Nicci Arentsen: Overcome

Have you ever gotten news that completely turned your life around in a matter of seconds? As dancers, we push ourselves past our limits to try and manage all the aspects of our busy schedules.

I was dancing at my school’s dance team spring concert and it was the last night, the number before intermission. I go across the stage doing an aerial and the second after the leap, my knee somehow gave out. I heard something, and couldn’t put weight on it that I literally had to crawl off the stage into the wings. My brain was overwhelmed with emotions fear, shock, pain, sadness, and stress. It was only the middle of the dance, but everyone knew side stage that I couldn’t go back out there so they kept going without me. Over spring break, I had a snow skiing accident that my doctor called a knee sprain, so I was taking it as easy as I could. My chiropractor was helping with laser therapy, correcting my placement and helping me with taping if I needed it. This show was on a Thursday night and I was supposed to have competition and convention the next two weekends to come…

This is how life is sometimes. It knocks you off your feet at the busiest times of your life. I was in the middle of competition season, finishing off the school year, and getting ready for all my intensives and stuff planned for the summer.

In the end, once I was scanned for an MRI (not just trying to rest it and keep going because the swelling had become worse), the doctor informed me that I had fully torn my ACL. I was speechless and numb. As a dancer, I never would have thought I would tear my ACL – I thought it was always other sports. With this injury, I needed surgery and had to wrap my head around the fact that recovery would take about 6 to 9 months. For me, as a dancer, this is one of the hardest things to hear that I won’t be able to dance for that long. I can barely go without three weeks off for summer. I had surgery a week and a half later after confirmation from two doctors. Everything went smoothly and now I am straight on the road to recovery. I have been attached to an ice machine, which keeps an ice pack-type thing around my knee cold. Also, I’ve been on this machine called CPM which bends my leg for me to make sure I don’t get any blood clots. I am going to physical therapy three times a week, constantly doing the exercises and trying to keep myself busy.

I have for sure hit some extremely hard mental blocks on this journey so far and I know it will only be a roller coaster of a ride. As I came home from the hospital, the surprise visits from friends or flowers and arrangements that loved ones sent me kept a smile on my face!

My studio and dance teachers could not be more supportive of me in this process as my heart is breaking from my injury. As I try to give advice to anyone who is going through this process at the moment or may in the future, I would just say take a deep breath, enjoy the calmness in your life, count your blessings, and always find the positive in every situation. Try to go to bed with happy thoughts so you do not wake up in the middle of the night. It helps me to write down all my emotions and journey in a journal to get your thoughts down on paper, and you will always be able to remember. Also, the sunshine always brightens my mood so if you have windows or able to go outside with your injury, I would suggest that as well.

I try to stay as positive as I can around my team, still leading some of the huddles before we head on-stage or prayers and cheering for them as they step on stage and their first step off the stage. It was one of the worst feelings though seeing my team on-stage in dances that I used to be in and understanding that I will never do them again.

Overall, no one wants to have an injury in their prime time as a dancer. Yet, everything happens for a reason and a new door will open that will lead to more knowledge and possibly bigger and better options for you in your near future. Stay strong and keep your head up and grip on to your passion for dance as you wait through recovery.

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