Are We There Yet?
I thought I’d be fine after undergoing successful surgery
to repair a torn ankle ligament. Instead, I’m depressed
and hopeless that I’m still not able to perform. My
therapist tells me I’m making good progress, but I don’t
see it. Why not?
—Ashley, San Francisco, CA
You’ve fallen into a common trap—comparing your
dancing to how you performed before the injury. That’s
unrealistic, given the circumstances. Your new baseline
needs to be how you feel now after surgery and rehab.
My advice is to keep a monthly pain diary, documenting
what you can do, your current limitations and your level
of pain. You’ll be surprised to discover how much you’re
accomplishing each month.
The Break-Up Blues
I feel totally unlovable as a woman ever since my
boyfriend left me for a male dancer in the company. I
truly believed he was in love with me when we moved in
together. How can I get over my gut-wrenching grief, let
alone dance with him?
A serious boyfriend who suddenly comes out unleashes
an avalanche of questions about your relationship,
making you wonder if it was all fake. Understandably,
this also complicates your emotions as his dance partner.
But your ability to be loved has nothing to do with your
boyfriend’s desire for liberation after living a closeted
life. Sexual preference is inborn and may emerge when
a person admits that they’re bisexual or gay after a long
period of confusion, fear and inner turmoil. It’s not a
personal choice; it’s who they really are.
Obviously, it would
have saved you
if you’d known this
beforehand. He may
have wanted to be
with you due to love,
a misguided attempt to rid
himself of his yearnings or both.
Human sexuality is complicated, and love
does not always equal sexual attraction. Right
now, surround yourself with caring friends
while you slowly adjust to this change. If
you need a safe place to tell your story
and discuss your experiences of grief,
isolation, anger and betrayal, check out the
Straight Spouse Network (straightspouse.
org). While it will take time for you to feel
more comfortable dancing with him, you
may eventually develop compassion for
your partner’s own painful journey.
Race to Recovery
I did a musical number with lots of jumps on a
tour stop without a sprung floor. Now my leg
really hurts. An orthopedist told me I have
shin splints but not a stress fracture. Is the
recovery time different?
—Bob, Riverdale, NY
Yes. A shin splint is a soft-tissue injury,
whereas a stress fracture is a partial break
in the bone. While both are due to overuse,
especially on hard floors, a stress fracture will take two to
three months to recover. In contrast, a strain where the
muscle attaches to the bone (aka a shin splint) will take
four to six weeks to heal.
These injuries require different treatment. For shin
splints, you should avoid movements that hurt, like
jumping, and get physical therapy to decrease the healing
time. A stress fracture may call for a boot, crutches and a
bone stimulator first. Be aware that ice and nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil should only be used
for the first week after an injury, or following a strenuous
physical therapy session. Why? Because inflammation is
an important part of the recovery process. Unless there’s
another underlying issue, an inflamed bone or tissue is a
positive sign that the body is beginning to heal. n
OCTOBER 2017 24
Former New York City Ballet dancer Linda Hamilton, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice, the
author of Advice for Dancers (Jossey-Bass) and co-author of The Dancer’s Way: The New York City Ballet
Guide to Mind, Body, and Nutrition (St. Martin’s Griffin). Her website is drlindahamilton.com.
Send your questions to:
Dr. Linda Hamilton, 2000 Broadway, PH2C, New York, NY 10023 n email: firstname.lastname@example.org
advicefordancers | BY LINDA HAMILTON