Things I Thought I Couldn’t Live Without (But Now Do)
Humans have a habit of getting into habits. We often mindlessly continue to do something, sometimes out of sheer laziness toward investigating other options. Last year I analyzed some of these habits and discovered some very interesting things. It turns out that I was wrong about the things I thought I couldn’t live without.
The Night Guard
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with the dreaded TMJ (short for Tempero Mandibular Joint syndrome). It’s dreaded because it’s not covered by insurance and often can’t be fully resolved. I had to endure the uncomfortable process of having a night guard made and then was told to wear it every night. You can imagine, as a teenager, that I loved the embarrassment of having to wear this thing at sleepovers and then later when staying over with boys.
But I did. Faithfully. For 25 years.
Yes, I wore the same appliance in my mouth for 25 years, despite it having broken in half and been bitten by a dog.
After 25 years, I decided it was disintegrating enough that I would have a new one made. (What can I say… I really like to keep things as long as they’re still good.)
I visited a specialist in TMJ, and he made me a new device. The story of those doctor visits is a whole other story, but I will say that I was unhappy with the doctor and with the finished product. After wearing it for a year, it was doing more harm than good. I was upset. I didn’t live near the doctor anymore so couldn’t go back to inquire about fixing the issue. I also wasn’t sure I wanted to. Instead, I made a decision that was irreversible.
I decided to stop wearing the appliance.
I got to thinking, “Why is it that I wear this thing anyway?” I’d worn it so long that how did I even know it was helping anymore? Was it supposed to stop me from clenching? I don’t think I clenched. Was it supposed to stop bruxism? I don’t think I had that either. Did it keep my jaw aligned? I’m not so sure.
The thing is, if I stopped wearing it for more than a couple weeks, it would never fit in my mouth again because our teeth move ever so slightly on their own. After a while, this particular device would never fit me again. I’d have to have a new one made if I changed my mind.
But I did it. And it took some adjustment. And nothing bad happened. I’ve now been without it for a year.
(Please note: this is NOT to be taken as advice to stop wearing your dental appliance!)
The point is that I didn’t question why I kept doing this thing for 25 years. I just kept doing it, apparently without necessity at some point.
I’ve been a headache sufferer for all my life, but 4 years ago they intensified greatly. I was often able to abort them by taking four Ibuprofen or 2 pain reliever capsules with caffeine. I did this often as I got headaches often.
Then the stomach pain began. It was subtle at first, but the next thing I know I’m getting an endoscopy and treating gastritis for 6 months.
Early on, my doctor and I agreed on the culprit: NSAIDs. NSAIDs are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin, Aleve, and Midol. These are all forms of Ibuprofen and Naproxen. These substances irritate your stomach every time you take them, especially if you don’t eat food with them.
I stopped taking all NSAIDs cold turkey after relying on them daily for pain relief.
Many of my headaches were tension related, so I began taking a magnesium supplement twice a day. I also began doing neck and shoulder stretches twice each day. I topped this off with daily cups of ginger/turmeric tea as turmeric is said to have anti-inflammatory properties. All of these things seemed to help greatly.
For 6 months I did not use any Ibuprofen, something I had relied on almost daily. It turned out, there were other ways to relieve my tension and pain.
These are just a couple things I thought I couldn’t live without. Many things in our lives no longer serve a purpose or even harm us. They simply exist because we don’t take the time to consider whether they are still relevant to us. This goes for possessions, habits and people.
Take a look at the things in your life. Do you know why they are all there? Do some no longer serve a purpose? If so, considering eliminating or replacing them.