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Case Study Issue 102: The Tale of Two Left Feet

by Kath Morrell(more info)

listed in case studies, originally published in issue 102 - August 2004

Two years ago, in her early 70s, Eva had lost her right leg after suffering a groin thrombosis.

Her condition had been so serious that after three weeks in intensive care, her right leg was black and needed amputating to save her life. Her left foot had also gone black and only after four months was a pulse found.

Subsequently, she lost mobility and had not been able to move properly since. Fortunately her husband was fit enough to help her in and out of a wheel chair. Much of her time was spent in bed, but she was lucky to be alive.

As this case involved a previous thrombosis I was particularly aware of giving gentle treatments: hand reflexology was ideal. As several years had elapsed since Eva's near death experience with no recurrence of any acute problems, I considered it a safe situation. (The Association of Reflexologists advises against treating anyone with acute thrombosis. It is one of the few contra-indications.)

When I first inspected her left foot, it was cold, disfigured and shrunken. The upper half was curled under and toes squashed together. Toe 2 was pushed up and bent stiffly. The skin was delicate and flaking and the foot was very sensitive to even light touch. All the toes were red while the rest of the foot was white, indicating poor circulation.

I decided to treat Eva through the hands until her foot was strong enough to tolerate some gentle treatment. Her leg was stiff and overweight, the knee causing some pain. There was much lymphoedema; the calf, ankle and dorsal part of the foot being particularly swollen.

During the first hand treatment the thigh loosened up, and the right hand tingled all over. She later reported more frequent and efficient bladder and bowel movements, better sleep and more mobility in the foot. With weekly treatments her lymph and excretory systems continued to improve. She lost weight from all parts of her body. The temperature of her left foot improved, but very occasionally it went icy cold and she needed heat to make it tolerable.

Curiously, she felt sensations in her absent right leg. There was burning in the missing foot, she could feel sensation in her big and little toes, and pain in her absent foot heralded a change in the weather.

She started to take steps with the help of her husband and physiotherapist. After a month she was trying to walk for an hour twice a week. She was able to get in and out of bed with minimum help and her foot was starting to straighten, the colour noticeably improving.

Two months on and improvements were sustaining but her knee was still very stiff. Suddenly her foot became alarmingly cold. The GP found no pulse in the foot and she was sent to a specialist. Fortunately she didn't have to wait long before two small blood clots around the knee and a twisted vessel near the foot were identified and cleared by angioplasty. Treatments and physio were suspended during this time.

Since the blood supply had rectified the circulation in Eva's leg and foot, I was soon able to give treatment through the foot as it was becoming stronger. With each treatment the foot has become less painful, more malleable and is gradually turning a healthier colour. Skin quality has improved and the second toe is less bent. The whole foot is gradually changing to a more normal shape. As I write, progress with walking is going well. Eva has an exceptionally positive attitude and is determined to walk again, against all the odds.

Coincidently, her husband has an artificial right leg following a motorbike accident in his youth. He suffers from chronic arthritis.

Because of the benefits of reflexology for his wife, he asked for some himself. Like Eva, he too felt sensations in his missing right leg while his right hand was being treated. He also felt burning in non-existent toes while his fingers were being treated, all this 47 years after losing his leg. Additionally he felt healing pain in the right side of his body while his left foot was being treated.

What I found astonishing was not just their determination to recover Eva's mobility, but also their reports about sensations being stimulated in the absent limbs and, in the husband's case, transferring sides (a known phenomenon to reflexologists). Surely this is proof, albeit anecdotal, of subtle energies at work, able to stimulate feeling in absent parts and heal across both sides of the body. Whatever the explanation, it is clear that reflexology treatment does not just deal with the physical body.


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About Kath Morrell

Kath Morrell, who lives and works in rural mid-Wales, comes from a background of teaching. She has been a reflexologist for eight years, originally training with the British Reflexology Association, and has since become an associate member of the Association of Reflexologists. Her practice is based in a struggling rural community serving the areas of Llanfyllin and Welshpool; about 15% of her work is home visits. She frequently attends specialist courses on reflexology and has trained to do VRT. She can be reached at Tel: 01938 500459;

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