by Pallas Hutchison
My oldest daughter failed her hearing tests at school for three years (Kindergarten through second grade) before we got referred to a specialist. On the assumption that she was partially deaf, we had begun to work some simple sign language into our lives just in case it got worse over the years. The specialist assured us this was not the case.
My daughter is not deaf, she has an over-abundance of cerumen or earwax that blocked the ear canal and impaired her hearing. She was prescribed drops to put in her ears at night that would soften the wax. We came back a week later to have her ears flushed out. Afterwards, she took another hearing test and scored perfectly. Unfortunately, this is an ongoing problem and she will need to have her ears flushed 2-4 times each year.
Having the ears flushed out is something I have experienced only once in my life. Only once because I will not willingly undergo the process again. Even having used the drops as directed, ear flushing is extremely painful and messy. Hot water is sprayed directly into the ear canal using something similar to a dentistry tool. A cup is held under the ear to catch the water and wax as it splashes out. It feels like severe constipation in the ear canal. There is heat and pressure and pain. The wax blobs don't want to come out.
Forcing a child to go through this procedure multiple times is difficult. Despite her knowing the benefit, she fought against it as fiercely as she fights getting against blood drawn or vaccination shots. Another option had to be available. This is when I was introduced to ear candling.
Ear candling, for my daughter, provides quick and painless results. She can hear her teachers at school, her friends on the bus, and the family around the dinner table. After several years of doing this at home for my family, I began to look into the science behind it I hopes that I could offer other people the same relief that my daughter found. This could easily be added to the service menu of my massage practice. To my surprise, the science proving the efficacy of ear candling doesn't exist.
Most of the websites I've looked at that advocate ear candling fall into two categories: commercial or anecdotal. The commercial sites want to sell their products (ear candles and accessories) to make a profit. The anecdotal websites are similar to this blog; individual people sharing their experiences with minimal science behind it. The science websites tell a very different tale.
Not everyone advocates ear candling. In fact, ear candling is condemned as dangerous and ineffective by the Mayo Clinic, the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, the American Academy of Audiology... These are objective and academic resources that offer unbiased information and research studies. WebMD and other anecdotal sites agree that ear candling is an ineffective remedy for earwax removal. The FDA is also vocal in its opposition of this practice.
My research reminded me of the important role earwax plays in protecting the ear. Firstly, it provides waterproofing. Secondly, the acidity level creates an environment that deters bacterial growth. (WebMD) My assumption of how ear candling actually worked proved false. Multiple studies have proven that there is no vacuum and there is not enough reverse pressure to suck out sticky earwax.
Further exploration into the legalities and liabilities of offering this revealed that ear candling is specifically prohibited for massage and cosmetology establishments. I will continue to perform ear candling for my family because it works for us. However, I will not be offering this as a service through Oasis Massage.
Do you have an experience with ear candling? Which side of the argument do you support? Share your thoughts below!
by Pallas Hutchison
I consider myself ridiculously successful for my age and experience level. I don't mean my experience as a massage therapist; I mean my experience in the business part of my industry. Running a business is amazing and terrifying and rewarding and frustrating and liberating and overwhelming... Being a parent on top of that, and a college student, I frequently get asked how I manage to everything done. The truth is, I don't. But I get enough done that I keep moving forward.
Everyone's experience is different but I'd like to share a few thoughts on how I manage to juggle my many responsibilities. These are the same steps I use to direct my business's growth and to help my kids with big school projects.
What tricks help you get things done? Share your thoughts and stories below!
by Pallas Hutchison
As soon as my baby bump made it's first appearance, I got inundated with helpful tips from everyone I knew - and several people that I didn't know. My older female relatives smiled knowingly at me when I decided against getting an epidural. The larger the bump got, the more people tried to give me unwanted advice. Women in the grocery store would stop me, trying to put their hands on my bulging belly while telling me all about how they almost died during labor and was I looking forward to childbirth? Not surprisingly, I was terrified.
Pregnancy itself seemed comical. An early ultrasound revealed that I was having twin boys. Later, the techs changed their mind and my due date shifted from August 10th to July 26th. Somewhere in the middle of that time frame, they decided I had been pregnant long enough and that the baby needed an eviction notice. Having gained over 70 pounds during the pregnancy, I was fine with that plan. I got hooked up to an IV and they gave me petocin to induce me. Either the baby didn't get the memo or the petocin didn't work because, after 12 hours, nothing had changed and I had to stay overnight for monitoring.
The next day, I played cards with Shaun while the machines kept drawing lines on a chart. According the machine, I was having contractions. I kept waiting for the pain to start. My mother would come in and check on us then go report back to the friends gathered in the waiting area. Nurses would wander in, make a note on my chart, then wander out again. At one point, my mother and the nurses started talking to each other in the doorway. I registered this in my peripheral vision but ignored it. The pain hadn't kicked in yet, which told me labor hadn't actually started, and I had a card game to win.
