Forum: Arts / Diaries

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re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Wed Apr 02, 2014 08:30 PM
Baby steps: I did my rehearsal and my 3 exercises last night. Didn't get to bed very soon, though -- in fact, for the last 4 days or so I've been averaging 6 instead of the 7 hours I've been aiming for. Tonight's not going to be much different, as I've been running around trying to pack and prepare for the trip tomorrow morning.

I just did one more Earl runthrough, and I'm going to have to do it approximately 10 million more times before I perform it Friday night -- it is a stupidly easy dance, but very easy to screw up which foot does those easy movements, and I keep getting it wrong. I am pleased at how well I know the tattoo choreo, though, considering I only learned it on Monday.

The big uncertainty of this trip is how my knee will behave. Actually, I know how it will behave -- stepdance and Highland last night rendered it inoperable today, pretty much. This is somewhat disheartening. I went and saw my PT again today, this time for a session wherein I lay on a table and tried hard not to cry as she tried to "break through some tissue and get your muscles sliding better." Right, sure. I have no idea if it made any difference, as my knee is still totally jammed up. Sitting in a car for 8 hours is not going to help matters. I've packed my lacrosse ball and a mini foam roller, and will hope for the best.

Otherwise, though, I'm pretty excited. New York! Dance! Two of my favourite things!
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Apr 07, 2014 02:39 PM
I have spent most of this day -- a glorious day off -- loafing around, and it was sorely needed. We got back from NYC yesterday evening, stiff from 9 hours in the car and tired from little sleep and much running around the big city. I must admit, it's pretty draining for an introvert like me to spend 4 full days in the company of 4 other people with zero alone time to recharge, but overall I think I did fine and it was a very successful trip in general.

Our performance group seems to have an equivalent in New York, although they only do Highland dance. But they are a great bunch of ladies and we spent much of Thursday evening hanging out at their pub fundraiser. Friday was cramming in as much shopping as possible, tattoo rehearsal, and a ceilidh performance. I was unfortunately a little too distracted by trying to get the tattoo choreo into my brain, and not forgetting my Earl with the arm sequence we decided on at literally the last minute, to really enjoy the ceilidh this year, which was too bad. But the audience was really appreciative.

Saturday: more brief shopping, an important bagel stop, more tattoo rehearsal...And then unfortunately a LOT of waiting around. Rehearsal didn't take long, and neither did running through our parade routines, and the actual parade route only takes about 20 minutes to march/dance through. So we spent about 2 hours waiting, underdressed and freezing, for the parade to start. Then we had to skip my very favourite part -- the informal massed bands and dancing in the streets -- to rush to tattoo rehearsal, where we spent more time waiting around and almost didn't even get to rehearse. Then we got dressed, and then more waiting around for our turn to perform. Saturday overall, then, was pretty frustrating with brief flashes of fun. Again, I couldn't really enjoy the performance because I was trying to make sure I didn't screw it up, and I was super self-conscious to be dancing beside both a former world champion and a near-world-champion. I hope the audience didn't notice my technique was somewhat lacking in comparison.

I don't mean to sound negative -- the tattoo was brand-new, so they're still working out the kinks. I'm just not happy that so much of our precious little time in a great city was squandered by so much waiting around, and that as a result we had to cram in eating at very odd hours (I didn't eat much at all that weekend, and when I did it was mostly at 11pm when I really wanted to be sleeping instead.) I think, next year, we as a group will need to decide which activities are the most fun and worth our time, and hopefully even stay one extra day so that we don't have to cram all our shopping and non-dance fun into just a few hours.

Definitely it was fun overall, though -- the 5 of us got on really well and are all super laid-back travellers, which helped. We had a great time at the pub fundraiser, at one late-night dinner out for a birthday, being questioned by famously jaded New Yorkers about our kilts (on a couple of occasions, like for the parade, we had to wear them out and about, so we got a lot of stares, questions, and comments, and our picture was taken multiple times), having a photoshoot with a police officer, talking to random people on the street at the parade, meeting up with like-minded dancers, dancing down the parade route, and watching/hearing some fantastic pipe and military bands. I can't believe how much we did in such a short time, but New York has this way of giving you energy 'cause you don't want to miss anything while you're there.

And throughout it all, my knee held up rather well, actually. I was super worried about it on the way down there (on Thurs), because every time we got out of the car for a food break my knee was in agony. But I very carefully made sure to roll out basically all the muscles and tissue in my lower limbs every night, and I think it helped. I danced every rehearsal at half-effort and only danced full-out for the actual performances. Today, it feels...just OK. Still stiff. Not as bad as it COULD be, though, which is as good as I'm going to get.

Right now I've really got to get a move on and do a bit of cleaning, laundry, and food-procuring, and then I'm teaching tonight although I have zero desire to do so (sorry, students, I may just sit in a chair and make you do your reels over and over). I was supposed to get back on track, dance-wise, after this trip, so I'll be making my baby steps toward that. Tomorrow I have a performance to attend, and Wednesday I have a board meeting, so the baby steps are going to be particularly minute, but we'll see what I can do.

Tomorrow I think I'll have time to go home before the dance performance I'm seeing, so I'll try to fit in a wee bit of theory studying and step reviewing if possible.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Apr 13, 2014 06:32 PM
O sweet higher power, could it possibly be, maybe be, SPRING? I had a moment at work on Friday where I was packing up to go home and automatically started to take off my shoes -- because it had become ingrained behaviour that one takes off one's shoes and puts on boots in order to go outside. But I don't need to anymore! There is still a good foot of snow on many front lawns on the shadier side of the street, but the ground is pretty much bare! On one or two occasions this week, I didn't even wear a scarf! Mittens are only necessary at nighttime!

I am hoping this slow but glorious turn of season is going to motivate me to do a little better at life overall: eat better, do my exercises more often, run, get ready for my exams...That's a lot to ask of Spring, I know, but I've got to hang my inspiration on something, 'cause it's not materializing anywhere else.

This past week was an atypical one for many reasons, and I don't feel like getting into all of those reasons here. But I missed my dance classes, and have spent 48 hours with a recurring headache, and have been purposely resting my knee as much as possible 'cause with each day of not dancing it feels better and better...So all this means I've done very little in the dance world that's worth talking about.

This has been a not bad weekend for getting back on track, though. I had one night of sloth (Friday), one day of social activity (brunch and drinks yesterday), all my chores are done, and today I managed to get through some Highland theory too. Now, with what little time I've left in this weekend, I want to choreograph the start of my stepdance solo, and do a couple exercises.

Tomorrow, I want to start a tiny regime by which I am not allowed to go to bed at night until I've done one Highland dance full-out and one national. Hopefully this will help improve the woeful state of my exam dances. I won't be at class this Tuesday again, this time because of a board meeting, so I've got to pick up the practicing slack on my own.

Sleep is still on the menu too -- which is why I've got to wrap this up so I can finish my weekend to-do list in time for a decent bedtime.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Apr 15, 2014 09:14 AM
I feel like today is one giant step backwards in two respects: first, after my delirious joy over spring's arrival, I am pretty much devastated to report that snow is in the forecast today, along with a temperature plummet to MINUS NINE degrees. I have no words left to express my winter fatigue and despair.

Also, I was so proud yesterday that my knee didn't hurt at all, and then last night after teaching I diligently practised one nationals dance (Village Maid) and one Highland dance (Fling)...And my knee immediately started hurting after the Fling. Like, to the point that I woke up this morning and could tell I would have difficulty walking before I even swung my legs to the side of the bed. Despair. Can I not do a single dance without messing up my leg again? I thought my week of rest was going to fix things. Sigh.

