Karen Meece – How Massage Therapy Found Me & Changed My Life

 How to become a massage therapistI love a good story, and that seems to sum up my life so far, lots of twists and turns along the way and certainly not what I planned.  I was born and raised in England and my ambition in life was to be a wife and mom.

I pursued a career in administration which afforded me the opportunity to fulfill another passion of mine to travel. I was 23 when I met my husband, Chris.  He was a groomsman for his brother and I was a bridesmaid for my childhood friend, we met at a wedding rehearsal in England.  My friend said we’d either love each other or hate each other.  Turned out he would be the love of my life.  We got married two years after meeting and started our lives together in the USA.

Prior to us meeting, Chris served for four years in the Marine Corps and expressed his desire to serve again early in our marriage so this time around he joined the Army.  We started our family the same year he enlisted, I was quite happy, his career afforded me the ability to stay at home with the kids.  We were blessed with two little girls and stationed in Germany.  Little did we know we unwittingly signed up for the “plan two children get one free” program and just before my husband left on a fifteen-month deployment in 2007, we found out our son would be joining us.

Now this is the part where the profound impact event enters my story.  Three months into Chris’ second deployment my phone rang early one morning.  It was my husband’s commander informing me Chris had fallen 10 feet from the top of his helicopter while doing his pre-flight inspection.  The next four days were a rollercoaster as we awaited his arrival from Iraq, accurate updates were not forthcoming and I was unsure as to what state my husband would be in when he returned.

Chris broke his pelvis in a few places, shattered his wrist, tore his shoulder up, broke some teeth and nearly bit his lip off!  On his return there were surgeries, physical therapy assessments and we were launched into a new world of recovery.  After eighteen months of intense physical therapy, Chris made a remarkable comeback….. or so I thought.

Turns out you don’t recover from those injuries, you find a way to manage them and you find a constant companion called chronic pain.  I have found myself helpless over these years seeing his gait and mobility decline and his pain levels increase.

I had a lightbulb moment in June, “hey Love, how about we invest in me and send me to school so I can help compliment the therapies you will need in the future”.  And this is what completely sums my husband up, “sure” was the answer with zero hesitation.  He has afforded me a wonderful life, I have been able to stay home with the kids which was what I wanted to do, I have been able to homeschool them for the past few years due to the transient nature of the military and here I was asking if we could spend a lot of money on school.  Three weeks later I was sitting in my class.

I have always enjoyed massage, I have experienced the benefits personally for relaxation purposes, however my knowledge was extremely limited prior to entering school.  The accident changed me.  I credit Chris’ physical therapists to saving his life in many ways, they were vital in getting Humpty back together again!  To this day they remain our friends.

One of the therapists nicknamed him “Nemo” as he couldn’t swim straight in the therapy pool.  Chris informed her that he just had a lucky fin like the movie character.  Turns out it helps to have a sense of humor when you are in therapy.  He got his revenge by setting all of the timers in the physical therapy clinic to go off at the same time.  It didn’t take them long to work out who the culprit was.

During those eighteen months I saw the positive impact of physical therapy and I knew that it would marry well with massage therapy.  It just took me ten years to realize that part of the answer was looking at me in the mirror.

So that is a little about me and how massage therapy found me.  I am now three months from graduating and early on in the course there was another turn in the road.  I realized I am passionate about massage therapy.  I really had no idea about the depth of understanding and the world I was about to enter.

My plan was honestly just to help my husband and this will still be my goal first and foremost, however I would like to explore this profession more.  I love the therapeutic side of massage therapy.  What has changed me for the worse?  That is a hard question to answer, I think if anything I have to constantly remind myself this is lifetime of learning and I am not going to just “get it”, instead I am going to “grow it”.  I must say overall, this has been an extremely positive experience.

I love massage therapy and its ability to help people. The AMTA 2016 Consumer Survey showed that consumers are turning to massage therapy to assist with medical conditions.  “78 percent of individuals surveyed claim their primary reason for receiving a massage in the previous 12 months was medical (50 percent) or stress (28 percent) related, according to the 20th annual consumer survey sponsored by the American Massage Therapy Association.”

I have found this to be true when I am in clinic at school.  I am often elated by the end of a school night, especially when I have been building a working relationship with some clients and seeing the positive changes massage is making in them.  I am also happy to report that Chris has benefited from what I am learning at school and we have been able to see a reduction in his pain.

I don’t think I could appreciate the positive changes massage therapy would gift me before the accident happened and I don’t know if I would have viewed massage therapy other than a birthday treat to pamper myself.  Often an event has to happen in order for us to see things in a different light.

Massage therapy has changed me in a way I didn’t plan, yet I am grateful for it finding me.  Maya Angelou once said, “when you know better, you do better” and that statement has always held true for me.

So where will my story take me next?  I really don’t know but as long as I have this guy by my side, I can assure you it will be an adventure.

I am a military spouse, homeschool mama to three wonderful children and following a newfound passion in massage therapy.  I am attending the Massage Therapy Program at Bellus Academy in Manhattan, Kansas. I am also an expert plate spinner, multiple deployment survivor, cereal for dinner some nights specialist.  But first and foremost a British born girl who followed her heart, said “I do”, and went for the ride of her life with a guy from Illinois.     


Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

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