Marilyn Palley: Bilateral Hip Journal (Ballroom Competitor)
Left hip 1/8/14
Right hip 12/03/14
Surgeon: Craig Israelite, MD
Metal prosthesis with lateral approach
Hospital: University of Pennsylvania/Presbyterian Hospital, Philadelphia, PA
This is a journal from Marilyn's upcoming book, Dancing Out Loud.
Competition photography by Stephen Marino ten months after left hip replacement and one month before right hip replacement.All at The Ultimate Dance Challenge, New Orleans, November 2014.
Dancing with partner, Vincenzo Minieri in three styles: Latin, International Standard, American Smooth
Testing My Mettle: The Journey of Two Hips
Pain was/is no longer acceptable in my life! Especially when it hampered my one true passion: Dance. Fast backward...I came to dance after three other successful art careers. At age 57 I was introduced to Ballroom dance with a focus on Argentine tango. Within two months of classes at the Academy of Social Dance, the owner, Chuck Danza, encouraged me to do my first competition. Me??? No way.... Hah! I was hooked from the moment I touched the floor. Four years later my life has never been more full and enriched for all the levels of change within my life. Dance is Life.
My body accommodated the movements as much as possible given my age. However, the pain slowly replaced the pleasure. I tried all the lotions, potions, and homeopathic possibilities, plus deep tissue massage, acupuncture, MAT (Muscle Activation Technique) all to no avail... Finally my doc suggested a sports medicine specialist. All it took was one x-ray to know there was no option. It was only a matter of time...
Interviewing surgeons was next on the list. NOT dancing was NOT an option. I did not expect promises only options. Once the surgery was done, the healing was my responsibility. Without Dance on my horizon/focus, I do not know if I would have mended fully.
Two gifts at a pivotal moment: DancersHips.com and a story in the New York Times about Elizabeth Roxas-Dobrish, Dancer is Back in the Groove After Hip Surgery. Both gave me the courage to go full out and do the surgery ASAP.
Tuesday January 12,2014
Surreal. Surreal is the only word that describes these past few weeks.
Living with pain, adjusting, compensating, ignoring.....until the vision hit my mind's eye of the x-ray taken by the sports orthopedics doc... Bone on bone damage to my left hip plus signs of bone on bone on right... a portent of things to come.... Elective surgery when I decide...HAH! .....ASAP! With the image implanted in my brain on Thursday nite 12/12/13 my mind raced thru scenarios such that by Friday morning I had a plan! Reese's health is good for now (Reese is my 93 year old husband!) so I can focus on my own recovery...Now to get everyone else lined up. With a few phone calls to concerned friends/doctors the process accelerated. No!...February would not work...nor would end of January. NOW is the only option. Luck! Dr. Israelite had an opening to see me on his first day back from vacation 1/2/14 and a cancellation on 1/8/14 for surgery..... READY to go!
Everything proceeded smoothly. Telling Enzo (my dance teacher and competitive partner) was my biggest challenge as I did not want him to think this was my way out of dance nor to remove my standing lesson schedule. His immediate response, having known and sensed even before I did that my body was faltering, could not have been more pro-active..... "OK", with his Italiano accent, "As soon as you are able to walk, we will continue with classes where we will discuss dance theory, watch video, and slowly small steps and most important is to revitalize the choreography so when we finally return to the floor we will be dynamic!"
I organized, prepared, anticipated, etc. for as many possibilities to offset any complications... I [hoped] to be back in responsible mode by end of January...To not give in to naysayers tales. Even took classes the day before surgery!
That Wednesday morning, 01/08/14, was bitter cold outside yet I did not feel anything but steel-willed. New hip of Titanium inserted. Post-op first night bring on the chemistry! By the next morning I had dressed in my new black bamboo full length robe which I had made the previous weekend. Butzi (my grandmother) taught me to always look good to feel good. Ready for therapy...a walker - no way! Crutches - once or twice around the floor with both then down to one more for hospital protocol.... positive energy. Lots of laps around the hall...no one will stop me...