I had physio this morning, and instead of putting me through my usual exercises my PT marched me to a treatment bed, where I had a somewhat invasive session. The more I hurt, the more my PT seems determined to get to the bottom of it, which means poking and prodding pretty much every part of my body. She dug her fingers under my pelvis, she put pressure on my pubic bone, she jammed her elbow into/along one muscle of my inner thigh, she poked my glutes...At the end I felt bruised and sore and like she had seen way more of my body than I'd prefer. And now I have to do it all again tomorrow, because she wants to try and work out more kinks this week before I take a 4-day Easter break this weekend. The thought is that if I'm going to be a bit more stationary again this weekend, perhaps she can loosen me up and allow everything to settle properly before I get active again next week.

This means that I might have to delay running AGAIN. The last time I ran, it really irritated my knee, and so I admit I'm kind of scared to do it again. I'm actually reaching the point where I'm not sure I can run my annual spring 10K race next month. I just might not be ready. This saddens me, as the race is a good motivator and really fun. But I don't want to screw up this knee any more, and I'm about to start dancing more intensely because I have Highland exams in a month. Gah, it's so frustrating that I thought I had solved one problem (heel spurs), or at least become strong enough to manage it effectively, and now I have a whole new problem entirely.

Anyway, that's enough whining about my injuries for one day. I AM pleased to report that I did my homework and practised my two exam dances, plus my stepdance choreo, last night, and I also studied a few theory terms. Didn't get much sleep, though.

Tonight: I was originally supposed to have a board meeting, but that's just been cancelled due to the weather. So...go to dance? I don't have any of my dance stuff with me, but may have time to dash home first. We'll see how the day goes. At home, I will continue with the practise-two-dances-and-study-theory routine.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:36 AM
I know I spend a lot of time whining in this space about not wanting to go to dance, but when I CAN'T go to dance I start to get really twitchy. I don't like not being able to do things. Skipping dance because I want to eat ice cream on a nice day? Totally acceptable. Skipping dance because my knee ceases to function after physical activity? NOT ACCEPTABLE.

I can be the least patient person ever sometimes. My PT -- while unsure at first, and needing to consult other PTs at the clinic because my injury is so obscure/rare ('cause in what other sport do you have to do lots of movements akin to cuts and 3rd aerials in Irish/Highland?) -- is now pretty sure that I strained a muscle deep within my knee as well as injuring the big muscle that runs from the hip flexor to the inside of the knee. That means 4-6 weeks of recovery, roughly. St Paddy's weekend, when I wrecked the knee completely, was 5 weeks ago, but I haven't exactly rested it all this time. I just want to feel some degree of improvement, instead of that sharp twinge every time I do anything besides just walk.

I've tried to be good over the last two weeks, roughly, where I've barely danced at all. I just spent the weekend in complete sloth at my parents' for Easter (which, admittedly, was lovely -- I'll take day-long lounging outside on a patio in unseasonably nice April weather any day). I've now had 3 PT sessions where we've abandoned the exercise routine in favour of just hands-on therapy. My entire left thigh is taped up to keep that big muscle down. I've been given permission to go to stepdance and Highland tonight after solemnly swearing that I will not dance full out and I will not do any cutting/3rd aerial positions on my left side. But I'm nervous and apprehensive -- I don't want to re-injure the whole leg again. I just want to dance without pain.

In the grand scheme of things, my upcoming events aren't all that important. I don't have to run the 10K race, even though it's one of my favourite events of the spring and a major motivator for me to run middle distances again. I don't have to do my Highland exams next month, although it's a pain in the ass to do them later and then get behind in my progress. I could just leave the leg alone and focus on, say, upper body strength for a while. But I don't wanna! And besides which, my PT is operating on the principle that I'll keep dancing and moving, and she'll just keep making my leg as pliable as possible.

The treatment sessions alone are enough to scare me into being a good patient, lest I have to undergo more of them than necessary. I've gotten used to the active-release-therapy-style digging into my tissue and muscles. I can now relax when my PT has her fingers shoved under my hipbones. But I don't think I can get used to the needling. The whole point of it is that you insert an acupuncture-style needle into the muscle, and then move it around to find the injured or tough spots. The first session just felt weird -- I could feel the needle digging around my muscles, but it was more of a dull ache. It got sharper near the inside of my knee. The injured/tight muscle tries to reject the needle when it hits the more tender spots, so there's a lot of weird involuntary twitching.

Today, it was pretty much agony. And I like to think of myself of someone who handles pain pretty well -- I didn't flinch at all during my tattoo sessions, for example. But here, my muscle starting wobbling uncontrollably as my PT dug around and moved it closer to my knee. "Ah, that's the spot," she said. "It doesn't want me in here." No kidding -- aside from the twitching, it was a searing hot pain every time the needle touched that "sweet spot" -- like putting my finger in a sizzling-hot pan. But I had to stay still lest the needle slip. I actually exlaimed "gah!" and OW!" out loud a couple times when I wasn't biting my lip and clenching the sides of the treatment bed, which is unlike a typical suffer-in-silence type like me. Anyway, I have to do it all again on Thursday morning, which does not please me.

In the meantime, it's rather difficult to set goals when I'm not sure how lame this leg is gonna be. Last week, remember, I re-injured it after practising one measly Fling at home. So with that in mind, I'm going to take it easy tonight after my half-hearted dance classes. Just do one physio exercise that has nothing to do with my lower limbs, roll out all my muscles, and call it a night.

Tomorrow I have craft work to complete for an upcoming wedding, so not much is going to get done there either. And Thursday is Irish -- again, I plan on going just to carefully walk through my dances so I don't totally forget them. I'll aim for more exercises at night, though. And Friday my dad's in town for work so I'll be preoccupied with entertaining him.

Every night, though, I'll still stick to my original plan of practising at least one Highland dance, even if I'm just literally walking through it, and also studying one or two national theory terms. And I'll end each night with a little (secular) prayer for my poor poked-and-prodded knee.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:06 AM
Well, that was a total failure. I SWEAR I barely used my left leg at all last night -- it just vaguely kind of limped/hopped along while my right leg made some general motions. I didn't even break a sweat or get out of breath. But my knee did not like that. My knee does not like to do anything other than walk and lie down, apparently. And so today I am once again in pain. In fact, I woke myself up a couple times overnight because shifting positions in sleep hurt my knee. Lifting it hurts my knee -- a sharp pain from somewhere deep inside that I've become almost accustomed to. And sitting for longer than 5 minutes causes the whole joint to seize up.

Sigh, this makes me sad. I can't even pretend-practice? Why isn't it getting better when I rested it for a good two weeks? Listen, I know that these are first-world problems, and I'm still walking, and there is no reason to turn this into a big tale of woe. But I can't help being bummed out. Forget dance -- I just want to move like a normal person with a knee that works. I am dreading physio tomorrow morning and the awful things my PT will do to my leg. I am, in general, feeling pretty down.

Because dance and running are basically my only forms of exercise, and I can't do either of those right now, I have to somehow stay motivated enough to do some exercises at home. And to keep studying, even though I have no idea if I'll be able to do exams at this point. They are nearly 3 weeks away. It's been 5 weeks and my knee has not improved at all. I can pull myself together in about a week, if necessary, but obviously I'd need to see drastic improvement by then. Sigh.

OK, let's regroup and carry on. Tonight: crafts for a wedding, so no time for anything else. Thursday morning: physio torture. Thursday night: well, I can't go to Irish dance, so I'll focus on some theory studying, some King of the Fairies researching (I have to clarify one part of the set), and some upper body exercises. And try my best to stay upbeat.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:08 AM
Do you wanna hear more about my stupid knee? Too bad, 'cause that's all I've got to talk about! If you make it through the whining, though, there may be some philosophical rumination at the end.

