Putting together the pieces

As expected, today’s lesson was focused in on some of the things that needed work from yesterday.

We started by working on the foxtrot and clarifying the third and 4th line and working through them over and over until they felt really solid, had some shaping to them.  There are some really interesting steps in those lines, but to make them work I have to make sure I do my part right.  We were also working on using my power to travel.

After foxtrot, it was on to quickstep.  again the second and third line to put them together and to clarify little but really important details (especially in quickstep where everything is so fast!).  We fixed some of the iffy parts to make them more solid so neither Boss nor I had to worry about falling.

Again my endurance failed me.  The last two times running through the lines my legs just stopped working.  The last time we both felt me just sink as my steam ran out.  Considering we spent most of the lesson just running over and over through two really tough dances full out, it was a bit of an achievement to make it as far as I did before my muscles started shutting down.  It was also ‘leg day’ at the gym, so they worked really hard today!

I will do my regular workout tomorrow, but after that, no strength training until after the competition to let my muscles rest and be at full strength when I need to be at the competition.

We are getting down to the wire, and to the point where it is just run through, run through, run through, and fix the things that can be fixed in the time we have.  Just build the confidence in the routines.

I can also tell that Boss is already thinking ahead to what we will focus on after this competition, which will be more shaping and upper body work.  Putting all the pieces together.

I pick up the skirt for my solo tomorrow so I can start practicing with it, and my dresses are also really coming along.  I am excited to see them!

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A day of surprise

It’s amazing how sometimes something can happen and it takes some time just to catch up with it.

I got something completely unexpected when I got into work today. I got an email from my doctor that said I have been approved as medically fit by the headquarters.

This means that I am officially allowed to return to full duties, and that I will be posted from the support unit to a ‘real’ position.  It means that as far as work is concerned, my cancer journey is officially behind me.

It’s a bit surreal.  I have had to read the email a few times today just to remind myself it’s true.  It was completely unexpected, but my doctor expedited my file because I am slated to travel overseas for work in October (after the competition) and the easiest way to permit that was to get sign off as soon as possible.  I thought they were exploring other options and did not know they had asked for my file to be reviewed ASAP.  Usually it takes more than 6 months to get sign-off.

That was the start of a very busy day facilitating media interviews and working on products for my upcoming trip.  I will reveal where it is closer to the time and once tickets are bought (no turning back then), but it will be 10 days in a place I have never been–very exciting!

At dance today, we worked on the Viennese Waltz solo, and that started a bit of another surprise.  Boss started by asking me to show him what I had choreographed for the very beginning of the solo.  He liked my idea, and so it became.  We also got the ending together as well.  By the end of the lesson, we were able to run through the full routine a couple times and recorded it.  I can see I was pretty tired, and some spots that need definite work, but the routine is together!  It’s mainly polishing now.

I generally feel better today–whether it was the news that started my day (which I am still processing), or that the solo is now together and doable, or I am a little pumped from having a really productive day at work.  It was only the very end of my lesson I felt my legs turn to jelly, but I didn’t feel exhausted afterward.  My endurance in general still needs a lot of work to rebuild.

My knees also felt better today.  It seems they are happier on the days I work out my legs, and the day after, but start to flare up on the third day.  It will be something to discuss with my physiotherapist.

Hard to believe but next week I will start tapering down my workouts to allow my body to recover to be in top form for competing.  I always reduce my strength training before a competition and just focus on dance so that my muscles are not fatigued on competing day and I am able to be fresh.

To be honest, part of me still hasn’t quite realized the competition is so close.  It’s like I have been working and waiting forever to get to it, and now that it is almost here it doesn’t seem quite real.  Part of that though may be everything else that is going on.  I am sure that soon enough it will seem too close!

Pre-competition Disorder

It’s coming.

Not here quite yet, but I can feel it coming.  Pre-competition Disorder. Essentially when students freak out before a competition and panic they won’t be ready.

