Holly Cavrell: Bilateral THR in Brazil
Your Name: Holly Cavrell
Date of Surgeries: 12/11/2001 and 01/28/04
Surgeon: Antonio Bernabe
Hospital: Hospital do Coração, São Paulo
Give us some biographical background.
I began dancing when I was eight, studying modern dance at the Julliard Preparatory school. Later I studied at the Henry Street Settlement with Alwin Nicholais and Murray Louis, the Martha Graham School and Alvin Ailey/Pearl Lang School. I have danced in the Companies of Martha Graham(entered at 17), Paul Sanasardo, Diane Germanne, Marleen Pennisson and 5x2 Plus Dance Company amoung others.I have worked as a dancer, teacher and choreographer in various cities in the US, Mexico, Venezuela, France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and now Brazil.
I am a tenured professor at the University of Campinas Dance Department, a choreographer with several awards, married with two children and, just because I have sooooo much time on my hands, I have gone back to school for my BA in Communication and the Arts of the Body in PUC University in São Paulo. I am heading for my Masters in Communications and Semiotics.
Prior to surgery
When did you first notice symptoms and what were they?
I first noticed symptoms when I was working in Sweden, very cold and dry climate, and things like passes and extensions were becoming painful. When I would sit on my heels and bring my chest over my legs, one side was higher than the other.
All this began after a very bad fall when I was 27 in New York. We were rehearsing late at night as most of us dancers worked with several dance companies so it was always hard to adjust schedules. There was basically no more gas left in us but , as dancers tend to do, we went ahead anyway. In one last run through of a particularly difficult movement, I was thrown up in the air with way too much force and I lost sense of where I was. Consequently I fell like a ton of bricks. After that my hip was never the same.
What was your medical diagnosis (traumatic osteoarthritis, congenital hip problem, avascular necrosis, etc)?
"A little arthritis", the Swedish doctor said, adding that I should quit dancing and be content with teaching. "Treat dance like a hobby" was his advice. (From her history Holly probably had traumatic osteoarthritis. -NR)
What forms of treatment did you seek before considering surgery (chiropractic, acupuncture, medications, bodywork, physical therapy, herbs, etc)?
Everything. My best results were Glocosomine and Chrondriotrin Sulfates. After a while nothing worked.
How did you change your work habits, lifestyle to accommodate the hip problem?
I started demonstrating less and less while giving dance classes. I began to depend more on water sports than other weight bearing sports. I was, though, turning into a more creative choreographer because I depended on other bodies thus finding, at times, better movement phrases coming from healthier and thus more liberated (unrestricted) dancers.
How long an interval was it from the onset of hip problems until surgery?
The first surgery took longer to decide. About eight years. The second I decided to do because I felt that if I waited not only would pain increase but I would start compensating severely on my operated side. That is, throwing my entire weight over to the prosthesis.
What factors, physical, emotional, financial, etc. influenced your final decision to have surgery?
Limping and much pain!
For a dancer surgery is the last option. We really think we can live forever and fight very hard for perfection in a body. We have a very high threshold for pain and can endure many physical problems, sprained ankles, knee problems and other things causing compensations, and still give a great performance.
What influenced your choice of surgeon?
There is a well known dance director in São Paulo who had undergone THR surgery and I had heard she returned to class and was functioning well. I then decided to consult various doctors, including hers, to see if there were other options open to me. His attitude about returning to activities after surgery clinched my decision.
How long were you in the hospital?
The first time five days and the second time for 4 days.
What kind of prosthesis did you get (e.g., ceramic ball/ceramic liner? poly liner? highly-crossed linked poly liner? all metal?)?
Did you have any complications in the hospital?
No, thank goodness.
Anything else to say about your in-patient experience?
Why is it that the attendants put your food across the room where you can not get it just when your companion is having a coffee outside the room?
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Did you have any complications, especially unexpected difficulties, after you got home?
Boredom and occasional depression.
What steps did you take toward recovery? (Physical therapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, medications, bodywork, herbs, etc.)
I am doing PT three times a week and soon will start PT in a pool.
(Holly is one month post-op for her second hip at this writing -NR)
How long did it take you to really feel recovered (6 months, one year, two years?)?
The first surgery my hip I was feeling good after about a year, but then my other hip started acting up, so the whole scenario became a bit fuzzy again.
Did you return to dancing professionally?
I continue to teach and choreograph here in Brazil.
About dance class: Do you take dance classes?
I tried, but I think I went back too soon. The rhythm was too accelerated for me so I decided to concentrate on other physical activities like Pilates, swimming, walking and biking.
How much facility do you have?
I have always been a bit nervous about testing my limitations. I got to the point where I was able to throw my weight, roll and rebound from the floor. I never really tried for leg developés, just coupe , I would sneak in a jump from time to time. I was able to achieve a good passé after two years. Being in Brazil I really had almost no one who understood what I wanted to do. I trusted my intuition and good sense.
Do you use fifth position?
I have always hated 5th position.
Do you do other physical exercise (e.g., Yoga, Pilates, biking, swimming, etc.)? If so do you modify what you do in these activities?
I love Yoga and I have always practiced it even when I was beginning to dance professionally. There is a method I discovered in NY many years ago at the White Cloud Studio. They combined a form of Yoga, floor barre, ballet, and sometimes improvisation. 2 ½ to 3 hour classes. A wonderful workout.
How has the surgery impacted you professionally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and financially? Is your life different now? Did you have any outcome, good or bad, that was different from what you expected? Any other thoughts to share?
Well this is hard. There are some days I am completely adjusted to my limitations, while other days I miss all the things I use to do. I came from the modern dance and pretty much studied all types of dance. I am not just talking about an occasional class; I would stay for years in a certain area before moving into a new modality. This means I never restricted myself to one way of moving my body. This kind of inquiry makes for a very healthy and versatile body.
February 26, 2004
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