and the ugly . . .

Do I write about this? I said I would talk about everything - wouldn't leave out the ugly bits or the embarrassing bits. I'll probably edit this a dozen times before I decide one way or another.

Tuesday's milonga at Texas French Bread.

A small but lovely crowd. I was only three tandas into the evening when the muscles under my right shoulder blade started seizing. It's annoying but not the end of the world. I made it to the end of the tanda, thanked my leader and sat down. Changing shoes I thought - can I wait it out?

It might still relax on its own. . . As I bent down to put my shoes in the bag, the pain spread all the way down to my hip. It wasn't the worst it's ever been. I thought, it's manageable if I can get out of the restaurant and get on the bus, it'll be fine. I said my goodbyes to the few people sitting, and wondered one more time if it might go away on its own. I hesitated while I made my excuses to my friend. It wasn't stopping.

As I got out the door to the street corner, the muscles along my rib cage cramped and tightened like ropes. I knew where this was going. If the muscles don't relax in the next few minutes, the tremors will start. I needed to get to the bus stop before the tremors kicked in. At least my legs worked. I walked the four blocks to the bus stop and called my husband to let him know I was coming home.

Those of you not familiar with Austin's mass transit system may wonder why I didn't call my husband to come get me. The timing was such that it would have taken him longer to come get me than to get on the bus and get home. Plus, I didn't want to wait somewhere. I wanted to feel like I progressing on my way home. No one knows me on the bus, if I had tremors it wouldn't matter. They turn off lights once we're on the highway anyway.

I hung up with DH just as the bus was pulling up. I fished for my ID in my purse and had a hard time gripping it to pull it out of the pocket it's in. The tremors had started. The driver saw my hand shaking. What must he think? It doesn't matter. He doesn't know me. I put the ID away and take a seat, holding my hand under my bags in my lap.

I focused. I thought about each muscle and tried to imagine it relaxing, smoothing out. We were on MoPac before that started to work. The tremors stopped first. The ropes around my rib cage loosened up a tiny bit. Once I could start breathing deeply the muscles went from seizing, to cramped, to sore. A far more manageable state.

I'm still embarrassed about bolting out of a restaurant milonga. Not saying goodbye to everyone I'd wanted to, not giving any kind of explanation. Just running away. This is not the advice I give people. Here I am trying to convince others that tango, and the community that surrounds it, is the perfect place to cope with pain conditions.

I tell them that dancing helps the body but also helps the spirit.

I tell them they won't need to feel self-conscious or afraid.

I tell them tango accepts you for who you are in the moment - not just you "at your best".

So what did I do? I ran. Old habits die hard.

So I'm coming clean. I regret leaving when I did without explanation and mostly because I left out of fear. There was no reason for it.

Stay in the game. Stay engaged. Reach out instead of closing off. Leave for the right reasons (to get home, get rest, get help) but not out of fear.


me said...

I don't understand. You left to protect yourself. Anyone would want you to do what you did, to take care of yourself first. As you described, you really didn't know which way the pains would go, right?

Mari said...

I guess my main issue with my behavior is that I left in a panic - which didn't help my pain either. I left because I was afraid people would notice. Getting home to rest was near the bottom of my list of reasons to leave. Instead I left 2 friends worrying about me unnecessarily - because I was embarrassed. I needed to leave - but I handled it badly out of habit.

me said...

Ah I see.

Unknown said...

I feel your pain, Mari (emotionally).

Yesterday my sacrum twisted and left me immobile for a few hours. I had to cancel Tango, and other dancing, in order to rest.

I've learned to alert people about my issues without making them feel bad and worry about me, but sometimes, it's unavoidable.

When my hip pains start, I panic because I know within 20 minutes I'll fall to the floor like a rubber chicken or need to lie on my back. This happens to me often.

I'm sure your tremors occur more than you want, but Tango can only do so much when fight/flight kicks in.

Just consider yourself special, that's what I do. It's better than thinking you're crippled or physically imbalanced in some way :)

Keno said...

You know your body the best, if it takes what you did for yourself to feel safe and know that next time you have choices on what to do. Tango is one of the best forms of exercise for the body and mostly for the brain, as you become more aware of your brain you will reach a point of when you can control and relax everthing in a twinkleing of an eye. I know from past experiences, I have a floating hip and try dancing and having it pop out just as you start your walk. This is what they made pauses for in Tango, to repair, relax, and enjoy the music.