Forum: Arts / Diaries

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re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu Jun 12, 2014 10:41 AM
For someone who was just complaining about how not dancing has left me with nothing to do, I sure seem to be rather busy this week. And, go figure, some of it is dance-related. My performance group has a 2am performance & workshop at a 12-hour relay cancer fundraiser on Friday night (er, I guess that's Saturday morning), and it took some time to figure out a schedule/plan for that. I still need to decide on music and make a playlist and gather up all my dancing supplies, so that I'm not throwing random things into a bag at 1am tomorrow night, when my body screams at me, "what do you mean you're going out NOW?!? You're supposed to be sleeping!"

We've also got a performance next weekend with a live band, so I've been communicating with the band about that -- it's always an interesting experience trying to translate dancer-speak into musician-speak. And it's equally interesting to show up at the performance and hear the music for the first time and figure out if it actually corresponds to what you think you conveyed to the band. This kind of thing always makes me slightly nervous, but on the other hand dancing to live music is such a fun experience that I don't mind the extra preparation. I like live music so much, in fact, that I'm going to be bad and do a bit of dancing at this performance next weekend. I may regret it later, but I want just one little bit of fun before I'm consigned to a summer of boring exercises.

My PT was glad to hear this morning that her hunches about my knee match that of the sports med. So while in MRI-waiting limbo, we carry on, carefully. I only had to abandon one exercise today that hurt my knee, but otherwise she's just making my muscles hurt in the good kind of way. It feels good to sweat from the effort of supporting my body weight in some complicated Pilates exercise, and I felt accomplished and even a little strong when I was done. I have to hold onto that feeling so I can replicate it at home, and not get complacent.

I'm afraid not much exercising is going to happen over the next 4 days, however -- my brother and his girlfriend are arriving tonight and staying all weekend. And I have a bunch of board-of-directors work to do. And I'm behind in my book club reading, only two weeks in! And I'm behind on a bunch of other little tasks too. How is it that June always ends up so busy, even when dancing and recital season is removed from the equation?
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:36 AM
This past weekend was just lovely. My brother and his girlfriend visited for the first time in years, and we wandered the city and ate decadent food and hung out at a punk rock festival. It felt like a mini vacation, really, which was refreshing. The only problem is, I was left with a disaster of a house at 9pm Sunday, which was the first time since Thursday morning I had even a second to myself. I finished cleaning, cooking lunches and planning for my week at midnight. I am still really tired.

The last thing you want to read is more knee talk, I'm sure, so I'll just briefly mention that it's somewhat irritated this week and I'm not sure why. I did a lot of walking with my brother this weekend; perhaps that's it. That's the extent of the exercising I've done since last week, which is not ideal, but I'm committed to fitting in a good workout tonight.

My performance group's 2am slot at the relay fundraiser was a surreal experience, but I think it went pretty well overall. We seem to be in the midst of bizarre summer gigs -- this weekend is the kilt run, where we dance for runners who are zipping by wearing, yes, kilts. It's actually one of my favourite annual gigs that we do, which is why I'm going to dance at it. Just a little bit, I swear. But yes, you can go ahead and throw tomatoes at me for making what is probably a stupid choice, but I solemnly swear not to complain TOO much next week when my knee seizes up as a result. Swear. I just want ONE little bit of dancing fun before I go back to my boring exercises.

This week is rather busy; last night I had a board meeting, tomorrow night I teach a summer class, Thursday I meet with my friend to choreograph, Friday is a local festival, Saturday is the kilt run, and Sunday is, well, an Internet cat festival (don't judge me). So I need to find little scraps of time to do my exercises. And sleep -- I need a lot of that too.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Jun 20, 2014 09:55 AM
I could seriously teach a day-long Irish dance class and not run out of things to do with my students. They'd probably have no legs left at the end, but I'd still be yelling at them to point their toes while lying on the floor in exhaustion. On Wednesday I taught a 2 hour class, which went over by 20 minutes, and the whole time they were walking out the door I kept thinking, "Hornpipe rhythms, I should have worked on that! Heel raises to work on balance and non-sickled positions! Must make time for a posture lecture next time!" In summer classes, because I see my students way less often, I definitely try to cram too much in. But the busy-ness of the class is also due to the fact that I had a huge array of ability/level -- roughly 5 groups of people all working on different things at once.

I love teaching big groups of people, and all different levels, but I always leave a class lamenting I didn't get enough one-on-one time with each student. I think my favourite thing to do is private lessons, because I'm big into individual problem solving. I love analysing a step and figuring out how a student could suit it better, and how the step could be tweaked to suit the student. I get so much joy out of seeing small improvements -- like on Wednesday when I told one student to pick up her feet more before each treble, and all of a sudden her beats were way more clear. Or when I tried to get another student to change how she approaches a skater turn to get a bit more lift. When someone gets a correction, or a movement clicks with them for the first time, I don't think there's any bigger happiness for me as a teacher.

Anyway, I danced a little too much in that class, and probably also a little too much last night when I was teaching my friend some steps. My knee isn't particularly happy with me today. I'm also going to dance a bit tomorrow at the kilt run, and then I'm not even going to see my PT again until July 8th, because she was all booked up for next week and on vacation the week after. This means it's all on me to take care of myself for the next couple of weeks. I wish I could replicate some of the PT exercises at home that use the Pilates equipment, like for example the "jumps" done on my back on the reformer with weights, but I could probably sneak into the gym once or twice without too many people asking questions. I should probably use the spinning bike, anyhow.

My town often gets unfairly saddled with mean monikers like "the city that fun forgot," mostly because it's a pretty bureaucratic city in some respects. But holy cow, those naysayers should come here on a weekend like this one. I am going to 3 different events this weekend, but there's about 8 festivals/film screenings/art shows/concerts that I'd love to be attending as well. And the weather is gorgeous, too...It's going to be difficult to be productive, but beautiful summer weekends are so darn rare that I think I can be forgiven for not vacuuming, even if it stresses the organized side of me out something major.

Tonight and tomorrow are crammed full. Sunday I aim to ice my knee, roll out my muscles, and do some gentle exercises.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Jun 23, 2014 11:30 AM
This morning I was listening to a fascinating radio interview with an anthropologist who was about to study some old human remains found in my city. She was talking about how the bones alone could give her many clues about what the person did for a living, and went on to give an example of how she once figured out that a skeleton was a former rower, based on how its bones had developed into an extended sitting position.

It made me wonder what my bones look like, and if an anthropologist could deduce that I am both an office worker and a dancer. "Hmm," I can picture her saying..."this skeleton has all the slouchy traits of a lifelong desk worker, and yet there's major trauma to the knee joints, the left knee in particular, as if this person spent a long time hopping on one foot..."

I will soon get to look inside my own body for such clues, as I had a MRI last-minute on Sunday. The order of my weekend was rather perfect, actually: wreck knee even more on Saturday by dancing on knee at performance; show results of wrecked knee on Sunday via magnetic imaging.

Back to Saturday for a moment: I may be literally limping around today, but I sure had fun doing one last hoorah at the kilt run. The crowd and atmosphere is always so great at this event, and so while I won't be as foolish to say that the pain today is worth it, I will say that a) I won't complain about said pain since it's self-inflicted, and b) I was really glad to be able to dance at just one of our fun summer performances. Now I will go back to my non-hopping ways for the foreseeable future.

On Sunday I was lounging in my pyjamas, trying to speed-read through the weekend papers, when the hospital called me, said there was a cancellation, and asked if I could be there in 2 hours. "Heck yes!" I said to the receptionist, and she replied, "I thought so. I see [from your chart] that you're an Irish dancer. My daughter dances, and I know she'd hate to be away from dance because of injury for too long."

