Back on the Floor!

Yes, finally!!

I was cleared to return to all activities yesterday, and I celebrated by having a lesson. 9 weeks until the competition, so a lot of work to do.

The lesson last night was very interesting and telling.

It ended up being later in the evening than I usually have a lesson and I was worried I would be too tired, but I was so anxious to get back on the floor I pushed it aside.

It was good that I did.

The start of the lesson was really really rough. We were working on standard since I have a couple coaching lessons this week and we started by reviewing and walking through our gold routines. I really felt like a wet blanket with no strength, and my mind was racing in about 50 different directions as my body tried to figure out what was going on. By the time we finished walking through the quickstep, I was honestly feeling quite panicked, and really couldn’t figure out what was going on.

We took a bit of a break before looking at specific parts of the routines that we will focus on for the coaching.

It turned out that break was what my mind needed to reconnect with my body and to trust that my body knew and was capable of doing what it needed.

After that, it was like the weight I have been carrying on my shoulders for the last 6 months disappeared. I felt my mind relax and organize itself, and as Boss and I prepared to work through one segment of our waltz, everything just came back together.

Actually, it came together better than it has in a longer time than I can remember.

It was like I needed the rough start for my mind to assess the state of my body and once it decided that all the movements were ok, it gave permission.  I could use my full strength and power, was able to move into full hold and to follow what Boss was doing. By the end of the lesson we were even traveling significantly more down the floor than we have in a very long time.

The best way I can describe the feeling is to say I felt free and free to dance. There wasn’t anything holding me back anymore–no hormone issues, no depression, no muscle weakness, no fuzzy head, and no fatigue.

In fact, I felt more energized after the lesson than I was before it–something that hasn’t happened since before I was diagnosed. I had honestly forgotten what that feels like.

I was able to ask my body to do things, and it responded–usually better than I expected, and much more than I have become used to.

Needless to say, I was pretty shocked and overwhelmed. I found confidence in my movement that had been missing for a very long time.

Aside from completely surprising myself, Boss seemed to be completely over the moon. I don’t think he has said he was pleased so many times in a lesson before. Considering how my previous recoveries and issues with treatments have gone, I can’t blame him–this ‘comeback’ is in a class by itself. He commented that I was dancing better than he was prepared for.

A lot of pieces that were only just swirling around in pieces before my surgery seemed to click into place while I was recovering. It’s a testament to how even when you have to take a break physically, mentally your mind may still be working. I could almost feel them all fall into place.

Of course, that’s not to say that everything was easy. It has been 6 weeks since I have really done any activity except light walking in the last 2 weeks. I was getting winded easy, and my pulse was racing. I could feel how out of shape and out of conditioning I am. It’s going to take a lot of work to get that moving forward again. While I could do full power in short segments, I know that attempting even one full routine at that power would be pretty draining. Overall, the lesson was fantastically terrible–a lot of success mixed with hard work that demonstrates there is a lot more to be done.

But its baby steps. The foundation is there. I achieve beyond my own goal in that lesson, in that after the initial ‘trial’, I was able to push myself fully through the rest of the lesson without giving up. While this lesson was hard, the next will be a little easier and I will be able to push longer and further.

It’s like remembering something from childhood–I know I used to be able to do it, but the details are fuzzy.

They are becoming more clear now.

I feel much more optimistic about the coaching on Wednesday, and my ability to get through 2 45 min lessons. The last time this coach was here, the work with him triggered a few things falling into place in standard that had been eluding me, and I am hopeful at something similar may be possible this time too. We (and by ‘we’, I mean Boss) have a good plan for things to work on, and if it is even remotely similar to last night, it’s going to be fun.

Fun. There’s a word I haven’t used in relation to dance in a long time. It feels good. Fun.

After last night’s lesson, I expected to wake up sore, especially in the surgical area, and completely tired and drained today from so much effort last night.

In another surprise, I woke up with tons of energy after sleeping better than I have in quite some time, and while I am moderately sore in the muscles I haven’t used in a long time, my belly and abdomen feel the same as they did before the lesson yesterday.

I am sooooo pleased to not have adverse after-effects! (I was pretty worried).

I expect my upper back, shoulder and leg muscles will be a little more sore tomorrow, but nothing unusual.

