Massages are awesome, and in my book, massage therapists are healers, feel good machines, endorphin inducers, and amazing people all rolled into one.
After I broke my neck years ago, I experienced a spectrum of pain ranging from aches to incredible headaches. I saw various doctors who offered everything they had to offer - referrals for physical therapy, TENS units, and lots of different medications (muscle relaxers, strong anti-inflammatories, and a variety of pain medications). The problem is you can't stay on drugs forever, physical therapy is very therapeutic but it can't always take away pain, and for whatever reason, the TENS units never seemed to do anything for me. I was talking to an amazing lady at Texas Tech, Julie Isom, one day about my pain, and she suggested that I go see this wonderful massage therapist that she knew about. I don't remember our exact discussion, but I remember expressing some concerns like...so I have to take off my clothes?! :) The idea of laying down on a table and having a stranger massage me sounded really bizarre, but the truth was I was in a lot of pain, and I was more than willing to try anything at that point. She gave me the therapist's name and contact information, and I made my first appointment.
Melody was the best - knowledgeable, professional, and a truly gifted healer. She herself had neck issues and had studied massage therapy and all kinds of biology (and who knows what else!). I told her about my injuries, surgeries, etc. and my search for pain relief. She offered a number of common sense suggestions and then I received my first massage. Heaven-on-Earth. I'm not sure if it was extra circulation to my neck or what, but I had immediate relief from some of the muscle spasms that I think were causing me the most pain. Over the next few years, I continued to see Melody a couple of times per month. I went from being on multiple medications constantly to not taking anything except for the occasional flare-up. I remember talking to my neurosurgeon about the massages and how much they were helping. Not only was my pain level so much better, but I felt better, the swelling in my ankles was much better, and I didn't have to deal with the unwanted side effects of the medications. While I loved my neurosurgeon, he didn't buy into the idea that the massages could be helping with my pain management. I really only told him so he could talk to others in my same situation, but anyway, I knew without a doubt that I had found something that was bringing me relief.
Once I moved away from Lubbock, I found different massage therapists. I've been fortunate to have mostly very, very good ones, a few so-so ones, and two downright scary ones! There was the one lady who massaged my shoulders and back so hard that I was bruised for days afterwards. She said, "You are so stiff!" What I should have said back was..."I'm currently scared for my life!" Then there was another lady who was convinced that if I just relaxed, she could get my head to turn. Because of the screws in my neck, I can't turn my head side-to-side anymore. I tell every therapist that very clearly before they begin, but she didn't believe me. :) Needless to say, I made it out of the situation as well, but there was lots of praying going on. Awkward.
While I have some headaches and neck pain now, it is nothing like it used to be. I typically get a massage once a month now, and on top of the pain relief, I feel like it is a most wonderful treat for myself and definitely a stress reliever. I am convinced if everyone could have a massage once a month, the world would be a much happier place!
Fast forward to this week. I love, LOVE, love my job. I never get bored, and I get the opportunity to meet so many wonderful students that I am constantly learning from and inspired by. I never have to worry about being asked to work on Thanksgiving or Christmas, I get to spend extra time with my kids in the summer, and there are other perks. I feel like in the very tiniest of ways, I get to impact a few lives - it doesn't get much better than that. On the other side of the coin, we do work long days occasionally. On Monday, we had a FAFSA Completion Night which meant my day extended from 7am-8:15pm excluding the commute. After one of the fathers finished his son's FAFSA, he asked if he could ask me a personal question.
"Do you get paid extra for coming tonight, or are you just helping out?"
This question kind of tickled me. :) I said, "I'm a senior counselor, and this is part of my job." He said, "Well, yeah, but do you get paid to stay at night or anything?! I mean you could be home with your own family." I assured him that I wanted to be there and that my family and I are doing fine. :) He shared some of his other thoughts and then thanked me for my time. This really hasn't nothing do with massage therapy, but the dad amused me, and I was genuinely thankful that he was so thankful. Anyway, Monday was a good but long day. Last night (Tuesday) we had an awards ceremony at school, so that too was good but made for a second very long day. Yesterday afternoon around 4pm, I got the robocall reminder that I had a massage appointment today at 4! What an awesome surprise and such a treat after two long days!! I had booked the massage about a month ago, and apparently I forgot to write it down on my calendar. I was so excited about my massage this afternoon.
Now as a mom, wife, and full-time employee, I appreciate massages for a completely different reason than just pain relief. For that sacred hour or 90 minutes, I have no responsibilities, no one is asking me to do anything (except roll over half way through :)), my children aren't asking me for anything, my husband isn't trying to coordinate with me, my students aren't asking me to do anything for them, there is nowhere else I'm supposed to be. I just lay there, listen to the music, chit-chat about trivial stuff, and get massaged. I leave feeling relaxed, content, and full of happy endorphins. If you've never had a massage, I highly recommend them. If you're weirded out by the idea of taking off your clothes and getting touched by another person, you'll probably get over it fairly quickly. Every massage therapist I've been to (except the 2 that were a little scary) has been completely
In summary, there are lots of health and mental wellness benefits of massage, and I am so grateful for massage therapists who share their healing gifts with others. If you're feeling stressed, need a pick-me-up or you're experiencing some sort of pain, massage therapy might be for you. Massages are good for the mind, body, and soul.