A massage pallor

In which our hero submits himself to the horrors of therapeutic massage.

The other day he had a massage. No, not that kind of massage so graphically advertised and illustrated in the back pages of the Georgia Straight (so I am told).

He had a therapeutic massage, al­though the proponents of the above might argue that theirs is also in aid of their clients’ well being.

The patient had sustained a very bad fall in the recent ice storms, landing heavily on his right thigh. Subsequent examination, including X-rays, had revealed “a severe soft tissue in­jury to the lateral aspect of the right upper leg.”
That is doctor-speak for having buggered up everything except the bone itself.

Massive bruising had ensued and he thought that when this had re­solved, all would be well.


Calcium was deposited in the blood clot, followed by fibrous tissue resulting in a long, hard, painful internal scar. Hence the need for physiotherapy.

This was to be administered by a very large, genial Scotsman who possessed great manual strength and a keen, pawky sense of humor.

“You should have been here a long time ago,” he said.

Head down, the patient muttered his apologetic agreement.

There then ensued a series of passive exercises devised, he thought, during the Spanish Inquisition. These were designed to stretch the affected part and they certainly seemed to do so if pain can be related to success.
The physio then pronounced a man­tra that he was to repeat often: “This may be a wee bit nippy.”

Whereupon he seized the offending limb and proceeded to squeeze, pummel, and knead the muscles in a manner such as to make the patient yip and yelp like a kicked puppy. At the conclusion of this act of thera­peutic barbarism, the patient was told, “Just lie there a wee while before you try to get up.” No kidding.

When he did sit up, he gazed in alarm at the pale elderly person in the mirror as they both struggled to don their trousers.

“A wee bit nippy,” you say. My God!

Tottering to the desk, he was temporarily relieved of his credit card, and told “We’d better see you again in a week.” Oh NO!

As he left the clinic, he did wonder if the other kind of massage might, after all, be better. Aromatic oils, warm towels, fluttering nubile females. But no, that was not really his scene, his style.

The secrecy, the guilt, the possibility of discovery and the resulting embarrassment, oh no, he couldn’t possibly, no, no.
And besides, I might do myself another serious injury.


Dr Fraser is retired from pediatric general surgery at BC Children’s Hospital, where he was head of surgery. He enjoys reading, writing, and erratic golf.

Graham C. Fraser, FRCS, FACS. A massage pallor. BCMJ, Vol. 50, No. 1, January, February, 2008, Page(s) 46 - Back Page.

Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.

About the ICMJE and citation styles

The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.

An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.

BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:

  • Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
  • There is no period after the journal name.
  • Page numbers are not abbreviated.

For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org

BCMJ Guidelines for Authors

Leave a Reply