out of necessity it was only a few days after i broke both of my wrists that i played. it seemed that i had nine fingers that were attending this event, and i, relieved to have these nine, worked with what i had.
in the last couple months, my left hand progressed faster than my right. i had two breaks in my right wrist and, yes, i am older now than i used to be, so the doctor warned me that i needed to be patient. make that NEED to be patient; healing will take six to eight months, she said. but all five LH fingers participated in this early-on merrymaking and only my immobilized thumb was excluded on my RH. and both wrists. they were excluded too.
they changed the cast on my RH from over-the-elbow to one a tad bit shorter; this was happy for me as it gave me more mobility. i kept playing, despite the wad of cast that ended in the palm of my hand. i am a mom. i am used to working around things.
later, they changed it yet again to an exos cast, which is removable but much less designed specifically for your hand; it was actually quite uncomfortable and made my hand hurt in places it hadn’t hurt with the ‘regular’ cast on. i kept playing.
at the point when the coronavirus ceased all my regular doctor appointments, and after only one occupational therapy appointment, i kept playing.
finally, with the phoned-in blessing of my OT, i ordered a splint for my RH – the same one i wear on my LH, releasing my thumb from its cast-prison. i kept playing.
and then i noticed that my pinky wasn’t responding properly. nor was my ring finger. nerve pain was shooting from my fingers up my arm. and nodules in the palm of my RH were burning, stinging. no professional pianist i know wants his or her hands to hurt. i could draw hundreds of analogies here with other body parts and ways-of-living, but i will refrain from doing so and just say that this was disheartening and incredibly worrisome for me. and i kept playing.
i emailed the doctor and then sent pictures i labeled in photoshop so that my worry would be clear, since i was unable to be there in person; social distancing had put aurora on the don’t-call-us-if-this-isn’t-essential status. when she called me she said i really needed to come in. she said that they would take some x-rays and the hand specialist would look at my right hand, in particular. frankly, i was beyond nervous to walk into a medical center. they have their hands full (absolutely no pun intended) and i was reticent to be privy to whatever germs were hanging around or to take any focus from the more essential. but, because i am playing and because playing is what i do, i went.
although there is a slight chance that there is something else going on here, it looks like the palm tendons of my RH fingers are inflamed. this is likely because i have been playing with casts on. what’s the expression? damned if i do, damned if i don’t.
when i asked the specialist for a range of time this might last, his answer was ‘probably up to a few months’. he didn’t ask me a lot of questions to discern what was happening and i tried like heck to fill him in on every-single-last-thing about my hands, but, in as-quick-as-a-flash fashion, he was gone before i knew it. a-few-more-exercises-and-some-regularly-scheduled-advil advice later, i left the hospital, took off my mask and climbed, sighing, into big red in the parking lot.
and now, out of necessity, i will keep playing.