summer of healing: year 3

My ankles are burning.

How’s that for an opening statement?

I think that’s due to the biking I did this week, in addition to my usual workouts of pilates, yoga, and Zumba Toning. I’m not too worried. I had 16 needles in at my recent acupuncture appointment and still feel that there’s some inflammation, but overall my tendonitis (and whatever the hell else was the source of so much angst and pain between 2013-2016) has improved. Don’t ask me to run or jump, but I can take stairs, up and down, like a normal person rather than one at a time or sideways, and I don’t have to be driven right up to doors while someone else parks the car and meets me later.

I’m way more independent and the pinnacle of this independence was a solo trip to London in April for the Pet Shop Boys’ Teenage Cancer Trust gig.

While I kept these “Tips for Traveling with Chronic Pain” in mind for the first few days, the more I walked around and felt no lingering aches and pains, the more I did each day. Being able to sit on the train or at the theatre in between walking to events helped too. Oh, and the cider, I guess!

[NOTE: I totally forgot pubs close at 11pm, so I never had the chance to have more than a couple pints!]

The PSB show was unbelievable, and I met some fabulous UK Petheads that I’ve been keeping in touch with on Facebook. I cannot wait to have another adventure like this soon; however, this summer I’m sticking close to home and working on the research projects I mentioned in my previous post. I’ve really enjoyed reading scholarship again, but need to get more words on the page and get in the habit of doing that everyday. I think a couple of things will be completed before the 4th of July, so that will give me some time to focus on the book-length project, even though I’m still trying to decide how to frame that. My original plan was a “then/now” since there’s a lot that can be said about New Orleanians’ tech use for civic purposes since Katrina, but I think I need to trim the “then” and concentrate on the “now” issues, e.g. crime, education, gentrification, and local politics. Ugh, even that sounds like too much!

Anyway, to return to the title of this post, my schedule for pretty much all of 2017 has been working out in the morning and then dedicating afternoons/evenings to academic pursuits. For June at least I’m able to teach a second Zumba Toning class, and here are a couple of the routines I’ve added:

This one I haven’t modified at all, except for the stomping/side twist move near the end.

In this one, I’ve found that I am still having trouble with single-leg balancing, so I’ve either kept the foot on the ground or changed up the footwork to keep my ankles happy.

This #scholarinspandex has to play it safe!


Happy in Harvey Hall

FB words

See that big “happy” in the center? I had no idea that would show up as one of my most used words. Unless this goofy word generator thing took into account all the “Happy Birthday” posts I received last month?

But what’s funny is that all weekend I had planned to write a blog post about how happy I’ve been. Want to know the main reason? I was told, based on x-rays, that the bones in my right foot looked like that of an 80-year-old woman!

Yeah, that’s right. The tendons are fine, which I have heard before, but the x-rays showed clear signs of osteopenia. Given how sensitive to touch my ankles still are, it could also be complex regional pain syndrome. Don’t be freaked out by the info on those pages though because the treatment is pretty much everything I’ve been doing already. Even if I never fully regain the former folk dancer spring in my step, if I keep strengthening my muscles and weight-bearing, I’ll maintain what I have.

And something about knowing I’m not one step away from tearing a tendon has totally liberated me! I’m already much more active and independent. I’m kicking ass in both my Pilates and Zumba Toning classes, and hope to finally drop a few of the pounds I picked up during my inactive time.

So that, coupled with a new office in a beautifully renovated historic building, has made the start to this new school year amazing!

Here’s an older video that shows a bit more of the process:

And here’s the view from my new office:

summer view

My online classes are going well and my in-person Digital Humanities class has 11 very smart and creative students in it. Speaking of DH, here’s the finished product of the Harvey Hall game.

My program director work is keeping me busy but that’s to be expected. And in one week I should find out if I’ve been awarded a sabbatical.

My 10-min presentation last week went very well, so here’s hoping I’m ranked high enough to earn one of the seven they’re funding this year. Last year it was half of that, so I’m optimistic. And after a couple of years of very low morale on campus and my personal chronic pain depression, that’s major.

Gonna finish 2016 like a boss!


summer of healing redux

Happy belated 4th of July!

Since my last blog post, things have improved with my ankles, although I wouldn’t say I’m operating at 100%. In fact, thanks to my Vivosmart band I know that I’ve upped my daily steps from 4k to 6k. If I ever hit more than that, it’s from steps earned in the pool. And that’s OK. One day I’ll get to 10k! The last round of physical therapy had me doing leg presses and a lot more balance moves. And I FINALLY gained some calf muscle back!

