Saturday, August 30, 2014

the rhythm of life goes on

So tonight is my last night sleeping with the leg adductor pillow... 

After wearing it for 3 months I almost can't imagine not using it at night!
I've been swimming a little at a neighbor's pool on the days I don't go to Physical Therapy, and it really seems to make a difference. My recovery progress is going well, stairs are much easier; and I rarely use a cane. I AM getting really impatient to start dancing again but I'll just have to wait a bit longer. I'm happy to take things slowly so healing goes well. I'm not stupid!
Today I even took a much needed day off from exercising - I was just too sore and tired! I worked on preparing for an upcoming appearance of my PRISM Dancers at a downtown arts event in a couple of weeks. This will be my first "performance" since surgery; though I won't be dancing, I'll be drumming and playing cymbals for the others. Besides a couple of dance numbers to live drumming we'll be jamming some Middle Eastern percussion numbers; so we're bringing out a couple of rhythms we haven't played in a while: a 10/8 and a 6/8. I even got my old iMac fired up and whipped out a couple of rhythm tracks for my students to use for percussion practice. It's been too long since I played around with my music.

In the midst of life... 

On a sad note, both horses in my "Let Me Dance" music video have now passed: good old Rising Phoenix was laid to rest this week. What a funny guy he was, very cat-like in his personality, with a cute white heart on the end of his muzzle. I'll miss him very much, he was so gentle; he taught me a lot when I was just beginning to ride. After my first hip replacement, Phoenix was the one I felt safe getting on. Not very long after that he was retired from the teaching arena; and now he's joined the lovely black Velvet, laid to rest out in the meadow at White Buffalo Farm. Rest in peace, Phoenie!
horse in a stall
funny Phoenix at White Buffalo
Anthea Kawakib
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Saturday, August 23, 2014

swinging your hips is not just for dancing!

What does walking really feel like?

I'm excited! When I got home after physical therapy yesterday I tried the "new walk".
One of my therapists had previously told me that I wasn't "swinging my hips" when I walked, that instead I was limping; that is, carrying my weight in my upper torso and shifting it from side to side, instead of my hips.
When he told me that, I did try shifting my weight from side to side in my hips, but my leg didn't feel strong enough to carry my full weight, as each leg has to do when you walk.
The feedback I get from this particular therapist is spot on and helps me be aware of how my body is moving. He showed me again that I was dropping my hip while walking instead of stabilizing all the muscles around the hip. My leg was too tired at his office to really work well, but when I got home I tried it again.
And finally I did it - the muscles in my leg DID feel strong enough to support my weight while walking - though I can only do it for a short time before getting tired and sore.
It's been such a long time since I could walk that way! It feels pretty amazing, let me tell you. It actually feels "right"!

Body-Mind Consciousness

When a hip joint begins to deteriorate the muscles get sore from trying to stabilize the joint; and the body starts compensating to avoid that pain, almost without conscious thought. The body has a mind of its own, and it doesn't like sharp pains - it'll do whatever it has to in order to avoid them! And that's how limping starts. In fact, "avoiding pain" starts to filter every movement the body makes so that before long, your entire movement vocabulary changes.
It's kind of interesting to watch my performance and how-to videos just prior to surgery; when you know my hip is not working right you can see me compensating for it; but I have to say, I think I do a pretty good job of compensating!

Hello Again Hips!

So now I'm becoming aware of what it means, and feels like, to move "normally" again. Yes, I'm trying to "swing my hips" now when I walk, though when I get tired, I start to limp - then the cane comes out. That will only be for a short time though.
Every day is a learning experience as I get acquainted with my hip muscles again! It's pretty cool, because I enjoy learning, and I can't wait to dance again - in a couple of months.... I know it will feel so different!
hips motion gif
bellydance students swinging their hips
Anthea Kawakib
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Monday, August 11, 2014

Post-op at Pennsic!

"No sh*t, there I was..." at Pennsic!
2 months post-op I was able to go camp and teach at this yearly event after all, thanks to the help of many amazing people.

Last Saturday (a week ago) we had the Sequins and Shimmies fundraiser show here in Fredericksburg (more on that later); then Sunday I half rested, half supervised the packing of the truck. This year I took LESS stuff than ever, something I'm really happy about! Even so, it was a lot of work for my hubby to get my camping gear out of storage and into the truck by himself. He's so strong!

I had warned my Orluk Oasis campmates that if I did actually come I'd need a LOT of help, and they said "no problem" - so on Monday, with the truck all loaded up, I took a chance and started off!

The long trip wasn't bad, that's something I'd been concerned about, having to sit in the truck for so long; but it was fine. When I finally got down to camp Baris, Carla, and Kumo unloaded my stuff, set up my new tent, new cot, air mattress, and everything else.
I had managed to find a cot that was high enough (with the air mattress) so I didn't break my bending precautions; and the tent is tall enough to stand and walk around in.
I also had a new hard-seat chair to use so my hips didn't slide together as they would have in those folding cloth camp chairs.

Of course I did not go out of camp very much! I did manage to walk up to the Middle Eastern Tent for my Tribal Odyssey class on Wednesday; where Siyala helped me teach several combinations with finger cymbals. My good dance friend and fellow teacher Rajni of Orluk came as well, and helped lead the students. It was also a treat to have the amazing Neefa of Khafif (and also an Orlukian sister) in class too.

So, after standing up for the hour (no chairs in the tent), I walked back to camp, had lunch and rested for a while. But not for long, because it was the day of the Middle Eastern and World Dance Expo! And with my student Siyala set to perform her FIRST EVER SOLO I had to be there - plus she had no music with her, and I wanted to help drum. She totally rocked her number, to live drumming. I'm so proud of her! Here she is dancing while Malik, Mark Cheater, and I drum.
drumming and dancing onstage
Siyala dancing at Pennsic 

The lovely Rajni also performed one of my favorite pieces, the Funky Dance Combos to Arabic rhythms, playing finger cymbals to our live drumming too! Here is Rajni dancing and playing cymbals while Siyala, Mark Cheater and I back her with Arabic rhythms.
middle eastern dance expo at pennsic
Rajni dancing at the Expo 

I was backstage during sister Orlukian Kaheena's Tunisian Duet with Bambi, but here's a photo of this audience favorite:
folkloric dancers
Kaheena and Bambi, Tunisian Duet at the Expo

What fun! My Orluk sister Shakti and I were lucky enough to catch bus rides for the Expo trip, with a stop at Cafe Merhaba for refreshment afterwards. So it was an amazing and wonderful day!

The rest of the week was just resting, visiting, noshing, and enjoying camp life with my crazy, wonderful buddies. On Saturday I packed my gear again, several of our strong Orluk men pitched in to pack my truck, and I came home much happier and healthier than when I arrived.

Although I wasn't able to keep up with my physical therapy exercise routine while camping (it was tiring enough just getting around), I did get stronger from all the exertion. When I first got to camp I was still using a crutch all the time, but mid-week I began taking a few steps without it; and by the end of the week I could walk without assistance for about 20 yards or so; just not very gracefully! Actually, I lurched around kind of like Frankenstein, but whatever!

Words can't even describe how grateful I am to everyone for helping me get to Pennsic, teach, and even get to the Dance Expo; without the help of so many wonderful people it would have been impossible. ORLUK ROCKS!
campers in front of Orluk gate
campers from Orluk Oasis, Roman Road, w10, Pennsic

(Note: the Funky Dance Combos are available to learn online here)
Anthea Kawakib, also known as Atesh
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