“There is no way for me to promise that I won’t get angry, or sensitive, or that I won’t cry, or push myself too hard physically. Only I have the solutions to get myself through this, but I am also my own personal enemy right now.”
I ask myself this question every day now. What am I supposed to be doing? Am I doing enough? When will I be better? I think the solution, or the all-encompassing virtue that I require, is — patience. But the thought of even trying to be patient makes me want to scream. Or maybe throw things. My version of patience….well, it doesn’t include any sort of admirable behavior at all.
About ten weeks ago, I fell in ballet class (the first class of the season, I might add). My initial reaction was panic, laced with acceptance-I thought I had broken my ankle. By the end of the day, I knew I was injured, but thought it was your run of the mill sprain. Classic athletic downfall-rollin’ those ankles…it’s what I’m good at. So slowly I went back to work. By the middle of October, I was back to taking full technique classes, but pointe work was still not an option. I felt stronger, but still shaky. So I sought out an orthopedic surgeon and some answers via MRI.
The day of my results appointment with a local UVA doctor, it was pouring rain and freezing. Not the best sign. Accompanied by the most supportive of friends, someone who’s been through this all before, I awaited the news. Not good. Although stretchy, hyper-mobile ligaments are a plus for a dancer, one of mine had finally reached its max. Verdict: my anterior talofibular ligament is “completely gone”, useless, and fully torn. My calcaneofibular ligament is intact but damaged. Best thing to do? Put them back together via the surgical option.
As if that wasn’t enough information bouncing around in my head, there is also “opinion 2”. Before deciding whether or not to slice into my beautiful foot, I took a trip last Thursday to Alexandria, Virginia. Once there, I spent about two and a half hours awaiting the consultation of an orthopedic surgeon with high praises, who understands the typical dancer brain and body. I knew I liked him from the moment the term demi-pointe came out of his mouth. He suggested six more weeks of intensive rehab (including barre only), not only focusing attention on my torn ATFL, but also my flared up FHL tendinitis. To make a long story short, this doctor is concerned about surgically altering my ankle and then leaving me with two dramatically difficult tasks: regaining ROM with a newly mended ATFL and simultaneously calming my never-rectified FHL tendinitis.
“…Honestly, sometimes the magnitude of the issue is too extreme for my day to day thoughts.”
So now we return to the million-dollar question – WHAT NOW? I have a path and a tentative plan, but it also involves me forging my way through six more weeks of nothing. And that’s a diagnosis of six weeks of “nothing” for someone who has never taken a break in her life. I’ve never had to, and I’ve never wanted to. But now it’s a must. And I fully realize that this six weeks isn’t “nothing”. It’s everything really. It’s a challenge to physically and emotionally repair myself in the fastest, but safest way possible. There are no rules. It’s all based absolutely on me and how I feel. But as someone who enjoys and thrives on structure, I find myself constantly wanting to ask someone in authority what I need to do. There are certainly a slew of suggestions and experiences, good and bad, to draw from, but this is a problem I must solve on my own. It cannot be ignored, but, honestly, sometimes the magnitude of the issue is too extreme for my day to day thoughts. I don’t want to push the problem aside by any means, but I need to deal with this road block in my own way.
I am mourning…for lack of a better, less dramatic word. I will put on my best face, and I will deal with this head on every day for as long as I have to, but I am allowed to feel. I’m allowed to be upset. There is no way for me to promise that I won’t get angry, or sensitive, or that I won’t cry, or push myself too hard physically. Only I have the solutions to get myself through this, but I am also my own personal enemy right now. Have I been set back by all of this? Yes. Will I let that stop me? Hell no. I don’t plan on having a disheartening story for the future that includes the words, “I decided it was time to stop dancing.” I’m not ready. It would be silly and premature on my part. The end will be on my terms, so for now, I press on.