The whole thing was a seamless experience, but a weird one: arrive, put on gown, get quizzed 10 times about whether I have any metal inside me or on me or anywhere near me, lie down on the bed and get my knee strapped in, get headphones shoved on my ears to drown out the incredibly loud noises of the MRI machine, then slowly get pushed into the tube. There, I lay for about 20 minutes while the magnets went ahead and rearranged my body's hydrogen atoms, and I tried hard not to twitch. And that was that.

Now I've got an appointment to see the sports medicine doc on August 12th, and my scans will definitely be in by then. I'm kind of excited to see them, actually. I find this whole process fascinating and wanna see what the inside of my knee looks like, even the wrecked bits.

Realistically, if I need surgery, I won't be getting this knee dealt with until sometime in the fall. So should I start thinking of a January return to dance, then? That seems so far away, but then again March, when this problem first started getting bad, seems both like yesterday and 5 years ago. This weird limping limbo is my new normal, and I'm kinda getting used to it. Not in a happy way; just in a matter-of-fact way.

Anyway, the latter part of this month has been quite busy, and this week is no exception. Tonight I may teach a bit more of my duet choreo to my friend, and then I'm headed to a jazz concert. Tomorrow night I'm meeting up with a friend. Wednesday is group performance rehearsal (I may not be able to dance, but I can still boss people around). Thursday is a board meeting. I really don't know when I'm going to be able to exercise in all this...Except, I could actually get up early and get to the physio gym, maybe, and also maybe just get up early and do the exercises at home. Let's challenge myself to do that twice this week and see how it goes.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Jun 29, 2014 04:32 PM
OK, so I was not at all successful in getting up early to exercise. But it was also a really busy, sleep-deprived week (last night, the first night in a while to truly sleep as long as I wanted, I was out cold for 10 hours straight). A lot of it was fun though: drinks with friends, dinners out, a concert...It's full-blown summer social season, and I will embrace it as much as possible.

I will also embrace laziness as much as possible...well, to a certain end point, anyway. I'm in the middle of a 4-day weekend (Tuesday is a national holiday so I took Monday off as well), and have not much at all to show for it, aside from extensive Nashville research. It's the site of my mini summer vacation at the end of July, you see, and I'm getting pretty excited about it.

I'm sitting in the middle of an apartment that's in a rather disastrous state, though, and I must address that before this day gets too long. It's after 6pm, and I still want to cook, clean, do laundry, and exercise.

Speaking of exercise, I made a rather giant step toward exploring fitness in another realm entirely: I just signed up for swimming lessons. They start next Monday. I have rather mixed feelings about all this. One the one hand, swimming is a useful skill I should acquire anyhow (I'm not afraid of the water and can stay afloat and dog-paddle and so on, but I'd like to properly swim), and I also always get excited about learning something new. On the other hand, it's an acknowledgement that it's pretty much the only safe form of exercise for my knee right now, and I still remain rather bummed about that. Incidentally, my knee has been hurting basically all the time since I danced on it last week, even when I'm sitting or in bed, but I totally deserve that and won't complain about it -- just noting my foolishness here.

This week -- well, I've got two more days off, during which I have boring chores to accomplish and exercising to do but would also like to take the time to read a bunch of the book in which I'm supposed to be way further ahead right now, for my online book club.

Jeez -- online book clubs and swimming. I feel like a totally different person than dance-obsessed Seannetta these days. I DO have to teach on Wednesday, though, which should keep my brain in that world a little bit, if not my body.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu Jul 03, 2014 08:36 PM
As much as I have come to (grudgingly) accept my current no-dance-allowed situation, I totally forget that I'm injured sometimes. Today I got an email from a fiddler, requesting a dancer who can both stepdance and dance Highland for a gig in August. "Woo, live music gig, I love dancing for musicians!" was my initial thought. Then a slow deflating air balloon as I realized that no, I will not be able to dance any more in mid-August than I can dance right now.

I'm doing not too badly in keeping myself occupied, though -- after two days of absolute sloth over the weekend I pulled up my socks and started a) doing my exercises every day, b) making sure I was eating pretty well, and c) keeping up with my book club reading. Boring stuff, but necessary to keep me on track.

Because I taught a class last night, and because I've obviously been thinking about injuries lately, I've also started mulling how better to teach dance in a way that preaches/demonstrates healthy technique. By that I don't mean, "point your toes" or whatever -- I mean techniques to dance while causing minimal long-term damage. I think eventually I want to have some sort of syllabus -- even if it's only in my head -- that builds Irish dance skills and body awareness at the same time. I do this already in bits and pieces; for example, yesterday I got my students to focus on their feet in the mirror while doing heel raises, to watch for sickling. But I think I'd like to eventually codify the bits and pieces I've learned over the years, and set out a list of what I'd still like to learn. That's a big task, and I'm not in the mood to start it right now, but it's something I've been thinking about a bit.

This weekend I might go to my performance group's gig at a nearby Celtic festival. I say "might" because my reasons for not going are that I don't have much to do when I'm not dancing and I get a little sad watching my friends dance without me. But reasons to go are supporting the team and still staying connected to them even if I can't dance, acting as a kind of manager/roadie, and taking a good look at one of our performances to kind of analyze what we could be working on. We never get a chance to do that because we're always dancing ourselves at the same time as managing the group.

Next week I'm kicking the fitness up a notch by having my first swimming lesson and also getting back to the gym with my PT, so I'll check back in after those things.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Jul 08, 2014 10:37 AM
I both started and finished my day yesterday in a soaking wet state. Only the latter was intentional; in the morning the skies decided to rip open at the exact moment I stepped out of my door, and I was left shivering in an overly air-conditioned office for several hours as my pants and shoes slowly began to dry.

At the end of the day, however, I very willingly stepped into a pool for the first time in...jeez, I don't even really know. I never spend any time in water at all, aside from a lake dip once a year or so, and so it's probably not surprising that I can't really swim. You could throw me into the deep end and I'd be more or less fine, but I'd run out of the energy to tread water after about a minute, and would quickly (and meekly) dog-paddle my way to the edge. Everyone always talks about the importance of swimming as an important life skill, and I do get that, but I spend exactly zero hours of my life on boats or near dangerous water, so this skill has never really taken precedence until now.

I started my lesson a little bit anxious about what we'd be asked to do, but when we started by just bobbing our heads under water, I knew this class would be fine. We covered jumping into the pool (shallow end), floating (I am excellent at the dead man's float -- i.e. face down -- but my legs keep sinking on the back float), and some front and back kicking while keeping our fingers lightly on a flutterboard. My front kicking was declared "perfect" and I found it super easy, but the kicking on my back took some getting used to. My knees are a bit too high and my feet not high enough. Overall, swimming is pretty much the opposite of my usual form of fitness in all respects: as a dancer, I have to keep everything tense and taught. As a swimmer, I have to let all that go and relax as much as possible, or else I'll sink. It was very interesting to use a complete new set of skills, and it reminded me how much I just love learning new physical skills in general. (The whole reason I started Highland was because I felt I was becoming stagnant in Irish and needed to challenge my body and brain.)

I left the pool feeling happier than I've felt in a while -- this lack of being able to do most of the things I love because of my stupid knee has been getting me down more than I probably realized. Swimming can't replacing dancing, but it can give me something else to focus on in the meantime.

I saw my PT this morning after a couple weeks off, and she's supportive of my swimming but warns that she doesn't want me doing whip-kicks or anything like that, which could irritate my knee. That's unlikely, since this class will only teach me the front crawl. She also wants me to practice some jumping and dance moves in the pool. I was thinking about that anyhow, since there are about 4 pools within reasonable distance to my house, and all have both "lane swim" time and "free swim" time for me to practice. I promise to get out of my house and to the pool a second time each week, maybe even this week depending on the schedule.

