Thursday, December 16, 2010

An Injury Update

Somehow I just realized that I haven't posted about my stupid foot since just after I got out of the giant boot!

When it was first decided that I was going to go ahead with the surgery for my achilles bursitis/Haglund's Deformity back in August, my doctor assured me that it would only be a short 3-month recovery til I'd be "back to full dancing." I had my heart set on that Tuesday November 30th date, exactly 12 weeks after my September 7th surgery. In my head I thought I'd be back in pointe shoes and ready to jump into a Nutcracker last minute since I'd still have a month to get stronger.

Not. You see, doctors lie.

The truth is I probably wouldn't have gone ahead with the very necessary surgery if he told me that it would really take much longer to fully heal - but mentally I would've been much healthier if he had exaggerated in the other direction (telling me it would take longer than it really would) so I'd be pleasantly surprised at my progress.

That didn't happen.

Basically, after getting out of the boot I slowly started getting back into class. It was a weird feeling to have such limited mobility at first (I couldn't even cross to fifth position) but it felt SO good to be dancing again, even if it was just 20 minutes of sort-of-barre. With physical therapy I slowly built up my strength, progressing to releves after what felt like forever.

In early November I pushed through one little performance - but it was hip hop and therefore not to stressful on the foot. Then I approached my 3-month recovery mark knowing that I still wasn't really jumping and hadn't even considered trying on a pointe shoe. Hmm. I went ahead and within 3 days of that 3-month mark I danced in 3 different sets of performances. Can you say impatient?

First we had our semi-annual Performing in NY Showcase at Ailey, which I'm assistant director of. These shows keep growing into more and more work, and I was so focused on all the administrative aspects that I barely got to enjoy the fact that I was onstage once again. It also didn't help that I was scared for the foot the whole time, even though my choreography was minimal. Sigh.

Later that week I danced an improvised solo at an AIDS event at Judson Memorial Church. It was a truly touching event to be a part of, but I think the hard floor was a mistake. My already bad pain level went up the next day and PT was not happy with my crazy tight calves!

Embodied Stories at Judson
The following weekend I got to rejoin Exit 12 Dance Company for parts of "Homecoming," which I danced twice over the summer. It was another bad floor but that meant the piece would not be on pointe, so I was able to take part. What a joy to be a part of that group!

Since that one gung ho week the recovery progress has kind of halted. I had been so positive since the surgery - things could only get better. The worst had passed. But the point came where things started to reverse. I'd wake up and be in pain just walking even though I hadn't danced the day before. In class I'd have to stop mid-barre instead of getting through to center pirouettes as I had been. That excruciating tearing feeling at the bottom of my plie was back just like before the surgery.

It's scary.

When I went back to the doctor at the 3-month mark he said, "Oh yeah, we didn't expect you to be better just yet." Gee, thanks. He and PT thought the pain was normal.'s still going on. This week PT decided maybe it's inflamed again (how can it be, when I've literally only take 2-3 classes per week? I used to do 2-3 classes a DAY!) so I'm taking the week off from dancing.

Talk about discouraging. Part of me is so willing to rest if it's going to put me back on track. Part of me is so tired of not dancing, and half-dancing, as I have been doing since about June. Part of me is terrified that after all this, the problem is not solved...

I'm really trying to have patience, and through this whole process I've been forcing myself not to push to much (a true challenge for an overachiever...). But...I'm ready to be better. I feel so grateful for all who've been by my side through this. And when I'm finally better I owe my physical therapist a huge's been 8 months.

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