When your body fails you

As I started writing a post about coffee shops in Israel, a pretty typical post for this blog, I all of a sudden felt that it was a really shallow topic, absolutely unrelated to the things that have actually been on mind for these last couple of weeks. Although I don’t tend to share much of my personal life here, I do write about lifestyle and health, and so I decided to tell you a little about my recent “journey”, which is related to these topics.

The first time I felt that my body had failed me was when I was 18, I was on a track of becoming a professional dancer, and then just like that, 3 days after my 18th birthday, I injured my knee so badly I had to undergo 2 surgeries and couldn’t dance for nine years. My injury was shocking for a number of reasons – I had no previous knee injuries and it wasn’t an accident or a trauma. I took a simple step and my knee just snapped. At the time I was training 30 hours per week. I was young and extremely fit, and I was used to being able to do with my body whatever came to mind – I was in control and could get it to do anything, or at least so I thought. After the injury I couldn’t walk for a couple of years and had to use crutches. The injury made me feel broken, fragile, I stopped trusting my body, and felt very detached from it, as it was responsible for smashing my dreams and desires, it ruined my career, and I wasn’t confident that it would take me anywhere good, or that it would remain whole long enough for me to actually grow old. I felt that my body was useless.

Years went by, I went through a long rehabilitation process, as well as a grieving process over the loss of dance in my life, and of my physical abilities. And as it turned out, 9 years later I could dance again. Though by then I had a totally different profession, I decided to go back to dancing and also teach (by then I had been a Pilates instructor for years, and also started teaching Aerial Yoga at some point). I got back into shape, and between my own dancing and teaching, I spent approximately 30 hours per week at a studio, and my body was doing just fine.

A few weeks back, however, I started feeling extremely weird sensations. The thing I noticed first was muscle cramps, after that came the tingling and numbness in my limbs, and after a few more days I started feeling severe joint pain. Kind of like when you have really high fever, only I had no fever at all. My skin felt tender and my tendons and ligaments felt overstretched. I kept on going till in one of my dance classes I felt I was about to tear something and injure myself badly. I decided to stop and go home and rest. I was riding the bus and crying all the way back home. I spent the next hours I had (till it was time for me to go teach) trying to calm myself down. Many of my symptoms fit perfectly with arthritis. I felt devastated, like my body has failed me yet again, and all of my past demons surfaced. I thought that not only will I not be able to dance from now on, but that also my profession as a teacher was compromised. I felt weak and stupid and I was disappointed at my body. And I was scared.

Since my body had forced me to take a break, I stopped dancing, and only kept teaching, trying not to strain it too much. I started doing whatever I could think of that might help –  taking supplements, doing acupuncture, massages, meditate and practice some mindfulness. I tried to calm down, to be okay with the fact I can’t do whatever I want with my body, I tried not to be angry at it and not to stress out about it. I tried to eat better, sleep better, to be kind to myself. Slowly by slowly the pain in my joints started to subsided. Everything felt softer and more bearable. It’s been about three weeks since the first symptoms appeared, and a couple of days ago I attempted to take a dance class for the first time. It went okay. Not great, but not horrible either. My body wasn’t at its best, but I was able to finish the entire class.

I’m not yet sure I’m out of the woods. I still have no idea what it was/is and whether it’s gonna keep improving or whether it might come back. As I have learned, healing processes are more often than not, non-linear. So I am trying to accept things as they are, to thank my body for every class it allows me to take, for every moment in which I am not sore. I try to be patient and to be kind and non-judgmental towards myself.



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