About twenty years ago (I felt ancient while writing those first four words!) I injured myself during a rehearsal for a ballet show. Basically, while lowering my leg from a high arabesque, my hip got stuck and didn’t go back to its proper position (if you can imagine that). It just so happened that my parents were abroad at the time and the persons who were taking care of me and my sister refused to take me to hospital or to a doctor, accusing me of making a fuss out of nothing. I limped for three days and after that my hip and leg got increasingly stiff and painful. Upon my parents’ return I started undergoing 10 years of x-rays, blood tests, physiotherapy, MRIs, consultations with the best surgeons/specialists on the islands and all that jazz. Nothing ever changed. Eventually I had to give up dancing and I learned to live with a stiff hip, dull pain (which becomes excruciatingly sharp on humid days or when I am very tired) and a limited choice of physical activities I could practice. I never mention the pain simply because it has become a normal part of my life.
Then came two weekends ago. I wore wedges all day and carried our 20kg daughter (on that hip) for some time while we watched a gig. Not the wisest thing I could have done, obviously. I’ve been in pain and haven’t been able to walk for more than 20 paces without limping ever since. A couple of days ago my husband and I managed to go out on a date to a Chinese restaurant. After a couple of hours I stood up from my chair and almost fell flat on my face after my leg gave way. I managed to (literally) drag my leg halfway across the restaurant (I must have looked a sight, I know) when the owner of the restaurant stopped me and asked me what had happened to me. She was really concerned and I just laughed it off. Only while regaling her with my medical history (she insisted!) and seeing her shocked expression did I realise how much I had been putting up with, simply because I have given up hope that something will ever change. She is Chinese and doesn’t like to rely on drugs (which is what I’m trying not to do myself). When she asked me whether I had ever tried Chinese cupping or acupuncture I wondered why I had never thought of them before. She suggested I go to the hospital (there is only one hospital on this island) to see the Chinese doctor who comes every Wednesday. And so I did.
I spent thirty minutes lying down with 7 needles sticking out of my right hip, listening to a group of elderly women discussing their various aches and pains outside my room. The doctor was tiny, had a pimply face and was very sweet. His English was quite good and we managed to communicate. His jaw dropped open too when I told him the injury was from twenty years ago and he said he’ll only know whether the treatment will do me any good after three sessions so I guess I’ll have to go back next week. For now, the pain is as acute as ever.