The good news is that I was spared another needling session this morning when my PT saw that I was still bruised from the last one. The bad news is that she uttered a very scary word today: "meniscus."

Up until now, she had been operating with the hypothesis that I had a couple of strained muscles. I've had plenty of those before. Today, after I complained of worsening pain after barely dancing at all on Tuesday night, she did a series of tests, mostly consisting of her moving my legs around and asking, "Does this hurt? How about now? How about now?" and also comparing my range of motion on both sides of my body.

These tests are somewhat mysterious to me, but they were enough for my PT to suspect there's something more going on inside my knee. And that's when she suggested that I could have injured my menisci. Although my worried brain immediately jumped to the worst possible outcome -- a tear that requires surgery -- my PT quickly said that it could be just a strain, or the tiniest of tears, which can heal itself if I rest it. We'll operate under that assumption for now. But this means, of course, more not-dancing. My PT hasn't ruled out me doing my exams in 3 weeks, but I think that's being awfully optimistic -- if my dances were in good shape beforehand, maybe, but they weren't. We'll see.

I suppose it's inevitable I'd tear something or otherwise tick off one more overuse injury to the list I've been compiling over the years (runner's knee, heel spurs, achilles tendonitis, shin splints, etc) -- maybe I was foolish to think I could do a dozen gigs over the St Paddy's period and come out fine on the other end. I think dancers sometimes literally leap about with abandon, without thinking of the whole delicate balance of muscle and tissue and fascia and cartilage that's holding everything together.

I was talking to my friend about my knee last night, and he said, "Are we going to be the generation that ends up limping around in our old age?" What he meant is that my generation is really the first to emphasize exercise so much in older ages. Fitness was recognized, but not as mainstream, for my parents and their peers. Now we've got older marathoners and tennis players and people who pull on the hockey skates in rec leagues in their fifties and sixties and people who start dance classes after the age of 30. That's great, but most of us just go and do things without really understanding how our bodies will respond.

With the increase of fitness and physical activity as a serious hobby, we need more PT's for sure. If I were a professional dancer, I'd have access to one as part of my job. I only have one right now because I have a generous health insurance policy at work, and I feel really grateful for that. I just wish there was a better system in place for making sure that all of us adults who leap/run/swim in our spare time were doing it safely.

Related to that, if I were to ever take teaching dance more seriously (I mean, I take my students very seriously right now, but I mean if I were to make it more part of my "official" career) and try again for certification, I would also seek out some sort of physiotherapy-esque training. I obviously can't go back to university and learn a whole new profession, but I just would want to make sure my students had the best possible tools for keeping their bodies healthy, especially considering how hard-pounding all Celtic forms of dance are. I already do my best with what knowledge I have, but there should be a more formal system in place for this.

Anyway. Let's get back to the present: since dance is off the table, I'll be going home and cooking dinner tonight and finishing off some pinning for a sewing project for this upcoming wedding. My PT has asked me to continue my usual exercises at home, so I'll aim for 30 minutes of that, plus rolling out my muscles as usual. And national theory studying, 'cause I might as well be optimistic that there's a small chance I can still do my exams.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Apr 25, 2014 09:23 AM
Just a little whiny update today, I promise: my knee feels a tiny bit better after yesterday's physio session, and after my PT taped my leg up in a very weird way (it's a spiral around my leg that is supposed to prevent me from moving my knee in harmful ways, I think). I'm still occasionally waking myself up at night by switching positions unconsciously and moving my knee in a painful way. It still is seizing up when I sit for long periods of time. I am still panicky that I have a little tear in a menisci in there, now that my PT has put the idea in my head. I promise to be very, very careful.

I just agreed to assistant-teach a Highland class tomorrow morning, but that doesn't involve dancing so I should be fine. I can demonstrate positions on my right side, and just generally walk around and keep the kids in line where necessary. I agreed to do it partly because it will get me up and productive early tomorrow morning, which will hopefully keep me productive when I get home. I got a big list of goals for this weekend, only a couple of which are dance-related. I will list them all here anyhow, perhaps as a way to stay accountable:

--meal-plan and grocery shop
--cook lunches for next week
--big apartment clean (it's been far too long, embarrassingly)
--regular laundry
--laundering of all my winter hats and mitts and scarves (I THINK it might be safe to put them away this weekend, although the temperature was below zero yesterday morning, sigh)
--hand-laundering of a couple non-machine-washable items that have been piling up
--cleaning of some jewellery items
--physio exercises on both Sat & Sun
--rolling out on the foam roller both Sat & Sun
--read all my weekend newspapers
--file my taxes
--organize some board of directors notes
--pin some bunting for the bridal sewing project
--plan a playlist for a campus radio music show I'm co-hosting with a friend on Tues
--clarify/research a part of the trad set King of the Fairies that has me stumped, for my students on Mon
--decide on what final dance performance my friend and I should see for our annual subscription, and renew that subscription
--if time, come up with a new reel step for my Mon students, and maybe even a treble jig step
--and if time, and this is hardly a chore...There are several TV series I need to get caught up on, and a knitting project I want to start

Oh, and we also have a performance group rehearsal on Sunday morning.

OK, so that's way more than I can accomplish in one weekend, but I'm going to go away now and chip at it, and I'll report back on Sunday.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Apr 28, 2014 09:51 AM
Alright, so publicly posting such a long to-do list was really a set up for failure, 'cause now I have to come back on here and say that I barely got anything done at all. Actually, I got several things done, but still it barely made a dent in that list. And today I feel slightly cranky and unprepared for this week to start, but I'm just taking a deep breath and trying my best not to let that attitude carry me through this day.

Part of the derailment of my weekend came from a friend offering a last-minute ticket to a sold-out concert I had wanted to attend, but was initially too slow on the draw in ticket-buying. I gleefully took the ticket and was on my way to another city, 2 hours away, before 4pm on Saturday. So the rest of the day, productivity-wise, was shot -- but no, I certainly don't regret it. It was one of the weirdest, most interesting, provocative and joyful spectacles I've ever seen.

So here's what I DID manage to get done:
--meal plan and grocery shop
--cook lunches
--skim the weekend papers (not really reading, so cheating on this one, but I ran out of time)
--file taxes (this took way longer than necessary, due to much confusion on the online program I use about how to declare my dance teacher income, without claiming that I have a business)
--pin bunting together (this was 3 hours of work!)
--research, program and make notes for a music radio show I'm co-hosting on Tues (and I've still got a bit more work to do)
--make final decision about the subscription dance series my friend and I attend, and renew the series online
--clarify/research a confusing part of King of the Fairies set (well, I started, but I can't find my Olive Hurley DVD, and searching for answers online was no help, so I've posted about this on the Irish boards, if you're reading this and think you can help me...)
--organize my ridiculous shoe collection (not originally on the list, but my dad came up to visit and work in town and built me a fancy shoe shelving unit, necessitating the organization of all 50+ pairs in my tiny apartment [and yes, I'm rather ashamed of that number])

That's not too bad, is it? But I got way too caught up on desk chores, and then ran out of time for my exercises. That's definitely bad. If I'm not doing cardio because I can't dance or run, then I've got to get up off my ass and use my muscles, at least.

