Thursday evenings are the unofficial ladies’ night at my physical therapist’s office. Tonight when I arrived the only patients there were 2 other ladies and when I finished up several hours later, I left 7 women behind. Of course, I was the only one under 50, but what does that matter? We’re all hooked up to the same stim machine in the end…
At first the other ladies left me alone and chatted about the weather in PT terms- Is it supposed to rain tonight? I think so, my knee is killing me– while they stretched their hammies with long green straps. I was in the middle of a good yawn when one of my favorite 50-somethings shimmied on over to do a few leg presses on the machine right across from me and my lat pull-downs. Finally face-to-face, she must’ve felt some subconscious need to address my contextual youth. So she starts in, “When you’re my age everything will hurt all the time.” “It already does”, I tell her, with a smirk. “Are you an athlete?”, she asks next, nodding away because she already knows- without any casts, scars, or crutches, what else could I be doing in here? “Yes, well, er, I’m a ballet dancer. Professionally. I’m a professional ballet dancer.”
Then it happened. As if I had screamed the words BALLERINA OVER HERE through a megaphone, the ladies looked over at me, watching with wide eyes that reflected the tiny tutus of their childhoods as I moved on to my seated rows. My initial interrogator and the weather observer on the stationary bike next to her couldn’t ask their questions fast enough. Who do you dance for? How many hours? Are you dancing in the next performance? What’s your injury? Stress fracture in your spine?! How did that happen? But you’re so young! Festival Ballet? Doesn’t Baryshnikov’s daughter teach there?
Why had it taken me so long to realize I was surrounded by my target demographic? Thursday evening PT seshes are my new favorite.
Coming back to the states means not only an end to my french adventure, but also the return to my schedule full of acupuncture and physical therapy appointments. Ah, the life of a dancer.
This morning at acupuncture (which I attended all by myself for the first time ever! be proud!), I asked my doctor to put special needles in my ear to curb hunger cravings, telling him that I’m still trying to get back into shape and reminding him of the dishonorable amount of cheese I consumed in Paris. He then sized me up, asked me my weight, laughed at me a little bit, but eventually agreed to give me the hunger-halting pressure points remarking, “To always be more slim…that’s the curse of the ballerina.” This guy really knows what he’s talking about…
Later on at physical therapy, I received some rather painful, but quite necessary soft tissue massaging. Oooh, these casual little soft tissue massages they give me. You’ve never experienced as uncomfortable a massage as one of these; It’s like they are feeling around for the most painful inch of muscle in your body, and upon locating said twisted tissue, they pound it into the floor. So, as the trainer dug her elbow farther into my left buttock, she politely suggested, “Just let me know if I need to back off a little, okay?” but she already knew my response. Before I could get out the full, “It’s okay, I can take it”, she interrupted with a laugh and said, “Yeah, you’re a pro athlete, you love this kind of pain.” Not only was it extremely refreshing and lovely to be referred to as a pro athlete by a trainer in a sports medicine facility, but she was also exactly right. I do love that sore, almost-on-the-brink-of-tears, recovery and healing, grinding away at my tight muscles, type of pain. So, healers and feelers, keep that good pain coming!
Currently on my nightstand: fruit salad and english breakfast tea, and souvenirs from Paris- a Diptyque candle and eau de toilette from Merci
One of the most important aspects of returning from an extended vacation is slipping back into your real life without feeling like a visitor in someone else’s. To make that fateful shift from holiday to home, there are a few simple steps I always take in that first week back in my own, now-slightly-foreign, element.
1. Unpack. You don’t have to do it immediately after stepping off the plane, train, car, boat, or bus like I do (there’s that OCD again!)…but unpacking within the first two days of returning home is a crucial part of adjusting to home life that cannot be overlooked. Living out of a suitcase subconsciously gives the impression that the vacation has not yet ended, and as you can imagine this is extremely confusing in terms of inner motivation.
2. Integrate new possessions into your daily life. Whether they be material or mental, going away to someplace different always rewards us with souvenirs. Find a home for everything. Settle physical memories in places around your home that soak them into your pre-existing decor, so they don’t feel like a temporary art exhibit in your living room. Apply knowledge acquired on your trip into your home life, and see how it applies to your daily activities.
3. Give yourself a schedule. Jumping back into the stresses of life at home after a vacation can be intimidating, but getting back into a scheduled routine can be an absolute life-saver. Even if you are still healing from a back fracture and your only plans consist of physical therapy, acupuncture appointments and the beach, carving out time to do these things is an essential step in adjusting to home life.
And with that, it’s off to the beach with me! What are your tricks for shaking the vacation vibes and getting back into the swing of things?
Welp, after months of lower back pain and no real “cause” (I actually started to think I might be fabricating the whole injury), I have finally received a diagnosis. And the verdict? I have a stress fracture between the first and second vertebrae of my spine. Read: There is an itty bitty crack in my lower back that’s causing a whooooole lot of trouble.
With only 2 weeks left in the season, this diagnosis has actually come at a pretty perfect time (if there is such a thing). Since the only way to treat a stress fracture is with rest and physical therapy, I’ll be able to take time away from ballet without stressing over being 100% healthy before the next show. I have the entire summer to get back into tip top shape for next season!
The only hold up? My plans to travel to Paris in June for the Ailey/POB summer intensive. Might be kind of hard to do an intensive with a bad back…eeeeeek. :(
Have any of you ever had a stress fracture? What was your experience like?