I ruptured my Achilles tendon in 2013 and had an unsuccessful surgical repair. In 2014, I had an Achilles tendon replacement. Tomorrow, I will have it removed, and either a hamstring or peroneal tendon will take its place. If you’re wondering why, please see my previous post linked here.
It’s been almost three years since I last danced competitively, and some have questioned why I don’t just move on with my life at this point. After telling me nothing could be done, my second opinion doctor commented that “a lot of people are perfectly happy not doing Scottish dancing.” It kind of stung. I have no doubt I can and will find happiness in other aspects of my life, but I felt like he was suggesting that because my lifelong dedication means nothing to millions of other people, I should just go quietly, take up knitting, and adopt a few cats.
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household with an abundance of opportunity. Over the years I participated in gymnastics, figure skating, track, theatre, and ballet. And I quit every single one of them—except for highland dancing. (Just kidding, I quit that too, but only for a few months.) A lot of people don’t know that I first started dancing because I needed physical therapy. I had a brain injury at birth that led to both cognitive and physical limitations, and highland dancing was recommended to my parents as a good supplement because it requires an equal use of both sides of the body. Not only did it challenge me physically, but it demanded social interaction, of which I was especially avoidant as a young child. It might sound cheesy, but highland dancing made me who I am today, and it’s hard to give up on something that has had such a monumental impact on my life.
That being said, making the decision to go through with this surgery wasn’t easy. I don’t think I’ve ever been 100% sure of anything in my entire life, and this is no different. I’m the grandmaster of “maybes” and my brother lovingly nicknamed me “Sits on fence,” after one of my lengthier selection processes. But it’s a difficult decision for even the most decisive person because, as could be expected, this surgery does come with risks.
There’s the possibility that my calf muscles won’t recover from another operation, or that the optimal resting tension won’t be achieved. I could develop an infection and my strength could even get worse, but I’ve decided the potential gains are worth all these risks. If I don’t at least attempt to fix this, I might always wonder what I could have accomplished. Living without regrets seems to be a trending perspective in my generation, but I'm just not that type of person. Whether it be backing down or going for it, I might regret whatever option I choose. I may as well regret the one that gave me a chance.
Anyway, long story long, I’m having surgery tomorrow. I’ll explain more about what this procedure entails at a later date.