Returning home Saturday, 1/11/14. Reese was excited to help.... I am frustrated at my limitations. No pain just discomfort and major itching. Then a look in the mirror at the enormous swelling on my hips and legs......and exhaustion turns to depression. Restless night moving my leg.
In the morning I take charge of me. Using my grandmother's walking stick when necessary, I slowly begin my navigation towards recovery. Even took out the broom to sweep which Reese grabbed out of my hand...actually, his care-giving has been good therapy for him at his age.
In today's Philadelphia Inquirer Art Carey wrote an article 'Fighting Off Life's Inevitable Assaults': You cannot change the wind, but you can adjust the sails. How appropriate for me, the sailor...!!
Tomorrow begins the next chapter of this journey with intensive rehab at Magee for a week of four sessions daily.
Sunday January 19, 2014
What a difference a week makes!
Intensive out-patient rehab at Magee...by mid-week therapists ( especially Deb Davis) were challenged to keep me active.... Due to my pre-surgery conditioning, positive outlook and determination PLUS a good surgeon using top devices.... I must remind myself to slow down. Each day steady improvement on healing, swelling, range of motion, balance and overall energy. Today, FINALLY, a shower...even shave my legs.... the simple pleasures! Daily exercise, nutrition, and mental outlook are key.
Sutures out on Friday. Dr. Steve Gluckman had fun with arts & crafts removing the metal staples. Zing-zing!
Reese insisted that we stop by my dance school. When I walked in (no make up... just a big smile!) Enzo seemed stunned to see me then gave me a huge hug. Best therapy! Set up schedule to return to class following Monday. Apparently he had misinformation that I would not be returning anytime soon if at all..... Hah! I know my resolve to any challenge.
First one week standing thru classes as he danced both our routines plus pointers/corrections/adjustments so I could visualize from floor/ground upward, spiral frame, etc in 3-D. By the following Monday I was able to do small steps. Working with Rosaria on upper body isolation helps plus watching E&R dance I see what they are talking about. Hopefully I can translate all that they are sharing into my own dance when I return to the floor.
Tuesday a set back...PAIN in my knee and groin. Depression followed and restless nites of non-sleep... what IF this is it??? By Thursday I was in tears....and really down...Friday I shared my fears with Enzo .....Everyone said it would take time... My doctors all assured me that my muscles are re-aligning and healing...
Finally some sleep which helps clear the head and perspective. Today, February 9th, I am able to do more PT with less pain. Giving a new meaning to patience... Plus humbling to know how lucky I am as I talk with other clients of re-hab who are not so lucky with enormous challenges and yet everyone is there with determination to improve.
Tomorrow is Butzi's birthday (two days later is mine)... this whole process post surgery has given me time to reflect...
The people who are important in my life. I am quietly grateful for all.
This time has been like watching in slow-motion... every breathe every step... conscious...
Testing one's true mettle...and mine is Titanium!
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Is it possible???!! Starting to feel improved....! PT two hrs minimum every day feels like a full time job.... and the effort is starting to show real improvement. Last week I felt like the hill was still so steep and possibly insurmountable..... Being at the studio daily afternoons with Enzo and Rosaria boosts my spirits. They challenge me continuously. It takes every ounce of fight within me to push the limits of my body.
March 11, 2014
Just returned from meeting with surgeon...two month check-up... I always feel like folks are 'blowing smoke up my ass..' trying to be complimentary... He gave me an A... though must continue all efforts to improve... "listen to my body and do nothing foolish." Life lesson...I watched his reaction when I told him my goal to dance in competition in one month...Be realistic and slowly do it... to my body restrictions. For now I am focused half on me and half on Reese whose health is dwindling... Must keep my energies positive.
April 15, 2014
Letter to my doctors:
Wow! I did it...reached my goal of dancing this past weekend at a competition.
