Thursday, November 4, 2010


I know there are worse pains than mine out there in this cruel, dark world.  I do.  I try to be strong, and I try to be brave, and I try not to complain.

But I'm tired, now.  Tired of hurting.

I just want it to stop, please.  Please.  Please?

I should explain. . .

I had surgery back in May. . . surgery to hopefully save my dance career.  They tightened my ligaments and muscles, "shrinking the capsule," around my right shoulder joint.  They drilled into the ball of my shoulder, three deep holes, and put anchors in. . . and pulled on the anchors until the joint was back in place.  They smoothed cartilage.  I was released from the hospital, the surgery having been checked off as "smooth."

But those first few weeks were Hell.  Sometimes the only thing I could think, at all, in an entire day was "agony. . .

That one word, over and over and over again as my body rejected bottle after bottle of painkillers.  Then the sling came off and I realized I couldn't tie my shoes.  I still couldn't brush my hair. . . or wear pants with zippers.  I couldn't move my arm enough to zipper my pants.  I am a dancer.  Am I a dancer?  How will I ever dance?

Then physical therapy, learning how to be strong and how to move again.  Eventually came dancing, finally, slowly, the most patient teacher in the world coxing my arm (and my now totally anarchic body) back into the ballet vocabulary.  

Why on earth did I have this procedure?  Well, imagine you're chewing bubble gum.  Ok, keep chewing.  Now chew some more. . . and some more. . . you know when a little kid over-chews their gum?  So it becomes loose and soft and almost drippy?  Perfect for tangling in hair?  Those are my ligaments.  Instead of a rubber band that expands and tightens, with taut resistance all the time, my joints are held together by over-chewed gum, stretched thin.  The very worst joint was my right shoulder.  When I was put in a sling last winter, I was told I needed surgery in the next two weeks.  . . or to stop dancing.  And even then, I'd still need surgery. . . someday.

Because by that point, my shoulder would dislocate 50 + times a day.  How did it get so bad?  Well, things deteriorate over time and as crazy as it sounds it took me years to know anything was wrong.  How could I know what someone else's body felt like to be inside?  I didn't know "normal" people don't wake up and have to put their shoulder back in place. They don't hurt all day, for as long as they can remember.  That isn't how the body is meant to work.

Back to the winter: I wore the sling, and I danced in it for three more months, delaying my procedure until Spring semester ended.  Because I couldn't withdraw from my classes.  I wouldn't.

Now, I know how lucky I am,to live in a country with advanced enough medicine to fix something so broken.  How lucky that in those three months, the deterioration seemed almost to stop completely.  How lucky that I recovered quickly, even without painkillers, even with a body sick from them.  How lucky that I get to dance at all.  That I get to touch that magic.  

So I try not to complain.  I try to be brave, like I should be.  But tonight, all I can think is 

When will this be over?


  1. Oh boy, I am so sorry you have to deal with this shoulder of yours (especially because of the line of work we're in). I hope the pain and frustration eases soon!

  2. Thanks Alivia! I appreciate your well-wishes very much