An important focus of my work is using therapeutic massage to help those with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). It's amazing how holistic healing can benefit those who are cognitively present but locked behind sometimes immobile bodies.
No one demonstrates this better than my client Queena. I don't typically identify clients by their first names but Queena is different. She wants others to know her story and how she is doing.
You might know her from Tampa Bay Times as the Bloomingdale Library Attack Survivor. In 2008, right before she was to graduate high school and attend the University of Florida on scholarship, Queena was attacked outside of the library. She was raped, beaten and left to die. But she didn't. And she's been determined to reclaim her life ever since.
In early 2011, my roommate came home and shared an article about Queena in the TBT. I hadn't heard about Queena before then, but I was captivated by her story. There was a picture of Queena in a pool working with a water therapist, and I immediately thought about what I could do to help her. It must have been fate, because Queena's mother called me in the fall of that same year. She'd been referred to me by a friend due to my work with TBI clients, which began in 2010.
I won't lie—I was intimidated. I worried that she wouldn't like me or wouldn't respond to my treatments. What if she couldn't communicate her discomfort to me? But the second I met Queena, I knew those worries had no validity. Not only is she one of the brightest and warmest people I've ever had the pleasure of knowing, but she also has a special way of communicating despite being mostly nonverbal.
We spent the first few sessions getting comfortable with each other. Then, at the third session, I asked Queena if she was prepared for her massage, and she beamed the biggest smile I've ever seen. I receive that same smile at the beginning of almost every session—and the best part is, I see a more relaxed smile at the end of our time together.
I use a combination of massage techniques on Queena, depending on what she needs at the time of our session. Some of those techniques include CranioSomatic Therapy, Swedish relaxation, aromatherapy, myofasical release, reiki energy work and hot stone massage. I focus a lot on helping her release the tension and tightness in her muscles. The result is increased range of motion in her neck, hips, shoulders and other joints.
For most of her recovery, Queena has kept her identity hidden from the public. But in 2011 Queena decided to go public with her name and beautiful face. Now supporters can follow her progress and donate to her cause. If you're interested in supporting Queena and her journey, follow this link.
It's been so rewarding to be a part of Queena's continued recovery. She and her family are wonderful examples of the beauty and resiliency of the human spirit.