Well…now it’s May.
It feels like it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of you, because I stopped doing massage sessions in mid-March. I wasn’t confident that I could ensure client safety while doing massage, especially as we were just discovering how the coronavirus attacks the body, and continuing to find new symptoms and effects of COVID-19 on different populations. I decided that Quality Life Massage Therapy would be pausing for the health and safety of my clients. The pause is going to be longer than what is legally required, because I do not wish to be a carrier for COVID-19 and will err on the side of science, research, and caution. It is because of the COVID-19 health crisis, and transmission affecting my industry, and the realities of business that I have made the decision to pack up my belongings and close my treatment space at my current location. I understand what an inconvenience this causes, as many of you rely on services like massage therapy to feel well.
I’ve spent the last month closely monitoring OSHA guidelines, CDC recommendations, WHO recommendations and the advice of our massage pathology and industry experts within the therapeutic massage community, and will continue to do so. Due to our code of ethics, scope of practice and the inability to work with clients while following recommended social distancing guidelines, I truly believe we should be among the last businesses to safely reopen – even if the governor or other local officials do not agree. Until the benefits outweigh the risks involved I will not feel it appropriate, safe or ethical to reopen my in-person practice. I was hopeful that the government and local officials would implement an informed plan to reopen things carefully and as best they can for all concerned, but a decision to include massage therapy early in a phased opening situation may not be fully informed about how we must work and the consideration for barriers to reopening that we may face. I feel that this decision to let my current massage space go is the most economical and socially responsible thing to do. There are a number of factors that go into this decision, which is going to be different for other massage therapists and spas, as well as the government – but anything anyone decides is going to be too soon for some people and overly cautious for others. As Dr. Fauci and other health experts have said, it’s the virus that makes the timeline – so I’ll be watching the science to find a reopen date – for now, that date is open-ended.
Let me answer a few of the most anticipated questions, okay?
Q: OMG are you sick? Are you okay?
A: Nope, not sick. I’m fine, and so is my family. I haven’t had a coronavirus test or the antibody test, but I feel fine.
Q: How are you going to survive? Do you need casseroles?
A: For years I underpaid myself and was able to set aside a decently robust emergency fund, which I really thought would be in case I broke my arm or something and not a global pandemic… but as a result my decision-making comes from a place that is less fiscally motivated and more client-safety focused. I’m not breaking into my retirement fund or counting on unemployment (since they’re pretty crappy over there), and I’m sure that I’ll find something temporary to help bridge any gaps.
Q: What’s going to happen to the office? What about the other people there?
A: Some people are moving to other spaces, some seem to be staying behind and reopening ASAP, but I’m going to wait until I’m sure it will be much safer to provide massage again, and without taking needed PPE from frontline healthcare or essential workers. I encourage all of you to be smart and cautious in your public interactions – and if I thought massage was safe, I’d be doing it.
Q: What am I supposed to do with all this (insert specific pain here)?
A: If you are looking for other non-massage ways to de-stress or manage pain, I can recommend some; just get in touch and I’ll be happy to provide the contact info for some telehealth providers, a favorite meditation app, a hypnotist (don’t knock it, he helped me!), or even some favorite youtube channels for providing self massage or stretches. I’m not going to recommend another massage therapist – at this time, the potential risks just outweigh the reward. Again, if I thought massage was safe, I’d be doing it.
Q: It’s been tough on all of us, and I do have this gift card or package – what am I supposed to do with that?
A: I’m reaching out to all the people with prepaid packages to offer refunds directly – if I missed you somehow, I’m sorry and get in touch and I’ll make it right. If you have a gift card, you have a couple of choices. I’m not always sure where the gift cards went, so you can keep it for when I reopen or you can get in touch with me and I’ll be happy to chat with you about how I’m handling refunds. My email address is Leslie@QualityLifeMassageTherapy.com and the office number (which rings my cell) is 813-501-7568. Please do leave voicemails if I don’t pick up!
Q: Are you SURE you are coming back to work?
A: Yes, when it’s safe and makes sense. I’m not sure where I’ll be located, but I’m so sure I will return that I just spent money AFTER putting my massage items in storage to renew my business name and status with the state of Florida’s corporation registry Sunbiz.org.
Q: Aren’t you overreacting? Isn’t this just the flu / a hoax / a government conspiracy involving 5G towers and aliens?
A: No. Just…no.
Q: Can you come to my house and do a massage?
A: Also no.
Be well, manage stress in more socially distanced ways, and I’ll be staying in touch if that’s okay. Without touching, if you don’t mind.