We’ve all been there. That exhilarating time when brilliant ideas strike at stoplights and snatches of dialogue write themselves in our heads while picking up the kids from school or attempting (and failing) to fall asleep. Characters rebel and take on lives of their own, they haunt our dreams, and drive us mad in the best possible way.
And then life throws a sucker punch and all progress grinds to a halt. I suspect a lot of us have been there, too.
Here’s my story:
Back in April, while I powered through the last chapters of the-rewrite-that-tried-to-kill-me, my daughter started complaining about her knees. She’s in a ballet company and trains anywhere from ten to twenty hours a week, depending on the proximity to a production; aches and pains are inevitable. Since she still pirouetted around the house, I wasn’t concerned.
She had no “uh oh” moment, no swelling, no bruising, but the pain soon robbed her of the ability to dance en pointe, which for her is the equivalent of having every drop of joy wrung from her body and thrown out the window. I took her to an orthopedist. Her diagnosis: Plica Syndrome. No, I’d never heard of it either. Plica are extra membranes in the knee that many people have and with which most of those people peacefully coexist. In athletes who perform repetitive motions, such as plies, those membranes can become inflamed and make life miserable.
Her prescription: Take Meloxicam and ice the knees before and after every class.
After gritting her teeth through a performance in June, she took a week off to rest, and then another. She lamented that even walking hurt, that she felt like she was thirteen going on eighty. There were no more pirouettes around the house. No requests for help stretching her feet or her hamstrings. Her life was reduced to sitting on the couch and playing Minecraft with her sister. On our next visit, the orthopedist offered a surgical solution. Her need to dance overpowered her terror of having anyone go near her knees with scalpel or scope. He assured her that she could return to the studio as soon as she felt up to it without any restrictions.
Company auditions were in the fall and she dreamed of being promoted to the top tier and dancing Snow in the next Nutcracker.
He said that might still happen.
She said, “Take them out.”
Since plica aren’t visible on X-ray or an MRI, surgeons have no idea of what they’ll encounter until the scope is in. The bigger the plica, the more digging and cutting involved and the longer the recovery time. My child had the dubious honor of having “monstrous” plica.
She left the hospital on crutches and we both believed her life would soon return to normal. I set aside my laptop to become a full-time chauffeur, cheerleader, counselor, physical therapy coach and nurse. Bringer of ice for her knees and chocolate for her soul.
“My knees still hurt,” she said every day.
“Give it time,” I told her. The question of how much time lingered in the air between us. [Read more…]