Blind Massage

Nicholas Quirke was fed up with suffering from sciatica on 16 March 2020 which thankfully was not constant, but its intermittent pain made attempts to relax quite problematical. Most of the time, if he was moving, it abandoned the nagging nerve jangling, muscle tensing pain he was experiencing and he could go about life without worry, but standing still, taking photographs, having a pee, sitting, caused the symptoms to spasm excruciatingly. Stretching the pain out often worked to relieve him, But it was an ever present thought and today the pain management was high on the agenda as he had made an appointment to attend The Massage Hospital. There was a part of him that actually made him a little gratified for the inconvenience of his pain as he had seen a Chinese Film called Blind Massage, which was set in the hospital he was going to, where the masseurs were blind. This knowledge gave his days business a sense of adventure and when, after a morning of cooking and cleaning, he set off at Midday for Ping-anli subway station it was with his imagination whirring. It was the first day since his return to beijing that he was going to fending for himself, Peng was back at work and he was going to have to utilise his technology and not only get around on his own, but also deal with the bureaucracy alone. Naturally there were draconian registration processes to be got through before he could even step inside the hospital, and he was alarmed when the masked, fierce nurses took control of his phone and changed it into a dual language phone to communicate, as for the rest of the day he could only write in Chinese. It was frustrating but he knew he could rely on Peng to sort it out for him. By the time he got see the doctor he had already been there an hour and half. Everyone was very nice and very patient and kept taking money off him for registration, 30 Yuan £3.50 for a notebook, .0.5 Yuan 5p for cloths, 5 Yuan, 60p, for a CAT and Bone Density scan 384 Yuan £45 and finally for the massage itself, a mere 77 Yuan, about £9.00. A total of £58.15 less than you would pay for private treatment in the UK. The results of the scan were a little concerning as they discovered his bone density was -4, the Dr was concerned that his bones were going to crumble. He thought he had enough calcium in his diet to cover his required intake, but he was clearly going to have to go down the supplement route. He had finally reached a moment when he could be massaged and though it seemed that this was a relatively smooth process that was because behind the scenes, phone calls with Peng were happening when the electric Translator he had received for his birthday wasn’t working. It seemed a little extreme, but the Blind Massuer was instructed to work softly so as not to put too much pressure on the brittle bones he apparently was , the Doctor implied they could snap at any moment, and though blind he worked on all the right places and still his ministrations to his lower body, pressing rolling, squeezing and thumping caused minor pain. Nicholas had expected to spend an hour at the hospital but by the the time he left, with his feet tingling, and a sense of relief, he had spent four and a half hours there. It was still a beautiful day and though armed with x-rays and notes he felt a cycle was needed to make the most of his pass and the day. Once home he collected some parcels and discovered that his host had bought him a Photography book he had coveted the previous day of Solonge Brand’s pictures of China in 1966 during the Cultural Revolution, to help cheer him up after the sad news he had. The 2 weeks quarantine had completely domesticated him and once he had cleaned and done some food preparation he took to the treadmill till Peng arrived home and they had something to eat. They talked, he worked, suffered a technology hiccup and went to bed.


  1. I’m so glad you finally found some relief for your sciatica. Your bone density is very worrying though. How long have you been vegan Nick? I’ve always found the horse pill suppliments very difficult to take. Pengs gift to you is beautiful. Really classic pictures. Xxx

    1. Yes Grace, a lovely present. This time, 4+ years, but I thought I was getting enough calcium through the foods that normally eat, I eat lentils and nuts so much, but its obviously not enough.At least its being addressed now.

  2. Pleased your massage was helpful Nick. And, as for bones, the treadmill and exercise will certainly be helping. You will know that here we are entering a phase of ‘only essential’ travel, meetings and the like. Spring is here & shouting loud so it’s hard to take in the crisis, especially after last week.? I wonder what else this year will bring… Px

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