I know to many this might seem silly. To be celebrating sticking with something for six months. What you don’t know is that I wasn’t sure I would last 6 minutes.
This life of mine seemed like it had devolved into an endless rotation of treatments, cyborg life and just making it through to the next thing. It was one foot in front of the other, regularly with the help of a cane.
Walking. One step. One step. One step. Infusion. Medication swapping. Walking. Sitting. Zombie.
And despite the positive spin I tried to put on things, I was getting more and more desperate with each treatment I tried. I just wanted to move. I just wanted to be free.
I wanted every step to stop hurting every part of my body. Because that’s what happens when wearing pants makes you cry – your muscles atrophy. They tighten and lock down. Your joints are rusty old hinges on unopened doors. Suddenly, your body is a prison. Standing hurts. Sitting hurts. Turning your head hurts. All because some nerves can’t behave themselves.
Six months ago, I talked my doctor into letting me dance. Four months ago, I talked my cousin into joining me. Two months ago another cousin started ballet (far, far away in the Lone Star State). One has degenerative disks, the other Spina bifida. We’re quite a tribe. But ballet has turned into a haven for all of us. Especially me.
I was so close to giving up. In January when we did one more infusion, I was praying it would last just long enough to get me through the winter. When we did it again in May, I was focused on just how soon I could get my feet dancing again.
Ballet. Tap. Ballet. Tap. Ballet. Zumba. Every week, I point a little better. I turn out just a little bit more. I get my left side doing a bit more of what the right side does. It’s a process. I’m never going to be a ballerina or an amazing hoofer. That’s not what matters. That’s not what’s important.
I’ve successfully completed a pirouette without getting dizzy exactly twice. I might never figure out how to jump high enough to do an assemble. Five count wings are probably not a step I will ever conquer. But you see, my body isn’t just a prison anymore. It stands straighter. Those steps are smoother. That cane makes rarer appearances. My feet are making music again.
At the end of my very first ballet class, when no one was connecting with the port de bras, our teacher asked us a question. “Why are you dancing?” My answer? “Because I can walk.” That was true then and even more true today.