PT this morning focused mostly on me "jumping" while laying down on the Pilates reformer contraption, which means pushing off the jump board and sliding on a spring-loaded platform. The lighter the spring, the longer I stay in the "air" after pushing off, the quieter/softer the impact on the jump board, and also the harder the workout on my abs, because my legs have to stay hovering in the air for a torturous amount of time. My PT is very big on still getting me to jump, whether it's in the pool or on the reformer, because that ability -- so central to both Highland and Irish dance -- is quickly atrophying the longer I don't dance. I was even convinced, this morning, that my calves are smaller, the horror!

Finally, my PT also got me to sign a permission form to release the MRI results to her, so we're crossing my fingers those results could get in her hands by even next week, which is much better than August 12th when I next see my doctor. She can't officially diagnose me, but she can at least read the report and confirm what's wrong, and adjust her weekly torture accordingly.

Tonight I'm off to a concert and Saturday is the local Irish cultural society's annual BBQ, but other than that my week is rather quiet. So I'll aim to do my exercises twice more and hit the pool once if it fits my work schedule.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Jul 13, 2014 01:38 PM
After a pretty good start to the week, I began to slide downward -- after work on Wed and Thu, I just couldn't muster up the energy to do anything at all, especially not exercise, and I was frustrated with myself but couldn't figure out why I was so low-energy and uninspired.

Well, on Friday morning I got my answer: I was actually sick. A flu-like sick: raw throat, body aches all over, chills, headache...Ugh, who gets the flu in mid-July? I took the day off work and mostly lay around feeling sorry for myself.

Yesterday, I was determined to still be functional, so I bought groceries, made a salad for a potluck, cooked lunches, cleaned my apartment and then went to the BBQ/potluck. I needed to take little sitting breaks in between, but I got through it all. And by the end of the night I felt like a truck had hit me and I slept 10 hours and stayed in bed for an extra awake hour this morning. So here I am, still sore of throat and tired of body, and really annoyed with my immune system.

If I stay quiet and still today, can I please be better tomorrow? This is my current plea. I want to start my week with another great swimming lesson, and go up from there. I have nothing at all on my plate this week, so I want to do my exercises and get to the pool more than once and just generally feel productive. Last week was such a failure, and that would have been fine if it was a fun failure, but being this lethargic in the precious, rare summer weather is not an option. Body, are you listening?
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu Jul 17, 2014 07:59 PM
VERY FUNNY, body. I ask for a more upbeat and motivating week; you respond by giving me a raging, sniveling head cold instead.

I've been kind of a mess since Monday night, walking around with tissues stuffed up my nose and leaky eyes and tiny hammers battering my sinuses (well it feels like that, anyway). I took yesterday off work but feel much the same today. I'm getting pretty bored of this.

At first I was worried that I was having a sinus response to chlorine after my Monday swim lesson, which is not totally uncommon. But if that was the case, surely it would have cleared up two days ago? No, I think this is just a cruel summer cold.

Back to Monday though -- I had a really great swimming lesson, before the virus began its attack. I like my instructor a lot, because she challenges us individually. When I demonstrated some degree of competence with some vague front-crawl imitations, using hand floats, she made me lose the floats and try it for real. And I did it! The word's slowest, slowly-sinking front crawl! The breathing (face in the water to exhale, then turn head to side to inhale) is definitely weird, but I started to get the hang of it and felt super proud and accomplished. My classmates are great, too -- we all cheer each other on. Basically, Monday nights are shaping up to be a super feel-good start to my week. I'm really eager to get to the pool a second time each week, but of course I need my nose to cease being a fountain (sorry, gross) before that can happen.

This morning I also had physio, and complained enough about my state that she went relatively easy on me. I was demonstrating some bad form, though, that kind of surprised her -- using superficial instead of deep abdominal muscles on most exercises, when apparently I usually do pretty well. I also had an awful ka-chunk feel (and accompanying sound) in my right hip for a few exercises with wider leg range -- not pain, but a definite grinding of gears. My PT thinks it might be just me being tight from too much sitting around being sick for the past week, and decided to let it go for now. I will endeavor to stretch my hip flexors before I see her again.

So I don't even know what to set as my goals anymore, considering how bad this past week has been, health-wise. Sleep, that's number one. Gentle movement, that'd be another. Eating properly again. Let's take things slow until my immune system calms down a little. I have a performance group practice on Sunday, so I can turn my attention to how other people's bodies are moving, instead of my own.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Jul 20, 2014 07:54 PM
OK, try try again: for the third time, I am wishing and willing myself to have a productive, healthy, active week. I think I am free of viruses. I do not have too many commitments. This is my last workweek before two weeks' vacation, so surely I can rev myself up and jump into it with a burst of energy -- or some approximation thereof.

Tomorrow: swimming lesson. Tuesday: night off, will do physio exercises. Wednesday: teach Irish. Thursday: physio and pool practice time. Friday: day off. Saturday: get to the pool again. Let's do this.

Now that I've set my goals and tried to pump myself up, the rest of this entry will be more fears about my stupid knee saga. Feel free to skip this if you're tired of my whining. But today I did some more thorough research into the procedures involved in fixing the damn thing, and I have some concerns.

First, the disclaimers: I know I have no official diagnosis yet. I know no one has told me definitively how this is going to get fixed, yet. But I've had 2 PTs and one doctor tell me it's probably a medial meniscus tear, and all of my research thus far suggests that any tear small enough to heal itself would have done so by now. Thus, surgery is the likely outcome. I would like to be as prepared as possible for this outcome, so I did some reading. And yes, reading on the Internet is dangerous, but my main source is a medical article written for a medical web site by a medical doctor, so I think I can trust what I've gleaned.

So. The surgery to fix a meniscus (cartilage) tear is arthroscopic -- meaning that a couple tiny incisions would be made in my knee, and a tiny camera stuck in there to view the problem. From there, there are two options, and option one is where a tiny scalpel will scrape away the torn cartilage (this is a meniscectomy). This is the simplest procedure with the shortest recovery time, and often is done with only a spinal anaesthesia. The problem is that I'd then be left with less cartilage. The site I read states that meniscectomy is a good short-term solution, but results in arthritis within 10-20 years. I assume that this refers to the "average" patient too, not one who has jumped up and down on that same knee for 24 years, and certainly not one who is foolish enough to want to return to jumping up and down at the age of 35.

The second option is a meniscal repair surgery, which is also fairly non-invasive but involves one of several techniques meant to encourage the tear to heal. More recovery time afterward, but it's recommended for "younger" (would I count as younger?) patients who want to return to some kind of intense physical activity afterwards. However, a repair only works if there's enough blood flow in the area (not all areas of the meniscus get enough for this to happen), and also it's best if surgery is performed within 2 months of the injury (gah, by my best guess, I think the initial injury happened in February!).

So. I feel it's important to be armed with this info, because I find doctors can have their minds made up already about what's best for you, and I'm not sure how seriously I'll be taken as an "athlete." If I were a 22-year-old sprinter, I'm sure everyone would be bending over backwards to try and repair the cartilage (I also think I would have been diagnosed a long time ago). How about a Celtic dancer approaching middle age? How seriously will anyone take my desire to return to pounding my legs several times a week to jigs and reels?

I feel like this injury has pushed me to a crisis point in my dance career. I admit that there are times when I don't take it too seriously, when I just kind of assume some doctor will fix the problem and I'll be back to my old ways soon. But if the cartilage is cut away, I can expect arthritis in as little as 10 years? Yikes. How much do I value my future knee health versus the joy dance brings me right now? I don't even know how to measure that.

