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two broken wrists. two and a half months. i kept playing. [two artists tuesday]

tendonitis

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.

and worrying.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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eighth rest. broken wrists. waiting. [k.s. friday]

waiting eighth rest

“the waiting place….for people just waiting. 

waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or no or waiting for their hair to grow.  everyone is just waiting.  waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle jake or a pot to boil, or a better break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or another chance.  everyone is just waiting.

somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.  you’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.  with banner flip-flapping once more you’ll ride high!  ready for anything under the sky.  ready because you’re that kind of a guy! 

oh, the places you’ll go!”

(dr. seuss)

an eighth rest.  these two broken wrists are down from a quarter rest to an eighth rest. and waiting.

we are all waiting.  for hours, days, weeks to go by.  for healing.  we are biding time.  on hold.  on eighth-rest-repeat.

eighth rest repeat

and in that vast biding of time we are maybe finding that some of the things we have busied ourselves with don’t count as much.  and some count more.  maybe our time of waiting will reveal to us that which is most important.  maybe it will be a time of needed rest.  a time of slowing down.  a time of subito tacet.  a time of honoring those who truly help us.  a time of quiet conversation, of learning new things, of disassembled notes gathering together from their places in the stars to form a new song.

we wait.  and we don’t know when the waiting will stop.  but oh, during this waiting, and after the stand-still-pause is over, oh, the places we will go.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAITING ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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two broken wrists. and the saga continues. [k.s. friday]

and the saga continues

bananas.  they were $.49 lb.  we picked up a bunch and walked to the register.  a moment later, with no question or drama, we paid our $1.17 and left.

the next step in my two-broken-wrists saga is occupational therapy.  not because we do everything with our hands.  not because we write with them and open doors with them.  not because we use them for our personal hygiene or because we cook with them.  not because we drive with them or dress with them or shake hands with them.  but because using my hands IS what i do.  the therapist asked me how long i have played the piano.  53 years.  it’s what i DO.  so getting my wrists back to pre-snowboard-fall is imperative to me.  there are no other options.

before we went to this first appointment i, responsibly, called our healthcare insurance company – the one we pay $29,000 a year to – the one with the slogan ” for the care you need at a price you can afford” – to check in about the coverage of OT.  i was told, after much menu-choosing, that i am limited to 20 visits and that the cost will be $50 per visit.  with the OT’s recommendation that my getting-these-wrists-back-trajectory would involve appointments twice a week, that would add $400 to the already-$2400/month in healthcare costs.  bracing.  impossible.

the OT office checked in with me to remind me of my appointment, coincidentally, just after i hung up with the insurance company.  i told them what i had just learned and they insisted i was wrong.  “no,” i was told, “we have never heard of molina charging ANYthing for a copay.”  I asked them to please double-check for me and they assured me they would and that they would apprise me at my appointment.

when i arrived, the receptionist checking me in told me that they had their 23-year-insurance-veteran in the office check and that there would be no copay.  i asked them to provide a written document to that effect so that if and when i was billed i would have recourse.  they assured me that they would triple-check and to stop back after my appointment.

at the end of my appointment with the therapist, the receptionist told me that “no, you don’t have to pay $50 per visit.  it’s actually worse.  instead, you have to pay 100% of all fees until your thousands-of-dollars-deductible is met.”  what?!!!!  now this is the third story i am hearing about the same service with the same provider and the same insurance company.  who am i to believe?

i stood there and literally cried in front of the receptionist in the middle of the waiting area.  you mean to tell me that our $29,000 a year doesn’t really cover much of anything???  this is blatantly wrong, grossly outrageous.

bernie sanders, if you have listened to him speak, has given a example of the perverted and pathetic healthcare in this country.  he speaks about a family who makes $60,000 a year and that this family must pay $12,000 for healthcare.  “that’s 20% of their gross income,” he bellows.  what i wish he would add is this next example:  consider a couple who makes say $65,000 a year (this is the magic healthcare cliff for two people and only $5000 more than the previous example).  that couple will pay anywhere between $24,000 and $29,000 for a policy that will still have high deductibles and yet (clearly) not actually have good coverage.  i want to jump on the bernie-bellowing-band-wagon and yell, “that’s 45% of that couple’s income!!!  what is wrong with that???? EVERYTHING!”  how is it that we can live in this country, the richest country in the world, and have the worst healthcare for our populace?  how is it right to set the populace up for financial disaster when they have to deal with the eventual health scare, injury, illness??  (on a side note, i won’t even beGIN to start talking about Covid-19, for i have nothing good to say about the administration’s handling, lack of information or truth, and unpreparedness for this pandemic that will truly test the resiliency of our country.)

