Friday, April 17, 2009

MARCHING

A doctor stood over my bed and said something about my face, my back. He said "fracture" a few times and something about fever, and asked me what I'd eaten before the trip.

What trip? I wondered, figuring the fever he'd mentioned was why I felt so tired. I started to touch my face but my hands were trapped under a sheet that was tucked around me, chest to knees. Being unsure what fracture meant, in my mind, I declined it as if I were in Latin Class -- frac-to, frac-tara, frac- tum.

The Doctor had a feather and ran it over my knees. "Doctor, I said, "I have to kneel on my knees tonight, in the Vivaldi."

He seemed puzzled. I explained that it was my solo, the "Four Seasons," which I was performing tonight.

He frowned. Most people wondered about my doing a 45 minute solo. He continued with the feather, running it down the side of my left leg, then my right. He said you were in an accident, and your back was fractured. He said intestine ... facial lacerations ... your performance, night before last, was canceled.

I said, "Oh."

He moved the sheet away and continued testing me all over, fingers, elbows, asking do you feel this. He tested private parts explaining the tubes were a catheter. He went back to legs, ankles, and toes.

I said, "I have to be at rehearsal in New York on February 24th. I'm dancing in Philharmonic Hall the following week."

He used the fracture word again. He said lumbar. L 5 L 2, connective tissue ... concussion ... permanent damage ... partial paraplegia.

"March 3rd," I said. "That's the date."

Again, he tickled my legs with the feather, left ankle, right ankle, top of my arches, ball of my foot. "Do you feel that? Feel something touching your right foot?"

"Is my performance at Philharmonic Hall canceled?"

He touched my toes with the feather. "Do you feel this?"

I said, "I can march."

In the course of the next hours, the weeks, the months after that, the years of therapies and doctors who helped me, I said "I can march." Many many times I've said those words I still say it -- I can march.

There's more ... I'll write about it some other time.

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