Saturday, August 19, 2017

Goals and Expectations

I had an epiphany last year, in the middle of all the ankle trials, that there will come a day when I won't be able to dance anymore.  I'm not ready for it to be quite so soon, so I promised myself that I would try to do something amazing when my ankle healed.

My goal? To audition for the Rockettes. I'm mildly insane, I know (those ladies work HARD, and long hours. But they also get to wear amazing costumes.)

I'm still working my way through my feelings about this decision:
  • Me: Why not? I have a strong ballet background and do decently in jazz and tap (though I need to work on the latter two a bit). I definitely won't embarrass myself.
  • Also Me: I'm insane, everyone else who auditions is 10+ years younger than I am. I'm too old, I definitely won't make it.
  • Me: But maybe I could?
  • Also Me: Girl, no , you can't even do wings in tap yet.
  • Me: Whatever. It would still be an amazing experience to go to Radio City and dance!
My larger plan is to have a whole New York Dance Adventure--visit pointe shoe shops, take class at Steps, audition, actually go see a performance (ABT or NYCB)--make it fun!

Of course, putting this plan into action is proving a little more difficult than I had originally anticipated. My body is not cooperating.

I just turned 36 and by the time I get healthy and strong enough to try to audition (next spring or fall), I'll be close to or at age 37. That's old in the dance world (unless you're Alessandra Ferri).
I feel like I'm starting to feel the age thing, which is annoying. Things get grumpy much more easily than they used to (hi, lower back and hamstrings). Of course, I'm totally out of shape from lack of dancing, so maybe its just that?

I'm trying really hard not to be so hard on myself, but sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle. I have to keep reminding myself that I haven't *really* danced in over a year. Of course I have no strength. Of course my calves don't match. It just takes time, and I'm impatient.

On the other hand, yea I'm not 20 anymore. But at the same time I can't help but feel like I dance better NOW than I did when I was younger. I mean..I didn't get triple pirouettes until just a couple years ago--I never had triples in my teens/20s! So...maybe the impossible can be possible.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Focusing on the Positive

At the end of May I saw my surgeon for my last post-op appointment (following an episode of peroneal tendinitis, because of course).

Near the end of the appointment, he told me I could start dialing things back to normal, and that I was good to go (though I would get some pain at the ligament reconstruction site for awhile yet). I forget how it came up, but I remember him mentioning the athletes he works with and how, because I'm a dancer, he has placed me in that category. My response was, "I don't feel like an athlete!"

Then, you guys, I got a pep talk.

He told me to focus on the things I CAN do, not the things I can't. Everything will come back in time. Even little steps are steps. He reminded me that I'm not just recovering from surgery, I'm also recovering from all the stuff that came BEFORE.

When I thanked him for the pep talk at the end of the appointment, he said, "I give a few a day." Ha!

He's right, of course. I started taking barre again back in April, and now I can definitely feel and see a difference in my foot. Am I 100%? No, but we're getting closer. My range of motion is miles better, I'm able to do some releves on one foot (though I definitely need to keep doing my PT strengthening), and I just started taking full classes again this week (except for jumping). I'm also going to be doing some pointe strengthening (on a Pilates reformer so its not fully weight-bearing right away) at PT!

So, I'm getting there. My strength everywhere needs work, but the more I'm able to take class, the better that will get too (or so I hope).

Saturday, April 29, 2017


Apologies for the non-creative title, but that's literally all I can think right now.

A picture of me right now.
I'm still plugging away taking class/barre, still have pain in my jerk of a peroneal tendon, am still doing PT, and am still super unhappy about how out of shape I am.

The level of my weakness is really sort of unreal. It's like I haven't taken class in six years, rather than just one. The work and progress I had made prior to the ankle drama has just vanished into thin air. It's incredibly frustrating.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Returning to Relevé

(My blog title has never been more appropriate!)

I've taken a grand total of three classes thus far (two the first week, once last week), and BOY HOWDY am I out of shape. We've only been doing plié, tendu, dégagé, plus a little foot work and grand battement at the end (the other student in class is brand new to ballet, so the teacher spent a bit of time explaining things). My muscles are screaming, but I secretly enjoy that--I feel like I know I've actually been doing work.

All the PT stuff.
I'm still getting grumpiness just under my incision and then back behind in "the zone" (its where I had all the pain before).  I talked to both the surgeon and PT about it because even though having pain would still be pretty normal for someone only four months post-op, I was fretting because its in a similar place to where I had pain originally. That being said, it does feel different--less of a pinch, not as deep--just tender.

Luckily, neither are especially worried--the pain under/near my incision is normal and will go away with time (its also common because they "chomped" the bone there, yum!); the other is my good 'ole peroneal tendon being grumpy because of lack of strength/scar tissue. I'll start focusing more on getting those strong again at PT, and am now the proud owner of some lateral heel wedges for my sneakers (sexy!) which helps ease the pressure on that muscle/tendon during my everyday life.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

A Very Overdue Update

I'm not even sure where to begin; a lot has happened.  I suppose I should just start where I left off, back in OCTOBER.

