Comizerating

March 28, 2019, 3:55 PM · On 10 March I had hip revision surgery on my left hip. The good news is that it was a soft tissue infection and the bone and hip were not involved so I still have the original hardware. It was a very sudden onset.

The bad news is that I have a long-slow, albeit at home, recovery with strict limits on my activity levels and very low energy (Low blood numbers lots of antibiotics by infusion). I can manage to play about 15-20 minutes a day of just playing for fun. I've managed to give two lessons to my current two students but I have to say I'm missing the longer sessions of playing and exploring challenging pieces. And, I'm sleeping a lot. (FWIW: check out TRTL Neck Pillows - particularly if you fly a lot - no more chin on the chest or crick in the neck.

My guess is that I'm not the only one here who had to recover from a very serious illness (had I waited 24 hours to go to the hospital, I would not be here now).

How did you manage through the long recovery? And how did you come out at the other end?

Replies (11)

March 28, 2019, 6:44 PM · Wow, George, I'm so glad you got to the hospital in time and that you're going to be OK. What a painful and frightening experience!

I did have a very serious illness at 32 with a five-day hospitalization and a fairly long recovery before I was really back to full health. But I have always been a high-energy kind of person, and I was only 32 at the time so I just powered through all my obligations. Not sure I could do that now at 57. Wish I had better words of wisdom.

March 28, 2019, 7:04 PM · Probably the sickest I've ever been is when I had pneumonia a couple of years ago and discovered a couple of new antibiotic allergies in the process. I'm 53 and blessed with a strong constitution but it kind of made me think about the future and what I would be dealing with if I were getting that kind of illness at the age of 73 or 83. Kind of makes you want to wake up a little earlier in the morning so you can get more done except that might be part of the problem.
March 28, 2019, 8:30 PM · That's rough, George. I just tweaked my back on Saturday, and the way it felt for the first few days, I was thinking I was going to be walking like a 90 year old for the rest of my life - It was pretty depressing. Luckily, I was able to get back to practicing and I'm almost completely good. I'm not trying to equate my thing to what sounds like pretty hardcore existential earthquake.

It being a jolt to my schedule actually did give me a chance to catch up on some reading and some other things. If you know that it's a recovery period, I would just enjoy the time as you can with the understanding that sometimes we come back from a period without practice with certain issues in our playing looking very different and sometimes being mysteriously resolved. I know the violin always sounds way different, which is probably partly psychological and partly due to needing to regain my sound.

You might enjoy checking out some musical biographies or reading some books about pedagogy or technique if they aren't things you normally enjoy all that much. Or you could just do a lot of championship-level napping and watching kung-fu movies.

March 29, 2019, 4:17 AM · Wishing Mr. Wellls a speedy recovery.
Edited: March 29, 2019, 7:57 AM · Here's wishing you a speedy recovery George.I realize the antibiotics are necessary but I always hated them because they tend to kill everything including the good beneficial bugs. The first thing I would do is to begin probiotics after the treatment to build the good bugs back up.

There probably isn't space here to entirely cover everything I went through a few years ago. I would end up writing a book. All hell broke loose for me then. Up until then I was always healthy and have always been active and very resilient. Three things hit me right in succession.
Treatment was long and arduous. Recovery at home was about a month. Let's just say it was not a good year.

In my case, any kind of creativity was very limited. Every case is a little different. Very difficult to focus on anything when you're on pain meds. If you go off of the meds then you hurt.It can be a vicious cycle.
Eventually I slowly began to regain a normal life. I still deal with some of the effects of it. I have a new normal.It isn't anything I can't work around and for all practical purposes I'm can do everything I once did.

George I'm sure that you'll be back up and doing everything you once did. As you know activity and exercise is important.The body heals and functions better when it stays active.

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

March 29, 2019, 9:05 AM · George - I am glad you are okay and recovering! That must have

I have had my fair share of injuries that have laid me up for anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months in the past - but nothing like what you have experienced. I had pneumonia a few years ago, had never been more sick in my entire life, and nothing really helped but time - it was awful. Similar to Mary Ellen, I was able to kind of power through it because, well, I needed my job and couldn't afford to lose it. If I got sick like that now, I would not hesitate to bask in convalescence because I'm in a better employment situation.

Thanks to a few chronic medical issues that I've learned to live with, I know the frustration of not being able to "do" what you are normally capable. The best thing is to revel in the time to be "lazy" (ahem, recovering, convalescing) and do the things you normally believe yourself to be too busy for: reading, watching various movies and TV, chatting with folks on the phone, writing letters if you are mentally up to it, napping, asking for help, and so on. I feel like, with the few things that I've dealt with, it gave me a better appreciation for not wasting time and being as present as possible with whatever I am doing.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

March 29, 2019, 9:16 AM · George - best wishes: perhaps a time to listen to the most obscure of the obscure! Sign up for every classical music streaming service you can and really dig in. I did this for a while and it really changed my playing (must get back to it)…

Speedy recovery :)

March 29, 2019, 12:14 PM · Hi George! While I wasn't playing at the time, in 2017 I had two major surgeries (not at the same time) that took me out of action for close to half the year. I wasn't allowed to do much of anything other than to sit and heal - and indeed I wasn't in any condition to disobey medical advice on this. I feel your pain!

What got me through was reading and research on topics of interest to me, long sessions of listening to music, checking in with very patient friends and family, movies, and learning to write with my left hand as my dominant arm was in a stabilizer sling for 8 weeks. The time will pass, more quickly than it may seem right now. Focus on taking care of yourself, and swift recovery!

Edited: March 29, 2019, 8:43 PM · George-thanks for sharing that and being open to comment. My version of that story is that at age 22 I had a major medical problem that stopped my playing and lessons. I tried to make the heroic come-back, but hard or long practicing only triggered relapses. After years of pounding on that closed door, I let it go and did a non-music job. About twenty years later the condition "burned out" on its own, and I gradually began playing more and more. Now I am one of those part-time music faculty at the local college. My only regret is that I never acquired that very advanced technique that wins auditions.
Edited: March 31, 2019, 11:03 AM · The worse I have had as violin playing is concerned is a herniated lumbar disc, kept me in bed for over a month before I could do anything other than laying on my back. Playing was gradually re-introduced after week 4-5, with multiple short practices rather than longer ones. Took over 2 months before I got back to pseudo-normal functionning, still not fully recovered after 1 1/2 year.

Take it slow, and I wish you nice and full recovery.

April 2, 2019, 3:38 PM · Thanks everyone! Despite nasty rumors to the contrary there is light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't the proverbial train. My Primary care set me up with a Social Worker just to let-fly with all my frustrations and a lot of suggestions as to how to cope. No, it will not be easy but in the context of my life a couple of months of very limited playing isn't all that bad. It is also good to know that I'm not the only one.


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