If you would have asked me how 2019 was going to start for me, I wouldn’t have said in an Orthopedic surgery center listening to LANY Pandora while getting an MRI on my knee.
My trip home for the holidays was full of travel, good food and catching up with friends I shouldn’t have let myself drift from. I saw so many people and spent so much quality time with my family, but my two week escape from Los Angeles ended on a pretty heavy note. I found out that I will be needing surgery on my right knee due to severe ligament damage and beginning stages of arthritis. Oof. That’s not exactly the news you want to receive when your three current jobs are at a cycling studio, a HIIT training center and dancing for an NBA team. Just three days into the new year and I had found out that I would be spending nearly half of 2019 in recovery. Trying to swear less this year but….Fuck.
I can’t say I was blindsided by this news. Actually, I don’t even think I could tell you the last time I didn’t feel discomfort or instability when I’m dancing. It’s been something I’ve dealt with for about 10 years so at this point, the pain and distrust in my knee had become normal for me. When I was around 13 I dislocated it for the first time. From that point forward, my medial petellofemoral ligament stretched out, and only continued to do so, as I went on to dislocate it somewhere around 15 more times…not something I would wish on my worst enemy. As you can probably imagine, this has created a plethora of other issues. Hip, back, ankle, and more joint specific, additional knee problems. My patella does not track the way it should because the ligament that keeps it in line looks like a stretched out hair-tie (and we all know how annoying those are). That means I’m 23 years old and have the beginning stages of arthritis from the wear and tear. I always knew I was an old soul but I was hoping that wouldn’t translate to wrinkles and joint damage.
On the bright side of things, the surgery isn’t emergent (as I’ve basically done all the damage I can do aside from injuring it again). But my ortho did say that if I put it off for too long, I will likely have to have a full knee replacement by the time I’m in my mid 30’s. How the hell does someone whose livelihood is based off of activity process that information?
Like I said, I am not shocked by any means. I had hope that it could be fixed with physical therapy and maybe a little rest. But to hear the ortho say that someone will be calling me in the next few days to schedule my surgery has really thrown me for a loop. Being completely candid, I do not plan to spend the next 10 years pursing dance as my sole career. That doesn’t mean I love it any less, I just learned a lot about myself this last year and I am confident that 2019 will be full of lots of change and big decisions regarding my career path (and life in general) yada yada yada. But as I thumb through my planner trying to find a date to get this thing taken care of, it’s tough to accept that some of these decisions are probably going to have to come sooner than planned. And not because I said so, but because my stupid knee did.
Dance and activity have become part of my identity. It’s the reason why I even moved away from my friends and family, who I feel so fulfilled around. I have sacrificed a lot for it mentally, physically, emotionally…even financially. I’m not writing this for sympathy or to be overly dramatic. I am aware that this could be so so much worse. I will be back and better than ever after 6 months, I don’t have to have a full replacement, it’s not my ACL, it’s fixable. But it’s a lot for me to process. I’ve spent the last few days with my mind racing about what this means for my career, my hobbies, my fitness level, my calendar, where I live, what I do, what if there are complications, what if my body rejects the new tendon, spiral spiral spiral. I am writing this because the first thing I wanted to do, as I sat in the specialist’s office fighting back tears, is pull out my laptop and vent the best way I know how. The way that seems to allow me to get out everything that I’m thinking better than any verbal conversation I could ever have. Maybe this is God’s way of telling me I need to slow down. Pack my schedule less, learn how to relax, focus on nurturing relationships in my life more, write more, learn how to play that guitar that’s collecting dust in the corner of my studio apartment….the list goes on. I plan on doing all of the above things and know I will be better off in the long run. But, boy oh boy, are times a changin’.
As far as scheduling goes, the plan is to wait until late spring, early summer (and hopefully after basketball season has officially ended). Until then, catch me with my sleek new brace soaking up the next 6 months of activity.