Plus, the recovery is more involved than I had assumed. I can go home the same day as surgery, and possibly even put weight on my leg the same day. Pain medication likely necessary for up to a week. I can handle all this. But my research says I may need a knee brace for six weeks. Low-impact activities like swimming can begin usually after 12 weeks. "Cutting and pivoting" sports (would dance count?) can usually begin after 16 weeks. Gah, this is going to take FOREVER to get over. Y'all are going to have to put up with my whining for a very long time.

I know this is all still to be confirmed. I just want to be realistic about what might happen. I am not ready to re-consider my future in dance yet, but one thing I am re-considering is my running future. I love running (when I don't hate it, that is), but maybe dance plus pounding the pavement is, well, too much pounding. Maybe I need to put away the running shoes and think more about swimming and biking instead.

Baby steps, though: tomorrow is swim lesson number three. Let's just do that and worry about all this knee nonsense later.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Jul 21, 2014 07:46 PM
Week of Productivity and Motivation, Day 1: A pretty good success. Dragged my ass out of bed in the morning, but work was quite smooth overall. Another great swim lesson, too. Now about to head to bed at a reasonable hour and get some reading done in the book for whose book club I am about a week behind.

Specifics: I got to swim class early, while it was still public swim time, and did a bit of a warmup with walking back and forth across the pool, practicing a couple entrechats, leaps and shedding movemenents in chest-deep water, then working on my front and back kicking while using whatever unskilled/rudimentary arm strokes that came to mind. This is the kind of thing I intend to practice if I can get to the pool on a second day each week.

Class started pretty easily, with us starting in the deep end while wearing float belts and practicing flipping between front and back floats. Then, as a confidence booster, our instructor had us all swim the entire length of the pool (it's a 25m one) from deep end to shallow, holding a float and doing whatever kind of swimming we wanted. Despite the relative ease of the challenge, it still felt pretty good to touch the other end. I've never focused on getting from one end of the pool to the other before without stopping. It's definitely exercise!

The rest of the class was devoted to our slow front crawl progress. Today we had to try 3 strokes with our face in the water and then one breathing stroke with face to alternating sides. My instructor is really pleased with my progress ("have you been practicing?" she asked), but my technique needs work. I turn too far to the side to breathe and lift my head too far out of the water, instead of just turning it. But I'm feeling good about how far I got.

So yeah, I'm really loving this swimming thing -- but hating how I feel afterwards, physically. I'm definitely sensitive to chlorine; it's all I can smell right now even though I showered thoroughly afterwards. My ears are a bit plugged up with water and my eyes, despite goggles, are feeling a bit raw. And my sinuses don't like it either. If I start swimming more, and get better to the point where I can swim laps, I may have to a) bus all the way to the one public pool (which is actually in another province) that is saltwater, or b) join one of the 2 private athletic clubs here that have one. Neither option is appealing. I will figure it out later. When I can actually swim more than 25 metres.

I also may have done the thing I promised my PT I wouldn't -- whip-kicked in the water. It seems that's what I naturally do when I jump in the deep end, in order to get back up to the surface. I did it and then felt my knee kind of clicking for the rest of the class, and it still feels a bit out of place. This solidifies my diagnosis of torn meniscus to me, because the clicking is a symptom that can come from the flapping torn bit getting caught on the joint. Lovely. I hope it gets un-caught somehow by itself.

OK, to bed with me now, and on to day 2 of productivity, where I will do no less than 30 mins straight of exercise when I get home from work -- right in the middle of a heat wave.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:12 AM
Day 2 of motivation and productivity: not at all motivated, but productive. I had a weird period in the middle of my work day where I couldn't focus at all and took forever to make basic decisions -- and I work in a broadcast newsroom, where waffling is absolutely not cool. When I got home, I kind of slumped for a bit, but then pulled myself out of it. I made a delicious dinner and lunches, then dutifully did my exercises.

I've been concerned with my lack of sweating lately -- not something I'd normally think much about, because of course dance is a particularly sweaty activity. It's harder to sweat when you can't jump up and down, but I think I've found a pretty good 15-minute workout that does the trick. For me, any plank exercise that requires to me to do something in addition to planking -- alternating punching arms out, lifting legs, whatever -- is pretty exhausting. So I should focus on that stuff during exercise, just to bring my body to exhaustion whenever possible.

I also have become suddenly concerned with my quads, as I've read that quad strength is a good overall knee strengthener for those with injuries, and in fact quad strength can help quicken recovery if I am indeed going to be having surgery in the near future. So I've tried to focus on some quad exercises too, but the very exercises that are going to strengthen my knee are also hurting it right now. Tomorrow, I'll make a point of talking to my PT about how to find the right balance.

Tonight: teaching. I should probably think about what I want to focus on. Teaching these days doesn't mean much exercise for me, but at least I'm up and about instead of slumping in front of the TV. I just have to remember not to get carried away and demonstrate too many things, lest I further irritate this stupid knee.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Thu Jul 24, 2014 09:15 AM
Day 3 of productivity and motivation: again, nothing thrilling, but steady progress. Work was slightly more productive. I got a chance to read for a good hour between work and teaching, which was really nice -- and it also made me slightly less behind in my book club. Then teaching was pretty laid-back, with only 5 students present, but it gave me a chance to work with some people individually. I was really impressed with how my students are continuing to improve this summer (usually summer is a bed of a dead zone where everyone forgets their steps).

Because I was using the studio where I would normally take Irish lessons, I saw my TC. She told me about how her daughter -- also a dancer -- had a meniscus tear too. Total time from injury to full recovery was a full year. I am being as zen about this as possible.

Today: physio, and also I've brought all my swimming stuff with me to work so I WILL go to the pool and practice both my swimming strokes and my dance moves, even if the latter will make me feel a bit self-conscious (not a lot of people go to the pool to simply hop up and down).

I feel like this week's diary entries are dead boring -- sorry, everyone -- but they ARE doing the job of keeping me relatively on track.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Jul 25, 2014 08:57 AM
Day 4 of motivation and productivity: again, unexciting but steady progress. My PT totally kicked my ass -- I mean, everything she makes me do is hard, but I outright failed on one exercise yesterday. And then went to work a sweaty, shaky mess, but hopefully a tiny bit stronger too.

I successfully made it to the pool, too. I think the biggest thing I have to get over is my lack of self-confidence. It's silly, I know, but I do feel a bit like a loser in the pool during public swim time when most of the other people in that pool are kids splashing around, parents watching them, and maybe one or two other adult swimmers. Those other swimmers seemed to actually know what they were doing too. I'm especially self-conscious when one part of my pool routine is jumping up and down in the water, but I just have to get over that because really, no one gives a hoot what I'm doing in the pool. So I'll just focus on working hard so that I can graduate to lane swims (all the serious swimmers were lining up as I came out of the pool, and I felt like the kid who had to make way for the "real" swimmers) some fine day.

Yesterday, I spent 30 minutes in the water (as an aside, I really do love water, even just looking at it, and splashing around, and sometimes just floating or putting my feet in water -- maybe I am meant to be a swimmer after all). I did some hopping, some front and back kicking across the pool, some deep-end treading of water (I can last much longer than I thought I could), some walking through the water, and then some practice strokes of the front crawl. I'm still lifting my head too much to breathe instead of just turning it, and I'm taking rather lopsided breath breaks too. (For example, a "real" swimmer's pattern might go, "stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke...", whereas my pattern is more like, "stroke-stroke-stroke, breaaaattthhheeee, stroke, stroke, breath-stroke" and so on.)

Overall, I'm happy I made the effort, even if my knee is inexplicably more irritated than usual today.

Today is my last day of work for two weeks! I'm going to a cottage this weekend, so tonight I want to buy groceries, cook a cottage-bound meal, and maybe do one or two exercises at home. At the cottage, if it's warm enough, I might practice some swimming in the lake, too. But otherwise, total chill-out planned for Sat & Sun.

