I remember when I first got back to belly dancing post-surgery. That was the birth of the Cyborg Dance Projekt. When I started that journey, I wasn’t sure if my body would be able to handle it. It was around 6 months post-op, and I was still in a lot of pain that still necessitated opioid pain medication.
As I reflect on this almost-year long project, I’ve been beating myself up the past four or so months about dance. My pain level has been creeping up again, and I found out that my L4/L5 vertebral joint (the one above my fusion) is having physiological issues. I’ve known this symptomatically since a month or two after surgery, but I couldn’t get a doctor to listen to me or to take my concerns seriously.
I’ve been beating myself up because I’m signed up for ATS Homecoming in January including General Skills & Teacher Training, and I’m afraid that my body can’t handle it (it’s 4 days of GS, 3 days of workshops, then 2 days of TT, each with about six hours of studio time). I’m not comparing myself to my semi-pro dancer days (which, in retrospect, would have been pro if I wasn’t so shy and socially awkward), but I am comparing myself to last summer. I would sometimes take three classes back-to-back. I would take classes several days in a row. I had a better home practice routine.
This fear was really eating me up until I realized something while talking to my partner. The difference between the past few months and last summer is that I’m in classes for my PhD. I have six hours a week sitting upright in a classroom on top of my 20 hour a week assistantship (along with the other meetings and whatnot that are unpaid requirements for getting a doctoral degree). I have things that eat up my energy and my time, and I’m not a supercrip. My body is just telling me that I can either have my academic work or my dance work, that something has to flex for the other thing to fit in my life.
This realization isn’t giving me any peace like I hoped it would though. It’s making me realize that if I want to dance more while working and going to school, I need to figure out where I can conserve spoons (time/energy units). I really need to get a mobility scooter for campus so I don’t waste my ability to be upright on things that don’t contribute to my goals. Heck, I’ve been so bad lately that I haven’t been doing any extraneous walking….it’s to and from my car, from my car to a close building, back to my car. I don’t go to the library for any reason unless it’s an absolute requirement. I will go without eating for 12 hours so I don’t hurt myself going to the student union for food. Pain is jacking up my mental health, and I need to figure out a way to get my needs met as a student, as an employee, as a spouse, as a pet parent, as a friend, and as a dancer.
So, I’m back to fundraising for a scooter that will help me be able to have the time & energy to dance, be a fully functioning doctoral student, and a happier individual that is active. Here’s the GoFundMe link if you can help out….most insurance companies won’t pay for mobility equipment if it’s not used all of the time, including inside the home, so I’m forced to figure out how to pay for this on a grad student stipend…which means I’m fundraising.
TL;DR- Dance isn’t going as well because school is wearing down my body…but it’s ok, I’m figuring out how to cope