I am usually pretty good at managing it, but this is a bit of a ‘come-back’ comp and all of my routines are new.  And I actually have people to compete against–which has been a long time for me.

In my lesson today, we were running through my solo for the competition.  It’s almost choreographed, and we were able to get through it from mid-beginning to where the choreography stops almost near the end.  It was videotaped and it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would.

I will admit there was a point in my lesson today when I seriously considered suggesting dropping doing the solo.  Boss was being a little frustrated with me because I wasn’t quite getting something, and suggested we ‘simplify’ it so it can be ready.  There is nothing I hate more than not being given a chance to learn something before Boss decides to ‘simplify’ it.  In the end, I got the step as he originally wanted it, so small victory for me.

After that, he gave me a choice of whether to run-through the routine or to just work on little parts.  I chose to run-through it as I knew that mostly I needed to repeat it in context to get the footwork in my feet.  I know the parts that need a little more focused work, and some of them I just need to work through on my own.

I am not really sure why, but I was struggling with two things today–first, my knees were excruciatingly sore.  I didn’t want to bend them and I was compensating for them without really realizing it.  I am not sure why they were so flared up.  Wednesday is the day I don’t have strength training, so they were able to take it easy all day.  I am actually wondering if it is the rest they don’t like.

The second thing I was struggling with was dizziness–which is definitely an issue when doing Viennese Waltz!  What was strange was that I was finding myself a lot more dizzy than I usually would be, and sometimes felt dizzy for no reason.  The dizziness was also one of the reasons I wanted to cut back on the medication–I had been finding it more and more in the last couple weeks, and I am hoping as I cutback the dizziness will go away.

I just don’t need anymore health issues right now.

I think the combination of my knees, the dizziness and feeling the pressure of putting together a complicated solo two weeks before a competition is starting to get to me a little bit.  I found myself feeling a little overwhelmed during my lesson.

I stayed for practice tonight and ran through each of my open silver routines as best I could on my own.  They weren’t too bad, but I could tell I was tired.  That said, the only one that gave me a lot of grief was foxtrot, which I was working on last.  Quickstep is still a little fragmented, but tango has really become ironed out.  I was able to focus on styling a little in cha cha, especially the beginning which is more side-by-side.

I have my final lesson this week tomorrow, and the plan is to run through the solo more, hopefully from top to bottom.  We also need to run through the Paso Doble before the competitive practice on Sunday.  Boss also mentioned he wanted to work through Viennese Waltz just on it’s own because he found in the solo I wasn’t ‘really moving’ and seemed to be struggling with the actual VW part.  I did tell him I was keeping things small on purpose for my knees, which I guess made sense to him. I hope my knees are better tomorrow.

One thing that is adding to my stress a little bit is the news that my roommate was given an offer for his own place, so he will be moving out the end of October.  It was quite a bit unexpected, for him and for me, and it means I have to scramble to find a new roommate.  While I can pay all the bills on my own and even keep myself in lessons, no roommate means almost no savings for competitions.  Therefore, if I don’t find a new roommate then the competition over Thanksgiving will be my last until I am able to find a new roommate.  It sucks, but it is what it is, and I will just have to see how things progress.  I think I have already resigned myself a bit to not being able to afford to do the next competition in January.

Today was my first day on the lower dose of the medication and there seems to be a little bit of difference already–in a positive way.  I can say for sure that my digestive system is feeling a little happier today, and there is less metallic taste in my mouth.  I am going to hold on to those signs and hope it keeps moving forward.  I am though a little concerned that the reason I feel a little bit overwhelmed is also because of the dose change.  The medication affects mood, and has to be ‘weaned’ off to avoid a ‘crash’ if it is stopped suddenly.  I am of course ‘weaning’, but I think it would be irrational of me to think that cutting the dose in half won’t have even the slightest effect on my mood.

I am dealing with it though–as best as I know how :).

Filling in the Gaps

That is what today’s lesson was mainly about.

