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Dancing into Two Thousand Sixteen

Facebook presented me with a memory from 2011 this morning. Usually, when Facebook brings up the past, I am reminded of something funny or happy. Today, not so much. My tiara says “Happy New Year”, but the night of that party was anything but.

Everything about the picture broke a little piece of my heart. I remember dyeing my hair back to my natural color so I didn’t have to worry about maintaining it. I cut off 8″ of hair to accommodate my treatment. The purse on my shoulder couldn’t be put down no matter where I was. I was wearing clothes that I had to buy for what they could function rather than fashion. I was with a boyfriend who was afraid to touch me anymore.

It was the time I tried a 6-week epidural catheter. I couldn’t shower, bend, lift or twist. I carried a giant purse to conceal the shoebox sized drug pump and IV fluids. That treatment left no part of my life in tact – it forced a wardrobe change to loose clothing that could accommodate the tubing inserted into my spine.

I didn’t know how I was going to keep on keeping on. I couldn’t live in the future I could see.

a photo from ballet this morning and a photo from New Year's Eve in 2011

I scrolled past it. I scrolled back up to it. I scrolled past again. There was a pit in my stomach as I remembered the desperation I felt that night. That year. I’ve been thinking about that picture and that time all day.

Five years later, I found myself in a ballet studio. I woke up early and headed downtown. I was tired and working through a flare. But I was dancing. I was jumping. Today, I was free.

Everything is different in the photos I took this morning. The droopy attitude leg, slightly sickled foot and awkward hands are secondary to the fact that I am holding a position on the CRPS-affected leg on releve. I see the fighter who managed a full pirouette despite being in need of a nerve block. I see a body that is fighting its way back. I see the possibility of a future. I see the life I wanted when I wrote my new year’s post last year. (At that time, I had no idea that the dancing metaphor was going to turn into a literal passion). Like the Captain Picard meme says, I made it so.

Tap dance on the CTA

Image Credit: Rosa Raffart

“It matters that you take the steps, not how fast you take them.”

After a year of radical change mixed with a serious stubborn streak, and I made it farther than I could have ever imagined. CRPS is still incurable. I’m still a cyborg. My body still has veto power over my brain. But my life has become damn amazing.

Credit: Rosa Raffart

I’m taking steps. I’m making plans. Big, life-changing plans. In the wise words of my pain specialist (a few minutes before my last Lumbar Sympathetic Nerve Block), Dr. Amin, “It matters that you take the steps, not how fast you take them.”

Two thousand sixteen is bound to be great

It just is. Because I am going to be alive. Because I am going to dance. Because I am going to hope. Because I am going to love.

I want the same for you. A great year. Stuffed full of things like hugging, smiling and love. Of course, I made you a poster.

The poster is wise words from one of Neil Gaiman’s New Year’s Wishes “Hug too much. Smile too much. And, when you can, love.”




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