Over the last month I’ve reflected on how this happened before, during and now after the injury has subsided.
It is common knowledge that often those who can direct others to do the thoughtful, the efficient, and wisdom inspired thing can forget to walk the talk themselves. Even with all that I have learned, I have the knack of overriding the cues/warnings/red flags that my body is sending me.
Mostly though, I am unrelentingly hopeful that I am indestructible and able to work through physical (and mental) stress as I once did. Being a professional ballet dancer trained me to be tough often to a fault and now I realize that habit is not serving me.
It has been humbling – and a relief – that I must listen to that little voice inside trying to tell me that pain is a form of communication that cannot be disregarded……for long. I wish I had seen the light bulb that was surely going off inside of me.
Before the injury I had been noticing that my legs were feeling weak and my daily walks were becoming more and more exhausting. In my ballroom lessons, I was losing my balance and feeling a troubling ache in my lower back. My response was to get massage and assume it would subside. It didn’t but I kept up my activity level. Sometimes I felt nauseated.
Looking back, I didn’t pay attention to what was brewing for long enough. Instead, I talked myself into thinking it would pass – “I’ll just work through it. BIG MISTAKE! I didn’t even fully communicate my discomfort to my ballroom teacher, such was my desire to disregard, and to ignore the increasing pain.
During the injury which happened in a first time smooth competition, I plowed through but I felt like my right leg/hamstring/groin which had been bothering me was no longer part of me, an appendage with less cooperation than a toddler without a nap. I told my partner to hold me up -dancing on my own?, not likely! I was amazed that my discombobulation wasn’t more obvious to others. (Maybe they were being kind…maybe I acted better than I thought!)
After the comp, I hobbled back to my hotel room and laughed at myself, taking off my costume, shoes and tights, happy that the bed was right there to catch me.
After I hobbled home the next morning, I knew I needed to find out what happened. I called the following Monday and got an appointment with a Sports doctor and had an x-ray of my lower back. It showed an L4-5 herniated disk. It all made sense and I suspected that this had been going on for awhile. So for 4 weeks, no dancing, no walking or any other activity except teaching and getting around to get food into the house, cook and clean up.
Five weeks later, along with physical therapy 2x per week and Floor Barre I can take 1 mile walks, climb stairs and have the sense that I am healing. Herniated disks tend to heal with time, but the wake up call I received has inspired me to take my own advice to my students: Be in the moment, listen to your body and take care of it by learning how we are uniquely designed to function.
I can teach you that -now I just have to practice it!
To your dancing health,
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