Posts Tagged ‘chronic illness’

The Little Ballerina Wannabe

March 13, 2013

degas dancer

 Degas Dancer

She always enjoyed watching the ballerinas in their gathered tulle skirts and elegant toe shoes – they always looked so graceful, supple and had wonderful flexibility.  She wanted to be one of them but always felt she couldn’t because she was an overweight child and her parents didn’t have the money for lessons.  It was that way when she watched the ice skaters, they too were graceful, elegant and could bend into amazing poses.  It has always been that same feeling of wondering what might have been all her life.

Then, when she was in her 60’s, a lifetime away from being able to fulfill her wish, she had cause to re-examine her longing to be a ballerina.  Did she really want to do it, have a love and passion for it? She would have to lose weight to qualify and be able to do all the poses and positions required – not an easy accomplishment.  Was she willing to do the hard work of lessons, practice, extra classes and tryouts for parts? Would she have been willing to dedicate her life to working hard, foregoing many of life’s pleasures to maintain her strength, endurance and flexibility?

The more she thought about it, she realized it was the grace, elegance and flexibility the ballerinas had, everything she felt she didn’t have.  The idea of a slender, supple body was appealing as well as being able to do the lifts and jumps in ballets like “Swan Lake” and “Coppelia”.  But over the years she had seen what dancing had done to a ballerina’s feet, put into positions the human foot was never meant to hold.

It was as if she was looking down at her feet, clad in beautiful ballet slippers and a long full tulle skirt – what did she see in her mind’s eye?  She realized how confining a ballerina’s life is, everything is geared to her dancing, always taking such care to ensure she can dance as long as possible.  And what would she do after she could no longer dance?  Would she be relegated to teaching the new and budding ballerinas, wishing she was still able to be the lead dancer and feeling her life was over?

Or would it be a relief to give those tired, abused feet a chance to rest and have a “normal” life of ease and fun?  Would she be able to relax and enjoy the things in life she had had to forego to continue dancing?  Would she find she was out-of-place because she wasn’t part of the dance world, that she would have to start a whole new chapter for her future?  Then dancing could be for her own pleasure when she decided.

How strange to see this childhood wish in an entirely different light.  As she looked back on her life, she realized she had had adventures, interesting experiences, uncomfortable times and experienced so many new things – all of which didn’t necessary require suppleness, flexibility and strength.

Yes, the events and challenges in her life gave her flexibility, but of an emotional and mental kind, to be able to roll with the punches and deal with what can be a very limiting chronic illness.  Her strength had become continuing to work with what she was able to do, learn patience and conserve her energy while not allowing the illness to rule her life.  The suppleness came as acceptance, seeing the positives in the situation and being of help and support to others.

Although she doesn’t feel physically graceful yet, she handles it with grace and humor rather than with anger and feeling an innocent victim. Now it is more a matter of being grateful for what she has gained instead of wishing for something that’s not physically possible.

She has all the qualities she admires in a ballerina, they just show up in a different way and context.  Sometimes what one wants doesn’t always have to be a certain form, it’s important to ask for what you want but not to be inflexible by insisting it only be one way.  Ask for what you want, but also be open to whatever works, what ever comes for your highest good.  You would be amazed at what happens – many times it comes in ways you could not dream up yourself.

What Have I Gained From RA

March 7, 2013

How strange to find myself posing a very different question from when I was first diagnosed.  In the beginning it was “Why do I have it?”, “What did I do to deserve this?” and any number of victim type questions.  Because as I have said before, I felt as if I was an innocent bystander suddenly sideswiped by RA for no reason.  For a long time it felt only negative, that there was nothing positive in it, just pain, deformity and frustration along with many bouts of crying.

The first time I felt something positive coming from RA was when I was Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator and also a Self Help Course instructor as well as training new instructors for the Connecticut Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation.  The people in the Self Help classes were great and they often told me how much they were helped by the class and the information.  It was also gratifying when they said I had helped them too.  I would tell them I was just like them, the only difference was I had been  trained to run the class.  They also helped me and were a bright spot in the week.  I remember one particular day when I wasn’t feeling well and really didn’t want to go.  By the end of the class I was feeling better and was very glad I went.

As the Speaker’s Bureau Coordinator, I learned how to speak to groups and be fairly comfortable.  Often people would ask questions, plus say how much it meant to hear from someone who had a form of arthritis.  Speaking in front of people has always been an agony for me, but after I spoke a few times, I really loved doing it.  I injected humor and my own stories to keep it from being just straight facts – though if time was short, my stories were jettisoned because they came to hear the basic facts.

I realize I  personalize whatever I write; that made it difficult to write for business.  I decided at one point that I was going to have fun with my business because all that “Life is real, Life is earnest” stuff was stressing me out.  When I started writing this blog, I found such freedom to say whatever I wanted in the way I wanted.  I still have to check out my business websites and rewrite them so they sound like me.  Maybe it is just that I have found my voice.

Just as in my Mom’s dementia, I swear there is a funny side to RA – if I don’t laugh I will go nuts.  Sometimes it sound like sick humor to those who don’t have a chronic illness, but those who deal with one 24 hour a day understand.  What I have noticed as I look back at all the stuff I have dealt with is the odd bits that pop into my head – especially in hospital as well as outpatient tests.  Thank goodness I wrote them down when I was writing a journal, because for the life of me I can’t remember any of them.  Looks as if I will have to check through them and see if I was as clever as it seemed at the time.  (Another set of posts!)

I have acquired medical knowledge, though only as it pertains to me.  I am an expert about my experience and symptoms, not anyone else.  There are similarities but I would not presume to tell anyone else what they should do.  I have more knowledge than I ever wanted to know – so it has contributed to my education.

I learned how to conserve energy – mine.  I have also learned patience, not easy and there are lessons cropping up when I least expect them.  I am a late bloomer, though I didn’t realize some of the knowledge would take this long to make sense.  I can’t say I am always patience, I get antsy about things at times and wonder why I don’t “get it”.  I keep remembering that when I am ready, it will make sense to me and the less I agonized over it, the better.

Let’s face it, I get positive feedback from people – I have had 2 or 3 women tell me I am their hero and inspiration – rather heady stuff.  Often people say they admire me, they don’t know I do all that I have done.  Another comment is how positive I am while dealing with RA.  My first thought is they haven’t seen me in my oh-poor-me-osis days or my hurt-like-hell days and I am a whimpering mess.  What I feel is that I am of help and use to them in different ways – that feels so good.  I have also learned that I may never know when I have been of help as I am going about my life – I don’t have to have each one of those people tell me.  A little feedback once in a while is great.

Looks as if this is going to be Part 1 because there are a lot more things to write about that I have gained.  It just hit me that I am doing this blog because of RA.  It has been a great release for me and I so appreciate the people who comment, like and follow my blog and let me know they enjoyed what I wrote.  I didn’t expect to write it;  I had this urge pushing and pushing me until I started the blog and I have enjoyed it for the past 2 1/2 years.

Tell me what you think, I would really like to know.


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