when i could take a breath at the receptionist’s desk i asked, “what do these appointments cost?”  how much is my professionalism worth to me, i am thinking.  i earn my living playing the piano, i am thinking.  i have fifteen albums of piano music, i am thinking.  i am a pianist, i am thinking.  i just need care for my wrists so that i can do what i do, i am thinking.  at what cost, i am thinking.

but healthcare is not like bananas.  i was told, “we can’t answer that.  we don’t know.”  i beg your pardon???  “billing handles that.  and it’s different depending upon insurance plans and whether or not you have appropriate insurance.”  i beg your pardon???? “what if i just wanted to pay cash right now?” i ask.  “you can’t,” she says.  “we don’t know what it costs.”

i wonder if it would be more if i paid cash – after all, i’m not an overstuffed insurance company that has the capacity to deny portions of the billing or disallow costs or base payment on the coding used to describe my treatment, while at the same time accepting ridiculously high premiums from clients with the knowledge that the insurance offered is incomprehensibly lacking.

no.  i’m just a person who needs her hands.

we left, went to the store and bought more bananas.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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two broken wrists. starting month 2.

FullSizeRender(1)

for obvious reasons, i’ve been reading articles lately about broken wrists and professional pianists, seeking wisdom, seeking reassurance, seeking healing.

i want to share bits of what i have read:

“…becoming injured can be emotionally devastating for a pianist. if a person’s thoughts, aspirations, and perhaps, very livelihood center around the piano, then to be unable to play one’s best, unable to play without pain, perhaps unable to play at all, is a dreadful experience. injured pianists often become deeply depressed and discouraged…an injured pianist desperately needs emotional support and understanding from friends, relatives, colleagues…”

and so i want to say thank you. thank you to all of you who have reached out since i broke both of these wrists. thank you for your calls and cards, flowers and meals, wine and snacks, coffee and brownies, texts and emails. thank you for asking me about the piano, what it feels like to play, for your hugs and words of encouragement. even those of you who have simply asked me, “how are you?”

you all know who you are. your thoughtfulness and caring concern mean the world to me and i cannot express my gratitude for your generosity and love.

yesterday was new-cast-day. another chapter in this strange journey.  but moving ever-forward.

xoxo


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quarter rest. and the beat goes on. [k.s. friday]

quarter rest

quarter rest.  one beat of silence.

with these broken wrists i have moved from a whole rest to a quarter rest.  i have made progress playing my piano and my broken-wrists have told me when to be silent.  in the silence the earth keeps spinning, we trek around the sun, everything keeps keeping on.  but for a moment, i rest.

we are each granted rests upon entrance into this orchestra-of-earth.  sometimes they are chosen, sometimes they are not.  always they are necessary.  it is in your quiet that others make noise, that others speak, that other timbres color the muted.  the hush is yours to own; the rest is yours to take.  the silence both sometimes frighteningly deafening and sometimes a grand relief.  the metronome really never stops.

(a reprise of paragraphs from 8.13.2015 post): at 1am, we walked to the lakefront. away from as many lights as we could get away from, we laid on some old steps, bricks and mortar digging into our backs so that we could gaze straight up, watching the night sky for the meteor shower.

the streaks of white light across navyblueblack make us draw in our breath. i’m wondering how far away this meteor is…how it is that we, here on earth, can see this amazing sight. such a big sky. such tiny bodies in contrast lying on the ground, waiting for the symphony to start, waiting for the downbeat, the symphony that has been continuously playing, the downbeat lost in centuries upon centuries of time gone by. like any good piece of music, it’s the rests in-between the notes, the rests in-between the meteorstreaks, that build the anticipation, that create the emotionflow, that bring tears to your eyes. each burst, each streak of whitelight is a miracle, a tiny moment exploding in time, so far away, in vast vastness.

time stretches out in front of us. and behind us. we are tiny and we are big. we gather in the moments, we breathe them, we rejoice, we worry, we ponder, we move. there is no downbeat and the symphony is already playing, has been playing and will continue to play. always. it is magical. and it is vast.

and the beat goes on.