As a bonus to all of this, my doctor and I decided this morning to stop the anti-depressants, and see how it goes. The last 3 days I have been feeling symptoms of being over medicated again, and since I am on the lowest dose now, the next step is to stop and see how I feel in 2 weeks once my system has adjusted.  I can always go back if I need them. It’s the last of the medications I had to take to counter-act side effects of the hormone therapy.

In fact, I am now officially back to taking only the medications I was taking before I was diagnosed (actually one less, since one was a hormone supplement), one for insomnia, one for allergies. It’s another way to feel free.

Something else I haven’t mentioned which may be contributing to the increase in energy I am having–since the surgery I have lost 10 of the 40 lbs I gained during treatment, with only small diet changes on my part. Finally, it seems my body is ready to get fit again. It’s something I will need to stay on top of, but it’s the first real weight progress I have seen in over a year, and I finally feel motivated again to keep focusing on it.

In a lot of ways, my life is finally starting to resemble what it was pre-cancer, and I hope the momentum I now have continues to keep me moving forward. I am back to work next week, and looking forward to it. I have almost finished the 5th course for my masters.

And now I feel like I am ready and capable of getting back to fully dancing again.

Even more, I feel like I can really hope again.

It’s been a long time coming.

Coming Together

Slowly things are beginning to end before surgery.

Today we were able to record all of the gold routines with music, except Paso which we did just with the counts.  There were a couple of mix ups here and there that we had to do again, or which Boss had to make a note of clarification but I was pretty impressed to get through them all.

Quickstep seem the one most likely to spell disaster, but even it when ok with a need for a restart only because we ran out of room (which was number one reason to restart in standard).

We also discussed some of my ideas for the waltz showcase, which Boss seemed to like so it should be interesting to see how that comes together in the fall.

We are also working on getting open routines choreographed during my break, although we won’t be able to try them until well after I get back. Getting them done while there is a general summer ‘break’ in competing seems like the best plan to get them all together. I am looking forward to see what they come up with.

On other fronts, I have started working on an afghan to help pass the time healing and have also some school stuff to work on.

I am hoping that once I get home and begin healing I will be able to fall into a pattern.

I will admit that one of my biggest concerns is that I will gain weight while doing nothing to recover. I am working to mitigate that, and hope that between the stabilizing of my hormones and some care with diet it won’t be too significant.

My biggest hope from this surgery is that when it is all said and done overall I will feel better–that my energy will be up, the fatigue will be less, I will sleep better and that my mental health will settle back into normal. It may be too much to hope for, but I do hope to be able to return back to full time at work and full time at dance.

I am also hoping that with that, my motivation will also come up. I realize it’s like a accumulation of all the side effects and everything that is going on, but I am having a hard time feeling focused and even looking forward to competing.  It just all seems like a lot more work than I want to do right now, and that the benefits I am getting are not anywhere near the effort I am putting out.  It’s not so much dance, but fitness in general.  I feel like I work very hard, am careful about what I eat and it doesn’t seem to matter–my fitness never improves and my weight doesn’t go down.

We shall see how it all comes together.  Surgery i s Tuesday.

Silver Test

All done!

I passed with the comment ‘highly commended’ which is the highest comment.

Sorry I haven’t written, life seems to have been crazy lately!

I have been on call for work and people are calling a lot. We also have a major event happening next week that is filling time.  I feel like I haven’t stopped.  My phone also died so that took time to get a replacement (why is it so complicated???).

I am also strongly considering another major purchase in my life, but more to follow on that.

Back to the test, it went really well–better than I expected. VW was not too bad and Quickstep only got really questionable at the end.  All the routines went as expected.  All my comments were positive or provided great feedback, some of which was pretty expected (like work on getting my feet closed parallel in heel turns).  Overall I was told that I was at a really good level for silver, and the adjudicator even asked if I would be doing my gold test with the group working for October (which I won’t, especially since I won’t be able to dance almost all summer).  It was a surprise, but on the whole I am not in a hurry to do my next test.

So now the silver test is behind me and we are back to working out gold routines. We had a brief conversation on Monday about whether the routines should be strictly by the syllabus as necessary for testing, or more flexible and ‘showy’ for competition.  Since my focus now (one day!) is for competition, that is what we are doing.  Boss decided to adjust some of the previous routines we had done (particularly rumba), but even after that we now have solid sequences for rumba, cha cha, foxtrot, tango and quickstep.  Most of the samba and waltz are done, but Boss said he will make some adjustments to those routines.  That leave paso (probably the trickiest to choreograph) and jive.  We did go over one of the gold jive steps I will need.