I'm not going to dance tomorrow because of Stupid Knee (it feel neither better nor worse today, for the record), so I've got some time before my radio show tomorrow after work to finish that show's planning, and then start an epic clean of my apartment. Epic clean to be finished Wednesday night, along with laundry. Exercises MUST MUST MUST be done both Tues and Wed. Tonight: straight to bed after teaching, as I've got to leave my house tomorrow at 6:30am for the pleasure of being poked and prodded by my PT again.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:38 AM
King of the Fairies is such a pretty dance, isn't it? (For those non Irish dancers reading this, just trust me and nod in agreement.) I really like teaching my students both new stuff that I've choreographed myself, and traditional steps too -- it's a nice balance, I think. King is my favourite trad set because I love the music, of course, but it's also just a really clever dance with lots of interesting rhythm bits. I've been trying to emphasize that with my students; last week, for example, I actually made them sing the step out loud so they'd better understand how it fits so perfectly to the music. Last night basically all of them had the rhythm almost perfect, so I am pleased. To really do a trad set justice, your rhythm has to be bang-on. (I could spend hours trying to perfect my students' first 4 trebles of St. Patrick's Day -- it's a huge pet peeve of mine to hear those trebles done too fast.)

Also last night at class, I remembered that I'm supposed to perform next weekend at a ceili, and suddenly had a little moment of "but my knee!" panic. So I foisted my slip jig solo on someone else (you know I'm really injured when I pass up the opportunity to perform a slip jig -- it's my favourite dance). That leaves me responsible for dancing a modified Fairy Reel, King of the Fairies, and 3 steps of a treble reel.

For the latter two, I'll see how everyone's doing next week and drop out of those dances if my students are sounding strong enough without my rhythm to guide them. And I'm pretty sure I can handle the Fairy Reel, since skipping around for a few minutes won't kill me. The audience won't notice if I skip a little more softly than everybody else. As an aside, I'm really impressed with my student, an older woman, who's putting together this performance for a ceili she's organizing. She took the Fairy Reel and spiced it up by adding a choreographed intro and by throwing some movements from other dances into it too. It's really pretty and it makes me happy to see one of my students being creative and choreographing.

I'm making all these contingency plans for my participation in the performance because, sadly, I don't think my knee will be in shape in a week and a half. Because it hasn't improved at all in 6 weeks, so why would one extra week make the difference? I'm getting pretty frustrated. At physio this morning, I had the usual painful active release therapy, and also the needles, but I was spared the deep-muscle needling technique of moving the needles around under the skin. Instead, acupuncture-style, my PT stuck a bunch of needles in my knee and inner thigh and then left me alone for a while. I found it really hard to relax, like if I breathed too deeply or flinched, the needles would move and hurt me. So I kind of stupidly lay there, tense and breathing shallowly and wishing I was back to my physio sessions being exercises instead.

Is any of this making a difference? Well, whenever my PT pummels or kneads my muscles into submission, my leg does indeed move a lot more freely immediately after. But here at work, I feel exactly the same as before. I think my PT is getting frustrated too, because she has been polling her colleagues about me. In fact, next week if I show no improvement she's going to send me to a session with one of her colleagues -- one who knows absolutely nothing about me, just to get a fresh pair of eyes/hands on my knee to see if the colleague has any different ideas about what's going on with me. And after that, she may send me to a sports doctor for a more clinical diagnosis -- to decide once and for all whether the injury is muscular in nature (as indicated by the tightness of my thigh muscles and how my knee seizes up with inactivity), or a meniscus tear (as suggested by the sharp pain inside my knee with certain movements), or something else entirely. None of this suggests that I'll be back to dancing any time soon, sigh.

In the meantime, as I mentioned yesterday, tonight I'm hosting a community-radio music show, so I've got to get organized for that after work. Any leftover time will be spent first doing my PT exercises, then rolling out on the foam roller, then starting the apartment scrub-down, then spending a few minutes on that part of King of the Fairies that's been eluding me.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu May 01, 2014 09:37 AM
I'll try to keep this somewhat short, because the last thing you need to read about is more knee woes. I'm almost embarrassed about how detailed my chronicling of said woes is, as there are people with far worse problems than I, and I should be grateful I'm still up and walking and so on and so forth, but I think the biggest thing for me is not having a definitive answer about what's wrong. If my foot was broken, I think I'd actually prefer that 'cause I'd have an x-ray with proof of the break and a cast and a solid idea of how it would heal. This stupid injury is confounding both me and my PT with its mysterious nature.

This morning, my PT set up an appointment for me to have a full assessment with a colleague of hers, someone who knows nothing about me or the nature of my injury. This is to get a second opinion, because I have not made any improvement/progress since mid-March. At this appointment, my job is to basically pretend I've not been having any therapy, and haven't heard the theories and guesses of my original PT. This is to avoid biasing my second-opinion PT's assessment of me. This is to happen next week.

In the meantime, I am to go to a doctor and get a referral to a sports physician for a more clinical diagnosis. Hopefully, between the fresh-eyes PT, and my original PT, and the sports doctor, someone will tell me what the heck is wrong.

Last night, I tried to do some of my exercises but then had a little fit and lay down on the floor in a heap when my knee hurt too much to even do basic lunges and squats and whatever else. After pouting for a while I snapped out of it and managed to tick some items off my to-do list.

Tonight I've got a board meeting. I will continue to foam-roll my legs each night, and do some non-knee-irritating exercises when I can. I'm tired and frustrated, but I'll just continue on until someone tells me if I should be doing something different to heal better.

So this weekend's going to be low-key, then. I'll try again to get some chores done and otherwise take it easy. I've put my 10K race bib up for sale, so hopefully I can at least get some money back there. And I haven't paid for my exams yet, so no loss there. I'm going to officially pull out of those now too. My goal is now to practice the theory once a week or so until the fall, when I might have the chance to try again for the exams, and of course practice my dances throughout the summer too. But right now I'm kind of in a holding pattern, so I'll check back in when I have some answers (fingers crossed).
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon May 05, 2014 09:58 AM
I think I just had a weekend of perfect balance, with fun/social outings on both Fri and Sat nights, and then most of the rest of the weekend to just leisurely pick away at my to-do list, while still leaving time for lazing in bed on both mornings and other forms of sloth. I felt pretty calm last night going to bed, whereas usually my mind races about the week to come.

My knee MIGHT be feeling a bit better; I'm not totally sure. On Thursday morning, before my PT sent me on my way to get 2nd and 3rd opinions, she taped down the big abductor muscle that runs from pelvis to inner thigh to knee. She has done this before; I don't remember a giant improvement in knee function afterwards. This time, though, the tape was particularly tight, and I actually felt pretty good all day Thu & Fri. There was still a bit of stiffness in the knee whenever I rose from sitting for a while, but not nearly as much. Could this be a sign that that muscle is indeed the culprit? If so, why isn't it getting any better when I've been resting it and rolling on it and having it needled? I have no idea.

Also, although the stiffness has lessened somewhat, there is still also the sharp pain inside my knee when I do something it doesn't like. And here is a list of things it doesn't like: running, hopping too much, kicking motion with too much force, turning too quickly, lifting my leg into a "cut" or 3rd aerial position, kicking my leg behind me...OK, so clearly there's still an issue here.

The family doctor I saw on Friday doesn't think it's a meniscus injury, because he heard no apparently-tell-tale "click" as he moved my knee around. But he had no clear diagnosis either. So that's 2nd Opinion. 3rd Opinion (another PT) to come Wed morning. 4th Opinion to come once I get my appointment to see a sports doctor. And on and on it goes.

This week it is my intention to do a few exercises every night, because of course this whole no-cardio thing is going to make me a complete weakling once I can hop around again, so I've got to counteract it when I can. Tonight I teach, and I've got to try to do King of the Fairies and a treble reel with my students, to see if it's realistic for me to dance those at a ceili on Sat.

