That is truly what my life feels like right now, a comedic tragedy. Most of you are reading this post because I linked it to FB for a more in depth explanation of why I am not going back to Cleveland this year. Others probably just miss my witty prose. Either way, here we go.
About 3 years ago I started experiencing a tingling and sometimes numb sensation in my left ring and pinky fingers. Initial tests didn’t find anything, but the conclusion was my Ulnar nerve was irritated or pinched. Some of you know I have been dealing with this off and on since then, some times feeling no symptoms, sometimes really bad, and everything in between. Sometimes I would go months without feeling anything.
That was what happened at CIM. I was practicing more than I ever had, was doing it smarter, and more consistently, and my first semester was one of those wonderful times. Shoot forward to February. Opera pit was the death of me and my symptoms shot back up to the horrible red zone again. I thought I had it under control, but then I was preparing for the Utah Symphony audition and wasn’t listening to my body at all. Like most people know, preparing for an audition is like getting ready for an Olympic event.
Essentially, I have an overuse injury, and have had one for some time. I always thought it was in my shoulder, but recent consults and tests have shown that it is in my elbow as well. The end of the semester came, and I took time off to try and see if it got better. It didn’t. After doctor’s appointments and many tears, I decided for my health that I needed to drop out of Chautauqua for my own good. I came back home to Reno to take more time off and hopefully heal and find more long term solutions.
What is ironic about this is I thought the hardest decision this summer was whether to go to Chautauqua or not. Wrong! The longer I was home, the more time passed without any improvement in my symptoms. Mind you, this was the WORST it had ever been. I had been doing everything I had done in the past that had kept it at bay the last couple years: chiropractic work, massage, stretching, etc. I was even adding new things: yoga, strength training, physical therapy, and I even tried acupuncture. I finally tried a heavy duty anti-inflammatory which helped some, but didn’t offer any kind of permanent solution.
I finally had to face the music and consider my options. I wasn’t able to play, and I had no idea when I would. CIM was a performing school, so I had no place there if I couldn’t practice. So again, after many tears and hard phone calls, I am officially taking a leave of absence for a year on medical grounds. My spot and scholarship will be held for a year, so I at least have that time to work on finding a treatment plan that works for me. What my doctors keep saying is I need time, and I definitely have that now.
What worries me the most is whether I will heal at all. I have the greatest hope that everything will work out, but I keep having this nagging feeling that I need to be prepared for other outcomes. I’m going to take some classes to start working on a public teachers license just as a safety net and to keep the loan sharks at bay. And for work, I’m going to be a substitute teacher for the year, which is going to be some pretty good money.
I started playing a bit of piano again to feel like I am still a musician. I’ve really struggled with the purpose of why I am experiencing this HUGE detour in my life, but I’m finally accepting that this is exactly where I need to be. I have been going through a grieving process of sorts for a couple weeks, and feel like I’m starting to get to real acceptance. This was not, no, it was NEVER part of the plan. But I have hope for and faith in there being a purpose for this and an outcome and plan better than I could have planned for myself.
I’m open to any advice, love, and support over the next while as I go through this process. My nerve damage is bad enough that one of the solutions on the table might be surgery. I absolutely don’t want to do that, but we’ll see. I’ve painted my fingernails for the first time the last few days and I’ve started wearing rings, because it always bothered me before, but now I can’t even play, so why the heck not, right? 🙂
I’m really doing okay, but I have good and bad days. I just hope I start having more good days.