My focus really from now until surgery is to get those new sequences into my feet. 3 weeks left, so should be doable.

About to finish my current course in my masters too!  Means in two weeks I should have the syllabus for the next one and hope it is flexible enough my surgery shouldn’t interfere too much. Fingers crossed.

There seem to be a lot of silver linings this week 🙂

One-woman Disaster

That is how I feel today.

But let me elaborate.  It really has not been my day or night.

It started this afternoon at work.  During lunch, my computer randomly crashed twice and told me that the video card was failing.  It made work difficult when each restart took more than 20 minutes to boot up.

Then, I was almost hit by a car on my way to dance. Thankfully almost. I was coming out of my driveway on my scooter and there is a large white panel van that parks on the side of the road just next to our driveway.  The issue is that the way the road is built, and because it has no windows, the van completely blocks the view to the right.  To compensate, you have to look down past all the cars that are parked (about 500 m) to the bottom of the hill and then keep track of the cars you see coming until there is a break.

The issue is that there is an intersection and other driveways you can’t see.  So even though it might look clear all the way down the hill, cars could turn on to the road without you seeing them. That’s what happened tonight.  I was slowly peeking out around the van and discovered a car coming right for me.  So I ended up braking hard, losing my balance and falling over, landing mostly on my scooter.  Missed the car (which stopped and asked if I was all right), and thankfully didn’t hit anything hard.  Cracked the windshield of my scooter in two though when it hit the pavement.  I was able to get it upright and started again, and assessed that I had bruised my shins and had a small scrape on one leg. Mostly I was shaken up.

Following that, I got to dance.  I had received some unexpected news about what to expect for my recovery from surgery yesterday and that has possible repercussions for dance–particularly competing in the fall.  Long story short, it could be 12 weeks after my surgery before I will be able to dance, particularly for any length of time without pain and pulling.  It’s quite different from the 6 weeks I was initially told to expect.  That required a bit of a conversation with Boss, but pretty much at this point I haven’t really gotten to a place where I can completely process this and start to adjust my goals. Again.

The conversation itself wasn’t bad, it was just a disappointing one to have to have.  That said, I still have my silver test this weekend and work to prepare, so it was another lesson dedicated to rounds and running through the routines.  We started with latin tonight, which didn’t go too bad, although jive is still a bit questionable for endurance.  Following that, we moved to standard.  That was going pretty well…

Until I caught my heel on the cuff of my pants during the quickstep and fell over backwards hitting my left hand and hip pretty far.  Also ripped the hem of my pants.  That actually hurt more than falling on my scooter. Go figure.

In general, I was ok, just bruised.  Had to work out my left ankle a little bit, but after rolling up my pants we were able to continue with the lesson and get through the Quickstep.  We followed that with Viennese Waltz.  We did a full minute of that, but I was really dying after 45 seconds.  We ended with a section of foxtrot I was blanking on a bit to review it, but by the second run through of that I could tell I was pretty done.

One comment Boss made tonight and my last lesson is that he is finding my endurance is improving, and the most significant thing is that when I get tired I am better able to compensate instead of just completely sinking and collapsing. It’s good to hear because compared to where I was before I got sick and had treatments I would say I am about half where I was–especially in VW, QS, and Jive.  Cha Cha can also be questionable sometimes.

What’s a little disheartening about that is after up to 12 weeks off to recover from surgery, I am going to have to start over on a lot of things–rebuilding endurance being one of them.  I have been there before though and my focus right now is to try and build as good a base as I can so hopefully there will still be some when I am ready to come back.

I really hope the falls tonight won’t result in me waking up broken tomorrow.  I also wrenched my shoulder trying to open a door (seriously–how does that happen??), burned my hand on coffee and spilled it in my scooter case.  All signs I should have just call it a night.  I didn’t though, I stayed for practice and was able to run through all my routines on my own except paso.  I had a long epsom salt bath after so hopefully that will head off some of the bruising coming my way.

As far as the test, I still feel pretty good about it aside from the endurance issues.  I have most of the routines down and that is helping my confidence. Fingers crossed my body holds out till then.

