My name is Joshel Romeo Cartagenas. As a child I remember we did that test in school where we would have to bend forward and touch our toes and the teacher would run a knuckle down our spines and tell us if we have been checked out for scoliosis. I had always felt some discomfort in my back and at different areas of the spine depending on which side of my back I was paying attention to. I always loved popping the vertebrae in my back because it would give me some temporary relief. I remember I didn’t like sitting down for long periods of time because discomfort would settle in before long.
In 2011 I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing at the age of 21 from the University of Bohol, Philippines. Being able to see people getting better and being healed was something I cherished as a nurse in the clinical periods of my study. I also noticed however that something was missing and at the time I could not put my finger on it. After coming back to the United States I worked for the state of California at a state hospital. I worked there for almost 4 years. The biggest thing that always bothered me was the amount of back pain that many people seemed to have and that the solution was mostly to deal with the symptoms. After an injury that caused me a great deal of discomfort in my back where I previously thought I had scoliosis, I tried pain medication that doctors prescribed. The medication would help but it felt like the relief was too short every time. I started to get the feeling that I was never going to get any permanent relief. I realized I was starting to sound similar to some of the patients that I saw at the hospital that I worked at.
I decided to try manual therapy paying out of my own pocket because insurance didn’t cover some of the things I tried. I tried different kinds of massage (Thai, Swedish, shiatsu), acupuncture, chiropractic treatment and reiki. All were great and did something for me. But the pain would always come back. I was getting desperate to get rid of the annoying chronic pain and I kept searching until I found something called “Rolfing”. I did some research on it and the fascia subject made sense to me because it didn’t feel like it was my bones or my muscles that were the problem. It felt like it was something else that were around those kinds of structures but not exactly those structures. Also, at this point I was desperate and would try anything if I felt like it was going to help.
I remember the first session I got. We did the assessment of walking and going through the range of motions. I walked without trying to force my body into “good posture” and it felt good to let go, but my walk was off with most of my body on top of my right leg and my left leg being used almost as a cane having it swing around myself. I remember closing my eyes and trying to be as neutral as possible when I looked down I was looking down the right side of my chest, past my right nipple line. I got on the table and my rolfer worked on me. I honestly didn’t really feel anything significant and by the end of the session I felt like this was going to be like all the other therapy experiences I had. We did the assessments and I closed my eyes trying to get the feeling of neutrality, when I looked down I was surprised to see that I was looking down the middle of my chest! A little to the right of my naval but still a drastic change and I was still feeling neutral! After that I decided to complete my 10 series. A couple months later I decided that I needed to learn the Rolfing Modality.
What I loved most about this work is that we as practitioners are taught that we are nothing but teachers and guides to help individuals heal themselves. It was the missing piece that I was looking for. An approach that highlighted the need for an individual to want and be responsible of his or her own health and to not just rely on anyone else as their sole source of health. Coupled with the highlighting of presence of mind and the uniqueness of every session I am proud to say I’m a Rolfer