A One Percent Chance
It has been 20 years since my journey of creative innovation began.
I designed a tool to deliver massage, aromatherapy & acupressure to the head & jaw. My invention is called the Temple Massager and November 2017 marks 10 years of donating 2,500 of my creation to service members & veterans globally. I do this in honour of two men I served with who gave all.
Introducing the Temple Massager: A Device Inspired by Veterans
Finding a Solution to Jaw Pain & Migraines
Near the end of my Army career I suffered from debilitating jaw clenching & migraine headaches. Anyone who has experienced either knows how unbearable the pain can be. It was during this time that I discovered it felt good to massage my temple and jaw area to diminish the pain & muscle tension. The problem was that holding up my arms and hands to do so engaged 400 times more muscle than I was trying to relax on my head.
If only I could find a way to massage my head without engaging all those extra neck & shoulder muscles. A tool of efficiency was born.
More Than a Temple Massager
Because my invention is a device aimed at interrupting the signals to the brain, I realised my device may be useful for help with addiction relapse.
Praise For The Temple Massager
After using my invention, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center determined the Temple Massager to be a drug free distractor in 2007-8. The following year, Dr. Mark Abramson, founder of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction clinic at Stanford University said it may be triggering the relaxation response for people.
Furthermore, an Army combat commander’s letter stated that my device acted as a natural (non-drug, noninvasive) form of combat stress relief.
Determined to Make a Difference
If the Temple Massager can do all that then surely it could be useful for harm reduction with addicts such as opioid users. This motivated me to break out of my self-appointed mission to only focus on service members and veterans. I reached out to several clinics without response. Then I contacted a clinic in Richmond, CA.
I spoke with the program director & explained how I thought that if my device is able to distract & calm combat soldiers & veterans, it may also help someone who is addicted to opioids, benzodiazepines, buprenorphine etc. My theory is that by relaxing & distracting them it could help to bridge through weak moments when the urge to use is strong.
My experience, over the last 10 years of donating, has been with medical facilities, military, civilian, veterans, &, recently, the Oakland Raiders NFL team. It felt great to finally have the interest of medical professionals & scientists.
Helping to Fight Addiction
July came & went & I finally received a phone call from the program director at the clinic in Richmond, CA. She was excited to meet with me & receive the sample Temple Massagers I promised. We made arrangements to meet.
In early August, I woke up & looked at CNN.com, & there on the front page was a video that showed opioids & how it affects the brain. Time to learn.
On this video it explained how we have opioid receptors throughout the body & brain. I learned that when the brain produces dopamine & endorphins those opioid receptors receive them. Heroin & opioids fill those same receptors. It dawned on me that if my device is eliciting the relaxation response, & triggers more dopamine & endorphins, my device might help more than I initially thought. I made my way to Richmond with vigour.
Arriving early, I drove by the clinic location. Outside were many people of every walk & race. They all had one thing in common, they were from the Hard Knocks area of Nobody Cares, Richmond, California. Survivors. Street people. Those whom the rest of the world has tried to forget. People who need help.
I was reeling. Is this a bad idea, I wondered?
I reminded myself that this is not Stanford University, a military base, or a hospital. It was not a nice tidy sterile environment with shiny happy people. These were the civilian trenches. I had fought the battle to help people. I had to remind myself that these people need help too.
It reminded me of swimming & looking for Pvt Curtis Young, who was drowning, & how fear made me come up for air. But, then, how I saw soldiers running all over looking for Curtis, which quelled my fear, & enabled me to go back down to look for Curtis with resolve.
I could not find him that day. He drowned. If I am really honouring these two guys I served with then I will work for everyone, from all walks of life, the same way I worked for Curtis, striving for a better outcome.
I parked my car & asked a passerby, what kind of a clinic this was. She said it is a methadone clinic. I was surprised. I don’t know what I was expecting – a clean orderly place surrounded by rose gardens? What a fool. I was just so unaware. I walked in & announced myself.
I had to wait for a couple of minutes, so I started talking with a couple of folks & dropped my “entrepreneur startup” expectations. I was asked to come in from the waiting room & meet with the director. She left briefly, then returned with her staff.
As I sat there, I finally got over my expectations, & felt honoured to be in the trenches. I had the opportunity to see what this addiction epidemic looked like from the street. I felt lucky to be there & grateful that they gave me their time.
They are the warriors, & I was in their battle field.
I was asked to the meeting room. I could tell this was an austere organisation, by the looks of the facility, & felt more & more grateful. I met with the Medical Director, RN & two clinicians. I started to explain how I gained feedback from all of my donations over the years, & I put my binder full of letters in front of the doctor. He said, I have read all of your letters. Wow! This was a first, I thought to myself.
I went right into showing him the protocol from VA & Stanford University, & their study on traumatic brain injury (“TBI”) headaches. Then, I went into using the Temple Massager. I asked that everyone try it, so I could show them how to use it properly. They used it & said they liked the way it made them feel.
They also said that they believed it would help.
They would write up some data collection questions, & collect data from people in the clinic, as well as two individuals remotely. I told them this is pure discovery.
I asked them before we got up how they felt, & if they could still feel the stimulation. They each did. The doctor said that when he came in he was stressed & aggravated, but that now he felt much better.
My job & My Mission: Helping Others
I gave them five devices to use. No money – just data that is all I asked. I am tasked with helping, & that is my job – my mission. The doctor thanked me for my efforts & determination. No biomedical or pharma expert was looking at this in the same way I was.
So I have to ask myself, if not me then who? The doctor retorted with “Joe we are glad to join you in your war.” I thanked him & his staff for their time. I am lucky & honoured to fight next to them.
As I walked out the door I was walking in gratitude, & under my breath saying thanks to God. Every person I walked past & talked with as I left I thanked, & everything I said was yes ma’am, no ma’am, yes sir, no sir; making sure I showed them the respect I would my fellow soldiers. I was fighting back tears as I walked out the door, & felt a new mission was born.
My thoughts on the way home were: I have to stay in shape, & take care of myself, to bring the fight for those that may be incapable. To help others is the goal. That is my reward, & with this fight I reap the greatest value.
It seems funny to feel so rich from virtual “gold” & “diamonds” that I cannot see or touch. But, I understand that they are the type of gold & diamonds that dwell within me. I get to take them to the grave with me. I felt this when donating to troops around the world, & I received a great reminder of what it feels like when I give.
No amount of money will bring this. Even though I have a 1% chance of successfully achieving my objective.
To conclude, I am standing-by, waiting to hear from the clinic in Richmond. Standing by for field tests & studies on my device. Standing by with honour, duty, country & love for my brothers & sisters with whom I share this wonderful life.
Thank you to my creator & ancestors for giving me the strength to carry on my fight. I am lucky & grateful to participate in our society that I once stood prepared to defend.
About The Author - Joe Meisch
13 years, Army National Guard, Army reserves, Temporary active duty as a 12 B Combat Engineer, 62 Juliette Construction Equipment operator. BA Geography, AA College of Marin, patented Temple Massager, gave it to service members & veterans for 10 years.
Currently involved with 9 PhD scientist examining the Temple Massager for TBI chronic tension headaches, Phantom Pain, Facial Muscle spasm, Autism calming, & Opioid oxycodone relapse prevention.
I am focused on my mission as a veteran I conduct my life with 3 simple priorities I learned from the Army. 4. I will always place the mission first. 2. I will never quit. 5. I will never accept defeat.