I discussed with Boss tonight the idea of filming the routines during the test.  It will be up to the adjudicator, but I am hoping we will be able to.  It’s been almost 6 months since we recorded anything, and at least according to Boss there has been a lot of changes.  I toyed with the idea of filming them before the test, but I don’t want things I may see in the videos to distract from the test, or to kill my confidence.  While probably things will look better than I expect, I don’t want to risk that they might possibly look worse.  Better to keep going the direction I am going at this point, and evaluate later.

After the test, I have 4 weeks until surgery.  Mainly, I want to get all the gold routines laid out and if possible filmed so I have them to refer to while I recover.  One of the things I want to have a look at (and should be able to) is to figure out the styling for latin and put together some ideas where needed.

In all honesty, I think that is the main part missing from the silver latin routines, but I am trying not to let myself worry about that.

Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.

9 Routines down…

Well at least written out with timing.

The latin routines are going well and getting into my brain.  I was able to review them some on the weekend and was glad to see things had fit.

We went through the paso routine today, which was the one missing routine, after reviewing the timing in the standard routines and a couple steps which I couldn’t figure out on my own.

I spent my practice working through the standard routines on my own, and got through the waltz, tango and most of the Quickstep.  Foxtrot will be for Wednesday, as it’s a supervised practice, and there are a couple steps I am not sure about and need to take the opportunity to go through them.

I feel good about where the routines are, considering the time left until the test.  It’s actually been pretty interesting for me to go through all the steps on my own because some of the steps, while I have done them and followed them, I have either not really known their names or they are new to me. It’s been a new area to explore.

It’s actually been quite a while since I have worked through memorizing and putting under my feet a sequence of routines.  Especially in standard, going through the timing has been a good exercise for me as I haven’t work through standard routines with timing since before or shortly after I got sick.

I haven’t put them together with the music yet on my own, but that will be some of the goals for the end of this week and early next week, although I am not quite sure how it will go.  I think rumba, samba, paso and jive will be ok.  Cha cha could be iffy.  Waltz and Tango should be ok in standard, Quickstep questionable and foxtrot will be interesting in general.

There may not be enough time to get the routines down on my own as much as I would like to, but the foundation will be there for my test and that is the main thing.  There are some technique things I wish were coming a little stronger (as I previously mentioned about cha cha in particular) and there have been some pleasant surprises.

The way I have been able to focus in and memorize the sequences of the silver routines gives me some good optimism for learning the gold routines.  I am hopeful that once the test is done, we can focus in on finishing the rest of the sequences (currently I have Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Rumba, Samba), and be able to go through them on my own (so far only the rumba is in my feet).  I hope to have all 9 gold sequences before my surgery, and with some luck to have them videotaped as well so I can refer to them as I am recovering.  Haven’t had a chance to discuss that with Boss yet, but I hope he will be on board.  It’s a conversation for after the test.

Health-wise, I have had a bit of a turn around in the past week.  My energy levels are truly up, and while I have fuzzy-headed moments, they seem less frequent.  The full body aches have dissipated, although I seem to keep ‘tweaking’ my neck. Still not sure why.  I hope this will be the status quo until my surgery, but we will see how it goes.  I am still working some part days during the week, and today was the first time I was able to return to strength training in more than 3 weeks.  As I rebuild my stamina and add more of my usual activities back in, I hope things get better and not worse.

But for now, I have 9 routines to focus on for the next two weeks.

Working Lesson

Unfortunately, not a lesson full of hard work, but one where work obligations interfered.

Sometimes, but thankfully not often, my job requires me to put in extra time unexpectedly.  Tonight was one of those nights.  An issue came up almost at the end of the day and I ended up staying longer after work to begin to address it.  I made it to my lesson on time, but had to spend part of the beginning responding to the issue more and waiting for a response.  I had to spend time during my lesson to respond further.  After my lesson, I actually had to drive into work for 10 minutes before grabbing supper and returning back to the studio hoping to practice.  Unfortunately, I still had a little more work to do before I could eat my supper and in the end I got only 15 minutes of practice time.

At least it doesn’t happen too often.

Despite the distractions, my lesson went really well.  It was all standard and almost completely lead/follow.  We were going through routines to begin preparing for my test, so reviewing silver steps in WTFQ.