Not being able to dance sure does leave me with more spare time than I know what to do with...I have a board meeting on Wed, but both Tue & Thu are wiiiide open. Such luxury! I should start viewing this as opportunity rather than moping time. And besides, which there's plenty to do, both fun and not so much: finally handwash the delicate garments pile I keep stepping over, launder all my winter hats and mitts and take my coats to the dry cleaner, create a new reel step for my class, pin more bunting for the upcoming friend's wedding, bake some treats for an upcoming birthday, get caught up on the TV shows it takes me years to get through...Boring domestic stuff, maybe, but it's nice to have the open time to get it done.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue May 06, 2014 10:30 AM
Ack, my teaching season is almost over! I do this every year, I know -- suddenly realize that I've only got, like, 3 classes left, and panic that I've haven't taught everything I meant to. Slow treble jig? Never got around to it. A new reel lead round? Been promising it for weeks. What I sacrifice in concrete goals, however, I like to think I make up for in flexibility and meeting my students' needs on a weekly basis. I like to have the freedom to come into class and assess what needs working on, whether it's technique or a particular step or whatever. I suppose that's more possible when you teach a recreational class. Certainly when I coach competitive students, I've got way more deadlines to deal with.

Anyway, I do indeed have only 2 classes left now, and that makes me a little sad, although I must admit I enjoy the long summer break, too. A bit of fatigue inevitably settles in -- there are weeks when I simply don't feel like going through a step for the 27th time or correcting a particular student's feet every single week. The break makes me more eager to teach again in September. But before that, in the two classes we have left, I want to make sure everyone feels OK with King of the Fairies, the newish hornpipe, and the more advanced slip jig. Everything else is just a bonus.

Knee update (feel free to skip this if you're bored of it -- I certainly am): last night I probably danced more than I should have -- I was demonstrating some technique to a new student, teaching King, demonstrating it on video, and also running through some other steps. I kept it super low to the ground and loose, but I thought it necessary to test whether my knee feeling better over the weekend was REALLY my knee feeling better in general, or just a result of my not asking my knee to do much other than sit and stand lately.

This morning, the verdict: definitely stiffer and in more pain than yesterday. Damn. Maybe not as bad as before, but I was barely hopping last night. So clearly I'm still not meant to ask anything of this joint besides getting me from point A to point B.

Tomorrow morning is my assessment with a new physiotherapist, the purpose of which is to offer my current PT a second opinion on the source of my woes. I admit I am crossing my fingers for a magic diagnosis, though this is unlikely.

Tonight: technically my night off, but I have to a) run errands, b) cook lunches for the rest of the week, and c) pin more bunting -- I've got about 7 hours of pinning work ahead of me, sigh. At least I can watch TV while I'm doing it. At least my knee won't complain about that. I promise to do a few exercises before bed, and also daydream new reel steps for my students while I pin 200 fabric triangles.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Wed May 07, 2014 10:01 AM
I'm getting used to being manhandled. Or woman-handled, I suppose. For one little, annoying knee injury, I sure have been (literally) poked and prodded everywhere else. Today, New PT did the following: shoved my pelvis around to try and get it to stay a particular way; slid her fingers under several ribs and had a good poke around; moved my entire rib cage with her hands and held it there while trying to get me to go through some dance positions; dug around in some of my back muscles with needles, moved both my injured leg and non-injured leg into awkward twisty positions, and pressed various muscles over my entire body while asking me to rate tenderness and compare to my non-injured side.

At some point, I just stop knowing anything at all about my body and how it's functioning. It's like I get paralysed with possibility. Everything hurts, if you poke it enough! Is my left hip more tender than my right? I have no idea! I never noticed the extreme tightness in my back before -- should I be concerned? What does it mean when New PT kept asking me if I'd slipped on the ice this winter or been in a car accident recently? Am I really broken all over?

I know the whole purpose of PTs is to look at the entire body and deduce how a lifetime of bad habits and activities and posture and sitting positions and whatever else are contributing to the specific injury. I know that an injury is not an isolated thing for a dancer -- unless you do something like fall and break your ankle, injuries are usually not solely site-specific. But that just means it's frustrating to try and figure them out, of course. And the treatment is not as simple as "put a cast on it" -- it means a long and difficult process of undoing bad habits and realigning an entire body. I'm already tired just thinking about it.

I don't have any answers yet, but New PT has noticed misalignment in my hips and ribs -- a tendency to lean too far to the right when being supported by my right leg. She wonders if my knee/leg has been adjusting and picking up the slack for this for some time now, and finally gave up on that hard work. It sounds kind of similar to my heel spurs problem, actually -- that one part of my body is picking up too much of the slack, and the answer is to teach other body parts to help out with the load. The good news is that I've successfully done that for my heels -- so maybe I can do it for my knee. But the bad news is that there may still be an acute injury in there that needs dealing with first. New PT and Usual PT are going to discuss and get back to me, and I still have to see a sports doctor too.

Gah, I'm sick of talking about this, and I apologize that it's all this diary has been lately, but I have to deal with it before I can finally return to dancing again.

Tonight: board meeting. Nothing else will get done. Thursday night: night off, sorta, but I have to bake for a friend. And exercise. I also need to kinda walk through dances between now and Saturday night, to make sure I won't hurt myself further by doing one ceili dance, one trad set, and 3 steps of a treble reel.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun May 11, 2014 02:32 PM
I feel as though I have a generally rosier outlook on life after this weekend, and I attribute that to two factors: 1) The weather was near-summer-like this weekend, which meant that I did my Saturday appointments and errands in a t-shirt and that makes everything better, and 2) my knee has seen a small degree of improvement, although there has been what could be called a small setback today.

Original PT and Second Opinion PT conferred about me, and Original PT called me on Friday night. Two PTs agree, apparently, that overuse irritated my knee and that it is likely a small tear or irritation somewhere in the meniscus/cartilage. A sports doctor visit can help confirm this, but it'll be a few weeks before I can get an appointment. A larger, surgery-requiring tear would likely have meant some swelling and more pain than I'm in these days, so we're betting on the fact that it's an injury that can heal itself with rest.

Because I felt better after my last session featuring manual therapy, needling, and taping of the supporting muscles, my PT has said she wants me to do 2 sessions of needling this week, and then maybe we can progress back to pilates/exercise-based therapy the week after, if there appears to be improvement again. My stomach dropped when she said this, of course; I'm terrified of needling now. I have no idea what my problem is -- it's painful, yes, but not for that long. I think it's more that it weirds me out. I get a serious case of the heebie-jeebies even just thinking about those long needles moving around under my skin, touching my muscles, and my muscles involuntarily clenching around them. It's like nails on a blackboard to me, or the sight of a broken bone in the wrong place (one of my most hated teen memories is babysitting when my littlest brother broke his arm so that it was almost poking through the skin and hanging all weird, and I had to stay calm and take him to the hospital and pretend everything was fine while trying not to look at an arm jutting an angle an arm should never be). Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I HATE it so I'm trying to will my knee to get better in order to reduce any more needling sessions.

The problem is, I get all giddy when my knee feels better and foolishly start to think I can dance again. Last night, for example, I thought I'd be OK to do 3 dances at a ceili performance: a softshoe ceili dance, a hardshoe trad set, and a hardshoe treble reel. Several of my students actually admonished me afterwards for dancing full-out when I had promised to keep it lower key. I felt OK afterward, but today my knee is stiff again and easily tweaked. So I'm definitely in no shape to dance, and this is somewhat deflating.