Another thing that’s helped–besides warmer temps–is the Tiger Tail.

[I don’t have any pics of me with it, but maybe I’ll edit this post to include one].

Ragnar Cape Cod #RagnarRelays #TigerTailUSA

A post shared by Tiger Tail USA (@tigertailusa) on


In fact, I’m kind of annoyed that my physical therapists never told me about it. I kept saying [remember I’m nearly 3 years into this pain] how difficult it was to use my big foam roller to work my legs, but no one ever suggested it. I can tell already that it’s saving me, both in terms of recovery time after more active days and in money that I’d typically spend on massage or acupuncture appointments. Score!

So overall, I’m in a much more positive place with my recovery. I’m standing more in Zumba, but still have a chair nearby in case I need to take a break from the weight-bearing. But that’s rare. I’m even adding new songs that I would’ve been too scared and weak to do before. Here’s one:

[OK I don’t do that jumping jack move, but it feels AMAZING to be salsa-ing again]!

I’m also teaching mat pilates every Monday, which has been a fun addition to my schedule. Aquacize and Aqua Zumba are still happening too, so I’m keeping busy.

And in 10 days we leave for Australia! Here’s a pic from the last day of our 2014 trip, taken in the Cairns mall:


I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was slightly worried about the long travel day and not having access to my chiropractor and acupuncturist, but I’m making plans and packing my compression socks and epsom salts. And the Tiger Tail!

Another post to come this weekend about my academic pursuits. Here’s a quick preview:

  • sabbatical application
  • course proposals
  • research agenda [FANDOM FOCUS!]
  • program director woes

hang in there

To keep it short and simple, yes, I’m still dealing with foot pain.

If I had written this post before the Winter Break, it would have been much more negative and anxiety-ridden. My thoughts were consumed with how I would get through the holidays, both physically since there was travel, and mentally, since I knew I’d have to explain my limited mobility to friends who might have read this blog but didn’t realize how slow I have to walk.

Things were going well in October, but then I had another flare up, even though nothing in my routine changed. But I saw my doctor, kept up with the acupuncture, replaced ibuprofen with Chinese herb supplement, turmeric, and b-12, and I’m holding steady.

I’m also “hanging in there” and waiting for an appointment with a rheumatologist. When things get really bad, I feel burning in both ankles, so we need to see if there’s an arthritic issue or something causing joint pain that hasn’t been detected on the x-rays and MRIs. While I’d love some sort of diagnosis and directive for how to proceed, here’s hoping he doesn’t detect anything and it’s just a very long recovery period for my tendinitis. My podiatrist seems to think that can’t be the case since structurally there’s very little wrong with my foot and I have good range of motion, but I truly don’t know what to think anymore. Given that it’s a new year, I’m focusing only on living as pain-free a life as I can. If that means walking slowly and sitting more than standing, so be it.

Speaking of sitting, I’m still teaching Zumba Toning at the gym while seated in a chair and everyone loves it. They say it’s been very easy to follow, and I have another student [who also has gone through Zumba training] up on stage with me showing off the footwork. We’ll be doing a variation of this ab routine tomorrow so stop by!


the big 4-ohhhh and the #summerofhealing continues into fall

Since my last #summerofhealing post, I’ve had 4 physical therapy appointments and 3 acupuncture sessions and taken 16 pilates classes, 9 aqua zumba classes, and 15 aquacize classes. Oh, and I turned 40!

My final PT appointment was August 10th and I felt I was on a steady incline with healing. I had a routine and was diligently doing my exercises. The past couple weeks, however, despite that routine remaining the same, the aches and pains have returned. Nothing too major, but enough discomfort to get me upset. Even though my PT’s final words of wisdom were, “Just remember, it’s never as bad as you think, but it’s also never as good as you think,” I’ve been focusing on the negative and wondering if I’ll ever walk normally again. That’s all I want!

I try to convince myself that the aches might be my muscles waking up since my right calf is still obviously skinnier than the left, but then I remember that extra bone and think that it, along with my overused tendons, just keep aggravating each other and will continue to do so for the rest of  life unless I get surgery. That might be the worst case scenario. It might not. At a few of the acupuncture appointments it’s become clear that my awkward walking to “save” one tendon is annoying another. I am moving a lot faster than I was in July, but once again I’m at that crossroads of:  Do I need to stay off my feet all together or “use it before I lose it”?