I was actually a bit surprised at how well I was able to follow.  A few small hiccups (like I completely forgot that there are lock steps in Quickstep–Doh!!), but for the most part not too bad.  Waltz was the best, and Quickstep the weakest, but I was really impressed that I was able to follow almost all heel turns in foxtrot–something I don’t think I would have been able to do about a year ago.

In the end, we seem to have some fairly good sequences for all 4 dances with just a few parts to iron out.  Boss is going to send me the sequences so that when I have time (obviously wasn’t going to happen tonight!), I can work through them on my own to get them in my head before the test.

I am fighting a bit of a cold and hadn’t eaten well today due to running out of time, so I tired out a bit quickly in my lesson.  It was good to do Quickstep though because I haven’t done it in a while.  I feel like I haven’t done any of the faster dances lately (although I have done samba which is a little in the middle), and last week I found myself craving them a little, especially cha cha.

I hope this cold will clear out tomorrow (it seems to be on its way), and that work will settle down some so I have enough energy to get to the latin technique class.  I missed last week as I was just too exhausted to go without feeling like I would be compromising my health.  This week seems to be better in general, despite the cold. Fingers crossed.

I am excited for Blackpool to start next week, but this year I don’t know how much I will be able to watch! I had originally planned to take time off from work, but some really high profile events came up making that impracticable.  I just hope to get a little bit of time at work, or that I will be able to get replays of each day.

BTW, school is progressing.  I am halfway through my current course and ahead of the game despite recent challenges. A few more weeks to go and another course in the can.  My next course will be challenging as I will my surgery shortly after it starts and I don’t know how that will effect it.  On the one hand, I will be at home recovering and it will give me something to do.  On the other, I am supposed to be at home recovering.  Time will tell on that one.

Considering I essentially worked all through my lesson, I am really happy with how much we still got done.  We got through each routine at least twice, and even my position wasn’t too bad.  I may finally be starting to gain some confidence in my standard position.

Hopefully next lesson will be more focused on ‘working’ instead of on work!

Routine Reviews

Sorry I have been quiet lately–It wasn’t by design!

My week last week got crazy.

Unfortunately, my work hours got reduced so that I am working half days MWF, and full days TTh.  The reason for this appears to be sleep deprivation.  The medication I was taking for insomnia seemed to be not working so I wasn’t staying in stage 3 and 4 sleep, therefore not getting refreshed in the morning.  My medication was changed and since Thursday things have been gradually getting better.  I have started dreaming again–a good sign!

My next injection is this Friday and as I get closer to it, the more it seems my hormones are fluctuating (which is likely as the previous injection wears off).  I am managing pretty well (sleep helps!), but I really hope things will settle this weekend.

But enough about health.  The challenges will continue, but it appears I am starting to stabilize.  I am also being referred to a sleep clinic which should be interesting.

Back to dance, last week we started working on our next showcase routine–a mambo!  Actually it is THE mambo we have been meaning to return to for quite some times, so it is great to get some creative juices flowing and work done on it.  It’s not much so far, just mainly a concept, but it is starting to take shape in sections.  I look forward to working on it more over the next few weeks.  No idea when we will perform it, but it may be on the docket for the fall. Its also nice to be working on a dance I don’t normally do.

Other than the mambo last week, we also did some video reviews looking at recent comps in my level and we reviewed four of the 5 routines I have so far (rumba, samba, waltz, tango, foxtrot). I find it interesting that for some reason the rumba and samba seem to be getting cemented into my head, but the standard routines just don’t want to come together.  I can remember the specific pieces we have broken down and worked on, but the sequences themselves remain elusive.

I think part of it is that I am not completely comfortable practicing the standard routines on my own.  Certainly not as comfortable as I am with the latin routines.  I think this is mainly because the standard routines travel around the ballroom, and when I am moving backwards I can’t see if someone is behind me. I would really like to get at least the sequences of steps in my feet, so I am going to have to think on a way to get past this anxiety.

My practice exercises themselves seem to be going well, and most of them are starting to stabilize and become more consistent.  One small variation I made on myself is to practice holding my promenade position as it occurred to me I have almost never done this, so it makes sense it is weaker and less consistent.

