Jobs Do Things to Your Body

Nov 2, 2022

I’ll lead in with a personal story.

I landed my first job at the age of sixteen docking and fueling boats at a small little marina in Southern Connecticut. It’s hard to remember the name, this was going back over 20 years now. The gig was a dream. Pretty girls, cash tips, and during my lunch break I’d fish from the peer at the corner of the boating yard. I imagined myself working there forever. I didn’t have much desire to attend college or travel, I had no plans or reservations to go anywhere but sometimes life makes decisions for us.

I was in the middle of pumping gas, probably flirting with one of the boat owner’s daughters when two police officers walked my way. I didn’t think much of it because the Stratford water police docked their boat at our marina. Once the officers came a little closer, I didn’t recognize them. They were from a different town, Bridgeport. My town. “Are you Harrison Todd?” the officer asked me. I told him yes and he told me that my father was in a construction accident. I never saw my father again.

I know this personal example is extreme. But please hear me out: Whatever job you do, it has a repeated pattern of day-to-day activities, and that pattern molds your body in a certain way. Whether you’re an office worker, a truck driver or an airline pilot, you’re exposed to consistent amount of stress combined with immobility, too much caffeine, sleep deprivation and below-average food. If you work with your hands for a living, you get your share of small or medium traumas, or, as was the case with my father, you may lose your life at work.

Your Job Affects Your Health

Soon afterwards, I moved to upstate New York to live with my grandparents. They were nice people, but I absolutely hated the town and most of the people in it. I was angry, depressed, and had no sense of direction. It wasn’t until I attended a small rock concert that I felt a spark again. I befriended one of the guitarists after the show where he told me about their adventures. Traveling all over the country, drinking, doing drugs, endless parties, and sleepless nights. It was the thrill I was so desperately craving and when he offered me a job to be the band’s driver I accepted on the spot.

Being a road dog (that’s what we called ourselves), took a massive toll on my body. The band never reached A-list status but for over fifteen years we toured all over the country playing at small clubs, pubs, festivals, and even a few gigs overseas. During the years I broke both of my legs, had multiple concussions, stitches, and fractures, and avoided treatment at all costs. The bandmates who are now my best friends fired me. Not because I was doing a poor job but because they love me. My body simply couldn’t take any more damage, if it weren’t for them, I’d be dead.

Check In On Yourself

It’s easy to ignore the pain when you’re having a great time. Although I was working, life felt more like a vacation which is why I never checked in on myself. I was younger, dumber, and my body was more physically capable and at times would heal itself without me having to put in any effort. After a while, this stops but the pain stays. At first, it was confusing. It’s a new experience and you literally don’t understand what is happening. I was too young to have a limp and chronic pain in my back. Although I was hurt and even angry at the band for forcing me out, deep down I knew they were right. I sought medical attention – I received a much-needed wake-up call.

After several surgeries and physical therapy, it was time to get back to work. Sitting around knowing the band was still partying and living the dream while I was doing calisthenics in a facility that smelt like dirty feet was driving me nuts. Of course, I still had pain throughout my body, and I was warned to not go back to my old lifestyle, but I was too hard-headed to listen. They claimed that old life was behind me, but I figured what momma don’t know, won’t hurt her.

We had been on the road for a week and when we landed in Brooklyn my body simply couldn’t take it. The pain was immense and if I was in a car for longer than an hour I would silently suffer so as not to draw attention to myself. When the band went out for drinks, I brought myself to a nearby urgent care facility where two things happened: a) their incredible team treated me with care and meticulous attention; and b) I also met my future wife. 

Choose Wisely

Most of us value our lives based on our jobs, status, power, and other frivolous pursuits. I loved my job and truly had the experience of a lifetime which ultimately led to meeting the woman that I would marry and raise three beautiful children with however, my body will also never forget. After only minutes of playing with my children, I have to sit down because my knee needs a rest. Traveling is brutal on my back and because of the many bar fights, the band would get into I now have panic attacks in crowded spaces. My family and friends mean everything to me, and the sad truth is I can’t give them all of me because of the years of neglect and choosing work over me.

Believe me when I say take care of your body. No matter what your job is and how much it means to you, value yourself first. You only have one life, and that job will be here long after you.

* Legal disclaimer: The content of this article and the entire Chai Care blog is for educational purposes only; it does NOT constitute medical advice and must not be considered as such. Please consult a medical professional regarding any symptoms or health concerns you or your loved ones.

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