My first few steps were tentative...
with each consecutive step a breathe of relief.
No pain! ....just using ice for insurance...
141 dances in two days! Yes, I listened to my body and scratched a few jive and standard rounds... taking no chances...
Now to remember that it is just three months since surgery and there is still more work towards recovery.
Thank you for helping to make this possible.
April 17, 2014
American Star Ball... Good results. Judges did not believe I was recovering just four months since surgery! My partner adjusted all dancing to my capabilities and sensed when I could push further.
April 20, 2014
In the 60's it was..."keep on truckin'!" (R.Crumb)
For me it is "Keep on dancing!!!"
It is just three months since surgery and there is still more work towards recovery (up to a year). This has been an extraordinary journey which gives me an opportunity to reassess my dance goals. Dance has been my focus throughout and the horizon I sought to reach after surgery, thru intensive PT which will continue for a while, and returning for classes with Enzo two weeks after the hip replacement. Although I could only sit/stand, he challenged me on levels and theories of dance which I might have missed. Listening opened new doors. I am sooooo grateful for his passion and commitment to dance and encouraging me.
June 12, 2014
Chicago Crystal Ball...Firsts and Finals!...and full extension full out!!! Wow!
July 13, 2014
Seven months! The only issues are sitting too long and stairs still not able to charge up them as before... No complaints!! With each day dancing is stronger. Dance continues to fulfill and inspire more growth. The image of my other hip now is just below the surface of my mind's eye... Scheduled to see Dr. Israelite on Dec. 16th for check up...
I am forever grateful.
August 15 & 21st, 2014
Back to back comps in Boston then Capital, Washington DC. Full out seven months since surgery full out yet twinges of right side gave me a huge WARNING. Same signs as before surgery! Oh no...
September 15, 2014
USDC Results not as expected... my body telling me to take care!!! Rest and recover. My goal and focus is to finish out the competitive year then deal with right hip.
November 1, 2014
Finished Hollywood Comp! Finals and Firsts and Championships! Tough challenge as Enzo danced me against 35-45 year olds. Three trophies home for my docs. Never stopping my PT exercises nor ice and rest/recover, I knew the right hip was like a 'shoe waiting to drop'.
November 11, 2014
(tango) New Orleans Ultimate Dance Challenge... prepping for the BIG one...
November 18-23, 2014
Ohio Star Ball. Finals! Dancing against 35-45 year olds and open-gold. Making our mark. Top Bronze International Student! Plus Enzo has graduated me to the next level, Silver. Pain has returned. My right leg actually gave out Friday nite after competing all day...With the help of Josh the sports massage therapist who happened to be 10 feet away from me as I collapsed, he carried me off the floor (only a few people knew about my hip. Others are still in disbelief.) Ice, manipulation, and rest then early Saturday morning I slowly approached warm up. No pain...so I danced my heats full out to amazing official results. My goal accomplished. The goal of completion. Ever grateful.
November 25, 2014
Luck and timing... Dr. Israelite and I decided right hip was ready. Surgical date opened due to a 'magical' cancellation for the following week 12/03/14. Eleven months from left and now my right hip is replaced. Call me Bi-onic.
December 14, 2014
One week of intensive rehab completed.
Daily commitment to continue the process.
Re-learning to walk, balance, core strength, positive can-do attitude.
My goal is to return to dance lessons January 5, 2015.
Even if it is just baby steps...
There are no options... just perspective.
Call me Titanium.
Test my mettle.
See you in the floor!
Marilyn no more...Maxx
(Submitted January 2015)
Dancing Showcase Philadelphia 2014 with teacher Rosaria Vivone
Marilyn as the new poster child for the Penn Musculoskeletal Center:
Billboard on 676 Eastbound at the 22nd st exit
VIDEO commercial (MOV) from Penn (May 2015) Click Here (mp4)
Article on Philly.com
Marilyn Arnold Palley Website
Comp Photo credits: ©Stephen Marino Photography