There was an interesting remark from Boss last week and I have to wonder if it might be connected to my medication change.  He remarked at the end of last week that he was finding me to be more stable in standard.  It may be a coincidence, but one advantage of my new medication is that it doesn’t stay in my system as long as the other medication did and so I am feeling less shaky and fatigued in general. Boss seems to think its a result of the work I am doing on my footwork, and perhaps it is a combination. I guess I will have to see how it goes.  It is possible I may have to switch back to the other medication due to health coverage issues, but that is still being reviewed.  It will be interesting if I do have to switch to see if it affects my stability.

One final piece of news–I am going to finally be doing my silver test in June! It’s been in the plan for a while now, but the logistics just never seemed to come together.  It’s all set now and I hope I do well.  I am a little anxious as it has been a while since I have done closed silver and as far as I know the test will be completely lead/follow.

So that is a quick catch up on what is going on with me.  Slowly and steadily working on reviewing things–not only in dance, but also with my health.  I am almost at the apparently magic 3-month mark where some of these side effects are supposed to go away, a couple weeks to go.  I don’t expect it to be instant, but hopeful for some relief.

Till then, just working to keep dancing, one day at a time.

Racing thoughts

Ever feel like there is so much going through your mind you can’t quite catch it all?

That is what I felt like after dance last night.  Not necessarily a bad thing, it just seemed like a lot of pieces ‘clicked’ into place.  At the same time, I am not entirely sure that what has ‘clicked’ is right.

It started in my own practice. One of the exercises I had been struggling with just seemed to come together.  In the process, I tore the suede off of both my heel protectors on my shoe, but I glued them back on after practice.  It was back steps in standard.  For whatever reason, everything I had been struggling to do came together and I was able to move through the steps in one fluid movement instead of broken up into pieces.

When I got to my lesson, I still had some exercises to go through that we didn’t get to at the last lesson, but Boss wanted to have a look again at what I was doing in samba and cha cha lock steps, to make an adjustment to how I am stepping forward.  Essentially, my goal now in stepping forward in both exercises is to focus on keeping the leg as straight as possible and my upper body over it.  I hadn’t been focusing on it before, mostly because I was focusing on other things (and thought I was supposed to do differently), but once I did it a couple of times, it just made sense.  In my mind I was actually thinking ‘why didn’t you just say so’, but sometimes that is just how things go. I am not really sure if the same idea applies to rumba, or if I am already doing it.

After the exercises, we were working on a section in tango that is basically a contra check between two different fallaways.  What was interesting about it was that it gave me an opportunity to experiment a little with my position to get a better idea of what is closer to right, versus well into wrong.  By the time we finished, I had a much better idea of what I needed to do, but also what I could allow myself to do, such as settling down into my knees for stability.  I have a habit of ending leaning back when I close my feet, and not noticing until I stop moving.  I noticed though that part of the problem was I was closing my feet completely together instead of offset which affected my balance.  Once I started off-setting them, the issue got better.  Still have to keep an eye on it though.

My right foot is slowly coming in line, but I have to stay on top of it to keep it from turning out. Overall, more than a few pieces fell into place for tango.

After tango, we worked on the section in waltz we have been doing with a spin turn to turning locks to the right.  Mostly I was doing it on my own to try to get some better control over what I was doing, and to figure out a little bit of the alignments, but we were also doing it together.  In contrast to what I am doing in latin, one of the challenges in waltz is to NOT straighten my knees too much and to keep them bent and flexible.

The other challenge is trickier.  I am still warring with myself about how much I can do.  I can tell I am still being cautious most of the time–even when I intend not to be–and I am still trying to find what I would call a ‘new’ comfort level.  Usually what happens is I push myself outside my comfort zone, then freak myself out, and scale it back.  Trying to find that balance is still eluding me, but in many ways I guess knowing is half the battle.

Later on last night, I had a bit of a revelation, although it could be completely wrong.  I was going through my rumba routine in my head, and thinking about how it would work with the lead and follow.  Somewhere it occurred to me that perhaps when my hip goes back and my upper body goes forward, then the resistance through my arm from my should should follow what my upper body is doing.  I don’t know if it’s right or not–it could be the opposite of what I need, but what is significant to me is that I am finally starting to connect the lead/follow with movements my body makes, instead of just guessing.  I am just not quite sure which movement should determine the direction of the follow–my hips or upper body.

It’s interesting how things seem to just suddenly come together.

Confusion of a different nature…

But this one is easier to handle (and dance related!)

After the news I got today I very seriously considered cancelling dance and just going home to bed.  I am glad I decided against that in the end.  Dance helped me feel much better tonight and I even stayed to practice.