After the practice yesterday, I sent Boss a note with some feedback from the run-throughs of any places in each routine that were still fuzzy.  Mainly it was transitions from one step to another, and it turned out the main problem was just small directional issues.

We spent the lesson today going through each of the spots I pointed out and clarifying what I needed so I can be a little more comfortable with the routines and able to work on my own in practice.  This is going to be really important in standard as I really tense up with I am unsure of myself.

I did get a good amount of practice in today before my lesson which let me review some of the fuzzy spots myself.  I debated staying after my lesson, but recognized I was pretty sore and tired and gave myself a break.

Mondays, for whatever reason, tend to be fuzzier days in general, although I certainly wasn’t as bad this week as last.  I wasn’t ‘zoning out’ tonight and was able to keep focus through the full lesson.

Boss gave me a homework assignment though, and it was interesting of him to suggest.  He told me to write out notes from tonight’s lesson as there was a lot of information, right into the email he was using to structure the lesson (my feedback from yesterday).  I wasn’t too sure it was a good idea to do it tonight, and I am not one to write notes in general, especially during a lesson, beyond steps and timing, but after I got home and showered I decided to write out the points.

What was actually quite helpful was that I waited until a bit of time after my lesson to write the notes.  Therefore, I had to recall the points and write them in my own words.  For me, that is almost like retention gold.  I see words in my head, so anything I write in my own words almost automatically gets remembered.  I am curious to see how that translates into my next practice (which should be Wednesday after my lesson–unless I get a little energetic and decide to do some runthroughs on my own tomorrow night at the gym).

On a different note, tomorrow I have a phone consult with my oncologist to discuss my medication and the side effects I have been experiencing.  I really hope that we can slowly ‘phase out’ the problem medication without too much difficulty.  As I seem to have adjusted to the hormone therapy, the side effects I am experiencing from the medication I am taking for the side effects of HT are getting pretty extreme–especially the digestive issues.

I have my fingers crossed that the oncologist will let me at least try smaller doses and see how it goes.  Taking medications for side effects of a medication I am taking for the side effects of HT just doesn’t make much sense to me–especially since I seem to having much less (almost none) side effects from the HT. One less medication in my home pharmacy would be really welcomed right about now.

With three weeks to go to the competition, I am feeling good about where things are at, even though they are still a little rough.  As I said before, the goal is to get the routines on the floor for this competition, and I should definitely be able to do that.

I have lessons Wednesday and Thursday this week and they should be focused on the solo and Paso Doble.

 

Competitive Practice

Well, I made it through.

It wasn’t always elegant, and we had to stop and reset here and there, but for the most part I was able to get through each routine at least once without stopping.

We did a bit of a graduated increase in standard–first we did compact almost practice hold just to go through the steps, then Boss told me to slowly start to stretch out, and to use my power to move.

I am still being far more cautious than he would like, but it is slowly coming.  I was able to pinpoint at the end of today the areas where I am still not quite sure of the timing or footwork.  Waltz still remains the most solid right now, and foxtrot is actually not too bad either.  Tango is almost there, and Quickstep had a few issues where I am not sure what I am doing, but I just keep my feel moving.  I think it gave Boss good feedback on what we need to work on and focus on for next week (other than the solo).

We also did one lap of the floor in Viennese Waltz today, and that is where I am really feeling my lack of endurance coming into play.  For each of the routines, I definitely hit a point where I could feel I reached the last of my energy.  Thankfully, it was near the end of the round in most cases.

I am pretty pleased with how things went today as I honestly did expect more hiccups.  It was nice to get on the floor with the other competitive couples in the area for the first time in more than a year.  I have missed these practices for sure.

Latin didn’t go too bad either, although there were almost more issues than in standard.  I kept forgetting the same part in samba (but Boss kept forgetting a different one), and I wasn’t quite able to get all the turns in cha cha (according to Boss I am turning to much for the time I have, and I can agree with that).  Rumba went the best today, just small hiccups in the extended ending Boss added on Friday.  Paso definitely needs some review, and I was doing my old jive routine, so it went well–until I ran out of steam (but I almost made it through and with my knees up!).

