Managing pain, injury and dejection | IsabellaWeb

While being held back from something you love is hard, it won’t last forever. I trained to be a professional ballerina from the ages of three to sixteen. Classical ballet was for a while my entire life and giving up on it as a dream was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. It happened gradually and then all at once the pain I was experiencing from over strain and structural imperfections forced me to stop dancing. While I felt extremely lost and angry, time really did heal. I know this is something that hundreds of thousands of hopeful dancers have to go through due to injury or rejection and I hope even if only one person reads this and feels better I would feel so fulfilled.

I spent a year of my life doing nothing. My time was spent playing video games and working on my degree. I completely lost my appetite becoming quite thin and lost my will to move or exercise. Though that does sound rather depressing I was starting to distract myself, I was no longer thinking sad thoughts. Towards the end of 2015 I moved out of my parents house into a flat in Auckland. While I am a little embarrassed to admit this, I certainly do not regret beginning to date one of my flatmates whom I am still currently with. Him and his family were very athletic and while I had never considered myself a runner in the past I started running a lot which I absolutely loved. I began playing sports which I enjoyed from a competitive level which aligned with my dance mentality and I started to really improve my fitness. I gained a lot of weight as I started eating again out of happiness which I didn’t love from an aesthetic perspective but knew was much healthier than how I had been living previously.

Unfortunately I was starting to notice some issues. My fitness had increased and I could run further than I ever had, however the pain I had always assumed was normal in the low part of my leg was holding me back from being about to push myself further. I spoke to my boyfriends father who is a doctor and after explaining all of my symptoms I learned that feeling pain on a day to day basis was not normal(this may sound crazy to some). I get pain in my calves when I leisurely walk up hills. It has been like that since I was a child and I have learned to live with it. Until now I had not thought of it as abnormal and I had certainly never complained about it to anyone. The pain I was experiencing seemed to be getting much worse, I had to stop running and playing any sports. I decided to go and see someone about it and was referred onto a sports physician. I was yet again confirmed that what I was experiencing in my legs was indeed very abnormal. It was relieving and surprising at the same time and I began to wonder how I had gone for so many years assuming that everyone felt what I felt!

The first thing to test for was chronic exertional compartment syndrome that we assumed was brought early on by ballet. However when I received the results for my pressure test it had come back negative. By this point I had stopped almost all exercise, I wasn’t playing any sports, I wasn’t doing any HIIT training, I wasn’t even walking. I began to start feeling slightly depressed and my appointments were weeks apart which left me feeling more hopeless and confused. The next test was for popliteal arterial entrapment syndrome via ultra sound on my legs. I have not received the results for this yet and I won’t for another week. I am going traveling with my boyfriend at the end of this year and it doesn’t look like I will be able to receive surgery before I leave but I wanted to share this because I know there are people out there who are struggling with similar issues(even though I hope that you are not). Injury sucks and feeling left out or held back can hurt but things heal and problems can be fixed. When things can’t be fixed, it can feel like you are stuck but I promise, you are not. I found out this morning that I can skip with a rope and it doesn’t aggravate my calves. It sounds ridiculous but I almost found myself crying out of happiness after not being after to exercise enough to work up a sweat in some time. I weight lifted yesterday at a gym with a few friends and even though my loads were light, I managed leg exercises that didn’t give me pain. Even though I am held back from doing something I love, I’ve found things that I probably wouldn’t have in another situation.

I am so grateful that someone told me what I was feeling wasn’t right and that being in pain is not normal. I never would have guessed that walking didn’t hurt and I am excited for what I might be able to do when I get better. There has definitely been an element of self pity that I’m giving up on, life doesn’t have to end just because I can’t run or walk up hills even if I do live in Auckland City. The journey doesn’t have to suck either, I never would have discovered I loved gaming if I hadn’t had a bad back. If you are in pain or if you have an injury I am sorry, it sucks but you aren’t alone and I hope that while you might feel trapped at the moment, you aren’t. You are awesome, amazing and capable right now, of anything injured or not.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope that you have an awesome day!