As I mentioned in one of my last posts, I am working to make a bit of a posture change to bring my shoulders over my hips instead of my butt.  It is coming, but it is still like baby steps.  After more than a week of making the adjustment, my core muscles are pretty much dead–but in a good way.

For latin, I am working to bring my weight more forward than I do in everyday life and pretty much put as much distance between my breasts and my bum as I can without falling over.  It’s almost the new stage of what I am trying to do.  Overall though, it feels more like I am remembering how to do something, rather than doing something completely different, so that’s a good sign.

All this work on latin posture and it is probably no surprise that I am finding some ‘latiness’ creeping into my standard–to the point where during my practice exercises tonight I couldn’t remember what the difference was–although I am pretty sure it has to do with tucking in my pelvis some, and pulling my head up and back.  I found myself shifting my weight back and forth and unsure where exactly my arms should be.

In my lesson tonight, we started by going over my exercises, followed by some discussion with video examples (one of the new changes).  For my exercises, it was good because it gives me some slightly different areas to focus on for most of the exercises and refreshes them a bit.  One thing I have to watch though is that I am not making my standard forward walks into cruzado walks (from samba).  There are a couple other exercises where the two are getting a little confused.

Going over videos was helpful.  It gave me an idea of what to aim for, or rather where we are trying to go for technique, at least in latin, as well as some things to think about as far as styling in latin, which is something we haven’t done a lot of focus on in the past.  I am told to expect more in the future though, so I am curious to see how that comes together.

I find the videos helpful because it gives me a bit of a grounding and basis for what I am trying to execute in my own dancing.  It’s not to say that I am looking to copy, but there are some fundamental things that apply a bit universally, and it is a good starting point.  It helps bring it all together for me and gets my mind processing.

Practice tonight was good, but a little frustrating–not because of the dancing but because of my music.  I switched computers about two weeks ago and had to develop a new itunes playlist for practice.  Tonight was the first time I was using it for exercises and I discovered I forgot to add a cha cha for my lock steps, and the waltz is the wrong one (has a long beginning, which doesn’t work for 1:30 intervals).  Easy to fix, but frustrating tonight as I kept clicking through songs trying to find the cha cha I was sure should be there.

As far as the exercises, with the changes from the lesson they are all a bit of a mess right now, but at the same time some of them feel a little more solid.  As the changes are completely new, I don’t expect them to really have things fall apart until Monday’s practice, but that is all part of how it works.  About 2 weeks of things changing before they settle into something consistent I can build on.

Last night’s latin class was a real challenge.  About 4 pm yesterday I was hit with a wave of exhaustion to the point I thought I would have to cancel my lesson as I suddenly felt weak all over.  I rested some after work and that recovered me a little, but once I got to my lesson the feeling of weakness stayed–my arms felt like lead when I lifted them for standard and my legs refused to move when I wanted them to in latin. I had to stop and rest some in the class and I was feeling really nauseous the entire time.

It was probably a sign from my body that it needed a break, but I did let myself take it easy during the class and rest when things started to fail me.  I did manage to do the entire class in my 2.5 inch practice shoes, which was enough of a challenge in itself.  The change in height of course affected my balance and posture and I couldn’t quite ‘settle’ into everything I was doing.  I take that as a sign that I need to start working more in the higher shoes to build the right strength.

Despite the strange weakness last night, I felt better tonight although the nausea seems determined to hang around.  I am not quite sure why all of a sudden it’s such an issue, but my guess is the usual suspect–hormone fluctuations.

A lot of stuff going round in my head, but at least on the dance front it seems to be positive.  We did the tango and foxtrot sequences in my lesson yesterday and while I am not quite ready to write them out on my own, at least part of them seem to be sticking.  The rumba is the most consistent for me, and other than small hiccups here and there the only step I consistently blank on is the reverse top.  I could be just blocking it out though 🙂 Its a challenging step I don’t quite understand yet.

Next week looks to be less busy at work, so I am hoping that will help overall.  I figure from this point, my body will do either one of two things–it will adapt to the activity level I have built up to, and my energy will increase, or I will just become exhausted and my system will crash again.

Hoping for the first one.

Pushing through the Changes

First, nothing ruins a Thursday more than realizing it’s a Wednesday.

