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Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series: Daisy Gaviota

By on October 11, 2017

 

At Bad Kitty® we take pride in uplifting, celebrating and empowering the diverse group of pole dancers in our community. As a part of our commitment to diversity, we have enthusiastically and wholeheartedly embraced sharing your stories about pole. In our Bad Kitty® Inspiration Series, we interview dancers who have faced and overcome extraordinary challenges in their health, and who attribute their well-being to the power of pole dance. This time around we chat with the extraordinary Daisy Gaviota from Colorado. Daisy was diagnosed with osteomyelitis – a rare bone infection – and went through a a challenging treatment plan. Read more to find out about her journey to recovery.

BK: Tell us a bit about your circumstances. What kinds of challenges have you faced with your health?

DG: This year I was diagnosed with osteomyelitis – a very rare bone infection that less than 1,000 people contract a year. Most people who contract it undergo amputation.In December, I noticed a cut on the side of my right foot that hadn’t healed. I’m not even sure how I got it.  I thought nothing of it – I have been a dancer my whole life and my feet are always scratched up. But after a month of it looking the same, I went to see a doctor. I was given some ointment and had it cleaned – I was assured it would heal within a week. It didn’t. I spent the next 6 months bouncing around from wound care specialists to orthopedists to try to diagnose why this cut wasn’t healing. Through it all, I kept poling (in socks) even though the cut grew more painful every day. But I was dedicated to my students and pole.

The big turning point for me was when I went to Nashville for my bachelorette party and couldn’t walk around without excruciating pain and could only fit in certain pairs of shoes. I called my doctor the day I returned to Colorado and scheduled an MRI. If something wasn’t healing on the outside, something must not be right on the inside.

I had the MRI that week and was diagnosed with osteomyelitis. My doctors were shocked – I was too young and healthy to have something that often only infects the elderly. The first doctor I went to wanted to amputate my foot from the ankle. I got a second opinion and he wanted to take my toe. Neither had ever actually dealt with a case of osteomyelitis before. The third doctor I saw suggested surgically removing the majority of the infected bone (in my little toe and the bunionette area), cleaning the surrounding bone (debridement), and giving me a PICC line for 6 weeks with IV antibiotics to clear the rest of the infected bone. Due to the nature of my condition, I was scheduled for emergency surgery the next morning.

Everything went well in the surgery and I had a PICC line inserted. The PICC line was inserted into my bicep, traveled up through my brachial vein, and directly into the superior vena cava of my heart. Luckily, I was able to walk within about 4 days of my surgery with a special boot. However, my PICC line had a ton of restrictions – I could not lift more than 5 pounds, bear any weight, get my heart rate up, or move my arm in certain ways. Yet, I had to move my arm and go about my “daily activities” so I did not get a blood clot in my line or heart.   So I went from hours of teaching pole per week and training for myself to…nothing.

The first antibiotic they put me on for my PICC line was just a general one. After they got the cultures from my surgery (2 different kinds of staph were present), they switched me to a more specific antibiotic. At this point I was very comfortable with injecting myself with antibiotics through my PICC line daily. My first injection of vancomycin sent me into anaphylactic shock. Luckily, my home nurse had been there for the first administration and gave me epinephrine. My reaction was so strong that she called 911 and an ambulance took me to the ER where I received another dose of epinephrine. I was switched to another antibiotic and received additional blood tests weekly to monitor me.

In total, I ended up having my PICC line in for 8 weeks instead of 6. By that point, I could walk normally in a sandal (my foot will be swollen for 6 months post surgery so heels are not an option). I got my PICC line out the week before my wedding and now sport a large scar on my bicep. I go back for monitoring almost weekly and will do so for 6 months. So far I am in the clear! I Just started poling again about a month ago and am so happy to be back in the studio!

BK: Have these challenges impacted your emotional health positively or negatively? How so?

DG: I was definitely down through a lot of the process. Going from being an active dancer to being stuck on the couch for months was very difficult. I also felt pretty isolated at times as I didn’t have all my friends from the studio with me constantly. However, I did learn that I am stronger than I ever thought I was….that I can push past odds that seem impossible and be healthy. That despite the fact that I couldn’t pole at the time, I was still a pole dancer and would be back to it as soon as possible. I think the whole situation has made me a stronger person and more confident in myself.

BK: When did you discover pole?

DG: I started pole about 5 years ago when one of my best friends Anthony took me to class on a whim. It was love at first spin! I was previously a professional ballet dancer and just loved the freedom pole gave me. I had never felt that way before. I am still an instructor at that same studio! Since then I have become an instructor and also competed. I won the semi-pro division at North American Pole Dance Championship in 2014. I also won Colorado Pole Championship in 2015 which earned me a spot in The Arnold.

BK: What kind of an effect did pole have on you mentally, emotionally, physically, even spiritually?

DG: Pole has and always will make me feel free and beautiful. I can’t explain much beyond that but that is the feeling I want my students to feel when they take class.

BK: What do you consider to be the most healing aspect of pole dancing?

DG: The community. Many polers had been following my foot saga on Facebook and when I finally came out with a diagnosis and said I had surgery scheduled….the outpouring of love was beyond what I could have ever expected. A few days later I posted that I was bored and looking for book suggestions. I received care packages from polers across the world! In the next few weeks I received ice cream, hundreds of books, dozens of DVDs, coloring books, stuffed animals (my favorite being a 4 toed parrot), and letters that gave me the strength I needed to get through my illness. Some of these were from polers that I had met at competitions like The Arnold or NAPDC…others were from people that I had never met and only known on social media. I tear up just thinking about it – I don’t know if I would have gotten through my osteomyelitis without the pole community.

Also, for me dance has always been about telling a story. I love Maya Angelou’s quote, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” I think telling your own story through dance is absolutely one of the best ways to heal yourself – and others.

BK: What advice do you have for other pole dancers who may be going through a challenging time?

DG: If you have the strength to hold yourself on a pole – you have the strength to push past any obstacle in your way. And the strongest community of pole dancers to back you up and help you find your strength when you can’t.

 

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Claire Griffin Sterrett
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Claire Griffin Sterrett

Editor in Chief at Bad Kitty Inc.
Writer, pole dancer, teacher, social worker and editor of this whole awesome thing.You can find out more about me at www.polestory.com.
Claire Griffin Sterrett
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