Jenni Wren is an established independent UK dance artist, choreographer and artistic director of Slanjayvah Danza. Alongside her artistic roles, Jenni is an educator, diagnostic and injury masseuse, director of KT Tape Dance UK and founder of the Leeds Injury Clinic (for dance).
Friday, 14 March, 2014
Tuesday, 4 February, 2014
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BANG! Everyone around me hit the deck, as if a gun had gone off. Had a gun gone off? Eh? What was going on?
It was a normal rehearsal day, ok we were in Spain but... it was still a normal rehearsal day and we were just marking through the last section of our programme pre-heading home.
Why was I suddenly in slow motion, sinking, grasping my abdomen, considering gravity was getting the better of me suddenly. I began to realise that the explosion, which had filled the room, had come from inside me. The bang, the noise that brought everyone to the floor was so loud. By the time everyone was getting back up in bewilderment, I was unable to.
Had I been shot? This didn't make sense at all, but I knew it was bad. Adrenal shock, I knew the signs, then the tears and my request to be taken to hospital, all surreal as if I were taking absolute control of my body from afar, making my mouth move, intention being the only energy force left within me. My body wasn't responding, it was out of this communication cycle, gone, unable to do what I was asking it to do - just stand up!
My right leg was no longer functioning and I was passing out. I have flash backs of people talking, asking me how I was, what happened, what did I feel? Disconcerting memories of being practically dragged across main roads, street lights blurring in front of my eyes and cars slowing down as my friends frantically steered us through the traffic.
I was taken into a hospital room to discuss my "trauma" with a consultant who seemed to show considerable concern. I explained that something had exploded from my lower abdominal area, and this was examined through pressure.
I can't lie and say this was painful; there was no pain but every time he prodded, my body went back into shock, tears, upset and shaky. I was asked why I was crying and I couldn't explain that. I was asked where it hurt and I couldn't explain that either. I described a big explosion from inside, that's all I could say.
The consultant wanted me to see an A&E trauma specialist. During the hour that we waited, I started to test my body, asking it, willing it to walk. Clutching my abdomen, I started kind of slow shuffling up and down the corridor. Something was not right, something had moved, my guts felt unstable. I walked with small determined steps into the consulting room ready for the questions.
No there wasn't impact, yes I was dancing in contact but no, I hadn't been weight bearing, no there wasn't pain but it was quite numb feeling, no, no-one had hit me, no I didn't feel sick, no I still didn't know why I was crying - it wasn't me, it was my body.
I explained the explosion whilst she stood smiling at me - a bit like some kind of scene from Alice in Wonderland with the Cheshire Cat. I will never forget her face since at that moment I wondered what drugs she was on in order for this situation to be funny in any way at all for her. She wasn't listening! Why was she laughing? I asked my colleague why this woman was grinning at me, what was so funny?
This A&E consultant then blew my mind when through her smile, and like I was a child, she told me that I had "minor tears" of the intercostal muscles, that I should take these ibuprofen and all would be ok.
I started to object quite strongly insisting that something serious had happened, not in my ribs, I didn't even point to my ribs. Why was she talking about my ribs when I pointed to my lower abdomen? What was going on? Why was I being guided out the trauma room, wait!, I'm not finished, something serious has happened here, I'm telling you!
I woke up the next day with external bruising from my lower rib to mid way down my thigh. I wanted to hit the smiling woman. Having worked in a hospital previously myself, I knew this was an indication of internal bleeding of some degree since there was no external impact which could have caused superficial bruising. I felt disregarded and invalidated regarding my own sense of my body.
I went back to the hospital but to cut a long story short, they wouldn't examine me without a referral from my GP. I didn't have a doctor at that point but I did have to go to work in my "proper job", since I didn't have any form of doctor's note to excuse me.
When my work colleagues say me walk in, they knew something was wrong and after showing the bruising I was sent home.
My mind filled with questions. How could this trauma consultant have gotten it so wrong? Where was the closest doctor? How can I ease this pain and what could I do to help myself? I knew I had to rest and I had my anatomical knowledge to help but all I wanted to know was, where exactly had this explosion come from because for sure as hell it wasn't my ribs!
I started my mental check lists of sensation and feeling to geographically identify various elements within my body. My list at the time went a bit like this; what was the sensation then and now, why would there be noise, why would there be no pain, why was there pain now, were any bony joints affected, which muscles were in the area covered by bruising and what were their functions? Which worked, which didn't. Where the hell did all that bruising come from?
I started my process of elimination to figure out how I could make this better and fast, I had a show to do!
NOTE: Due to the topics I will be writing about within this Blog, I feel it is relevant to give you an idea of the sequence of events leading up to my opinions and conclusions alongside the questions so they have context. Look out for part 2...