared lamp over my abdomen. I felt a fizzing sensation – like carbonated water. She did something called stroking the dragon in which she gently moved her hand over the needles like a wave. I felt heat and bubbling.

I left her office feeling fine – energized even. So, I decided to go grocery shopping. Part-way through my shopping, I was overcome by abdominal cramping. I went directly to the check-out lane and had to squat as I waited to check out. I could barely stand. I walked slowly to my car and drove home – breathing deeply, making low vocalizations. The cramping was more severe than menstrual cramps, something closer to labor contractions. I arrived at home, parked my car, and opened the trunk. I went inside and told my husband that I had picked up a few groceries, but I couldn’t bring them into the house. I had to lie down. I fell asleep on the couch almost immediately and slept for 90 minutes. That evening, I sat outside with neighbors while my son played in the front yard. I felt incredibly calm and serene, but also groggy. This was a Wednesday and at my Friday yoga class, I still felt cloudy. I spent most of the class resting in child’s pose.

When I woke up, I felt much better. The cramping was gone and I felt calm and serene, but also groggy. Two days later at my regular yoga class, I still felt cloudy. I spent much of the class resting in child’s pose. I wasn’t uncomfortable or in pain. I was just tired. I have since learned that bodywork (of all types) is quite exhausting for me. I need to take it slowly and pace myself. Above all, however, what I took away from my first appointment with Melissa was that it worked. She was able to access something that no one else ever had. For the first time in years, I felt optimistic. Maybe my bladder wasn’t going to bother me for the rest of my life. Maybe the discomfort on my right side could be resolved. Maybe my next birth wouldn’t be so difficult and traumatic. 

Before leaving her office, I had asked Melissa when she thought I should come back for another appointment. She told me to listen to my body. I’d know. Well, I didn’t get back for many months. In August of 2013, I took a road trip to Canada with my family. Then, in the fall, I was working hard to finish my doctoral dissertation. I finished writing in November, graduated in December, and soon found out that I was pregnant. I spent the first few months of 2014 feeling nauseous and exhausted. When spring came and I emerged from the haze of my first trimester, I purchased a package of five treatments with Melissa. I started working with her again in April of 2014. I told her about my first experience and said that I was nervous about having such a strong response again – now that I was pregnant. She assured me that she would work slowly and gently.

Working with Melissa, I have gained confidence in my body and my ability to have a smooth second birth. I feel like she understands things about my body and can access problem areas in a way that no one else has ever been able to. I am so grateful for the time she spends with me – for her therapeutic touch and for the exercises and education she provides.  

Racheal K., researcher