It’s been that kind of a week.

That aside, there have been some high points to the week, and it seems that the medication I on (rather medications) are continuing to have a positive effect.

On the health front, it was a bit of a difficult week. As I am still continuing to experience a lack of energy and some other side effects, the docs are doing some testing to make sure that they ARE side effects, and not symptoms of something else (thyroid is the main suspect–which runs in my family).  I met with the oncologist, and as far as cancer prevention, he is happy with where I am at with the hormone therapy, and hopes I am able to get my surgery soon as he believes that will help with the side effects.

I had a bit of an anxious couple of days.  Since the weekend, I had been feeling a lot of tenderness in my right armpit, and as I was trying to figure out where exactly it was, I felt a very tender lump.  Considering my history, any tender lump on my right side is cause for anxiety.  I was able to get it checked out, and it appears that I have a swollen lymph node which is likely a sign I am fighting a bit of an infection.  I was told that the fact that it was tender was a positive thing as a cancerous lump would not be.  Just to be sure, I will have an ultrasound to have a look, but it does already seem to be feeling less sore. It’s a load off.

Now I just wait for blood work and keep doing what I am doing.

So, what am I doing?

The posture change continues.  I can feel it starting to take more solid hold, although I had a couple of days where my back was killing me–a sign that I was indeed making changes enough to irritate it.  It has started to settle down as this becomes the ‘new normal’ and I am pleased with how easy it is getting.  Still have to stay on top of it, but it is coming.

Another change I am making is to my practice, and this is almost proving a little bit harder.  It’s easy to fall into old habits of drilling and following the structure I am used to and comfortable with.  This week though, I set the changes and have been making myself stick to them.

I am only doing the set drill intervals on Monday and Friday, and only 1 set of each standard and latin, the rest of that practice time is reviewing things from my lessons.  Wednesday, there is no drilling. I am trying to use Wednesday to dig into things I want to dig into from my lessons and work through to figure out.  It’s a ‘supervised’ open practice meaning there are other dancers around doing their own thing and Boss is in the hall for anyone who has questions.  I have given myself permission to ask if I get stuck.

I wasn’t really sure what to do tonight, which is what made it a challenge, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to fill the time.  There were a list of things I wanted to go through, so I just started with that and let it go from there. Top of the list was working through the sequence of my rumba routine on my own and figuring out the steps.  I had to ask about the footwork in one step, but I was able to go through it top to bottom a few times tonight, so it is getting pretty grounded in my head, and I have a pretty good idea where the uncertainties are.

I also worked through some of the waltz sequence we have been doing in lessons.  I wanted to see how it went on my own, but I also needed to test my own limits a bit to see what I can control and where I can push myself a little.  There are a couple places that are driving me a little crazy (particularly the transition from spin turn to turning locks), but it is slowly coming.

Finally, one of the other changes I am trying to get into my body is to keep my right foot straight in standard (which for me feels twisted in).  I needed to get a better idea of how much I have to twist it in to keep it straight, which I seem to have been able to figure out.  It’s a challenge in itself as I have to try to apply it across all the moves I make with my right foot–whether a side step, forward or back–and it’s still pretty ‘foreign’ feeling.  In Waltz in particular I find lock steps almost impossible as it truly feels like one foot is facing the wall and the other is facing line of dance.  I am hoping it will get better the more I work at it and perhaps it will force some physical changes in how that foot and knee turns out. Tango seems to be the best dance for working through that (as I can check my foot alignment when I do a close).

I have made some small changes to my schedule in general, which I hope will make things more manageable on my body.  I have moved strength training to Sat, Mon, Wed, and kept dance MWF (with Latin technique on Thursday).  I am hoping by spreading things out a bit more at the end of the week, it will help distribute my energy a bit better and keep me from getting exhausted.

The only other thing that is on my mind is that I still don’t have a date for my hysterectomy.  I was called today and offered a date for the revisions and reconstruction still needed from the mastectomies and reconstruction, but it was for mid-June and I really don’t know how close together the two surgeries can be.  I also am tied up with work until at least June 22, so all surgeries need to be after then.  They are looking at doing the reconstruction work in July now, but again, it depends on the other surgery.  If I don’t hear about a date tomorrow I plan to call as pretty much my entire life has to be scheduled around the hysterectomy and its recovery.

Until then, I will just keep working through the changes.