I want to be fairly focused about Mon-Wed next week, before I leave on my little trip to the States. I have some stuff I'd like to get out of the way, and none of it is particularly exciting, and I also want to make sure I stay active and eat a lot of vegetables before I'm in total vacation mode in Nashville. But I'll check back in about that stuff after this weekend. For now, two days of total chillout. I've done pretty well this week, so I think I've earned it.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Jul 29, 2014 03:55 PM
Summer always exists in my mind as this shiny unattainable reality, where it's always really hot outside and I spend those long hot evenings eating ice cream in parks and having dinner parties in someone's backyard.

In real life, of course, I always end up disappointed. I mean, there ARE really hot spells in my town (though not enough for my liking -- this morning is was a frosty 11 degrees), and I DO eat ice cream once in a while with friends and I DO occasionally get invited to some kind of backyard party...But of course, mostly my life is exactly the same as it is in the winter, with less clothing. I have no idea why, every time late May rolls around, I think it's going to be different this year.

Last night I shut the blinds earlier than I would have liked, and had a little moment of despair that July is mostly gone. So I should probably, like, seize the day or something and be out there in the sun as much as possible, right? Instead, I have spent the last two days inside, in front of my computer. There are practical and necessary reasons for this, namely that I had vacation getaway research to do and emails to write and so on, but it's really kind of sad nonetheless. There shouldn't be anything stopping me from going for a wander in the middle of the day, but it doesn't occur to me to do so.

That's why, in part, I'm so looking forward to my little trip to Nashville. It's an unfamiliar city, and therefore there's nothing to do but wander and poke my head in shops and maybe sit in a park and definitely eat ice cream...It's like I'm being given permission to have my dream summer, packed into 4 days.

Before I get there...I may be on vacation from my day job, but I have tasks to do, and I'm totally unmotivated. Researching non-profit corporate law, coming up with a dance program for a performance when we don't have enough performers around these days, reading a rewarding but often difficult 1300-page book...Bleh, don't wanna do any of it. I know it sounds incredibly whiny, but there you have it.

Before these two days of sloth, I had a lovely weekend up at a cottage, where I actually was able to relax because there was nothing to do but relax. I sat by a dock, swam, canoed, roasted marshmallows...And you know what? Until this morning, my knee felt GREAT. I almost forgot I was injured. I think it was a combination of a few things: 1) not sitting in the same position for hours, as I do at my day job, 2) being only occasionally active with gentle activities, like splashing around, and 3) not walking around a lot.

This morning I killed that knee quiet by going to physio. My knee does not like doing anything except floating in water. Back to the usual, I guess. But the most annoying thing is that my MRI results came in after I left my appointment. Gah! My fate is on a faxed piece of paper, at the PT office, and I can't look at it for another week! I will go to Nashville in ignorance, then, and walk all around that town on this knee, and hope for the best -- and also a little bit of that special summer spark.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:23 AM
Edited by seannetta (163998) on 2014-08-05 12:34:03 spelling
So the good news is that I had a great trip to Nashville. The bad news is that my knee saga is ongoing with no end in sight; skip the end of this entry if you're bored to tears of that discussion by now (I certainly am, and I'm the one in possession of this stupid, no-good, non-functional knee).

Travelling for me is always kind of exhausting; I am not capable of a typical holiday where one drinks fruity cocktails by the side of a pool. I would be bored out of my mind. I mean, I enjoy cottage getaways, but really what I enjoy most is seeing parts of the world I haven't seen before. Getting out of my usual routine. And so I treat travel like a kind of intense fact-finding mission, doing all sorts of research beforehand and then basically turning over every rock of the city I'm in.

So that explains why in 4 short days my friend and I managed to see pretty much every suburb, bus route, industrial park (there are a lot of hip places near industrial parks) and neighbourhood of Nashville possible, with stops to eat every cult/locally-renowned food dish (fried pies, hello), poke our heads into every cute local shop (and spend waaayy to much money, ouch), buy all the American candy and potato chip flavours we can't get in Canada (I am eating "birthday-cake" M&Ms right now, in between bites of my salad), visit the Target out in the middle of nowhere, make cursory stops at the necessary touristy spots (Grand Ole Opry) and drink fancy cocktails at the hip speakeasy-style joint. All of this involved walking looonnng distances in 90-degree humid heat, and my legs were not very impressed with me by the end. My knee, in particular, wanted to know why I was putting it through such torture, but I limped on, eager to find the next cute shop or attraction. I learned a lot about the city, and Southern culture, and am really happy we made the trip down there. Getting up in the morning for physio, though, was pretty hard, with me stiff and tired.

Here comes the bad news...I SO had my heart set on my MRI telling me something definitive. Like, I wanted the results to pretty much say to me out loud, "Seannetta, you have a meniscus tear. It requires surgery to stitch it up. Recovery is about 8 weeks and then you can make a slow return to dance." Because that way, I would have a way forward, a plan, a blurry image of me on the horizon, able to dance again in the future.

MRI results aren't really written like that, sadly, but even my PT this morning didn't much know what to do with the words on the paper. The MRI says (er, I guess it's the lab technician, but I like the idea of the MRI talking to me, considering how loud it was) my meniscus is actually intact. However, some tears are not visible on an MRI, so a tear is still a possibility (my TC's daughter just recovered from surgery to repair a meniscus tear that did not show up on an MRI). The MRI also says I have a "chronic sprain" of the MCL (the ligament on the inside of the knee) and also damage to the cartilage on the patella.

Now, my PT doesn't seem to think my now-nearly-chronic symptoms can be entirely explained by just those two things. I have no idea what to think. I just looked up chondromalacia patellae (the cartilage problem), and it does say that pain can be brought about by long periods of sitting with the knee bent, which is a big part of my pain for sure. An MCL injury (which, kind of amusingly, is most common to football players) has 3 stages of severity. The worst requires surgery (and, interestingly, is also usually accompanied by meniscus damage), but the others are supposed to heal themselves with rest and physiotherapy.

Thing is, I've been resting and PT'ing for months now, and there has been not a single improvement to the knee. I go through periods where I can sort of forget I have an injury if I barely walk on it and don't exercise it. So, in other words, if I want to resign myself to being a couch potato forever who never even walks anywhere, I can pretend I'm fine. If I do even slight exercise, like the non-weight-bearing exercises my PT had me do this morning, I walk home with a limp. I can't live my life like this, and my PT is as frustrated as me because she's running out of ideas on how to make me better.

I see my sports doctor in a week, so he'd better have some concrete suggestions for me. My PT wants me to a) see her colleague next week, who has some additional training about body alignment and such that may help with immediate symptoms, b) insist my doctor refer me to an orthopedic surgeon for further examination, c) consider seeing an osteopath for a different point of view, and d) take ballet lessons, because at least it's a form of dancing so it's targeting the right muscles, and if I take a lower level it'll be gentle on my knee.

Really what I wanted to do after hearing all this is burst into tears. Forgive me for sounding like a child thrashing about on the floor, mid-temper-tantrum, but I don't wanna see more specialists and doctors! I don't wanna have more tests and still not get a definitive answer! I just wanna dance!

It's now August, and I'm facing the first September in a really long time where dance is just not on the table for me. I'm really sad about that; as stressed as dance has made me in the past, it's probably my single greatest source of joy in my life after family and friends. I feel like a grounded airplane whose mechanical failure can't be found, as if the black box is missing or something. I'll stop now, before the metaphors get even worse.