Yesterday, I had a dress fitting and it was pretty exciting.  We are at the point where the stoning is starting! Both dresses are looking really amazing, even before the stones and I can’t wait until the next time I get to try them.

Next week is going to be pretty busy.  On Monday we are going to review the routines, and on Wednesday and Thursday we will work on the solo.  I should have the skirt for the solo ready to start practicing in next weekend.  I can’t believe it is already halfway through September!

Today is the one year anniversary from my last radiation treatment–what a difference a year makes!

Comp Preparation

3 more weeks until the competition–Yikes!!

I have some good news from this week.  After an exhausting Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (where I didn’t even think it would be safe to drive to practice 😦 ), at about 5 pm on Thursday I suddenly had a complete turn-around and burst of energy which has continued into today.

This turn-around and other symptoms make me strongly suspect that the extreme fatigue, mind fuzziness, difficulty thinking, etc. is actually hormone related.  Looking back, the last time I felt that bad was about 4 weeks ago.  It could be a sign that despite the chemopause and hormone therapy, my body is still trying to be cyclical.  I have noted on my calendar what happened and when, and I am going to see if it happens again in about 4 weeks.  Interestingly, it was the appearance of the full moon that triggered to me that perhaps this is cyclical, and not just a random occurrence, as I remember feeling ‘off’ the last time the moon was almost full.  If I didn’t know better, I would almost think I had a bout of extreme PMS.

That aside, preparations for the competition are continuing.  All the routines are choreographed now, and this week Boss and I spent time running through them and getting them to a point where I can do them mostly from start to finish in preparation for the competitive run-through practice on Sunday.

The latin routines, with the exception of a small piece near the end of the samba I need to remind myself about are in really good shape.  I need to focus in a bit on my styling for them now and focus on working through them ‘all out’.

The standard routines are coming, but taking more work than the latin routines.  Waltz is in the best place right now, with (shockingly) Quickstep just behind followed by tango and Foxtrot.  I have the routines written out now, which seems to be key for me to memorize and understand them, and they are at a place where I should be able to get through them from top to bottom without too much incident.

The biggest thing the standard routines need right now is confidence.  When I get to a part I am not too sure of, I tend to tense up, and then my shoulders hunch, especially my right side.  I also tend to start moving small and cautiously.  Today, we had some spots where I felt confident enough to really ‘let out the gas’, and it is pretty interesting when I do.  My goal is to get to that point through all the routines and hold nothing back.  Boss is working on encouraging me to use my power in standard (while still being controlled), and helping me to really realize what I am capable of.  The more we run through the routines the more I realize how cautious I am normally and how much I hold back, but at the same time, each time I allow myself to really go for it, it is a victory.

I think one of the most challenging things I will encounter at this competition is to keep myself in check and to not ‘overdo’ it by pushing beyond what I can control.  It’s a fine line.  I need to be confident in my movement, but I also need to be able to keep the confidence within the realm of what I can control.

Boss told me 2 weeks ago that he had been reviewing our previous competition videos and that he found it really interesting.  When I asked him why it was interesting, he said he was really looking forward to seeing what will happen once I am in full power and control and at my ‘top form’.  Of the videos from my last 3 competitions, I wasn’t completely 100% for any of them, due to illness or injury.

The entry list for the competition I am doing is out and I was pleasantly surprised to see that in latin I will be against 3 other competitors in most of my single dances, and will have competition in both of my multi-dances.  That is really encouraging and awesome for this competition, considering last year I was alone.  Great growth and kudos to the organizers for that.  In standard I am alone, except possibly in my multi-dance, which takes a little bit of pressure off it.  It’s been quite some time since I have had competition, and it does make me a little nervous as all the students I am against are people who I have neither danced with nor seen previously, but it is exciting nonetheless.