In the meantime, though, I MUST exercise, and so I'm about to do the PT exercises that don't make me uncomfortable. I also am going to solidify the next 2 bars of a new hornpipe for my students, and think about modifying a reel step to better suit my adults.

This week: I still have a lot of pinning to do for this neverending wedding decoration project. This means a lot of time spent on my butt. I must keep up with the exercises, so hold me to it, DDN! I also want to get some better sleep than last week.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue May 13, 2014 09:58 AM
I THINK I might be almost ready to let my students go for the summer. I'm not totally sure. They've all got a reel, a slip jig that's finally starting to look better, a St Pat's set, a King of the Fairies set (to varying degrees), a more advanced hornpipe set (again, to varying degrees), 3 treble reel steps, and ... well, that's pretty much it. They have half a new reel step and that must be finished at the final class. Next on my list for later is a treble jig of some kind, as we've not worked much before on slow-speed jigs.

I've enjoyed this year for sure, but that class is such a juggling act sometimes, even with a teaching assistant. They range in ability from complete beginner to quite advanced, and I'm always trying to find the right balance for everyone -- keeping enough steps the same or similar so that there's some consistency and teamwork in the class (and so, let's face it, I don't get confused and forget what everybody's working on), but also tweaking some steps for some students, and teaching completely different ones for others, so that they feel either challenged or accommodated. Whew, I'm tired. But I think they've done good work this year. We may do some summer classes; I just have to figure out when and where.

So that's my one dance night of the week checked off then, since I still cannot dance myself. Brief knee woe saga, part 347: "Don't get used to these Zen moments," my PT warned, after coming back to pull 10 needles out of my knee and thigh that had been in there for 20 minutes or so. I wanted to argue that I can't exactly reach a state of Zen while being poked by 10 needles, but I DID take them like a big girl and spent my 20 minutes breathing as calmly as possible while staring at the ceiling. Well done, me. But what my PT meant is that she'd prefer to give me active treatment, not passive. Me too. She's eager to get a scan of my knee done so that she knows how hard she can push me, depending on the actual injury. I'm supposed to bug the doctor's office if I don't get a specialist appointment by the end of this week. And in the meantime, I'm supposed to keep my fitness up as much as possible, and I've admittedly been definitely lacking in this department.

It's got me thinking that I've done 24 years of jumping-up-and-down cardio, often on terrible surfaces, and really don't know any other form of exercise. (Of COURSE I'd choose to further punish my legs with middle-distance running as my non-dance form of fitness.) Maybe as I get older (gah, I hate talking like that), I should start thinking of lower-impact forms of fitness to compliment what dancing I'm able to do? I don't know how to swim, and my bike is gathering dust in a shed because it's more suitable to cross-country terrain than the roads of my city. I'm not ready to join an aqua fitness class or anything, but I do need to start considering my options.

Anyway, tonight: more pinning of bunting, which means sitting down, and I need to do less sitting down. I will I will I will make time for the PT exercises I can still do with a bum knee. I will also see about scheduling those summer classes for my students.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri May 16, 2014 11:29 AM
First of all, I have to say that I'm rather smitten by the new Ryan & O'Donnell "diamond" softshoes. I'm a big fan of classy shimmer/glitter -- just a hint of sparkle. I love that they're black, so I'm assuming it's kind of a subtle effect. Oooh, I really want them, and I have ZERO reason to be buying softshoes right now. I think my dance shoe collection is at its well-stocked-without-being-over-the-top peak, actually. I've got 2 pairs of Irish hardshoes (one in use, one I bought on sale to be used later), 2 pairs of dance sneakers (one indoor pair, one sturdier outdoor pair for parades and such), one pair of good Scottish ghillies to wear with wool hose, one pair of good Scottish ghillies to wear with tights, one pair of good Irish black ghillies, one pair of practice Irish ghillies, two pairs of coloured performance Irish ghillies (one red, one green), one pair of worn out/practice Scottish ghillies, one pair of black ballet slippers for general practice, one pair of tap shoes for stepdance...Yes, I definitely DON'T need another pair of dance shoes. But they're so pretty!

I am writing this on a day off, the start of a 4-day weekend. I have slept in this morning, and puttered around a bit, and now I'm about to kick things into high gear with cleaning and grocery shopping and all that other boring stuff, so that I have the rest of the weekend free. Well, sort of. There's a bunch more boring stuff I want to get done, too, but hopefully at a leisurely pace, and amidst some social activity.

And that's about it, really. I don't really have much to say when I'm not dancing, sigh, as my non-dancing life is really not all that interesting. I have a sports medicine specialist appointment on June 10th, but my PT is really gunning for me to call around town and see if I can get in somewhere else earlier, because she can't really know how much to push me until she knows for sure what's wrong with my knee. And so I remain in limbo. And the Canadian health system comes into play here, for despite all its wonderful egalitarian benefits, waiting lists are insanely long. My PT wants me to have a CT scan or MRI done. The wait for that is anywhere from FOUR TO TWELVE MONTHS, gah! I really can't sit around for that long, no way. So I need some sort of plan for activity and general health and not forgetting how to dance entirely and so on, but am not sure where to start. For this weekend at least, I aim to do a full routine of of non-knee-hurting exercises at least three times.

Until I get some answers, I'll probably have less and less to say in this space. I've reached a kind of plateau where my knee isn't any worse, but dancing on it sends the recovery backwards. I can walk around normally, and much of the stiffness is gone, but there's still a weird feeling in there, like something's in the way of its normal mechanics. It's a strange place to be in, as right now I feel like I could just hop out of my chair and start dancing no problem, but I know that's not the case. So because this plateau is boring and tedious and frustrating, I'll try not to whine about it too much here. I will find other ways to stay upbeat. I WILL do my exercises. I think I need to find a bike.

But in the meantime, on this down-pouring day on the eve of a long weekend, I'll get some stuff done and go about my life like there's not something missing, as best I can.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon May 19, 2014 11:42 AM
I think what I need is 4-day weekends every week, 'cause I'm feeling awfully relaxed and yet accomplished right now. Almost ready to go back to work tomorrow, too. Although this was the weekend of Highland exams, and I'm bummed to have missed them, it was really nice to have a long weekend of very little plans and a small to-do list to chip away at. I did a lot of little chores I never find the time for otherwise, did some time-consuming research for an upcoming vacation, ran some errands, had some social time with friends, spent time outside in the sun...Yes, it's been very nice indeed.

My biggest accomplishment, dance/fitness-wise, was figuring out how I can stay somewhat fit without irritating my knee. It occurred to me that there are of course thousands of follow-along workouts on Youtube and such, and surely there must be some cardio-oriented ones that are low-impact. I'm actually pleased with myself for thinking of googling "hotel room workouts", because I figured the routines under that category would be a) made for tiny spaces, b) use no equipment, and c) very low impact or quiet, because you can't exactly jump up and down in a hotel room without getting complaints from your neighbours.

So I've followed along with a couple videos so far, doing full workouts both Saturday and today. They're pretty good -- I did feel my heart rate go up and I lost a bit of breath. Not as much as doing a sword dance or a 3-step treble jig, but better than nothing, I suppose. Yesterday I missed my planned workouts due to a full day of social activity, but the friend I met up with in the morning is very keen on long walks, so I think I covered at least 8K on foot yesterday -- again, better than nothing.

If I can keep this up, I should at least not turn into a puddle of mush before I'm able to return to dance again. Keeping my spirits up is another thing entirely; yesterday, meeting up with friends who had all finished exams this weekend, I felt a little left out for sure.