Here's what I WILL do, in a half-hearted attempt to keep some perspective on this and remain as positive and constructive as possible: I WILL sign up for more swimming lessons in the fall, and keep hitting the pool when I can. I WILL derive joy from teaching my adults dance, even if I can't do it myself. I WILL find ballet lessons, even if I have to sit out the allegro part of class. I WILL keep moving. I will NOT accept "just rest it" as a viable treatment option, and I will NOT stop seeking a fix to my pain, even if right now that road seems impossibly long and curvy and way too rocky for my liking.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Aug 10, 2014 06:01 PM
I have to go back to work tomorrow, wah! Two weeks is just enough time for silly things like day jobs to seem fuzzy and only vaguely familiar. What is it I do again? Do I *have* to do it?

Overall, it's been a good break. Nashville was a fun little sandwich filling in between a whole lot of laziness, interrupted by bouts of boring tasks related to volunteer work that I do. I always am slightly disappointed in myself after some time off, as I always mean to take advantage of my time in much better ways: catching up on my book reading, long walks in the sunshine...Again, it gets back to the fantasy of summer I spoke about a couple of posts above. I will never achieve that, but at least I've cleared my head enough to go back to a regular routine tomorrow, and the 1000 emails that await me (I peeked at my work account, then promptly shut it down again).

This week will bring a lot of fussing over my knee, which I suppose is good considering how fussily my knee has been behaving (it's been hurting all day for no good reason). I see my regular PT on Tuesday morning and the second-opinion PT on Wednesday morning. I see my sports doctor on Tuesday as well and am practicing my "I want another option besides 'rest it'" phrases, in case he's dismissive of the MRI results.

While I'm not-busy not-dancing, I can at least fulfill the useful function of performance group manager of sorts. Usually it's me or one of the other two co-directors, meeting the person who hired us and getting the music set up and introducing ourselves to the crowd and pinning everyone into their costumes and running the group through rehearsal. All that plus actually worrying about performing, that is. I'm like the roadie now, I guess, and although it's not as fun as actually dancing, it's helpful. I don't want to necessarily go to every performance, but today's 100th birthday party (!) was great fun, with a lively and appreciative crowd.

This week, besides my knee see-tos, is pretty busy; I have swimming Monday and teaching Wednesday and a visiting family dinner Thursday and off to a friend's cottage again on Friday. I've been doing only so-so on the exercise front, and I'm hoping that can improve once I'm back into a regular routine again. It's hard to convince me to do anything at all when I'm all comfy on the couch, mid-afternoon on a weekday.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Aug 12, 2014 08:24 PM
Alright, more knee talk now that I've seen the sports medicine specialist and discussed my MRI with him. I'll try to keep this as simple and whine-free as possible.

While my PT seems unconvinced that the MRI definitively shows the source of my pain, the doc thinks it does. We had a bit of a back and forth about which injury would cause more pain, and what kind of pain, but the fact remains that there are two things wrong with me, which I mentioned in a previous entry. The more acute, and hopefully temporary, injury is the sprain to my MCL. The more chronic injury is the serious loss/damage of cartilage under my knee cap (patella).

The MCL injury should heal eventually, says doc. I expressed my impatience after 4 months of being sedentary, and he says the MCL does not get a lot of blood flow and so heals slowly. He also thinks my day-to-day life could be irritating it further, so he sent me off to get fitted for a knee brace, which I am to wear all the livelong day, at least for the next 6 weeks until I see doc again. He also gave me a prescription for a strong topical anti-inflammatory, which I am to apply to my knee twice daily. I have done so once already. Not much has happened. Yes, I know I'm impatient.

The chondromalacia, or deterioration of cartilage under my patella, is of slightly more concern, it seems. It has been graded "2 or 3" on a scale of 0 to 4, with 0 meaning a beautifully intact cartilage and 4 being no cartilage left at all -- bone scraping bone (ack). My knee is well on its journey to becoming arthritic, in other words. In a younger person, according to my doc, cartilage damage can renew/repair itself. After the age of 40, it starts to wear down permanently. At the age of 35, I am precariously close to the point of no return. Doc says some cartilage might come back, but it might not.

What to do about that? Wait and see if it comes back. Also support the patella with a brace -- doc actually wanted me to wear one big brace for both MCL and patella, but apparently that's going to restrict my leg too much, so I have to deal with one problem at a time. MCL brace for 6 weeks comes first.

If there is no cartilage improvement, doc says I should consider viscosupplementation, which is an injection of a kind of fluid into the knee that acts as a temporary cartilage, shielding bone from grinding against bone. It lasts for 6 months and costs $200 each time. I read the pamphlet my doc gave me -- it features photos of a bunch of people over the age of 60, doing things like playing golf and being happy that their osteoarthritis symptoms have been relieved.

So. I feel like I'm still processing all this. I having a feeling my PT is not going to be very happy -- she's kind of impatient and doesn't like the wait-and-see approach. I am feeling impatient too, but obviously I don't want to rush my recovery. Maybe I'll give this the 6 weeks with the brace and see if my MCL injury gets better, so that I can begin to treat or deal with the chondromalacia in isolation.

It gives me more time to figure out my dance future, that's for sure. I don't think I can answer that right now. Doc thinks I can "probably" return to dance, but how much bouncing around should I do if my cartilage has already reached level 3 of 4?

Nevermind, let's not answer that now. Let's stay focused on the present. Namely...

--Monday's swim class was mostly laps and practice of the strokes and glides I still haven't mastered. Swimming hasn't completely won my heart yet, but my teacher already told me that she's passing me to level 2. Onwards to deep-water dives in September, woo!

--In physio, my PT had me bouncing on the pilates reformer again and it got me out of breath; while I'm still injured, it's the closest thing to dancing I'll get.

--Tomorrow I see another PT who may have more ideas on how to mitigate my pain.

--Tomorrow I also get a visit from the "knee brace guy," so I pretty much immediately get to see if it makes a difference.

I hate, hate, hate the indeterminate nature of my recovery, and the big question mark on the future health of my knee, but I'm doing my best to stay practical about all this.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Wed Aug 13, 2014 10:40 AM
Two brief (er, hopefully) updates...

1/ Second PT. I was sent to PT2 by my regular PT, because PT2 has body alignment experience that might help me. I had already seen PT2 for an assessment a couple months ago, so she noted that my symptoms have actually become worse than what she originally had in her notes. That's not very encouraging.

Some of the stuff she did to me was encouraging, though exhausting. Basically, from the top of my head to the tips of my toes she moved stuff around, digging into my spine, ribs, hip bones, groin, knee, feet...One has to be OK with being manhandled to see PT2, that's for sure. But she pointed out some really interesting stuff. I have ribs turning in different directions. I have a super tight area in the hip flexors and groin of my injured side. I'm kind of lopsided in general.

PT2's thinking is that body alignment issues may have lead to the injury in the first place, and also may be preventing me from healing as quickly as I'd like. She had me doing a lot of really, really difficult visualization stuff to try to correct some issues. For example, I had to grip the base of my neck and pull it to one side, while poking a thumb into my hip flexor and trying to relax the base of the femur, THEN trying to imagine a floating spine and an opened pelvis and a femur "relaxing" into the hip, and THEN trying little, gentle hops. It was pretty taxing. I have to do these exercises SIXTY TO SEVENTY TIMES A DAY. Gah. But re-training the body to unconsciously move an entirely different way is not easy, I know. And I will admit then when it all came together, there was significantly less pain in my knee as I moved it.

2/ Knee brace. Gah, I hate it already. It looks like your basic knee brace, the elastic kind with a hole for your knee cap, but twice as bulky, with straps and two metal shanks running down either side, to hold my ligaments in place. I mean, I guess it's not that bad, but I anticipate 6 weeks of clothing problems: technically it's not supposed to go over clothing, although I may be able to get away with slipping it over tights/pantyhose. But a lot of my clothing consists of slim-cut pants, and there's no way my pants would fit over this brace. I know it sounds like a petty problem, but I don't want to wear the same long skirt for 6 weeks straight.

