Pay Yourself First

15 May

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity for me.  I have gone to a wedding, a funeral, a wine festival, and a family dinner all in the last 4 days.  I also have had several chiropractor appointments, an extra workload because our office manager is on vacation this week, and plenty to do around the house.  With all of that going on it has been hard to take a breath and really focus on myself.  I’ve been on here a few times and thrown together a quick blog post.  I’ve been able to do a quick fly by on the message boards I visit.  That’s about it.

Well, maybe that’s not entirely true.  I did take a really good step in the right direction and quit my second job.  I can’t quite explain how wonderful that feels.  It wasn’t so much about the work.  I enjoy tutoring.  It is satisfying to impart knowledge on the younger generations and share my study tips.  I just hated giving up my free time.  Most of the tutoring was at night – right after my full-time job – or on Saturdays.  I had already decided a while ago to forgo Saturday tutoring in favor of having a life.  But then those hours after work didn’t amount to that much in the grand scheme of things.  Except that they chipped away at my ability to ever feel truly relaxed.  By the time I got home, got a bite to eat, changed, and my husband and I caught each other up on the day’s events it was basically time to go to bed.  Maybe we could fit in a few TV shows.  But I never felt fully decompressed.  It felt like my entire life consisted of sleeping, working, working some more, and sleeping again.

Now that I don’t have to do that in theory I should have more time for myself.  The problem is that there are always other things to take care of.  Literally there is always something that needs my attention.  Even taking care of yourself takes time away from really taking care of yourself.  What do I mean?  Take for example the chiropractor.  It all started off with a Living Social deal for an hour-long massage, chiropractic exam, x-rays, and an adjustment for a really great deal (like $35 I think).  I set up the appointment, took a half day, and prepared myself for a nice relaxing massage.

That part was wonderful.  The initial appointment with the chiropractor also went smoothly.  I went over the pain I have been experiencing in my neck and lower back, and they took a few x-rays.  Then I had to schedule a follow-up appointment to come back, view the x-rays, get an adjustment, and see if I needed any further treatment.  It turns out that I do.  I was able to take a quick snapshot of my neck x-ray with my phone.  It’s not a great picture, but I have included it below so that you can see how messed up my neck is…

My neck… It should be curving with the mark that is drawn on there.

Basically a normal, healthy spine curves at the neck in a kind of loose C shape.  That natural curve is there for a number of reasons that I won’t go into (this isn’t a medical blog after all).  Mine doesn’t have it.  The portion of my spine in my neck is basically straight, which means that I am carrying my head at the completely wrong angle.  The chiropractor said to think of your head like a bowling ball.  If you carry a bowling ball straight up and down it is a lot easier to take the weight.  If instead you carried the bowling ball with your arm extended the weight is much harder to carry for any extended period of time.  The farther you extend your arm the heavier that bowling ball feels.  It is a similar concept when your head isn’t lined up properly with your shoulders.

There are also two more “curved” parts of my cervical spine that pose a few problems.  Problem #1 is the sharp corner at the very top of my spine (the base of my skull).  It is a severe bend that is pinching a nerve there.  This is apparently the cause of my frequent headaches, TMJ, and sinus pressure issues.  Problem #2 is that the lower 3 vertebrae have a slight curve in the wrong direction.  The pressure from that has created a few “lips” on the edges of my bones that shouldn’t be there.  Finally, the spaces between my vertebrae are not as consistent and open as they should be.  The extra pressure on my spine is causing it to compress, which is not a good thing.

Fixing all of these issues is possible, but it is a bit of a process.  A process that will relieve my pain, but a process that will also take time.  Not only do I need to do several exercises at home twice per day, I also need to visit the chiropractor twice per week for the first 6 weeks.  They offer hours on Saturdays and later in the evening after work.  That is convenient because I don’t have to miss work, but it leaves me once again giving up several evenings and/or weekends.  The adjustments and exercises themselves don’t take that much time (about an hour a day for the exercises and 30 minutes or so for the office visits).  The problem is that this chiropractor is about 30 minutes (with no traffic) from where I live and work.  So that means I have to tack on another hour for the commute there and back.

I am willing to do all of that because it has already been helping my pain immensely.  I haven’t had a headache since I started this process about 2 weeks ago.  I also have so much less pressure in my sinuses and ears.  I know it is worth it to do all the work and do it right so that this damage can hopefully be reversed.  I still feel like pouting, though, on days like today when I have to make that drive out there.  Or when I have to wear the crazy head weight and do the neck traction exercises.  Oh well…  At least now my husband’s CPAP machine isn’t the only weird head contraption in the house.

So back to my original theme…  I know that it must be possible to live life, work, take care of yourself, and still relax.  Right?  I just have to make sure that I make myself a priority.  One thing I learned at the last business conference I attended is “Pay yourself first.”  That is a concept that people talk about when it comes to finances – always make sure that saving money is a priority.  But it really applies to so many other areas.  I have realized that I have to focus on me.  I have to make time for taking a breather at work, getting up and walking around for a few minutes, drinking enough water, and daily exercise.  I have to make communicating my feelings to my husband a priority.  I have to give myself permission to just relax and do nothing every once in a while.   I have to realize that my health, sanity, and needs come first.  It is something I have to remind myself of on a consistent basis.  Here’s to more me time and paying myself first!

2 Responses to “Pay Yourself First”

  1. instillari May 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

    Wow, it sounds like you have a lot going on. It is so true what you say about time. It seems we can never get enough! And when we have extra time there is always something that needs to be done instead of just taking a moment to relax. I’m sorry to hear about your pain. I actually have similar symptoms (headaches, neck/back pain, jaw pain) I wonder if it is an issue with my spine etc. What kind of exercises are they? I wonder if they could benefit me. But anyway, I really hope you feel better and can take some time for yourself, it is important! I enjoyed your post.

    • beautifulmess7 May 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks for your comment. I do have a lot going on, but not as much as a lot of other people. I am somewhat content with my level of responsibilities… although I definitely wouldn’t want to add anything to my list. It’s the same with time and money… you can never have enough!

      There would be any number of things that cause those types of things, but spinal issues are definitely at the top of the list. If you have a local chiropractor that you know has a good reputation it wouldn’t be a bad idea just to have a consultation.

      Most of the exercises I’m doing pertain to stretching my spine, working on my posture, and getting my spine back into the right alignment. There is some special equipment required, like something for neck traction and a head weight that I have to wear for 20 minutes twice per day. That helps to train and build my neck muscles to keep my head in the right alignment. So far I’m only a few weeks in, but I do see a difference.

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