This week, I have things to do practically every night, so the workouts will have to be squeezed in where they can. I should have about 15 mins tomorrow night, Wed and Thu are iffy, and then I should have time Fri night too, as long as I don't end up with social plans immediately after work.

These posts are just going to get more and more boring, unfortunately, as all I have to do these days is these workouts, but I'll keep checking in to keep me motivated and hopefully somewhat accountable.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue May 20, 2014 08:14 PM
This is going to sound really stupid, but I often forget that I have bad allergies. Like, bad to the point that when I was about 11 or so, and was allergy tested across my back for roughly 80 different allergens, all but 5 or 6 inflamed immediately and I was left with big itchy bumps, akin to a giant mass of mosquito bites, that I can still feel by memory to this day.

I feel like some of them have lessened over the years, maybe. But still, every spring I somehow manage to convince myself I'm not allergic anymore. Like today, when I was walking home on a beautiful day and noticing how the leaves on the trees are so very close to full bloom and how lovely and green everything looks..."Hey, I haven't been sniffly at all!" I thought.

My body has a way of showing up my own hubris, however, so I promptly dissolved into an hour-long sneezing fit when I closed my apartment door. Oh right. This again.

Some antihistamines did the trick, but they also did a good trick of knocking me out entirely. And so that's my extremely long-winded way of telling you that I didn't exercise tonight because I ended up half-horizontal on my couch in a drowsy antihistamine stupor. Mental note: buy those non-drowsy allergy pills as soon as possible.

Although I didn't exercise, I DID feel accomplished in some respects. My hamstrings and inner thighs, for example, are quite stiff today: evidence that my silly little low-impact cardio routines may be actually having an effect. Hallelujah to that, indeed, even if it is aerobic and not exactly the huffing and puffing I'd do in a dance class. Better than nothing.

Today at PT, the following conversation occurred:
PT: Do you swim?
Me: I can dog paddle...
PT: Do you belong to a gym?
Me: Nope.
PT: Do you own a bicycle?
Me: It's been gathering dust for about 2 years now.
PT: Well...
Me: Sorry, dance is the only form of exercise I know!

Well, that's not entirely true, but it's the basic idea. And so we decided that since being jabbed with needles is not curing my knee entirely, we can move back to Pilates next week as long as the exercises do not in any way involve that cursed joint, and until a full diagnosis of cursed joint's actual problem. I am actually excited about this -- yes, this is the point at which I've now arrived; that I'm excited I get to have my butt kicked again at unseemly hours of the morning.

In the meantime, I am to sneak into the PT office's gym and use the stationary bike whenever I can (sneak because my PT says I can use it without paying for gym time, bless her). It's going to take some motivation to get myself there in the morning without an actual PT appointment, but we'll see how it goes. At least I feel like these are all concrete steps toward getting my fitness back, even as I'm still stuck in a diagnosis-less holding pattern.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon May 26, 2014 09:44 AM
My parents, after the occasional little-TOO-festive night out or party, like to tell us kids that as you get older, it takes longer and longer to recover. I never doubted that, but this weekend I think I finally *felt* it myself. You mean I can't drink steadily at a bachelorette party from 7pm to 3am and NOT feel any after-effects? I do this very, very rarely, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it, but waiting out a hangover is not my preferred way to spend a Sunday. Sure, spending the day in bed is kind of luxurious, but not when you feel like crap.

What I'm pleased about, though, is that I was crazy productive on Friday night and Saturday before going out, so I managed to run errands, meal-plan, grocery shop, cook lunches, scrub my apartment, do laundry, and read the weekend papers. So really, I could afford a day of sloth on Sunday in the end. Moving on.

My knee is feeling pretty awesome these days, but I haven't been asking it to do anything other than sit and walk. It's on days like these that I always feel like, "I feel GREAT! I should go dance RIGHT NOW!", but I know that's a terrible idea. This week, though, I start exercising with my PT again, and I'm actually pretty excited about that. Enough with the sloth! Part of this is supposed to involve me using the stationary bike at the PT studio, but I am notoriously unreliable when it comes to getting up early to exercise of my own accord. But I want to feel accomplished when I see my PT on Thu, so I am going to do my darnedest to get to the studio by 7:30am tomorrow. And then I get a Starbucks tea latte as a reward after, ok?

Tonight is my last regular class teaching my adults. So much we didn't do this year! But so much we did, too. It's a good bunch and I'll miss teaching them regularly (we have 4, kind of intermittent, summer classes scheduled), but at the same time I'm always happy for the break.

So this means that, essentially, I have no dance on my plate at all anymore, not until I can actually dance again. Last year I was involved in 4 recitals; this year I am in none! I'm kind of sad about that, actually. But determined to get back at it soon.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue May 27, 2014 09:44 AM
Success: I dragged my ass out of bed early and was in the PT exercise room by 7:30! I spent about 5 minutes on warmup, about 20-25 minutes on the spinning bike, then about 5 minutes on the foam roller. Biking to nowhere is DEAD BORING, but it got me sweating a bit and my heart rate up a bit. Still not anaerobic like dance, but hey, it's exercise. I tried to vary my pacing and the simulated hills and so on.

Unfortunately, when I got off the bike, my bum knee was stiff and sore. Dammit! I thought this would be a safe activity. I'm determined to try again -- I'll just maybe go easier next time. Or ask my PT what she thinks when I see her on Thurs.

Tonight I would like to try and do some strength exercises too, and then listen to some music to start thinking about a new easy piece for our performance group. I need some sort of dance task to keep me going. Maybe I should start studying Highland national theory again too, just to give me something to do, even though I have no idea when my next opportunity to take exams will be. Can you tell I'm feeling pretty restless these days?
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu May 29, 2014 09:53 AM
This is a very small thing, but I am such a sucker for good customer service. Today after physio, I stopped by the particular coffee shop I always go to after physio, but really that's only once a week. I was served by someone who's maybe served me twice before, tops. I gave my order, and without me giving my name she called out, "tall latte for Seannetta with an S" (well, she used my real name and initial, of course). How did she remember not only my name, but also my preferred spelling? I am impressed.

I also worked hard for that latte. I am embarrassingly out of shape right now, and that huge bowl of ice cream I ate last night (see what I do when dance isn't keeping me on a strict schedule??) is not helping matters. I got through 30 minutes of somewhat difficult physio exercises fine, but am not impressed at how I wobbled on things like a side plank with added turnout exercises, or a one-legged bridge raise. Can someone please shame me into doing these at home?

We were careful. During and after each exercise, my PT peppered me with "how's your knee now? How about now?" questions. And the answer is, "mostly OK." It is STILL stiff and sore (although significantly less so) from cycling on Tuesday morning, and my PT frowned at that. She wants me to try again, though, aiming to take the intensity down a notch and also watching to make sure that my thighs stay perfectly parallel to each other. So a leisurely spinning session next week, then. But in terms of today's exercises, I don't think I've irritated my knee any further. I definitely felt points where I couldn't do a full range of motion, though, or I felt it tweak when I turned my leg a certain way.

So same as it ever was, I guess. I'll try not to whine about it much more until I see the specialist on the 10th.

In the meantime: a wedding this weekend is going to occupy most of my time. Tonight I need to bake like a fiend to contribute to the dessert table, and Friday I need to do even more baking. But I'd like to fit in a couple of exercises here and there so I'm not quite so wobbly when I go to PT again next week.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:02 AM
I just had a really, really lovely weekend. It's been gorgeous outside for 3 days now -- hot, not a cloud in the sky, nice breezes at night. Which was perfect for my main weekend activity: attending a mostly outdoor wedding on a campground. It was so fun, being in fancy dress but hanging out outside, bouts of badminton played in bare feet, a dinner and dance and then a bonfire with s'mores at night. We'll forget the very little sleep I got, shivering in my sleeping bag in a cabin, because I guess I didn't anticipate just how cold it'd get at night.