It's interesting, the two very different sets of instructions I'm getting for healing. PT and PT2 are digging into my body to fix alignment, keep me moving, make me strong. They don't accept diagnoses as the be-all-and-end-all. Sports doc wants me to sit still with a knee brace and apply topical painkillers. I'm hoping to somehow make both sides happy, and ultimately me too.

The rest of this week is busy but not very interesting for diary purposes -- I'm teaching tonight, meeting my aunt and uncle for dinner Thursday night, then off to a cottage Friday night and back on Saturday afternoon. Performance group rehearsal on Sunday. I promise to try and incorporate these alignment exercises into my daily life 60 to 70 times a day, AND do my regular PT exercises, AND maybe even swim again...No, let's be realistic here. I'm not going to swim again til Monday lessons. Let's just focus on this weird grip-my-neck-and-open-my-hips stuff.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Sun Aug 17, 2014 03:26 PM
Writing this is an act of procrastination, as I've got a dirty apartment and a basket full of laundry and a pile of groceries waiting to be turned into delicious weekday lunches. I really hate doing all my chores on Sundays, but my weekend's been full of fun activity 'til now so I guess I can't complain. I had some cottage time, some beer fest time, and some brunch time, and now I'm not quite ready to let next week begin.

I know that's a common Sunday refrain, but there's a couple of things making it especially potent for me today. I just realized there's basically only one summer weekend left, and I feel slightly sad and panicked about that, and I've got a lot of planning work to do at my day job for the fall, all of which I ignored last week in a kind of extended summer vacation. I just paid for my fall swimming lessons and ballet lessons, and more importantly I did NOT pay for Irish nor Highland nor stepdance lessons, and I'm pretty bummed out about that. Most mid-Augusts I find myself feeling wistful about summer but excited about the upcoming dance season. Instead I find myself getting pretty grumpy and left out hearing about everybody else's dance schedules.

When it comes to my recovery, I'm not sure how all my new info/instructions are helping. I don't like the knee brace any more now then when I first put it on, and I'm having difficulty determining how much it's helping. In fact, it's kind of making me obsess over every little feeling in my knee. I can't always get the hole for the patella to line up over my kneecap properly, so I'm convinced it's actually hurting my chondromalacia. (My knee was it a lot of pain after wearing it all day Friday, but fine today. I dunno.) I guess my ligaments are better supported in the brace, but it makes me super aware of my knee and I'm overcompensating with the other side of my body -- I've actually developed a bit of dull ache in the right side of my lower back, which I'm convinced is from walking or sitting funny in the brace. I'm trying to be patient, but I can't figure out if this is the best solution or not.

I also have done terribly when it comes to doing those body adjustment exercises. Sixty to seventy times a day? Try 10! Gah! It's really hard to start a habit you're not used to -- I'm either forgetting to do them entirely, or remembering at really inopportune times. Maybe I need to start setting alarms on my phone or something.

I also have not done my other exercises at all this past week. So, yeah, I've got to do way better. And stop obsessing over every little tweak and pain in my knee and just give it another week to see if there's overall improvement. And adjust my attitude a bit more as fall further approaches.

One thing at a time, though -- if sixty exercises a day seems overwhelming, and it does, maybe tomorrow I can aim for 15. And 15 again Tues, 20 on Wed and Thu, and 25 on Fri. And let's go back to breaking up my other exercises, with me doing all the plank-variation ones tomorrow after swimming. It's a start.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Aug 19, 2014 10:51 AM
First off, to all of you still reading this diary: you are troopers, every one of you, to put up with this obsessive detailing of my injuries. I suppose it's similar to the obsessive way I think and write about dancing, and now that I'm not dancing, all that energy has to go somewhere, right? But it's even tedious to me sometimes, although writing it all down here helps me to clarify my goals and woes.

And with that, more obsessive detailing of my recovery, such as it is...These days I find myself trying to bridge the gap between doctorly advice and physiotherapist advice. Not that the two butt heads necessarily, but they operate in very different worlds and sometimes there's tension when they come together. My sports specialist was sent two letters detailing my PT treatment, but hasn't really acknowledged them or directed me to focus on something specific in therapy. He just wants me to wear my brace and rub the anti-inflammatory drugs on my knee. My main PT wants me to be as active as possible, and looks with a bit of suspicion on doctors who advise nothing but rest. Doctor was non-committal about the future effect of returning to dance on this knee, and whether such a return is advisable. PT keeps making me do exercises that will keep my strength up "for when you return to dance," so she's much more optimistic on the matter. Second-Opinion PT just nods politely when she hears about my doctor's opinions, and then instructs me to adjust my neck 60 times a day.

Somewhere in all of this is a course of action for me, and a future. I'm just not always sure how to navigate it. It's up to me to process all this information and decide on my goals, but sometimes I just want somebody to flat out tell me what to do. In the meantime, I'm trying to find a way to do everything, in a kind of desperate hope that FINALLY this knee will start to feel better.

So as a summary, my current action plan looks like this:

1. Wear my brace at least 10 hours a day. Still don't like it, still unsure of how it's affecting my kneecap/cartilage, but my knee definitely feels strapped in and stable when I've got it on. It restricts my movement so much that I worry about favouring my "good" side, though, and have to make a conscious effort to put weight on my bad leg. It also cuts my walking speed in half, which is annoying, but I suppose that's the point, to slow me down and rest the leg more.

2. Apply 40 drops of the anti-inflammatory drug to my knee twice a day. This is easy to do, but I remain unconvinced of its general effect. I guess I was expecting it to feel like something, like maybe a tingle or whatever. Does it help? I have no idea. But it takes no effort to keep applying it.

3. Do my alignment exercises 60 times a day. I'm building up to this, in order to make it a habit. I set a goal of 15 times yesterday and only managed 13. Today I've already done 9, and it's not even lunchtime, so small progress. My PT also had me doing the neck correction while "jumping" on the Pilates reformer this morning. I have no idea if it made a difference.

4. Do my other PT exercises whenever I can. These ones focus on overall strength, and will hopefully make me better balanced when I return to dancing, thereby (again, hopefully), protect against further injury. I am not always so good with this. My PT also wants me to go in on non-appointment days to use the reformer to jump. I'll make a point to do this.

5. Swim, to keep my fitness up. I've reached the drudgery part of learning to swim, where I just have to buckle down and keep doing it, no matter how often I get water up my nose or get tired and start sinking or run out of breath or, as in last night, pinch some muscles in my neck when trying to figure out the best head angle for the side glide. It's making me a bit grumpy, but I vow to be able to comfortably swim full laps (no matter how slow), by sometime in the winter.

That all sounds like a plan, doesn't it? Now I just need to see some actual improvement from following these steps...

For tonight, I have the night off but have a bunch of work and errands to do. But I'll see if I can squeeze out some extra bodily-alignment exercises and start trolling for music for my adult students' annual choreography. I know I want to do a figure dance with them this year, but that's as far as I've gotten. If anybody reading this has a recent favourite reel, I'm all ears...
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By SeniorLadyPremium member
On Wed Aug 20, 2014 08:15 AM
Jackie Coleman's Reel is my favourite, but the version I have is only about 1:45. It gets played at competitions often, and it's really fun and lively, but it's not contemporary-sounding in the slightest if that's what you're after.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Fri Aug 22, 2014 09:36 AM
^Thanks -- not sure what I want yet, but I'll know it when I hear it...

I want to take a minute to salute Buddy MacMaster. He was the "Dean of Cape Breton," and he died this week, after delighting Celtic music fans with his fiddle for much of his 89 years.