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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treading water. watershed. [k.s. friday]

watershed the songbox

i don’t feel as much in-a-boat as i feel that i am relentlessly treading water.  but there was no handy treading-water bitmoji and i remember the exact moment that this bitmoji showed up on my snapchat mapping…in the middle of a lot of treading.

treading, treading.  guessing at why what-is-happening is happening – in wide concentric circles around us, tightly close to us.

i can only guess, as i type this with these two now-familiar broken wrists, that this is a watershed time.

watershed pronunciation

definition 2

and today, both valentine’s day and d’s birthday, i want to express gratitude for this man who is standing in the water with me – waves crashing over us, undertow threatening to pull us down, riptide ever present – and holding my fiberglass-cast-encased hand.  the person who is equally as perplexed at this time, who takes turns with me being alternatively flabbergasted, philosophical and soberingly pragmatic.

he continues to zip my jacket, buckle my seatbelt, paste my toothbrush, carry my music, pepper-mill my breakfast and dinner, put the ernie straw in my coffee.  he has learned the fine points of where-on-the-head to place hair conditioner, how best to tie plastic bags on my arms, what stool will work best at the piano, which wine glass i can pick up at the end of a day.  he has watched me learn how to hold mascara with two hands and pull up girl jeans by the belt loops.  he has been treading water with me as we look to the horizon.

maybe this watershed is the thing that elicits change.  at the end of 2019 i could feel it coming.  and i can now, with all authority and certainty, say that the change is not that i will, smack dab in the middle of middle-age, become a professional snowboarder.  nope.  but there may truly be things out there i just didn’t see or consider.  perhaps the things that are vexing us, stunning us, deeply disappointing us, are just the things that will propel us.  ah, if that just didn’t feel so pollyanna-ish.

this life is bigger than anyone can ever live it.  that includes us.  treading water in the watershed might be a time that forces dynamic change.  like everyone, i wish i had some prescient inkling of what’s-out-there, what-will-happen.

my perceived lack of control is maybe a misperception.  maybe that which has taken away control is conversely granting control, granting the creativity that comes with grabbing onto flotsam and jetsam in a sea that seems to be swirling.  maybe the grasping-at-straws is grasping-at-ernie, a touchstone that seems flimsy and unimportant, but which actually is grounding, rooting, and gives voice to more solid footing, less wave-action, more direction-choosing.

the watershed is here.  moment by moment we stare at it.  we roll our eyes, we yell at the angst-y details, we shake our heads in confusion, we stop and stand still and, yet hyperventilating from treading, we wonder.  we try to breathe, to center, to be in the eye of the storm.

holding hand-cast, we look forward and we guess that this ain’t the last watershed on the horizon.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WATERSHED from AS IT IS ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 


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two broken wrists. [k.s. friday]

two wrists

day 4

it broke more than both my wrists, that snowboarding fall last monday.

it broke my ability to do many things for myself.  it fractured my independence.

it exploded my previous gratitude of those around me, loving and caring for me.  it expanded a dependence on others, particularly david.

it broke through my vulnerability threshold.  it made me acknowledge my modesty and encouraged me to try to stand tall in my new temporary disability.

it broke what i knew about others around me.  it both surprised me in all the best ways and surprised me in all the worst.

it broke my assumption that all things – all my relationships – all my work – would stay the same.  it shattered any sense of security.

it further broke my trust in our country’s healthcare coverage.  it pointedly drove home that point.

it broke through any calm-in-the-storm-around-us i had found.  it exacerbated a profound sense of worry.

it broke my muse.  it scared me, really scared me, and it made me wonder if i would play again, write again, perform again.

day 5.  my quiet piano welcomed me into the studio.  i stood in front of it.  determined.  and i played.  nine fingers, not ten.  not the hand-span of all other days, but never mind.

day 12.  eleven days after breaking them i still wake up, after night’s elusive sleep, surprised to see my wrists, well, more accurately, my cast and hard splint.

i think, “here we go,” and i set out to see what’s beyond two broken wrists.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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the ernie straw. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

ernie straw

the ernie straw.  this straw has lived in the kitchen drawer for decades.  it served the sesame-street-zeal of My Girl and My Boy when they were little-little and has made various appearances back in the sunlit-world from time to time since then.

this summer when The Girl was here house-sitting i came home and into the kitchen to find her using it to sip her pre-workout drink.  she laughingly told me, “it’s a good straw!”  i can’t tell you how happy i was that ernie was still in the drawer when she went searching for the perfect sipping-utensil.

in the last week, ernie has become my constant companion.  positioned carefully in my coffee hydroflask or perched in my water glass or teetering out of a wine glass, ernie and i have done beverage-life together.

they say necessity is the mother of invention and, particularly, this past week with two broken wrists, i would have to agree.  stuck closer to the right side of my brain as a creative thinker (although admittedly there is quite a bit of ny-style-left-side there as well) i have had to sort out how to do things, let’s say, in-a-different-way.

