It’s been a long time since my last post. And not because there was nothing to write about. It so often seems that when there’s the most to write about, there’s also the least time, or energy, to write about it! I need to be more diligent about writing!
Well – lets see… since my last real update about my own dancing after Manhattan last July, instead of taking a break to rest (which would have been the right thing to do, as I had injured myself preparing for that competition) I instead upped the intensity of my training, and worked passionately on every bit of new material my coaches exposed me to. I had a lot of great coaching, performed a handful of shows, competed in several competitions (including the Friday night session at the Eastern), was my coach’s assistant teacher for a Quickstep class at MIT, for better or worse became no longer affiliated with SuperShag, and finally, abruptly felt my body violently protest “no more!” during a natural turn (my knee just gave out).
That was at the end of February (just after the Eastern). I took a couple of weeks off to rest, after which everything felt better… except my initial injuries from last June (my big toes). I then went to see an orthopedist, underwent a series of x-rays and MRIs, and eventually was given the grave diagnosis of damaged great toe joints (which typically don’t heal). There are options like cortisone shots, and surgery, but joint replacement isn’t really an option (yet) for dancers. Big-toe joint-replacement surgeries are effective, but they aren’t yet able to last a lifetime, and they require drilling the bone in a way that can’t be repeated for successive joint replacements in the future, so they aren’t even recommended for young non-athletes. The orthopedist was optimistic that there will be much better options available within my lifetime, though.
Since I wasn’t about to jump head-first into the risk of any of those options (especially since none of them were guaranteed to make things better!), he prescribed a very strong anti-inflammatory, prolonged rest (without dancing or running), physical therapy, and daily doses of ice, to mitigate the treatable symptoms. I’ve been following that plan religiously, and am seeing marked improvements (which are exciting), but the progress is still slower than I’d like.. impatient me – but isn’t impatience and stubbornness what got me here? I miss dance so much, but even though I feel impatient and wish I could run back to the studio and just dance, I’m going to be smarter from this point on! It’s still not clear how much more improvement I will be able to see, but I’m approaching it with the belief that recovering enough to return to competitive dancing IS possible (as long as I’m diligent), and so I’m trying to do as much as I can to reach that goal! (The details of everything I’m doing are enough for their own post, which I do intend to write).
In other big news, I’ve recently moved! It was a long time coming, and I’m really happy to have finally found the right place and seized the opportunity! It’s a spacious place, and it’s my goal to build a dance floor here so I can practice at home once I’m able! I’ve already gotten a big 8′ mirror and an 8′ ballet barre, so the pieces are starting to come together!
Finally, the biggest positive piece of news that I have to write about is that as part of my PT, I’ve taken up figure skating! Because my toes are protected inside the boot, skating is something that I can do without causing further damage to my toe joints, or setbacks to the rehabilitation process. In fact, it’s a great activity to strengthen the stabilizer muscles around my hips, which were very adversely affected by all the compensation I was doing during the 9-months I spent training while injured.
My first day back out on the ice was last Sunday, and it was amazing!! After 3 months without dancing, life was becoming difficult and beginning to feel quite unbalanced… being out on the ice felt like being in heaven! It reminded me so much of dancing; I really felt a connection with the music that was playing and it felt much more natural than I expected, after so many years away from skating! Also, I really don’t think that the over-sized grin that made it’s way onto my face as I made my way onto the ice ever actually left my face… at least not until the moment that the big, mean Zamboni came out to ruin all the fun and announce that it was time to go take my skates off…
…until next time!
And next time is tomorrow afternoon! I can’t wait!! I should actually already be asleep, getting heaps of much-needed rest, but I really felt that taking this step back to writing was something that I needed to do. And I’m glad that I did.