If you're reading this and you're Canadian, I hope you understand the Cape Breton fiddle style and how great it is. If you're not Canadian, all you need to know is that Cape Breton is a tiny island on the east coast, and it's part of Nova Scotia, and that name tells you all you need to know -- the island has indeed retained its "New Scotland" character. The fiddle style has a lot of both grit and elegance (yes, that's possible). Always a heavy downbeat, emphasized with the fiddler's heel. But even if you don't listen for any of the technical elements, your feet can't help but respond. It's probably the greatest Celtic dancing music I've heard, and Buddy was an absolute master of it.

Here's a rip-roaring strathspey and reel: . . .

RIP Buddy, you made my feet happy.

I'm really glad that it's Friday -- although who's ever NOT glad that it's Friday? -- because this week has felt painfully slow for some reason. I have a nice weekend lined up of drinks with colleagues, a festival, and a birthday dinner. But I also have to make time for board-of-directors work, as it being quiet this week doesn't mean I actually got anything useful done...

I'm still figuring out this knee brace. On Tuesday, in a department store, I had a near-breakdown when I lifted my leg and was met with a searing pain in my entire knee. I was frozen -- couldn't lift the leg further, couldn't put it back down; I'm sure I was a strange sight to the other customers in the store in my near-statue state with a grimace on my face. It felt like everything in my knee was in the wrong place, and I have no idea what caused it. Eventually my knee "popped" and things felt better.

Wednesday was fine, in contrast. Yesterday also felt good most of the day, but after work I looked down and my left ankle was double the size of the right. Was my brace too tight? Today, it again feels mostly fine, but I have some soreness in the right side of my lower back. Am I relying too much on that side of my body when I have the brace on? Probably. I feel like I even have to remind myself how to walk when I'm wearing it. Gah, this is making me way more fussy than I would like. It better be accomplishing something useful, because it's stressing me out.

I've only been doing so-so with ramping up the alignment exercises. I am pretty good at remembering to do them at home, popping up from eating breakfast to do one repeat or making it a rule that every time I get up to do anything, I have to do one exercise. But at work, it's a lot harder. My day is extremely fast-paced, and 99% of the time I can't even take a lunch break. I think I'm also somewhat self-conscious at work, where I spend part of my day in an open-concept working area amongst many other people, and then in a studio control room where anything I do draws the attention of the host/presenter I'm supposed to be directing. If I keep standing up to adjust my neck, he's gonna start wondering if it's a new cue I've invented. I'll work on sneaking more repetitions in, though. I'm up to about 20, a third of the way to my ultimate goal.

Last night I did some regular exercising too, so I feel somewhat accomplished. I've been terrible at doing any exercises on the weekend, so let's set that as a goal. Otherwise, it's extremely critical that I soak up as much sunshine as possible, 'cause this summer is slipping from my fingers fast.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:43 AM
My last summer weekend (I'm making this sound like I'm going away forever or something, I realize) was suitably summery and social and fun, filled with drinks on patios 3 nights in a row (a record!), a music festival, and a birthday party at a pub. I'm just paying for it now, because I didn't get many useful things accomplished and I was awake until 1:30am last night.

I know, I'm such a weirdo with my need for quiet, productive time balanced against the fun. I really don't mean to complain about having too much fun, I swear. I just don't like starting my Mondays all bleary-eyed and scrambling around my apartment to assemble my lunch and make sure I've got everything packed for my swimming lesson, and so on. I didn't read the weekend papers and was utterly unprepared (and late) for my morning editorial meeting. But it's not every Sunday that a friend's birthday coincides with another friend's visit after living in Burma for a year, so I'll suck it up and buy more coffee.

This week is shaping up to be quiet, which is exactly what I need to get some board-of-directors work done before I go on a week's holiday. And what I need to exercise more, too. I managed to do a 30-minute workout yesterday, but otherwise did exactly zero of my alignment exercises and did not even wear my brace this weekend. And today? My knee hurts. But it always hurts. It may be worse today, I dunno. I'm tired of analyzing it constantly, to be honest.

One thing I need to address as a result of this not-dancing thing: my weight. I don't even like saying that; I consider one's weight to be a really personal thing, and I also know it can be a sensitive subject among dancers. But the cold, hard fact is that I have definitely put on weight over the nearly 5 months I have been not dancing. This should not be a surprise, given that I lost my main form of exercise, but it's still disheartening. I do not have a scale and have no wish to own one, but I can tell by the fit of my clothes. I would say I was at the peak of my fitness in about May of 2013, where I ran my fastest 10K yet and even my boss began to notice that all my pants were too big for me. Now, those same pants are quite tight.

I haven't been skinny since I was a 14-year-old who shot up 4 inches in one year, and I really have no wish to be thin or whatever. My body type will always be curvy, and I'm OK with that. It's more about me being at my optimal weight, and being fit and healthy. I have to pay more attention to those things. I don't believe in dieting or anything like that, and I would never completely curb my preference for sweets or for a nice meal out with friends, but I just need to make sure I'm eating only what I need to eat during the week, and that I stay on top of the exercise thing.

Basically, I just need to nip in the bud the downward spiral of me being sad because I'm not dancing and my knee won't heal, and then adding in poor body image on top of that. It's not going to happen. I'm gonna stop it now.
re: Tada gan iarracht 2014
By seannettaPremium member
On Tue Aug 26, 2014 10:32 AM
I officially graduated from Red Cross Level 1 swimming! I am no longer a drowning threat to myself! Actually, I don't think I ever was, but I really did learn a lot about floating and breathing and attempting to do a proper stroke. Really this is only the beginning, but I do feel like I've accomplished something, especially since I got a report card and everything. I felt a bit like a little kid receiving my report, with all my checkmarks and nice comments from the instructor, but I'll take it.

The only constructive criticism I got was to work on a more neutral head position, and that's totally my weakness. I'm actually pretty fast in the water (for a beginner, I mean), I don't sink and/or give up if I lose my stride, and I've got really strong kicking legs. But I'm still lifting my head up to breathe rather than turning it on its side, and I'm getting water up my nose way too much and sputtering a bit as a result. I think I did about every 3rd or 4th cycle half-decently, and obviously I want to improve that number. Level 2 starts in two weeks, and I'm kind of excited to do things like diving and the back stroke and so on. I also think my arms are going to get a lot stronger, because doing just half-lengths right now leaves me tired at the end of class. This is good, since none of my other activities in the past have involved my upper body much.

In physio this morning I was put through torturous exercises as usual, and I was actually still stiff from Sunday's cardio/strength workout I did (which is excellent news, because I don't always challenge myself enough at home to get stiff muscles afterward, and I also never know how effective the workouts I choose are). Don't have much to report otherwise, except that my PT wants me to follow up with PT2 sometime soon to see if my alignment exercises are making any difference (er, this probably means I should actually DO them), and she also wants a finite date to decide whether those exercises plus the knee brace have meant overall improvement. If not, and my sports doc doesn't have much to say about it, she wants me to find a new sports doc. Yes, my PT is pretty pushy, but it's in my own self-interest.

Finally, I had a work meeting this morning with a publicist who knows that I dance, and she saw my knee brace and asked what's up, and it got us into a discussion about her husband, who's actually an ex-pro football player, and he also has no cartilage left in his knee. (I'll leave out the part where he's supposed to have knee replacement surgery.) He's been taking glucosamine supplements with a great deal of success. I hadn't considered this before, but I know it's common for people with osteoarthritis in their knees to take it (scientific evidence on its effectiveness is mixed), and it certainly can't hurt, so I'm gonna try that too.

Tonight: major board-of-directors work at home. Same for Wed. Same for Thu. Sigh...On Wed I will commit to another 30-minute workout. On Thu I will commit to either getting into the physio gym for more pilates reformer jumping, or go to the pool again to practice my crawl. Fri I'd like to get my usual chores done, and then Sat I leave for my week's holiday with family.
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