Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Return to Tai Chi and Dancing

More Than I Dare Say by Krista Detor on Grooveshark

I will fill in four and a half years of no blogging at some point.  Sometime in the last month or so, I crossed the border between being half-bedridden and spending most of the other half trying to stay sitting to being able to do living things and needing to lie down a lot.

In September, I went back to tai chi class with the same instructor I had been learning tai chi from in 2006.  Fortunately, he has a class location two miles from my house so I was able at that point to drive down the hill, attend class, and drive back once per week.  I had registered for the class several months earlier, not sure if I would actually be able to make it.  Prior to that, I had asked if I could buy his practice video but he only sells it to current students.  Apparently, there were no exceptions for housebound former students.

I took coenzyme Q, which helps mitochondria make energy, on the day of classes.  The first quarter, I had to sit whenever there was a chance during the one hour class and had no spare energy to talk to anyone.  It was my first time being out and around people aside from my family in five years so even when I had to talk to the teacher, I was feeling like the social processing and behavior part of my brain was missing.  By the end of the quarter, I was able to make it through the hour class without sitting down and without taking the energy supplement.

The next quarter, I signed up for the one and a half hour class, which was not only longer but more strenuous.  I took coenzyme Q and occasionally Advil to get through the class as well as needing to sit down several times during class.  Fortunately, there was a 5-10 minute break in the middle of class as well as an unofficial break while the beginners watched the rest of the class finish the form.  I was talking to people a little but it still felt... hard to describe.  Most of my social interaction if any for the past five years had been via the Internet, with avatars, text, and asynchronous.

Looking back at my chat logs, I got back on instant messenger in September 2010.  About once per month, I'd log in for about an hour and maybe chat with someone for a few minutes.  Mathematically, that was infinitely better than the zero before....  Then it became about twice a month, once a week, longer chats, but with several weeks or months break if I had to do any major activity such as my sister's wedding.

Being around people and attempting to talk was sort of like how the author Laura Hillenbrand described in her essay about her illness,
"After years of seeing people almost exclusively on television, I found their three-dimensionality startling: the light playing off their faces, the complexity of their hands, the strange electric feel of their nearness."
A Sudden Illness (free version)

I have to sort of retrain my brain to deal with people rather than text, images, and ideas.  In tai chi class, one of the ladies would be talking to me and then I'd remember I had to tell the teacher something so go off and forget that she was in the middle of talking to me.  So I have to remember not to context switch like with instant messaging.

I had a funny conversation with someone about forgetting how to talk to people after her being a new mother at home for several months.  Last month, I went to FNW for the first time in almost six years when DL was performing.  I had wondered if I would ever be able to go back to dancing.  By the time I walked from the garage to the church, I was exhausted so I rested before joining the second half of the second class.  During the evening, I danced only the cross-step waltzes and one slower Viennese waltz.  Surprisingly, I remembered how to do underarm turns in Viennese.

I left around 11:30pm.  Downtown PA is deserted by then.  In the garage by the stairs, a pair of men stopped, looked at me, and one of them said hello.  I said hi from afar, stopped, and waited for them to go upstairs.  They lingered on the stairs looking back at me.  Um, hello, go away.  I continued walking out so that I was standing in the alley where I found another man smoking.  The elevator door was open so I got in and went up.  I admit that I do some sort of appearance profiling.  Maybe it was good that it was a rainy day so I had my umbrella along with super secret tai chi moves.

I was bedridden for two days after dancing cross-step waltzes at FNW and my calves felt like they used to after Waltz Week for the next week and a half.  The latter did not seem like a bad sign as it kind of meant my muscles were responding more like normal.  I signed up for the cross-step waltz class starting two weeks after that.  After the first class, the second time dancing, I did not have any of the calf muscle problem although I was still bedridden for 1.75 days, down from two.  After the second class last week, I wasn't bedridden but extra tired with the usual lie down periods the next day.  Yesterday's social dance class was cancelled so I went to tai chi class instead.  Hoping for better news next week.

Anyways, as I fill in some of the missing years of blogging, I will probably turn off the blog feed for a while.  I guess my blog was never really the inbox arrival type.


Lady M said...

It was wonderful to see you at FNW and I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better. We haven't been dancing as much as we'd like either, but the boys are getting older (4 and 7 now!) so we may see you more this year.