And then yesterday was beers on a patio in the midday sun (my pale self may have melted and burned a little despite my best efforts, sigh) and ice-cream eating while on a walk. And THEN, against my very nature, I came home and did not veg out but cooked and cleaned and did laundry, feeling good and relaxed and fuelled by sunshine and the laid-back, party-in-nature good vibes of the wedding.

And I still feel pretty good today, probably mostly because I have basically zero stress in my life right now. June has historically been a crazy month, with many performances and recitals and such, but of course not dancing has removed all of that entirely. When I think about it too much it saddens me, but I am trying to instead view it as an opportunity to chill out a little.

Not too much, though -- the key here is of course staying active. I had no time for exercise this weekend, which sounds like an excuse but is very true, and I must make up for it this week. Tonight I will try for one of those hotel-room mini-workouts I tried before, plus a few strengthening exercises. Tomorrow I will get up early and get to the gym at physio to spin on the bike again, but more carefully this time. Wednesday I shall repeat tonight's activities. And Thursday morning is physio, plus a bit of dance teaching and choreographing that evening. I certainly have enough to keep me busy; as always the key is staying motivated. Next Tuesday is my specialist appointment, so let's keep that as a goal for some answers about this irritable knee.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:13 AM
Waah, I wanna dance! Sorry, this may get whiny and veer into hissy-fit territory, but going to a dance class and seeing your peers dance a choreography for a recital you can't be in, and teaching your friend your part in other dances because you can't do them yourself...That's hard. Especially since I regularly fool myself into believing I'm totally fine. And, even now, sitting here after being pushed a bit by my PT yesterday and doing a tiny bit of low-key dancing yesterday, I feel mostly fine. It's in those moments where my knee just turns the wrong way, where I hop off that curb with too much gusto, where I take an exercise just a little bit too far -- that's when something tweaks inside and I remember that I'm actually not fine, and I only feel fine on most days because I don't do much physical activity.

Sigh. Let's focus on the good -- I like choreographing, and I've got a group dance piece to brainstorm. I have exercised every single day this week, and eaten mostly well. I got up early and used the spinning bike at the PT gym on Tuesday morning, and by scaling it back a notch I managed not to irritate my knee this time. My PT has me using the jump board on the pilates reformer again (this means "jumping" by lying on my back on a sliding, weighted platform and pushing off a board, and that too hasn't irritated my knee because she keeps the weights really light). I have started a new book this week and joined an online book club and got caught up on the the television series I have been trying to watch for a couple of years now. But let's be honest: I'm also a little bit bored.

Tuesday is my appointment with the sports medicine specialist. I am both dreading it and excited about it. I'm excited to get some answers, mainly. I'm dreading to have to explain my entire history and the mechanics of my chosen form of physical activity. Most doctors have no clue what Irish dance and Highland dance are all about, and so it takes a lot of explanation to get them to visualize the basics of how it affects the body. I'm already rehearsing my monologue about the dancing itself (repeated high-impact jumping in short anaerobic bursts, poor non-supportive footwear, repetitive movements over 24 years of dancing, emphasis on staying on the ball of the foot, quick and sharp movements) and the injury (consists of both a sharp "tweak" or pain deep inside knee during certain movements, accompanied by a seizing up/stiffening of accompanying muscles in response to physical activity). My PT is also sending a letter to the clinic with her analysis, so hopefully that will help.

My biggest fear is that my knee woes will just be dismissed as an overuse muscular injury and the doctor will tell me to go home and be careful. I know that doctors are trained to assume a problem is usually the least serious of all the options ("no, you're not dying of stomach cancer, you just have food poisoning", etc), because that's usually true. I have an "unusual presentation" of a knee injury, according to my PT, and it's an unusual hobby I have that caused it, and I just want to make sure I'm understood. I was injured almost 3 months ago now. Something is definitely wrong in there. I need answers. I just want to walk out of the appointment on Tuesday feeling like someone knows what's going on inside this knee, and how to fix it. Is that too much expectation? I hope not. I'll report back on how it goes, and try to have an active-as-I-can few days in the meantime.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Jun 10, 2014 01:57 PM
"35-year-old female Highland/Irish dancer. Left knee. Confirm medial meniscal tear vs focal chondral lesion medial."

That is written on the piece of paper that was just sent off to a local hospital. At some point, hopefully not too far in the future but probably at least a couple of months from now, that hospital will call me to come in for an MRI to indeed confirm what the specialist thinks is the case: a tear in the cartilage that has so thanklessly absorbed the impact of all my leaping about for the past 24 years. I'm really sorry, cartilage. If I promise to be nicer, will you start doing your job again?

I am learning more and more about the anatomy of the knee, the longer I am injured. Medial means the inside meniscus (as opposed to lateral, outside). Focal chondral lesion was new to me, but apparently refers to the "other", articular cartilage in the knee -- the smoother one that forms a kind of lining along the parts of the tibia/femur/patella bones that rub against each other. That can degenerate too, forming a chondral lesion. Fascinating! So much that can go wrong in there!

The most frustrating thing about all of this is that I have to sit around and wait some more. I was warned against dancing/jumping/running for fear of worsening the tear. But even if the MRI proves that me, two PTs and the specialist are all correct, then what? A minor tear is supposed to be able to heal itself, as long as the subject is careful and rests it and also does some physio to strengthen the muscles that surround the knee. I've been mostly doing all that (with, admittedly, occasional bouts of soft dancing), and nothing is getting better. Does that mean it's of the more serious, surgery-requiring kind? Basically, I just want someone to tell me when I can strap on my ghilies again, but no answer appears to be forthcoming for a while.

"Try swimming, or biking," the doctor said, and I have to admit I do wonder if I were a more professional athlete, would he give the same advice. I didn't get the impression he didn't take me seriously, but he also didn't seem too concerned with the fact that I haven't been full-out dancing for 3 months now and he's ordering me to keep my treble-happy feet in check for a few more. My PT, on the other hand, is very impatient with my injury and wants to resume to full kicking-ass mode as soon as possible. I think that's what I like about her so much -- she doesn't question whether it's "normal" for an approaching-middle-age woman to be jumping up and down; she just accepts it as fact and tries to find ways to mitigate the negative effects.

Perhaps very soon I will need to have a long, hard talk with myself about the amount of dancing I do and its effects on my body. But right now I just want to try and keep my spirits up. It's very important I keep active, so this diary will mostly turn towards chronicling my struggles with boring exercise for now. And boring physio. Gah, I hope I don't turn into a boring person overall.

I am going to have to opt out of a few very fun performances over the next month or so, and that makes me even sadder, as my group gets some great gigs in early summer. I will probably do a bit of naughty low-key dancing at one or two of them (think ceili dances, nothing crazy). But for now, my focus has to turn to this Friday, where we have a 2am performance for a 24-hour relay fundraiser. This is definitely one of the more strange gigs we've signed up to do. I need to come up with a playlist that includes keeping the crowd pumped/motivated, doing some of our own dancing, and teaching a bit too. That's my homework for right now, before I have to head to a kind of mini board meeting. Then my week gets a bit crazy when my brother supposedly arrives in town (he's a bit flaky; I never believe he's coming til he gets here). But I also have to think about a performance with a live band next week, and about meeting up with my friend sometime soon to teach her more of my parts in dances I can't do right now. But first: low-impact, boring, about-to-become-my-life exercise.
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