Sunday, October 15, 2017

Why Does Dancing Mean So Much

For those who know me, you know how much I love music and dancing. I love a variety of genres - anything that gets me on my feet and moving. From the time I was a little girl, music has always spoken to me. And I believe one way to express my feelings and the way music touches me is through dancing. It is one of the reasons I loved being a cheerleader when I was in middle school and high school.

But, dancing wasn't always something I have been able to do, which is why I cherish the ability to do so.

As a matter of fact, when I was nine-years-old, I was told I would be in a wheelchair before I was a teenager.

Imagine the one thing you love with all your heart. The one thing you do, that you have a passion for. Now, imagine being told by a doctor that you would never be able to do it again. How would you feel? Heartbroken? Lost? Empty? Hopeless?

Well, I felt those things. I was nine and my doctor told us that within the next few years my bones and muscles in my lower back and legs would begin to weaken to the point I would be wheelchair bound. I remember walking out of the hospital after meeting with the doctor and stopping by the payphone near the exit so my mom, who was distraught, could call my dad. I watched her sob the news into the phone. Then, I remember a calm coming over me as I walked over to her, grabbed her hand, and told her (I remember this word-for-word), "Don't worry, Mom. Between me, you, and God, we can get through this."

I had been diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy.

I began a heavy round of medications to help with strengthening - one for my muscles, one filled with calcium for my bones, one for pain because the pain was so bad, and one that was a vitamin. I took almost four pills three times each day.

When I was eleven-years-old, I told my mom that the side effects of my medicine were too much. They nauseated me, made me dizzy and tired. She decided to stop the medications.

I then began middle school - 6th grade. I loved school. Science and Math were my favorite subjects, along with English. I was placed in AP classes for those subjects and excelled. Near the end of that year, I decided to try out for the cheerleading squad. In my school, the cheerleaders were the dance and cheer team all in one. I attended the meeting, learned the cheer/chant and the dance. We practiced every day after school so we could get them down before tryouts in front of the judges that Friday.

Friday came, and even though I was in pain, I stated after school. Before I was called in for my "audition," my mom took me aside (she was always my biggest supporter, fan, and cheerleader), and told me that she was proud of me. She explained that out of all the girls trying out, only 10 would make the team so if I didn't make it, it didn't mean I wasn't good. It just meant that there were others who may be louder than I was and that was okay.

I went in, shaking, heart pounding, hands sweating, knees and hips throbbing, and performed my cheer. Then the dance, followed by the mandatory back-handspring, roundoff, and splits.

After all the girls tried out, we were called in as a group as they gave the speech about how proud they were of all of us, how great we were, and then they called out the names of the girls who made the team for the following year.

My name was called.

But none of my friends' names were.

I walked out of the room in tears and my mom mistook them for me not making the team. I told her it was because my friends didn't make it with me.

But that was okay. I made new friends in those girls on the squad.

I tried out the following year, and made it.

When I was in 8th grade, I tried out for high school cheerleading, and make the Varsity squad coming in as a Freshman cheerleader.

But, the one thing that didn't happen was me ending up in a wheelchair. My muscles didn't weaken. My bones grew stronger.

I still had to go back ever few months for appointments with my doctors. I still had to undergo tests to track my progress. I had biopsies for various health-related issues. But, I didn't end up in a wheelchair.

I'm still not in one.

As a matter-of-fact, those words I spoke to my mom in the hospital that summer day when I was nine-years-old were more true than I knew at the time, because when I was 18-years-old, my doctors told me my body was not showing any signs or symptoms of MD. None at all.

I joined the US Navy. I went through Bootcamp, but received an injury that resulted in reconstructive foot surgery on both of my feet and weeks of recovery for each one.

I had to learn how to take my time walking again. It took about a year before I was back to "normal." It took another six months before I could get back to the one thing I loved: dancing.

I guess the point of this post is that we should never give up hope. We should always move on, keep walking our path regardless of the obstacles that are thrown our way. We may miss out on something great if we give up at the first sign of trouble. I would never have those memories of being a cheerleader if I had lost hope and given up when I was diagnosed.

Don't miss out on creating memories. Don't miss out on living your life.

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