I was going to go swing dancing this weekend. I’d paid my registration, RSVP’d for my housing assignment, figured out my budget for gas, started planning my packing list, even informed my family that I would not be available. I had been looking forward to this for a while, hoping that it would be the weekend that would remind me of why I love swing dancing so much, something that’s been hard to remember lately as it’s gotten progressively more and more buried under a load of relationship & community dysfunction. It was kinda like when a couple’s relationship is strained, so they go away for the weekend to rekindle that old spark. I figured, a weekend away, maybe a few really good dances, the kind I haven’t had in a while, seeing some old friends, and I’d be good to go again, at least for a while.
Alas, instead I am currently sprawled across the futon in my living room here in Dayton. There is no dancing anywhere remotely near, and I couldn’t participate even if there were. You see, on Wednesday I did Something Bad to my leg. I was at the usual Wednesday Night Swing, dancing with Bounce. It was my first dance of the night, to Madeleine Peyroux’s I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate, which is my favorite version of one of my favorite songs of all time. We were maybe a minute into the song, when I stepped back on my left leg, and felt/heard something go “pop” in my calf. And that was it. I was done dancing. Bounce helped me get over to one of the chairs at the side, and then stood near me offering me water and grapes and anything he could think of to make things better. It was very sweet.
Unfortunately, since the sudden pain was making me a bit nauseous, grapes and water weren’t much help. However, soon after I was able get Swing Snark’s attention, and asked her if she would take a look at the problem. Swing Snark is an Athletic Trainer, so she knows about these things. She moved my foot and leg around, did the whole “Does this hurt?” thing, and told me that it appeared that my tendons & ligaments were fine, so it was probably either a muscle strain or tear. I should ice it relentlessly for the first 24 hours, take ibuprofen, start stretching it after a day or so, and if it didn’t get significantly better in 3-5 days, see a doctor. I found all of this extremely reassuring (I had been trying to worry through whether or not I could afford to go to the ER, and then which one would be best), and I’m so grateful that she was there.
Once I knew what the problem was, and that it wasn’t, like, life threatening or something, I had some other problems to deal with. Like how I was going to get home. My little car is a stick-shift, so I couldn’t drive it if I couldn’t use my left leg. And then, if I could get someone to come get me, how would I get my car home? And then how was I going to get to work in the morning? Things like that. As it turned out, the answers were as follow: Dad and Indy came to get me, the car stayed out by the dance studio until Thursday night when Johnnycakes and Pippi teamed up to help me retrieve it, Mariah volunteered to get me to work, and Pippi brought me home again.
Being a little bit disabled the last few days has made me realize how much crankiness and pride I have lurking under my usually sweet surface. It’s hard for me to ask for help, even when I genuinely need it. On Thursday I nearly didn’t get any lunch at all because I was too prideful to ask one of my co-workers to go get me a salad from the cafeteria, and too cranky to make the trip myself, knowing that I was going to have to be nice to all the people who would want to stop me to ask what happened. And then, I know that compared to what some people deal with every day, this isn’t all that much pain, but it still has me completely worn out by the end of the day. So I’m also getting a lesson in exactly how whiny I can be.
It also reminds me how much work dealing with a disability is. For example, I need to go grocery shopping. However, while I think I could do the actual shopping (I’d have a cart to hold onto after all), getting to the grocery store is a problem. I haven’t tried driving again yet, and I’m worried about whether or not I’ll be able to make it both there and back. And then once I get the groceries home, how will I get them into the house? The answer to this problem seems to be to get someone to go with me, but I’m so unused to having to coordinate my schedule with anyone else’s that it’s taken me a few days to arrange things. So far the plan is that Johnnycakes will go with me, both to help carry things, and to drive the two of us home if I can’t, and we’re going to go just as soon as he gets up from his nap. Any time now. I think.
The bright side is that little by little, my leg is getting better. Today I’ve been able to walk around the house without the cane, and with only a few mishaps. I’m starting to be able to stretch my calf muscle. My steps are still slow and halting, but I’m getting there. Hopefully by Monday I will be able to get myself both to work and home again. And maybe before too long I’ll even be able to dance again. I’ll look forward to that.