Short term loss long term gain…
That’s what I have to keep telling myself so that I don’t go stir crazy while I am waiting for this injury to heal. Dancers have a huge pain tolerance and in some cases, such as my own, it is not necessarily a good thing. I danced on a stress fracture until it was so bad that I couldn’t even walk for extended periods of time.
Jumping is my favorite part of ballet class. But by the time we got to the spring performances last season I was not jumping at all, only in shows. After about show #18, the pain got so intense that I finally admitted to myself that I was human and needed to get an MRI. Sure enough, even seen with an untrained eye, there were two distinct stress fractures on my tibia, which is the bone where the knee joint connects, one on top of the other. I had two choices, either to keep dancing in A LOT of pain and potentially the fractures could make their way all the way through my tibia, or take time off now so that I have a longer and pain-free career. Right then and there was the biggest lesson for me. I had to start listening to my body because there was absolutely NO WAY that I was done dancing.
The road to recovery…
Being the die-hard holistic healer that I am, the first thing I did was go to the health food store and purchase a ridiculous amount of vitamins that would assist in healing my bone. Everywhere I go I carry around what I call “my bone bag”, which has all my vitamins, essential oils, my bone simulator, my Thera-band etc.
I asked, “How’s rehearsal going? This is what I’m doing…making bone broth. I have learned through holistic healing classes, that this is an alternative and successful way to absorb calcium and heal bone!” (Creepy looking, huh?) In addition, I have started juicing for detoxification and nutrient absorption. Besides pretending to be my own holistic health coach, I am also going to physical therapy. There, they assist me in healing as fast and efficiently as possible while attempting to stay strong and in shape; well, as much as I can be without dancing 8 hours a day.
Most of the work revolves around balancing out some imbalances that I have developed overtime and strengthening the supporting muscles. Other forms of cross training I have included into my regime are yoga, bicycling, stand-up paddle boarding and simple meditation to keep me sane while not being able to dance. And of course my pup LOVES all this time I have to spend with her:
Being so passionate and emotionally invested in something, it is the hardest thing to not be able to do it. Dancing is such a huge part of me that, right now while I am physically incapacitated, I just feel strange, disconnected and not myself. Through movement is how dancers know how to communicate and express themselves. It is scary because this whole experience made me think of what my life would be like without dance. I have always been the “all or nothing” type of person. Since I was young there was no “what if” for me, I was going to be a professional dancer. That’s it. No question about it. For the first time in my professional career, I had an injury that sat me on the bench for a while.
While on the bench…
Despite opening up new and exciting doors these last few months such as pursuing my passion for healthy living and natural healing and signing up for extra courses at St. Mary’s College of California’s LEAP program in hopes of finishing my degree in Spring of 2015, it has been tough. However, this experience has also taught me an essential lesson about fortitude. I had no choice but to stay positive and just give it “time and patience”, which are both difficult for an athlete in recovery. We don’t know how to slow down, all we want to do is continue to do what we love and share it with others.
I am going on my fourth and, hopefully, final month now. I am so anxious to get back. Especially knowing that all of my co-workers are getting ready for the upcoming performances at The Palace of Fine Arts. Though, unfortunately, I will not be on stage with them in these shows I will still be there to support them and flood them with positive energy. But I will really miss sharing the stage with them because the feeling of sharing the stage with the fierce, exuberant and powerful individuals of Smuin Ballet is indescribable. And I will miss performing for our wonderfully supportive audience and sharing with them the joy and love of dance. But, I will be back for Christmas Ballet for the 5th year in a row and stronger than ever and I cannot wait!!