Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Six Weeks Later

Only five more days until I say goodbye to my lovely black legwear. I thought I had better document it on film just in case I ever want to remember what it was like. (Special thanks to Brian Simcoe for the nifty red sock):

I tend to get sentimental about things that pass in and out of my life, regardless of whether they were good or bad, happy or sad, of mixed emotion or impact. As much of a drag as the past six weeks have been, I know that sometime later on in the coming months I will look back on this time and sigh to remember how simple things were back in March and April, back when I couldn't see or really feel what was happening with my ankle. (I can sort of tell what's going on with it now, but there will be a lot more to feel when I'm moving it and using it). I guess what I mean is that this time is like milling around, waiting to start an endeavor that's not clearly mapped out, but will be defined as I go through it. I can see into the future in that I know with certainty that it's going to be full of unexpected pitfalls and breakthroughs, the obvious ups and downs, and all sorts of unknown sidetrips along the way to the end goal. But at the same time, I can't even compare it to a race or journey, because there's no set end point or finish line. "Complete recovery" will sneak up on me someday, but it'll never truly be complete.
I've been through something similar already. Three years ago I had surgery on my other ankle to repair a torn tendon. That was also a recovery full of unknowns and discoveries, just like this one will be, but this time there will be an entirely new book of lessons to learn. Talk about the school of life... What if a nuclear physicist had a brain injury, brain surgery, and recovered but had to re-train their mind, starting with basic math? I'm certainly not aiming to discover clues to the genesis of the universe, thank goodness, but I kind of feel that what I'm going to ask of my body is the equivalent of going from basic addition to incredibly complex physics.
I realize that what I described above sounds a little woe-is-me. There's a certain amount of that, yes, but mostly I want to use myself as an example to explain what it means for any one of us to be injured. There is never a foolproof remedy or absolutely predictable outcome, no matter how common the injury, because each body is so different from every other. And each of our psyches will handle the experience differently, too, of course. But the common thread of being a dancer with a body part that got outrun by the pack is this sudden vulnerability, the crash down to reality (and into the "real world") from the hyper-reality of the ballet world. So, knowing that my situation is unique yet completely commonplace, and I'm going to try to bring you all a little ways into this place along with me, and us.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Gavin,

    I know this is a response to an older post you did... but hopefully you'll get it.

    I'm really happy to hear that you're getting your cast off soon. I can well imagine that you'll be ecstatic to have it off and start walking on that foot. Your post ended with you saying that part of your post may sound like "woe is me". Well, there honestly is nothing wrong with that. In a way, as odd as it may sound to you, it's nice to hear that you're human - meaning that there is a real person attached to the performer. I am still working on improving my knee after my surgery in December. It has been about 4 months now and I still have pain daily. I still can't squat down (not that I could ever do what a ballerina does mind you), but when I think of what I could do in the gym and now it's all I can do to squat down and pick up a 50lb box I get a little frustrated. And, like you said there's never a foolproof remedy or predictable outcome. I was talking to my neighbor who was a hard core biker (25 miles was nothing) and he had a similar knee surgery a year and a half ago and he still has problems. This has definitely been a humbling experience for me, especially when a friend of mine who's a ballerina said she's danced on feet that had broken bones. I think that possibly one thing you have in your favor is simply your body. You are very athletic and in good shape to begin with so you can heal faster. And you need to, I enjoy watching you dance - you are very graceful (still thinking of your performance in the last dance where you danced with Artur I believe where you were facing the audience, who was an audience. My appology for not remembering the name, but I think it was something to do with Fauns. Grace Shibley did the same dance (if that helps)

    By the way, in one of your posts you mention bunions I think you called them for your feet. I've seen the one video on OBT's site about wrapping what looks like kleenex around your toes and then putting the pointe shoes on. It looks like there's a flat piece of board in the toe of the shoes. Are they a solid flat tip or are they like normal shoes that are soft at the tip? Are your toes flat in them (like a normal pair of shoes) or are they kinda curled up in the shoes? I know these questions may seem odd, but with your comment about dancing in high heels and being harder on your feet, I was thinking that you might get blisters/calluses (sp?) on your toes from point shoes?

    Have a good week Gavin and I hope your cast comes off soon without complications!