5 years ago, in 2010, on a sticky wooden dance floor my foot got caught while turning and my knee twisted almost all the way around shredding my ACL and Meniscus to pieces. That was my first injury ever. That injury has changed my life. It's changed the way I move and take care of my body, and my general awareness of my tool as a dancer. The same injury has sat me down a couple of times since then, and by the end of 2011 I had had 2 reconstructive knee surgeries (the 2nd one was caused by someone tripping and falling into me, go figure.... :-/) My ACL had been replaced twice. My LCL once. And my poor medial meniscus had been ripped apart-repaired-ripped again- then partially removed. Despite all that I felt stronger than ever when I got back to dancing after 2 years of surgeries and rehabilitation. The road to get there was bumpy and scary at times...and yet so worth it. Every time I go through this I learn more and more about myself and about a dancers' anatomy (which is incredibly interesting because we use our bodies so differently than what is natural for a human being). That, coupled with the passionate, overflowing drive I have to be moving and sharing my energy with others inspired me to keep pushing forward, and to make the difficult decisions to undergo these surgeries, even when I wanted to 'tap out'.
In the past 4 years I was feeling amazingly strong and I had gained a lot of trust back for my body. Then in July of this year I started noticing weakness in my right leg (my "bad" leg) while filming an episode of SYTYCD. It wasn't painful and it also wasn't anything I had felt before. I assumed my body was simply exhausted, and it was...unfortunately my knee was past exhaustion and taking a lot of stress because of the fatigue...My glutes and my quads just weren't firing up like they should have been. Muscularly I was a lot weaker on my right side. So, naturally I started to compensate with my left side to make up for the right and the imbalance got worse and worse. My ribs, back and hips were consistently slipping out of place and I was needing adjustments way to frequently (we're talking every night after performing). Over the course of 3 months I started to realize the weakness I was feeling wasn't normal for me, but, I didn't have the symptoms of a torn ACL.....yet. I had hopes that with some rest and physical therapy it would dissapear. Dancing in that sub-par condition gradually led to my ACL graft stretching out and becoming way to lax to support my knee joint. One night after a long week of teaching and traveling I laid on my cozy couch feeling grateful, super accomplished, and happy. I put my feet up on the couch and pushed to adjust myself and--POP--there it went. My knee had shifted dramatically and was visibly dislocated. I knew right away my ACL wasn't functioning properly. I swear my heart stopped. That feeling...I had felt so many times before....and it was all too familiar.
Which leads me here, 2 weeks before the Shaping Sound tour, and instead of prepping in rehearsal I'm facing my 3rd ACL reconstruction. It's hard to believe that this could happen again and, in all honestly, at times I still can't wrap my head around it. Nonetheless, it's happening. And I have to deal with it with a graceful acceptance and an understanding that this is something I need to do if I ever want to dance again....So, after several appointments and an MRI I made the choice to trek through this rough terrain once again knowing I'm about to grow so much and come out of this a stronger dancer and woman. This time, the choice was easy. I want more than anything to be back on stage performing and I use that as motivation to jump head first into this process of recovery. The surgery, the pain, the rehab, the emotional struggle. I expect all of these things to be difficult, but not as difficult as losing my ability to dance and share. So, after a deep breath I decided to move forward with the surgery as quickly and as safely as possible... and so it begins... again... But this time I can reflect on my past and used what I've learned to reach my fullest potential......Again.......and for good.
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