Despite the nervousness, I am just trying to remind myself that the goal of this competition is simply to get the routines on the floor.  If I can do that, mission accomplished!  It’s great though to be excited about a competition, as it’s been a while since I have been.

We didn’t work on the solo this week, but we are supposed to do that on Monday.  I know that the practice on Sunday will certainly highlight the areas that still need some work, and that will likely set the stage for the preparations over the next 3 weeks.

On a different front, my dresses are coming along really well!  I have a fitting tomorrow, and following that they should be at the stage where the stoning will start, to really get them towards the final product.  The third dress should be started as well (the smooth dress), and I am excited to see all three!  I am also having a skirt made for my solo, so I am hoping there is a little bit of progress on that too as I think it will be useful to practice with it as soon as I can (no pressure to my awesome dressmaker!!).

So along with a debut of new open silver routines, I am also going to be debuting two new dresses, a new solo routine with a new skirt.  Lots of exciting things happening!

I am nervous for the rehearsal on Sunday.  It’s been more than a year since I have done any of these practices and I am not entirely sure I have the endurance to be up to the challenge.  I am going to try my best though!  I was joking with Boss tonight that my goal for Sunday is to get through everything without falling down–although I think I was more than half serious!  His goal is for me to do things ‘compact’ the first round and then to ‘open up the gas’ for the second one.  Interesting how we have different perspectives :). We will see who has the best predictions.

It’s been a while since I have been in full ‘competition prep mode’ and I am finding the change refreshing.  I think even seeing that I have actual competition in some of my heats has helped to motivate me some.  Lots to do, but I think for the goals I hope to achieve with this competition, I am in a good place.

By the way–tomorrow is my one year anniversary for my last radiation treatment!

Frustration

Sometimes I feel like I am thinking through water.

One of the side effects of chemo and radiation that seems to be lingering is how quickly I get mentally fatigued.  By the end of the day, especially on Monday, my brain feels really fuzzy and I just can’t seem to process things.

Monday can be especially frustrating as by the time I get to my lesson I am really near the end of my limits.  I practice before my lesson, and I do strength training earlier in the day, on top of a full day of work.  My lesson is more or less the last thing I do, and I am first to admit I have a hard time staying ‘on my game’.

Today was no exception.  We were working on the open standard routines, going through the choreography and trying to run-through the sequences with the music as best I could.  Usually, I can pick up the footwork and timing of new choreography really quickly, but today I kept making the same mistakes over and over and I just couldn’t seem to get my mind to wrap around what I was doing.  I just couldn’t keep track of where I was and what I was trying to do.

Boss was trying really hard to be patient, but I could tell he was also getting frustrated.  He is not used to me struggling so much with something, and certainly not used to me making the same mistakes repeatedly.

It wasn’t helping that I hadn’t had a chance to review the standard sequences, and get the footwork into my feet.  That is my plan before my lesson on Thursday–to get comfortable moving through the steps and timing in all 7 open sequences so that we can start working on other details (like the shaping), and so that when the competitive practice comes on Sunday, I will be able to run-through the sequences.

Frustration is bound to happen here and there.  I am still adjusting, and it hasn’t even been a full year since I finished radiation yet.  Almost there, but not quite.  I have seen some good progress, but I am still not quite where I was.  I am ready though to put in a bit of extra time to reach my goals.  I just hope my body holds out for it.

I did try running again today, but I am not sure yet if I can say it was a success.  My knees are definitely stiff and sore tonight, more so than they have been.  Tomorrow will be the teller–if they are ok tomorrow I am good to go.  If they are still sore, I am not.

Fingers crossed that today will be the only frustrating thing this week.

Happiness is…

Being able to look back over a week of vacation and know it was both productive and relaxing.

When I went into the beginning of this week off, I initially told myself I would do extra practice, get to the gym, stay busy, etc.  At the end of Monday, I renegotiated with myself and pointed out that I was on vacation, even though I was at home and that my mind and body needed it.

So, I threw out the usual routine and did exactly what I wanted to do.  Gave myself a ‘self-discipline’ break.

