The Fusion of Dance, Writing, and Healing: Meet Dancing with Pain’s New Assistant Editor

By: Rachel , Assistant Editor, Dancing with Pain®

April 24th, 2008 • Dance for Natural Pain ReliefPrint Print

My love affair with dancing began at the tender age of three. My mother had enrolled my older sister in a ballet/tap dance lesson twice a week to buy herself some down time.

On a Wednesday afternoon too busy for my mother to prioritize rationally, she decided to pick me up from daycare before my sister. Walking through the corridors of the dance school, waiting for my sister’s lesson to be over, I caught sight of a door opened enough for me to peek inside.

That’s where my mother finally found me a while later.

I don’t personally remember the rest, so I am quoting from what my mother told me years later. Apparently, I was so excited that I started dancing the moves I had just seen in the studio, and my mother realized that she had an opportunity on her hands.

So we went to the director of the school and asked her to allow me to be enrolled, even though we knew that the minimum age limit was four, and not three years of age.

Following much cajoling on my Mom’s part, to no avail, my Mom called me over and said, “Show the nice lady the dance you just learned.” After the director gawked at the moves that seemed to come effortlessly to me, I officially became the youngest member ever of the Dance Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.

Unfortunately, it was to last only two glorious years. We moved shortly after that, found religion, and continued to move until we reached Israel, where all ideas of dancing went down the tubes for me. There is no future for dance in the religious community for various reasons, and we had no money, even if it was socially acceptable.

So I received no funding for lessons from my mother, who was all for the religious restraints imposed upon us. I tried to swing it at first. After all, I was creative in many different areas. I could take up fashion design or writing and forget about dancing.

But I just couldn’t do it.

In the confines of my home, I would do stretches and dance moves I vaguely remembered from my younger years. My passion turned into a strong yearning to be back in leotards and tights, doing pirouettes and pa de boure across the floor. I could never let go of that longing.

Four years ago, I finally finished school and found myself a job, to pay for lessons. At the ripe old age of 22, when most dancers had already finished training and were making a career for themselves, I was back in the studio — wearing my leotards and learning how to dance again.

I couldn’t have been more ecstatic.

Then two years ago, two years after my re-initiation back into the dance world, I had a case of chronic pain that lasted three months. I had come down with what I thought was a common cold, but what developed into a fierce whooping cough — which affected my insides so deeply that I would vomit with every coughing episode.

It was hard for me to breathe. I was wheezing so hard, I felt as if I were choking. And yet, every time I would visit my doctor, she would listen to my heart and lungs, tell me it was just a cold, give me a prescription for Tylenol, and send me home.

This shooing away of the severity of my condition led me to question my own sanity at first. But my body told me differently. I couldn’t dance anymore, which was the most frustrating part of all. To not be able to dance for three days was painful to accept. But indefinitely? Who knew when I would get well enough to dance again?

My condition progressively worsened. My chest hurt every time I breathed. I couldn’t sleep at night, because the wheezing intensified when I relaxed — making me gag, cough, and vomit, over and over.

The third time I went back to the doctor, she had me take some X-rays and an ultrasound, but found nothing. She prescribed some antibiotics, which I was to take for 10 days. I did, and I felt a little better for the first time in months.

After those 10 days were up, I went back to my doctor, begging her for more antibiotics. But she refused, chalked it up to my getting addicted to the drugs, and sent me home.

I felt so alone. Nobody knew what I was going through. Nobody understood how devastating and terrifying it felt to have no control over how much oxygen was being taken into my body, just to keep me alive. I hit rock bottom. I just sat on my bed for several days, not knowing what to do with this body that was stifling me to death.

Eventually I received a recommendation to see a throat specialist. When I first met the doctor, I was struck by how comfortable he seemed, and (unlike my general practitioner, who had all the answers before I’d opened my mouth) how genuinely interested he was in what I had to say — as evidenced by his asking me pointed questions.

Within a few minutes, after a nice conversation and his looking down my throat with a few different tools, the specialist diagnosed me as having severe tracheitis — inflammation of the windpipe. My problem finally had a name! And a cure! Oh, the euphoria of that moment. He prescribed killer antibiotics, and after two more weeks, I was completely cured.

I still panic every time I get a cold. But I am forever grateful that I have my health back. I never look at any sickness the same after that incident, and I can now empathize wholeheartedly with those who have gone, or are still going through, an illness that affects their quality of life.

I’ve been writing stories and poems since I knew how, and I’ve been working as a content writer and translator since high school. I’ve always looked for a fusion of my two loves — writing and dancing. When I stumbled across the chance to write about dancing, and incorporate my experience with chronic pain, I could not believe it!

Even better, unlike in the case of writing a book, I can interact directly with you, dear reader, which excites me immensely — because I can learn so much from your ideas and perspectives, emotions and experiences.

To be able to touch one’s mind is to touch one’s soul.” (Elliott Gould)

In turn, to be able to reach out to you through writing, not only to relate with what you are going through, but also to help inspire and encourage your dreams and goals — ultimately for a better quality of life — is a prospect I value deeply. As so many writers have done for me, so too do I hope I can succeed in touching your soul.

With many blessings,

Assistant Editor, Dancing with Pain®


Nickie April 26th, 2008

I’m excited to read more of your writing, Rachel, we will all learn from each other, and I am really looking forward to hearing more from you.

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