Saw AnkleDoctor. He agreed with the nurse's recommendation that I needed surgery, only he thought my problem was the FHL (remember my good 'ole FHL?), some instability, and likely some damage to the cartilage in my ankle joint. This was a happier prognosis than what I expected (believe it or not), because the nurse had originally talked about deepening the peroneal groove in my bone and stuff, eep!

So I had surgery at the end of November 2016. They ended up doing a lot more than I expected (and I have more "holes" in my ankle than I thought I would!):

One side of scars--not too bad looking these days!
  1. Checked my ankle joint for cartilage injuries and found two. To fix, they created little “potholes” and dug out the bad cartilage. Apparently the bone marrow fills back in over time (like tar), but limits my releve-type activities for four months.
  2. Checked my FHL & peroneal tendons for badness. Both were “pristine.” *hair toss*
  3. Tightened two of my lateral (outside) ligaments to improve stability. This involved detaching them from my bone, attaching a tiny metal anchor to the bone, and reattaching them to the anchor? I’m fuzzy on this part, but apparently am very slightly bionic now! 
  4. Shaved off piece of my talus (one of the ankle bones) that was potentially causing the posterior “pinch” that has been the root of my problems this whole time. 
  5. Cleaned out tons of scar tissue. Whew! 
Since early December, I've been PT-ing like a crazy lady and am due to start taking barre again this week (yay!) It has been very slow but steady progression, but the doctor did warn me I'd be stiff for awhile. Class-wise, I'll only be doing some barre to start out (just what's not painful, so maybe not even ALL of barre), then slowly and surely add all of barre, center, petite allegro, grand allegro, and maybe even pointe eventually!

Hopefully will update more now that I'll be back in action.

...and maybe one day my point will match again!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This was inevitable...

So....the PRP didn't work.

That's a bit of a lie, it worked a little bit (things are less "crunchy"), but not well enough that I'm better and able to dance. No, in fact, the doctor that gave me the PRP injection actually recommended that I go see an orthopedic surgeon that specializes in foot/ankle problems. Good times.

So I've been waiting 3 months to get in to see AnkleDoctor's nurse (the "gatekeeper"), who one HAS to see prior to seeing the doctor. I saw her a week or so ago and she was basically like, "Girl, you've done everything else, I think we need to have AnkleDoctor do surgery to put your tendon in place and clean up the gunk in there." So, now I'm waiting AGAIN, this time to officially consult with the doctor.

So, it looks like I'm surgery-bound. I just don't know when.

Will I be able to dance in the winter show? Will I be hobbling around on crutches during Thanksgiving and Christmas? Only time will tell!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Rather Large Update

Man, I have been on an adventure (if waiting for things to happen one month at a time can be called an adventure).

I got an MRI in mid-May, and found out I had the following problems:
  1. Chronic tendonitis in my peroneal tendons (not surprised) with some possible subluxation (movement) of the tendons out of their proper placement (yuck).
  2. Inflammation in the front part of my ankle joint
  3. Bursitis in the bursa located behind the Achilles
  4. A small tear in my Achilles (?!)
Basically, my ankle was a hot mess of inflammation from overuse. We're all shocked, I know.


I discussed the results with my PT and podiatrist, and the latter decided that she wanted me to get a surgeon's opinion (as she no longer does surgery). I ended up going back to the first podiatrist I'd seen when this first started a thousand years ago, and he decided the best thing for me to try at this point would be a PRP injection.

PRP stands for platelet rich plasma. They take some of your blood, centrifuge it to separate the red cells from the platelets and plasma, and inject the platelet rich plasma back into you (in my case, it would be directly into my peroneal tendon). I have started lovingly referring to this as my "lizard" or "superhero" shot (or maybe supervillain, like The Lizard from Spiderman). Because this is new science, and stem-based (though it doesn't use stem cells, only my own blood), insurance doesn't cover it, so I had to make a long and hard decision about whether I want to spend the money to try it.

In the end, I decided to go ahead and do it, and was scheduled to get my PRP in mid-June (that's a month wait from the MRI, in case you're keeping track). I went in to get my PRP and...they couldn't draw my blood. I'm not kidding. They tried 4 times and had to give up, so I couldn't get the injection. (Was I already superhuman? A zombie? Dehydrated? Who knows).

At any rate, because I'm apparently difficult and "might need to be sedated" for the blood draw (what?!), they ended up referring me to a stem cell institute in town, where this is their specialty.

Good things: As mentioned above, this is what they do, so no problems (in theory) with a blood draw. They have more advanced equipment and the doctor has been performing this procedure for awhile. Extra bonus: it was going to cost less than the first guy.

Bad things: I had to wait a whole month again to try it.

Fast forward to this past Tuesday, and I have successfully (finally) received a PRP injection, and am back in the boot for at least two weeks. After that, its back to good 'ole PT and hopefully I'll be back dancing in a couple of months!

And NO, they did not need to sedate me (seriously, wtf?)