I had some projects I wanted to complete this week, the main one being my master’s application.  I am happy to say after 6 hours of writing, I submitted it this morning.  I will hear in 4-6 weeks if I got in.

Even though I was relaxing this week, I did get a huge amount accomplished–I have a clean apartment, a new couch, a new hammock, a finished quilt, a finished pillow and a new hard case installed on my scooter.  I also worked through the footwork in the latin open routines, and feel more ‘grounded’ in the standard ones.  I spent time with friends and enjoyed my cats.

One of the most productive things I did though was to just let myself ‘reset’.  I drew a line between my ‘return-to-work’, and my future.  I started what I hope will be some new traditions, like sleeping in on the hammock on the weekends after waking up to take my hormone therapy (tried it this morning and it was divine!).  A Sunday cleaning routine (instead of trying to do a little during the week).  And time to read that is not just before I fall asleep.

Oh, it’s the little things that makes life precious.

Tomorrow it is back to the proverbial grindstone, and I am ready and looking forward to it.  In fact, I had to keep reminding myself yesterday that it was Saturday, not Sunday.

This week will mark the return to limited running–1 min of running and 3 mins of walking–to see how my knees tolerate it.  It will also be the first week of focusing on mini-routines and no exercises at dance, something very new, and which I am looking forward to.  And, next Sunday will be the return to competitive practice run-throughs!  Finally! I could have started this week, but both Boss and I agreed that my routines are not quite at the run-through stage yet, and…I am still on vacation :).

Boss told me his plan for my lessons next week is to work through the routines for the competition and get the ready for the run-throughs.  Since the routines are now all choreographed and I have a general idea of how they should go, it should be an interesting week.

Shimmy Shimmy Shake

Oh good lord…

That was my exact response when Boss proposed we do a section of ‘shimmying’ in our open samba routine.

But, I have been trying to get out of my comfort zone and shimmying is definitely out there.  After a few rather hilarious attempts to get me shimmying rather than twisting, it seemed to start to come together.  The worse part is that I will have to spend a lot of random moments shimmying to keep the sensation in my head…so guess what I may be doing in the office tomorrow to get out of my chair.  Thankfully my colleagues are used to me doing random weird dance things.

Today’s lesson was about putting together 3 open latin routine for the competition in October.  Mostly, Boss added some open variations to the routines I already had, so it wasn’t too complicated but each routine certainly has it’s challenges.  Samba seems to be the trickiest, but it was last tonight and my mental capacity was definitely fading.  My mind was just spinning trying to keep track of all the steps.

We were able to record Boss doing my steps for all 3 routines so I have something to reference when I have some time to think through the routines.  I like the variations a lot and look forward to seeing what will happen with the standard routines on Thursday.

It occurred to me this weekend that there are only 6 weeks left until this competition.  We will be sending in the entries soon, and booking the hotel.  I am excited and nervous at the same time.  It’s been a really long time since I have done focused work to prepare for a competition and it still seems a bit surreal.  We are even starting to do some planning for the competition after that in January.

There are only 3 open latin routines so far because I will only be doing 3 latin dances.  We actually have elements for the 4th (jive), but none of the events I will do at this upcoming competition will have either jive or paso, so they are not a priority right now.

In standard, Boss told me he will do more of the same–substitute some open steps into my existing routines, at least for Waltz, Tango and Foxtrot.  Quickstep I imagine is a lot more tricky as open Quickstep is very different from syllabus Quickstep.  I guess I will see on Thursday.  For my Viennese Waltz we will try adding some pivots and see how they go.  We have been working on them, so I hope they will go well.  I actually haven’t really done VW in almost 6 months, so that should be an interesting experiment.

One thing the open latin routines don’t have that I think I would like to see added is a small entrance to the routines.  I will have to float that idea by boss.  I have some ideas, and I think something to ‘set the stage’ might be interesting.