Way back when this foot pain started, I kept saying to doctors and anyone who would listen, “I just want to be dancing for my 40th bday in September.” Well, on Sunday I did go to a very fun club in Kansas City called FunkyTown, but I sat for most of the night. And my legs from the knee down were throbbing the next day. Thank goodness for my friend’s saltwater pool! And Biofreeze!

Biofreeze To GoNow the semester has started, so I’ll have less time to rest. While I tried to stay seated while I taught my classes today, I inevitably ended up walking around the classroom to talk to students. I find it ridiculous to NOT do that, and I hate thinking of myself as limited, but it seems I will need to in order to play it safe.

I have a doctor’s appointment next week where I hope to get more information and a timeline for how long it takes to gain that muscle back.

Wish me luck!


summer of healing: background

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll see a number of my recent posts hashtagged “#summerofhealing.”

As I’ve blogged here before, over the past couple years my long history as a ballet and folk dancer and more recent work as a Zumba Fitness instructor caught up with me and posterior tibial tendonitis has taken over my life. And that is not an exaggeration. There were times of relief, and I even traveled to Australia last year, but once I was back from that trip ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. I had been fitted for some rigid custom orthotics and those ended up hurting rather than helping, likely because of an extra bone or “accessory navicular” I have.


Look at me! I’m causing you all sorts of trouble!

Since September, I’ve slowed down in e-v-e-r-y w-a-y possible. I stopped teaching at the gym and pretty much stay home whenever I can. I did travel for a quick conference in Denver, to NOLA at Christmas, and recently to Florida to visit a friend, but none of these trips (purposefully) included much walking. In fact, I’ll only consider myself healed when I can go to New York and walk the streets of Manhattan in search of bagels! More in a separate post on how this chronic pain has changed my everyday routine, but first I want to give you a brief rundown about what I’ve learned:

  1. Find a good doctor. Not one whose visits last less than 15-minutes and who doesn’t even touch your foot or ask you to stand or walk. I put up with one guy for longer than I should have, likely because I was scared of bad news. So while the “no news” and tests to eliminate other causes/issues seemed like moves in the right direction, I wasted valuable months of healing time. For example, once we did get an MRI done last November, which showed some fluid in the ankle and inflammation, I should have been put in a bootcast, but I wasn’t until this April when a second MRI proved that fluid was still there and that there was no tendon tear or degeneration. It could have been the #winterofhealing, but instead, here we are.
  2. Get a second opinion. Now this seems obvious, but it was only after talking to friends and family that I started looking for someone else, someone who specialized in sports and dance injuries. Getting appointments with these folks took some time and at one point I had a long 2 months of waiting between appointments, but once I did see them and started to get answers, I knew I could put a recovery plan in motion. In fact, while the aforementioned first doctor interpreted the MRI as “your tendon is fine,” the two new ones (separate practices in separate states) both agreed that the tendon sheath was inflamed. That alone, a name to the problem, put my mind at ease, although it’s still a long road to normal activity.
  3. Try new methods of healing. Other than rest, icing, compression socks, elevation, and ibuprofen (also known as Pills+RICE), I now own a foam roller, a foot roller, tons of Epsom Salts, and have been to countless acupuncture, massage, & ultrasound appointments. Even though there’s no magic fix, these methods have helped me on a day-to-day basis, even if just to get the blood flowing. I know I’ve been so scared of pain or reinjury that at times I freeze and don’t move at all, but that only makes things worse.
  4. Foot pain is the worst! Well, anyone experiencing any kind of pain will say that about their condition, but I truly feel foot pain is the worst because you can’t get anywhere quickly. (Hell, only now am I beginning to feel comfortable standing whereas last year at this time I was teaching 3 yoga classes a week!) Unless you’ve been put in a cast or wheelchair, the feet never truly get a chance to rest. As a professor, I like to walk around the classroom, but this Spring I sat A LOT, although my students totally understood. I was spoiled in having to only be in one building this semester, with a husband to drop me off right at its front door, but going from a super active lifestyle to making decisions based on how many steps I have to take has been eye-opening.

With that final statement, my next few posts will reflect more on the ups and downs of chronic pain, but I hope you’ve learned a little about what my year has been like.



