When My Arthritis Caused Me to Fall on the Dance Floor

Whilst performing a perfectly executed “slut-drop” (yes, that is the official name for this move) with my knees bent, my bottom sticking out just enough to cause attention and my arms flailing in the air, I sink to the ground, laughing with giddy joy at the moderate attention I am receiving. I am reaching the floor. I am focused, ready to spring back up in one clean move. And then it happens. The familiar twang of pain sears through my hip. It locks as I reach full squat. My legs shake, desperate to relieve the pain shooting down them. I feel my drink drop out of my hand and my arms move to my sides. It takes me a moment to realize I am falling on the dance floor.

To onlookers, this would have been comical. Friends laugh around me as they help me up, pointing and grinning at my drink now covering the floor and my legs. I laugh too, screaming ‘’I’m so drunk’’ over the music to shield my embarrassment. And then I hear it, the familiar whisper in my head, ‘’Why were you trying to be normal? You can’t do things ‘normal’ people do.”

I try to shake it off, turning frantically and limping towards the bar. Maybe I can drown out the voice. I order another gin and tonic, down it quickly and let the giddiness take over. But now I am exhausted. The pain has made me tired and snapped me into reality. I am ready to go home.

I prop myself on the bar ledge and stare out into a sea of jumping bodies. I look down at my legs, placing my foot on the ground, hoping the alcohol has kicked in enough to mask the pain. It hasn’t. I wonder what it would feel like to strut over to my friends, to walk confidently and without fear of an obvious limp and execute the perfect “slut-drop,” to spring back up and dance until my feet ache. I wonder what a normal ache feels like. I wonder how it feels to be “normal.”

I sip the last dregs of gin and a new voice whispers in my head. She is kinder, her voice soft. I have not heard these words before, “You don’t need to be normal. People appreciate you because you are you. Do not let this illness define you.’’ And she is right. So I place my foot on the floor once more, ignoring the pain and the questioning looks from fellow clubbers, and I walk over to my friends. They are smiling at me, waving me over. I smile back, not caring that I am hobbling, and I limp confidently to the dance floor.

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