Tomorrow is another step forward–I have a dress fitting!  I haven’t seen my dresses in over a month, so I am really looking forward to see where they are at.  We are getting to the stage where soon the sparkly stuff will be coming out, so that is really exciting.  The competition in October will be my ‘debut’ for these new dresses.

Going back to shimmying, the reason it is so outside my comfort zone is that I am still thinking a lot of the shape I used to be.  In the last few weeks, weight has actually started to come off, instead of just reducing in size, but I still see myself as someone much larger than I actually am.  So the idea of shimmying and shaking immediately brings to mind that it’s too flamboyant and that I shouldn’t be doing it.  Boss thinks the whole effect is a lot of fun and he has me doing a lot of hip movements in all the routines.  I guess it’s good to show off my ‘ass’ets.  Boss did make a point that I can do a lot of these things because it doesn’t take a lot of momentum for me to have a good effect. That is one thing I can’t disagree with.

The routines in general have given me some things to think about and consider.  There are elements where I get to bring some of my personality to the routines, and I need to figure out how to do that.  It’s a challenge, outside my comfort zone, and probably just what I need.

 

 

Giving my all

Sorry I haven’t written much lately.

The bottom line is that I am still in a lot of pain.  I ended up going to the emergency room Tuesday night to get even stronger pain meds and I have been living in a bit of a pain med fog for 2 days now.  I am trying to cut back on how many I am taking, but it is looking like that is a bad idea.

We still don’t know if it’s the radiation or hormone therapy that caused this.  It could even be a combination of both.  For now, the hormone therapy is on hold until I get past this, then I imagine I will have to try it again.  When they told me I might experience some ‘pain’ post-radiation, they never said to the point that I would need pain meds more than ibuprofen.  I feel like they completely side-swiped me with this.  At least, in some ways, it is getting a little bit better.  The pain has moved from my back more to my front now which is making it a little easier to relax.  The best way to describe it is a constant sharp burning with radiating ‘buzzing’ that travels through the tissues.

Ironically, the best thing for managing the pain is to move as much as possible. So, despite taking heavy pain killers I have continued to have lessons and even got through a competitive run-through last night.  We have been working to polish the solo now that we have the ending and sharpen up some of the spots in between.  Last night, I was able to dance all 5 latin dances for 1:30 in a row, which completely surprised myself.  I figure if I can get through 5 dances in a row now, while taking heavy pain meds, I should be ok for the competition next weekend.

Hard to believe I will be competing in a week.  Especially right now trying to deal with ongoing pain.  But I am committed to it and I have been through worse.  My schedule for the day is pretty good–we dance late morning to early afternoon and then we don’t dance again until mid-evening.  That gives me a good break to recover and perhaps have a nap.

Going to the title of my post, I had an interesting impromptu conversation with Boss last night after the run-throughs.  He made a comment about how it is so amazing that despite how much my body is going through, I am still able to dance and not just run through steps.  I almost dance better now than I did a year ago before I found the first lump.  His point was that despite everything that is going on with my body (and it is going through a lot!) he has never felt the need to simplify any of my dancing or my steps.  Even in the rumba he choreographed it as though there was nothing wrong with me.

That’s one of the things I really appreciate about Boss.  From the very beginning when we found out that I would have to do chemo and radiation he decided to just keep going as he planned and adjust only if really needed.  There has been very little he has needed to adjust.  I have had a few lessons where we just ended up reviewing routines instead of working on technique or something else, but for the most part it’s been full steam ahead, and his thinking has mirrored my own.

My theory is that if I keep working hard while my body is having to cope with things like equilibrium issues, dizziness, light-headedness and muscle weaknesses it is forcing my balance to become better and more attuned, my endurance to become stronger and in general preparing me to be a better, stronger dancer when I am completely healthy again.

I just hope that theory becomes reality, but that was the basis of my conversation with Boss last night–that I am able to dance so well while sick, hurting and highly medicated–what would I be able to dance like if I was healthy?

Time will tell.  For now I am continuing to ‘put my all’ into every step I do to see where it takes me.