i can proudly say that i can put on my socks, eat my own meal with a fork or a spoon, cut a steak (with the steak knife lodged into my RH cast), put on a little eyeliner and mascara with my LH steadying my right hand (not easy, but some things are just necessary), and type.  last night i squeezed (!) the toothpaste out of the tube and surprised d with his toothbrush pre-pasted.  in bigger news, i have played my piano four days in a row.  i have 9 fingers to use right now; my right thumb is immobilized.  but there are a lot of notes you can play with nine fingers, especially at the right angle and taking your time.

ernie and i are trying to keep a good attitude.  his curlycue-ness is pretty cute and his smile engaging.  he keeps me from feeling too sad, too limited.  he reminds me that the constraints i feel right now are exercising my creative juju (he’s a ridiculous optimist).  and he, most importantly, ties me to all the years backward, where he, yes, an inanimate object, has been a part of my life and the life of my children.

i couldn’t be more grateful to have found this life-gossamer-thread in our kitchen drawer last monday, the day i was injured.  once again, something profound and something simple –  and both remind me of what’s important.

i sent My Girl a photo of ernie in my coffee vessel.  she quickly replied, “it’s a good straw!”   yes.

thank you, our ernie straw.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“emergency room/urgent care.” [merely-a-thought monday]

er or uc

emergency room to the right.  urgent care to the left.  it was a choice point.

as we drove from the ski hill back to our town, i was worried.  terribly worried.  but my worry was less about my two broken wrists.  it was less about the pain.  it was less about all the things i could see – already – that i couldn’t do for myself.  it was less about my piano and, thus, my life.  it was less about how long it would take to heal and what that healing would look like.  it was less about how important a role david would play for me in this process of getting-my-wrists back.  it was less about how this injury would impact me.

my worry?  it was about what it would cost.

i wracked my brain for all the research i had done in selecting this year’s healthcare plan and how the deductibles work and what is covered and what is not covered and whether x-rays were completely billable sans satisfying our deductible.  i worried about the cost of the emergency room, the cost of the ER staff, the cost of radiology, the cost of casting.  there was a moment, driving through paddock lake, that i began to sob, thinking of the financial worry of all this.   my wrists throbbing, our health “insurance” a whopping $29,000 a year out-of-pocket, and i was sobbing, in the middle of post-injury shock, at the worry of the additional burden this would put on us.

and that’s pretty pitiful.  what a pathetic country in which we live that the first set of thoughts when injured is not getting well, is not healing.

i believe in an effort to more fully understand what i was going through, ptom told me he read a few blogposts written by or about people who had broken both wrists.  it occurred to me that might be a good idea so i googled them.

the first post made me made me frustrated.  after telling the story of her injury, deborah, who lives in new zealand, spoke about her experience with the socialized healthcare in that country.  i wept as i read the motto is “prevent, care, recover,” and there was no cost to her – at all – through diagnosis, treatment, healing, extra care helpers, rehabilitation, transportation.  she lost no work salary during the time of her recuperation.  every single thing was covered and paid.  she states that, “this has been a huge relief to me and has definitely aided in my recovery, because I’m not stressed.”

why am i so amazed by such a humanitarian approach to a nation’s care of its populace?  is that not of utmost priority?  should our population have to worry about seeking care to remain in or regain good health?  what kind of country does not put the health of its people first?

as we approached the hospital in kenosha we had a choice.  emergency room or urgent care.  i asked david to park by urgent care.  in the middle of pain emanating from both my wrists, two slings fashioned by ski patrol around my neck, i thought i remembered that maybe the co-pay or coverage would be more palatable in urgent care.  we sat in big red for a few extra minutes; i repeated i wasn’t sure what to do or not do.  not sure about the differentiation between urgent care and the emergency room, i thought we could at least ask if urgent care could handle what i presented – a need for x-rays and exam and treatment.

we walked into a crowded waiting room.  indeed, they could handle my injuries.  we waited hours with all the others there, many of them with masks covering their mouths and noses.  everyone looked worried.

a very kind doctor examined me, did x-rays, cast me, gave me directions and sent me on my way with follow-up to an orthopedic doctor in a few days.  at that office, a very kind doctor examined me, re-cast me, gave me directions and sent me on my way with a follow-up and more x-rays in ten days, a likely change of cast-type in four weeks, physical/occupational therapy on its heels and a standing invitation to see the reigning hand specialist whose expertise had been proffered.

and, of course, we haven’t received any billing yet.  i’m quite sure that will be the icing on the cake, well, so to speak.

or maybe i should say – that will add insult to injury.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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