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The Beginning

Alright, I figure if I am going to do this I need to do some filling in about my life and how it is shaped by Crohn's. Here are the things that you absolutely must know about me:
I am a dancer/choreographer. I am currently pursuing a BA in Dance with a double concentration in Dancemaking and Dance Studies from Columbia College Chicago. I graduate this coming May. (WOOO!!) Obviously, dancing with a chronic disease is a complicated and confusing thing. 
I was diagnosed with Crohn's my freshman year of college, but had been having seemingly random symptoms for years. At the time I was attending Cottey College, a small, two-year women's college in Missouri, where I grew up. It was a rough time and, after being diagnosed and getting set with a course of treatment, I never really talked about my disease. I, like many others who face illness, was determined not to let it define me, and so I did not discuss it, or really even think about it.
Eventually, this denial wreaked havoc with my body and I lapsed into a major flare last summer. My body entirely broke down and I had become so weak that I was unable to walk from one end of my apartment to the other without having to either throw up or sit down. After a while, with a lot of help from my amazing family, I found a great doctor who has helped me to start back on the path to health. It has not been easy, and, of course, it is not over, but I am worlds better than I was a few months ago thanks to my doctor, my family and friends, and my realization that not thinking about my disease was no way to handle it.
These months have led to incredible amounts of self-discovery and a sort of re-defining of myself. I filed as a disabled student at the beginning of last semester, a decision that, while I hated it at the time, saved my ass several times last semester while I was figuring out medications and my body was changing. In dance, consistency is everything, and that was just not a feasible goal for me anymore. I will get there eventually, but for now I am re-defining myself as a disabled student/dancer/person. And that is okay.
I have actually begun writing and choreographing work that deals with the social construct of disability and have found that it is something I am sincerely interested in pursuing. Hence: this blog.
This is only a very small little tidbit of my life, but it is a start. We'll see where it leads!

Comments

  1. Maggie, you're amazing!

    mad kudos for getting your voice of experience out there. this blog might be exactly what someone needs.


    <3
    Kayleigh

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Kayleigh! I hope so. It is definitely what I need!

    BTW-I didn't know you had a blog! I just read a few posts. Very clever, of course.

    ReplyDelete

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Overwhelming Nuance - Dancing Crohn's Disease

Below is small segment of my Dance Studies Research Project, "Cripping Dance: Radical Representations of the Disabled Dancing Body." It's the bit I wrote about my own work, Overwhelming Nuance (excerpted below), which, as you will see, was inspired by the feelings of denial that so often accompany disease. 





Nearly four years after I was diagnosed with Crohn's, it flared massively. Lost in the idea that "my disease will not define my life", I ignored for months the signs of the looming crash. This breakdown forced me to come to terms with the reality of my disease. I suddenly understood that the idea that the mind might overcome the body just supported the willful denial of my disease. After this experience, determined to force an openness about disease in my own life, I claimed disability as part of my identity and choreographed my own "crip" coming out.

The issue with "mind over matter"

I think about this pretty constantly. Is "mind over matter" really a thing? Is it really possible to outsmart your body? If so, is this a useful tool? Or is it a harmful lie? Is it just kind of a white lie? Also, (and this is what the whole thing really boils down to for me) is the mind actually separate from the body? Are we our bodies or are we our minds? Do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Or are the mind and the body actually one and the same?

My opinion on this subject has changed drastically and regularly over the years. Early on, right after my diagnosis, I was firmly ensconced in the pro-mind-over-matter camp. Without ever thinking about an alternative, ironically. Actually, this started long before I was diagnosed. For at least a year leading up to my official diagnosis, I experienced intense health issues and paid very little real attention to them. I just kept on going as best I could, thinking these symptoms would go away eventually. This, obviously, did no…

HAWMC Day 9: Keep Calm

Today's prompt is to make your own "Keep Calm" poster. 
I thought for a while about what I wanted to put on mine. Honestly, I think it's pretty hard to do better than "Keep Calm and Carry On." Seriously. It's catchy and it's to the point. Perfect. I considered the raunchy options: Keep Calm and Keep Pooping, Keep Calm and Break Wind. I considered the needy: Keep Calm and Call Mom (I mostly really love that this one kind of rhymes.) Eventually, though I ended up with this:

That pretty much sums it up. Just do your best. I think this is all any of us, chronic disease or not, can expect out of ourselves. It's something I'm trying really hard to keep in mind. Just do your best. That's it.

Oh, and have you guessed what my favorite color is yet?

What would your "Keep Calm" poster say? Make one! Share it in the comments! I would love to see it!