Return to Tango after Total Hip Replacement. Weeks 6-10

These last weeks have been all about my KNEE! This was not part of the plan.

During week 6, I developed a bit of pain below the knee on the same side as the hip replacement. Within a few days, it had become so intense that I could put no weight on it and was back on my crutches and scrabbling around for strong pain killers again.

Off to the doctor and off for an Xray and Ultrasound and back on the big pain killers. Results were that I had Bursitis of the Pes Anserine- a bursa just below the knee where 3 large muscles cross. Also some inflammation and degenerative tearing of the Medial Collateral Ligament and inflammation of the meniscus, which I used to know as the cartilage. Well, that explained the pain, at least.

Treatment: 5 day course of cortisone, Targin again and rest and physiotherapy. About a 6 week recovery period.

Apparently, this knee problem after hip surgery is not uncommon and  is related to tightness from the surgery, existing weakness and increasing activity.

What I’ve learnt is that, in this case, ‘rest’ meant sitting or lying with no activity beyond the absolutely essential. That actually made a big difference once I’d brought my version of ‘rest’ down to that.

The physiotherapy is based on releasing the tight muscles around my thigh and strengthening the almost non-existent muscle on the inside of my knee.

This has all been gradually working to relieve the pain but I find it hard to get the balance right between strengthening and straining the muscles. Also, once I started improving, I found it very easy to overdo any walking or exercise and end up sore rather than gratifyingly just tight from execising.

I’ve started going to a remedial masseur also because my body needs loosening up generally, compared to the focussed treatment of the physiotherapist. This has been very helpful in starting to balance up my back, hip and leg muscles from all the compensation during the hip pain before the replacement.

It’s been strange to remember that I had such a big hip operation so recently with this knee totally up-staging it. ‘What hip?’ I say. I’ve been sorry and frustrated not having been able to just move steadily along with specific hip physio and strengthening and get back to tango and normal walking and activities. However, it’ll sort itself out in time if I’m careful.

Meanwhile, I think I must be going for some sort of record for watching tango lessons from the side. There’ve been no more little walking forays on the floor, just watching. Frustrating but I’d rather be there watching than stay at home while Nick goes to classes. Plus, I’ve had the pleasure of watching him really improve over the last few months and am looking forward to being up and dancing with him again when I’m ready.

The watching has actually been very interesting. I’ve liked listening to the lesson, mentally doing it and just enjoying  and thinking about the many and varied responses of the people in the class. It’s given me time to appreciate even more the patience of the teachers. Best of all, watching and going to Sidewalk Tango through all this has helped keep me engaged and motivated to get back on the dance floor.

 

 

 

 

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Tango Suspension

TANGO SUSPENSION.

Last Wednesday’s Intermediate Class at Sidewalk Tango introduced the concept of Suspension in the Embrace to us. David and Di talked about the embrace and the pause and the opportunities these generated. They moved from tango music, selected Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune from the play list and turned the lights down to a pinky glow. David mentioned that Debussy once described music as, ‘The silence between the notes.’

I was still sidelined with my hip and watched the couples quietly exploring this moment in the dance. I longed to be out there on the floor with them.

However, it got me thinking, and next morning when ‘negative space’ popped into my head, I realized that if I can’t dance it, I can think it and write it.

So….

 I learnt that the leader draws his partner into suspension, a pause. It’s a moment to hold and transform the pause into a gathering point or a threshold. It is time, hanging in space, isolated in the now but with resonances of the past and the opportunities of the future.

This pause is wide reaching. Isaac Stern, the conductor, talks of ‘silences which give the form’ of a piece of music, echoing Debussy.

Suspended time is not unlike the visual artist’s concept of the negative space which exists around and between two objects. In this case, the space has a strong role in the whole composition and is about the rightness and balance of the positioning. Negative space can often create a presence or image of itself such as the obvious case when two vases placed side by side will create an image of a face between them. In tango there is not only a temporal pause but a pause in space where the embrace and the position of the dancers’ bodies speak their own language.

I discovered that the Japanese take this concept further with their principle of ‘ma.’ Very simply, this refers to the space or interval between two structural parts and a consciousness of these two elements. It is also about what takes place in the imagination of the person who experiences these transient elements and it’s in that that I found the connection to tango deepened. I really liked the idea of the imagination and mind engaged in this suspended moment between two people. There’s an interesting sense of being both within and without the body.

Then in The Age on Saturday (28 February, 2015), I was reading a discussion by Kathy Heyman on writing dialogue. She says that the author and the reader listen to the silences and pauses between words. It is the silent subtext flowing beneath the words which draws the dialogue and narrative along.

To complete the circle and return to last Wednesday’s tango class, I found it very interesting to discover how far that word, ‘suspension’, took me into the wider artistic world. It deepened my understanding of a very specific layer of meaning. I’m thinking about a feeling of height, lift and poise coupled with the suspense of being open and quiet. I flow into this moment.