Monday, November 9, 2009

It's a long, long haul

On my 4 month hippiversary (yesterday), I went to the social dance session and skated for an hour. My right hip flexor was sore by about the halfway mark, and still hurts today, so an hour was probably too much but I keep thinking ... when can I start pushing myself?

Since I look pretty good just walking around -- I walk pretty fast, with an occasional slight limp -- most people wouldn't guess I have 7 screws in my pelvis.

But when I get on the ice it's apparent to all who know me that I am not myself. It's going to be a long, long haul.

Of course I'm really just getting on the ice for rehab benefits and not trying to re-learn how to skate just yet. That would be silly since I'm facing PAO #2 a week from Wednesday. But my skills have deteriorated to the point where the old me would have been embarrassed to even show my face at a dance session filled with very skilled skaters and with a large audience of mall shoppers. I used to love that audience because I am a performer, and I was a decent skater, so it was fun.

One of my wise hip sisters pointed out to me that I need to Dance As Though Nobody is Watching. But people ARE watching, and I am aware of them and basically I suck. Before surgery I skated like an adult who skated as a kid. Now I skate like a brand new adult skater and that's a very different story. I'm not trying to offend anyone out there, but for those of us who skated as kids, "skating like an adult" is not a compliment.

I can do three turns, but my free leg has to bend, I have to jerk my arms, and I have to wide step. Mohawks with a bit of speed are jerky and hurt my hip. My head is always down looking for the rut I'm going to trip in. My hands and shoulders are up and my arms are stiff. My knees are locked. My toes are not pointed. My extensions are non-existent. I am going about half speed, if that. My edges are flat. Expression? What's that? For someone who has passed standard gold and international dance tests this is almost too much to bear.

We sometimes catch snippets of audience conversation as we skate by, and since I am traveling so slowly I heard a long snippet yesterday. "The one with the big butt pads can't skate." Well, enough said.

One of my skating buddies asked me if it is "hard to start over." They might as well have said, "God, you look like shit!" but I don't want to put words in their mouth and of course I am taking it hard because that's what I think too. I pointed out that I could either be at the rink trying or be home not trying, and I'll never get any better with the latter approach. Despite being able to walk with just a bit of a limp, my skating muscles are just not strong enough to bend and push enough to make me look like a competent ice dancer.

Despite all the above, I did the following dances (all solo as I don't feel competent to partner yet, although I did do a Canasta Tango with Doug who is not only brave but extremely qualified to hold me up):

~All preliminaries
~All pre-bronzes except only parts of the Fiesta (can't do the step forward at the end)
~All bronzes
~European Waltz (not too bad),
~American Waltz
~Silver Samba

So keep in mind that when I say I "did" the dances, they were at slow speed, off time, not pushing, on flats, no extensions, etc. I could do most of the steps and turns, sometimes on two feet, but not well.

And let's not have a party just because I listed the Viennese and Samba. The Viennese was basically a walkthrough of the steps -- no speed, no edges, on two feet when needed, and tiny pattern. The Samba is an easy dance to solo and hey, I was barely pushing so it was barely recognizeable as the dance I passed a year ago. Sigh. I am the proudest of it because when the music started I was going to go stand at the barrier but instead I just grit my teeth and did two sucky patterns and tried to actually skate it as best I could. I stayed mostly off two feet and kind of on time, bouncing along on flats.

I am not sure whether to be happy about all I can do or sad about all I can't do, and I realize I am expressing both in this post. I have gone from depressed to happy to depressed again ever since I got off the ice yesterday. Any of you who are getting ready to lecture me please think about how hard it would be for you to lose all of your hard-won skills (skills fought for over a lifetime, in fact, because I've always been fighting my dysplasia). I'm also facing 4 more months of rehab on the other side before, if I am lucky, getting to this point again, and then the real work of learning to skate again will start.

This is why it's a long road. Some days I'm happy just to be walking again. I know some people who are 4-months post PAO are barely off crutches, so I should be happy with my progress. Other days I stress out at what I'm facing if I want to some day test another international dance (Cha Cha Congelado, which probably could have been tested last year if I had taken the time to work on it instead of stressing about my upcoming surgery), which may or may not be possible but sounds like a good goal to me.

And of course, it all pales by comparison to what's going on in the world. I remind myself that it's only skating and not world peace, and I am just one person, and maybe my time could be better spent pursuing non-athletic endeavors when this is all over.

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