And now, for some-not-so happy new: last week, I found out that I have a stress fracture. Not one actually but two. And that’s only in my right foot.
It started a year and a half ago around Thanksgiving: a little twinge in my right foot near my ankle. It hurt to wear high heels, and it especially hurt to dance in high heels, but I soldiered on. Why? Well, my company had our biggest performance of the year coming up. I knew that if I went to see a doctor, they would tell me I had to stop dancing and there was no way, with the musicians already lined up and the costumes already packed, that I was not going to perform.
It’s part of being a dancer. We get injured. All of the time. And the daft amongst us (myself included) wear our injuries like little badges of honor, rattling them off: herniated discs, stress fractures, torn ACLs, and so on…
Injuries, you see, come with the territory. Injuries are part of your membership to the club. And when your membership doesn’t usually come with health insurance, you pop a few pills, tape yourself up and let the adrenaline take over.
This is how I got through. And after a few weeks off over the holidays, I was fine.
But then it happened again, just as we were ramping up rehearsals for this year’s holiday concert.
And this time it was both feet; this time it didn’t go away.
If I wasn’t a dance teacher, I would have kept on hobbling around, icing my feet after class and cajoling my boyfriend into giving me yet another foot massage. But I realized I wasn’t setting a good example. I realized that the grown up thing to do would be to bite the bullet and schedule an appointment.
Which is how, on Wednesday morning, I found myself staring at a set of X-rays trying to process the fact that I’ve have two stress fractures in my right foot: little tiny chunks of bone that have broken off from the mother ship and are just hanging out at the edge of my ankle joint.
“We’ll know more once we get the radiology report,” the doctor told me. “But this is an old injury that didn’t heal properly.”
In other words, I did this to myself.
I was the one who was afraid to go to the doctor. I was the one who couldn’t afford health insurance. And even though I knew something was wrong, I was the one who insisted on performing again this year, taping my ankle for each show and wearing multiple pairs of tights to keep everything hidden from the audience.
The only reason I bring this all up is because it was stupid—immensely stupid—and I felt even worse to be setting this sort of “example” as an educator. But that’s not the worst part. Oh no. The worst part is it hurts to wear high heels now. This, as far as I’m concerned, is the ultimate betrayal. I’m going to have to change the name of my blog to Fieldwork in Sensible Orthopedics.
So what I guess I’m trying to say is that if you’re a dancer, don’t be this stupid. Get it dealt with, no matter the cost, no matter the inconvenience. You’re body is your instrument, your meal ticket, your medium. There will always be another show but if you spend a year and a half hobbling around telling yourself its nothing, you might not be in it.