August 2010

Searching for that Silver Lining

August 22, 2010 00:31

 I would say I am naturally an optimistic individual. My facial muscles usually produce smiles, and I seem to try to find the best in everyone…except at times, myself. This optimism is balanced (healthily?) by a tendency towards perfectionism and therefore stress. They are constantly pitted against each other—my battle scars tend to take the form of tight back muscles, good grades and performances, and actual scars (note for later: already fought back from an ACL injury to play soccer again). This summer, however, is testing my ability to stay positive no matter the challenge more than any other occasion.

When I was sixteen, I was diagnosed with tendonitis from playing too much without breaks—I’d never even heard of musician-related injuries before. After therapy, I returned to playing, although I haven’t been completely pain free ever since. Fast-forward four summers, and I find myself again unable to play my violin. (I took a summer off when I was seven and regretted the lack of progress ever since. Now it is just devastating to be injured again.) This past year has been a series of progress and relapses. Last summer I was diagnosed and treated for tendonitis while investigating the possibility of a ganglion cyst (expert’s opinion: not large enough to be an issue, waited and it went away). I was recovering for about three months, than was hit with the most severe pain I’d ever had. It was ever-present, and treatment for tendonitis failed to help. My school’s sports medicine doctor and trainer thought it more likely I had a pinched nerve, and gave me exercises to strengthen my shoulders. These worked—and I highly recommend making sure your rotater cuff is as strong as it can be!!!

That should have been the end of my issues, and I should have had a wonderful summer getting healthy. However, moving home from college ruptured my routine, and I found myself in pain similar to this past February. My exercises didn’t help this time, and I often found myself hurting while on the computer or doing household chores with both my hands, not just my bow arm. I feel like my life is a broken record at times. Anyway, when the neck MRI failed to show anything and my doctor said the word “overuse,” I rebelled and have been seeing a naturopath ever since.

Progress is slow. On the other hand, acupuncture has reduced my pain a lot. My new doctor believes in ruling out every possibility before making a diagnose—which has been a wonderful (and novel) approach.

 We consider my pain to be chronic, although the exact timing and location of the pain is unpredictable. The current thought right now is perhaps something like fibromyalgia—but luckily I don’t have all the symptoms of FM. We’re considering a natural medicine that raises the D-ribose levels in the body, which should help restore the body’s natural muscle regeneration along with continuing acupuncture. The goal is to finally get rid of the pain—frankly, I don’t know what it feels like to not expect pain. 

 It has been so hard to stay optimistic when it feels like the last three years of my life have been wasted by something that doesn’t fit most traditional diagnoses. I have faith however that I can get over this, and I pray that it will be soon. Even though I will be starting my second year as a music major soon, being a musician still feels like a dream.

So, you all will probably be hearing more from my adventures in the lands of Detection and Rehabilitation. To kick things off, I thought I would write down those blessings that have come as a result of this hell, and those that are going to get me through this (and I think should, for anyone else going through this right now). 

People haven’t given up on me. It is so easy to give in to all the doubts and misgivings about even trying to fight this. Fortunately for me, my family, teachers, doctors and school have made it clear I am not a hopeless case…and give me an e-slap for even thinking the word “yet.” It also probably helped that I chose to go to a college rather than conservatory—I don’t think I could have lasted in the latter this year.

Discovering some of the causes. Experiencing pain while on the laptop? It’s probably because of the laptop. While I have yet to find a perfect solution, I’ve learned that something about the necessity of ergonomics. Also, I had no idea how weak my core and shoulders were…now it’s time for Pilates and Yoga. Perhaps the fact that all my pain has occurred in years I haven’t played soccer is also a factor.

I’m learning so much about injuries and musicians! This is so exciting. I have so many books checked out, I could start my senior project right now. In fact, I’m thinking about posting some reviews of some of the books I read, because they have so much neat info in them.

I’ll finally learn to practice without the music well. Any suggestions? I’m reading the Art of Practicing but would love other ideas.

I’ve finally had a massage! And learned that I need to take relaxation much more seriously. Perhaps I’ll finally learn to quiet my mind.

This has been a really long post, but it’s been mulling in my head for a while. It is really cathartic to think about the good things that have come about from such horror. I still have my cries on the sofa, and I’m still angry that something as heavenly as music can cause such hurt, but I think that I might have made some peace with my situation right now. And that has to be a silver lining. 

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