In May 2011, I was 21 and working as a massage therapist when my back pain began increasing from a previous injury. I couldn’t walk and started to lose feeling in the lower half of my body. I was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a herniated and torn disc that was compressing all of my nerves. I was on bed rest for a month after, during which time I began planning on opening my first beauty salon. Lots of people thought I was crazy to open a business with an injured back, but I knew it was what I was meant to do. With my family’s support, and dual licensing, I was able to open my doors in the middle of July. It was extremely hard to work while on the strong medications prescribed by my doctor, so I went off of them and have been recovering solely with physiotherapy. I constantly have to observe my posture. All of my chairs have lumbar supports and I get up while my clients’ hands are in the lamps to stretch a little. My main service is Shellac so I can be sitting at my manicure table or pedicure chair for up to nine hours a day. Seeing my clients happy is what keeps me going, even on days that I just want to stay in bed. I am so passionate about what I do that I could never imagine doing anything else!
— Amanda Daniluk, Sapphire Esthetics, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Daily, I wake up with a sore stiff neck from having a C5/6 spinal fusion. Throughout the day my neck aches and I often have severe headaches that radiate from my neck, and my shoulders are usually very tight. Since the surgery there is still limited movement, just not as bad as what it was. Now I’m able to move a lot more than before and even though there’s still suffering on a daily basis, the pain is now manageable without heavy prescription drugs. The easiest way to manage the pain and stiffness is through stretching and posture. Making sure to take time every couple of hours to do some basic stretches, keeping my water intake up, and eating properly make all the difference. Although it can be a task on its own, a positive attitude is the biggest way to keep going, made easier by the fact that it’s not work for me as I enjoy the craft of nails. In spite of the pain, I still do nails even though taking the last two years off while waiting for surgery and recovering was necessary. I’m back at it, transitioning from a mobile business to working in a salon as lifting the kit is no longer feasible. The nail bug has just got me hooked and now with all the pretty bling and art for nails it makes re-entering the industry so much more interesting as I love anything arty. So to add my passion for nails and art together is so much more addictive than any drug on earth.
— Maryanne Jones, Laurence Street Hair and Nails, Hobartville, New South Wales, Australia
I am a paraplegic who is currently training to be a nail tech. I was in a car crash 20 years ago (when I was 16) and broke my back. I went on to complete my A levels and my degree, but after that I stayed home. I started a family three years ago and suffered with post-natal depression. My counselor suggested that I needed to do something in order to stimulate my mind and meet people. I resisted her suggestions for a long time — part of the illness I guess — but as I started to feel better I tended to agree with her. One day my friend said she was interested in becoming a nail tech and it was like a light bulb moment. I thought I could do that and I’d love it. So I signed up for a course with Denise Wright from Perfect Ten and I’m delighted to say that I can do it and do love it. My next step is qualification!
Heather Higgins, Kent, England
After doing nails for nearly a decade, my metatarsals in my feet are jammed from sitting all day and not moving my feet. My chiropractor compared it to devout Catholics praying on their knees all day with their feet extended behind them. After sitting incorrectly for almost 10 years it’s no wonder why some days I can hardly walk. I also volunteer for a dog rescue organization and always have dogs to chase after and take on daily walks. This can be extremely painful.
I am hoping that with regular chiropractor visits and foot exercises my feet will become less painful. I am starting to change my posture while I work. Something I wish I was taught in school. I now teach my students the importance of proper posture so after some time their bodies are not fighting against them.
I love doing nails. I love the freedom of being in charge of my daily schedule, I love the creativity that I get to explore in a daily basis, and I love my clients. I wouldn’t give up my career choice for anything.
Dayna Knight, Days of Beauty, Strathroy, Ontario, Canada
I have been living with fibromyalgia for almost 15 years, eight of them undiagnosed. Every morning when I wake up I know which medications I must take no matter what, just to keep the fibromyalgia in check, then I wait a while to see if I need to take something else. I never leave the house without a pain pill in my purse just in case. When you find a doctor who knows and deals with fibromyalgia it is a blessing.
I have learned to pace myself. At work I have learned to use the best tools to ease the strain on my body. I’ve adjusted the height of my table and chair and use a smooth electric file and nippers and clippers that do not cause strain on my hands. Eating food without a lot of extra additives helps; those chemicals do affect your body. When I get home from work I do as little as possible because I usually have pain. My heating pad and Bio Freeze are my best friends. On my days off I cook large batches of food so I can freeze them and have ready-made dinners on the days I work. If I overdo it I know I will pay for it the next day or two. I try to avoid stress because I know it will cause me pain, and I knit to de-stress and help keep my fingers limber. Mostly I try not to talk about the fact that I have fibromyalgia with people who don’t understand. That is a major stress!
Sheryl Goldberg, Zethina Cosmetics & Skin Care, Glendale, Ariz.
Sherrie McCarter and daughter
I’ve been doing nails almost 10 years now and have rheumatoid arthritis. The ironic thing is I was diagnosed two months after I got my manicuring license. My doctor couldn’t tell me if I’d be able to work doing nails or not, which was devastating at the time. Here we are almost 10 years later and I just opened my second salon this past April. It has definitely been a challenge to say the least, but I absolutely love what I do and I think the fact that this job is pretty physical (filing, softening calluses, massaging, etc.) helps keep my joints moving and flexible. Of course there have been days when I couldn’t work since my hands were so swollen and inflamed that I literally couldn’t move them. But thankfully I haven’t had many of those days. I take many medications daily to keep my symptoms at bay and receive an infusion by I.V. once a month, which helps. Unfortunately auto-immune disease runs in my family and my daughter (who co-owns the salon with me) has fibromyalgia. Because we both suffer from chronic pain, we understand what the other one is going through and on those days when one of us is having a bad day, the other one steps up. It’s definitely a unique situation, but it works for both of us.
Sherrie McCarter, Retro Beauty Bar, Los Alamitos, Calif.
I have a double hernia in my abdomen that causes me many challenges. I actually found out about it while away from the industry and went back into nails so I could provide for my family. My husband built me a platform for my pedicure and rockstar toe services so I would be able to accommodate guests with less pain to myself. It has been a real lifesaver for me. I also raised my table higher to help with pain I was having in my neck and shoulders. That adjustment has saved a lot of wear and tear on my body.
Adrienne Cheatham, Polished Image Salon, Sidney, Neb.