It’s officially been a year since this tendinitis pain started. I blame spending most of last summer in flip-flops. When I first went to the doctor, the problem was easily solved by some inserts for my Nikes, but in November some pain returned and subsided, and then hit full force on Christmas Eve. Not fun at all, especially going into the worst winter ever. Cold temps, slippery ice and snow, etc.

I’m in my second round of physical therapy and a little over a week ago would have told you that I felt 90% healed and stronger, but I think that optimism may have led to a few over-exuberant Zumba moves. Yes, I’ve somehow kept teaching at the gym, and I know overuse is a cause of chronic pain, but with Zumba Toning I really don’t jump or travel across the room very much. Everything is centered and on two feet. And the PT folks haven’t told me to stop.

The latest round of exercises is helping [this guy is THE BEST] as are the ASICS and IontoPatches you see below.

This pics is from Thursday and all was fine until yesterday. No idea what I did, but the pain or awareness of pain, even if dull, at ALL times has returned and that’s really got me down. I even have custom inserts now [the word “orthodics” makes me feel VERY old], and perhaps the issue is that I’m still getting used to them. Wasn’t supposed to have another PT appointment for a month, but I’m gonna call first thing in the morning to get one for this week.

Wish me luck!


zumba queen

Way back in September I revealed I’d become a ZUMBA instructor over the summer. Then I never blogged about how that happened!

Here’s that story:

I’ve been taking ZUMBA since 2006 when I was a grad student at USF in Tampa. My first teacher was Nakreshia C., but I also took a lot of classes with Jeni J. Both have their own fitness ventures now, CardioFunk and FlavaFitness Studio. Go girls!

When I first moved to Wisconsin in 2008, I saw flyers for ZUMBA classes at community rec centers and took a few, but I never considered joining a gym until 1) I finished my dissertation and 2) I found out they had a wide array of Group Fitness classes, with 3 ZUMBA instructors! So I’ve been a dedicated member of BodyWorks Athletic Club since 2010. [I should also note that since that time I have become a huge fan of TurboKick. In fact, I’m tempted to go to an instructor training for that in April but it’s the day before my ZUMBA TONING training and I think my 37-year-old body might not be able to handle both in one weekend. LOL!]

Anyway, as a former ballet, musical theatre, and folk dancer, I loved the nonstop hip shaking in ZUMBA, but never seriously thought about becoming an instructor because of my full-time academic job. I was also content just recommending songs as you can see in this post from last year. But then one of the BodyWorks instructors, a grad student, got an internship across the state. A new instructor had been hired, but she too got a summer job. Then one day one of the trainers, who is a SuperWoman who teaches EVERYTHING, pulled me on stage to lead the class in a Pitbull/Marc Anthony routine. When we high-fived after, she said, “You should get your Instructor License!” She sent me some links to upcoming trainings and I really did hesitate. I was worried about having to create 15 separate routines and my stamina. But eventually I pressed the “register” button, and on July 1, 2012, drove 5 hours to Waukegan, IL to train with Jani Roberts, a teacher I’d taken master classes with way back when I lived in Tampa! Talk about full circle!

Training was awesome, I had some jitters during my first few classes, but with the support of everyone at my gym, I’ve grown so much. I never expected to love teaching so much, and I went from 2 classes a week to 4! See my detailed schedule at http://daisypignetti.zumba.com/. And as I hinted at earlier, I’m now registered for a ZUMBA TONING training in April as I’ve deemed 2013 the year I get some arms!

While I’d be remiss not to mention that I’ve lost 30 pounds since I started on this ZUMBA journey, the most significant outcome of my new role as a fitness professional is how much I get to engage with my community. I was asked to do ZUMBA demos at a Wisconsin Women Veterans event in September, have been invited to be part of the health and wellness event organized by Alpha Phi Omega, and am scheduled to energize the crowd at the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life of Dunn County event in April.

Shake It

And as you can see from the picture above and video below, this past weekend I took part in this year’s SHAKE IT event, which honored 11-year-old boy, Brett Boettcher, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Brett’s parents, Bart (Athletic Director, Menomonie High School) and Lynn (Fitness Instructor, BodyWorks), have committed a lot of their personal time and effort towards Parent Project, and I’m proud to say this year we raised over $7,000! Like us on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events. I know there’s already a marathon team prepping for the Twin Cities marathon.

WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

And go to zumba.com to search for a class near you. JOIN THE PARTY!