We never did finish that card game. Shortly after that hushed conversation, my mother told Shaun that he may want to leave for awhile. He, also absorbed in the game, took a few minutes to realize what that meant. Labor had started without me; the expected pain still hadn't hit me. [A side note, Shaun didn't meet his niece until three days later.]
The doctor gave me something to help me sleep and I entered a bizarre cycle of snoring then waking up for each contraction. I don't remember much but my mother said it was hilarious. Once I had dilated sufficiently, they switched me from the hospital bed to a birthing stool to let gravity help with the process. Shortly after that, the baby slid out followed by placenta and childbirth had ended. I remember saying That's it? I'm done? because the pain still hadn't reached my expectation. The nursing staff seemed surprised and amused that I found childbirth almost anticlimactic.
Six hours after labor started, I held my perfect baby. Honestly, my first impression of my daughter was less than flattering. She looked like an eggplant. Her was head squished up, her face purple from yelling. She had little tufts of hair on her ears like an elf or a troll. Today, my little eggplant turns thirteen. She finds these descriptions of her newborn self funny. She jokes that she got to pick her birthdate, not the doctor.
The second time around, I knew what to expect so it went even easier. I went in with a git'r'done attitude. Three hours later, I held my second child.
My purpose in sharing these stories is not to brag or to irritate those who had difficulties in childbirth but to reassure those who are being told the same horror stories I was. It seems that those with a bad experience share the loudest, scaring women who are going through this for the first time. A woman's body is made to reproduce. Some have an easy time, some do not. To the best of my knowledge, having a difficult labor is NOT a genetic trait that gets passed on from your mother. Childbirth should be a time of joy, not fear.
What is your birth story?
by Pallas Hutchison
Massage school gave me an education on pregnancy that personal experience couldn't provide. My own experiences with pregnancy were mildly uncomfortable. Towards the end of my nine-month sentence, I felt gigantic and couldn't see my feet. My back ached from the extra weight and my boobs leaked constantly. My job, as a massage therapist, is to relieve those discomforts for other expecting mothers. I am very good at my job.
One thing I do during a pregnancy massage stands out. Because I don't have the expensive body pillow system, the pregnancy massages I provide are, by necessity, sidelying. Halfway through the massage, they need to turn over so that I can massage the other side of their body. It's the turning process itself that makes a huge difference to the majority of my pregnant clients. I ask them to turn under, not over.
The natural inclination to roll over in bed is to turn over, keeping your chest facing the ceiling. This has you fighting gravity to heft the baby belly and puts strain on the lower back, one of the common areas of complaint for pregnant women. Instead, let the weight of the baby fall towards the bed, go to all fours, then roll to the opposite side.
As part of every pregnancy massage, I explain this process and assist my clients as they awkwardly go through this motion for the first time. Then, as they settle themselves for the second half of their massage, a look of astonishment crosses their face. They just successfully rolled over without hurting themselves. With one small trick, life just got easier.
Do you have a pregnancy tip you wish you had known sooner? Comment below to share!
by Pallas Hutchison
If you don’t have kids, I’d like to tell you that parenting is scary. I’m constantly second-guessing myself and comparing myself to other moms. Am I pushing the girls too hard in school? Am I over-scheduling or under-scheduling their week? Where are they developmentally and where are they supposed to be? What high school will provide them with the best education? How will I pay for college? Do they get enough social time, media time, homework time, exercise, one-on-one time…? The list goes on.
People who know me may be surprised by this. I get compliments on how well behaved my kids are all the time. Teachers gush over how helpful and kind they are. Friends who aren’t ‘kid people’ don’t mind babysitting. Acquaintances that we run into in public, like the waitress at our favorite restaurant, comment on how polite they are. My youngest actually received the “Good Citizenship Award” at her third grade graduation, an award that goes to one kid who displays exceptional helpfulness and kindness throughout their entire time in the school – in her case, K-3. That says something, right?
Positive reinforcement from all of these sources doesn’t stop me from stressing out. It takes a conscious effort to prevent somatization, which basically means that mental or emotional stress manifests itself as a physical symptom. For me, emotional stress settles in my shoulders and neck, making me stiff, sore and irritable. This in turns can inhibit my physical activities, which increases irritability, causing more pain and now there is a downward spiral. [The next blog will talk more about the pain cycle, with links to research.]
To live without pain, the cycle needs to break. To break the cycle, something needs to change. Accepting that I can’t change overnight is the first step. I won’t succeed if I expect instant results, basically setting myself up for failure. By setting realistic goals, I begin to reduce stress. With a goal in mind, my outlook becomes hopeful and I further remove myself from the pain cycle.
Things I’m actively working on to reduce my child-rearing stress:
Pain Cycle Image
Pricing current as of June 1, 2023 ; subject to change without notice.