Dancing with Arthritis

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Think I’ve mentioned this before but I’ve got arthritis in my right knee.  Last night was the first party of the year and it was also when I got my semi-annual cortisone shot so I was feeling pretty good until the local painkiller they started with wore off and I realized I had done too much.  So now my knee is bothering me and I couldn’t sleep from the cortisone so what else is there to do but do laundry and then ramble a bit about last night.  The dogs followed me out of the bedroom as if I was going to do something exciting and went out to do their business and have now given up on me and gone back to sleep.

This was part of the reason for losing all the weight.  My Mom has had both of her knees replaced and I’m sure that is in my future at some point but I want to delay that as long as possible.  I do take supplements but they aren’t going to reverse the damage.  I think it is worse in the winter as various fronts slam through the area and we are supposed to go into a deep freeze for a couple of days starting tomorrow night which might explain part of the pain.  As long as I keep it to twice a year, my doctor is willing to keep giving me cortisone injections which do help quite a bit.  Before the cortisone shot, he injects a local pain-killer which is supposed to deaden the skin but has the added benefit of actually dulling the pain quite a bit if only for a short period of time so I was feeling really good after leaving the office.

Last night’s lesson was  a continuation of the swing routine.  What I’m finding interesting with this and the cha-cha is that these are routines that my instructor doesn’t have down yet so it becomes a learning process for both of us.  So it is almost a balancing act where she teaches me my part but also has to stop and make sure she is doing her parts correctly so we often have to stop and go step by step to get the timing down. For some reason, this really does not bother me but it just reinforces more that I have to keep my attitude positive and not get overly frustrated because I think that would just make things even worse for her.  (Sometimes, I can be a perceptive student).  We got to a point last night where we started working on arm positions in certain steps which is progress because it means we have a good idea where the feet are supposed to go.  My spin is still interesting so she gave me a couple of tips on that.  It is funny but it always seems like the most minor of tweaks makes the biggest difference in how a step feels.  I continue to be excited about where I think this is going to go although I’m sure the frustration will come eventually.

After group class was the weekly practice party.  Most of the people who attend are couples who really want to just dance with each other and I don’t like breaking them up.  There is one couple that I know really well and she enjoys the cha-cha while her husband doesn’t so I am the designated cha-cha partner.  So I ended up doing most of my dancing with the two other female instructors.  My instructor was busy doing a bunch of studio related work and I’m sure I could have asked but she looked really busy so I just didn’t want to disturb her.  I think we were doing a waltz and I was rising on a step when the pain killer wore off and my knee twinged a bit just to remind me that it was still there and that the cortisone hadn’t fully taken effect yet.  Managed to make it through the rest of the party though.  I do need to sit out the occasional dance when it flares up which often causes conflict with the studio because they seem to feel that everyone should be dancing every dance.  I did notice the studio owner watching me at several times during the party.  I forget that they do a lot of observation so they can get an idea of how you are progressing but it always freaks me out just a bit because I start thinking “what am I doing wrong”.  I do try to focus on posture, timing and technique at parties but sometimes you have to throw all that out the window and just have fun – depends on the dance and the song.

At one point towards the end of the party, they do what they do from time to time and stop the music and make us switch partners.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence about this.  I know that dancing with others is important but I also know that most couples come just to dance with each other so I know why they do it but I also understand why couples don’t like it.  The dance was hustle which is pretty forgiving except if you are doing syncopated steps and your new partner doesn’t know syncopation.  One thing I wish I could convey to the newer students is that it is OK if you don’t follow exactly or if you don’t know what step I’m trying to do.  One of my partners came up after and apologized for not knowing and I tried to tell her it was no big deal because I need the practice learning how to lead so if she gets close to what I wanted, that’s a win.  But you don’t get more than 20-30 seconds after a dance to really say anything so it is hard to convey.  Dancing with new students is a choice between me trying to think of steps they might know or just going for it and seeing what happens.  I’ve tried both and I really think the second option works best even if it doesn’t go that well.   I suspect there is some of the normal dynamic with a couple going on because lead/follow is really a tough thing to get and most guys don’t lead nearly as well as they think they do (maybe all guys) so there tends to be a frustration level that I see when the spouse or significant other doesn’t follow.  But I also think it is natural for us to be more forgiving of someone we don’t know as well as opposed to a spouse/significant other so both parties tend to apologize rather than blame the other when dancing with someone besides their spouse/significant other.  Which is of course why they want you to do it because mistakes are inevitable and you have to learn to work through them without getting frustrated.  Sorry, that’s what passes for deep insight at this time of the day.  All in all, it was good to be back after two weeks off even if my knee if complaining about it this morning.

One comment

  1. Lov the “deep insight”! 🙂 Hope that knee feels better soon. I’ve got some permanent hip and elbow damage from figure skating…..both my knees are fairly bad from skiing… can sympathize!

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