My worst nightmare….

Posted In: How To Play

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    emma-graham on #185002

    ….Has come true. On 28th December, while visiting my Dads grave on his anniversary, I tripped backward over my Mum’s dog and landed heavily on my left hand. I knew immediately my wrist was broken. My future career just instantly flashed before me. I think my first words were “what if I can never play again?” It’s a bad break. The top of the bone is broken straight across but also straight down through the middle. Due to the pressures on the UK health service at the moment I had to wait until the 7th January to have surgery to put plates and screws in to put it all back together. So now it’s just a painful waiting game to see how well it all heals. I can still teach thank goodness but it just shows how quickly and easily life can be turned upside down.

    Gretchen Cover on #185003

    Emma, you have my deepest sympathy. I broke a small bone in my hand a couple years ago due to a fall, and the recovery was very long. If you do physio as part of your treatment (highly recommended), be sure to do shoulder therapy, too. Let the physio know you are a harpist and the type of movements you do. I only did hand therapy and ended up with a persistent shoulder problem when I got back into playing due to not using those muscles for many weeks.

    carl-swanson on #185004

    Emma- You should be fine. About 20 years ago I had a slip and fall accident and broke both bones near my wrist, what they call a spoon fracture. My hand and wrist were down and under the bones leading up to my elbow. It looked awful.

    I was amazed at how quickly the muscles in my arm shriveled. But once the cast came off and I started doing physiotherapy, everything came back fine. I initially had problems with rotating the wrist, but that got back to normal too. Just give it time.

    Anonymous on #185005

    Many blessings for you, and speedy recovery.

    Sylvia on #185006

    I did a number on my left wrist rollerblading in November ’98. There was no name for the fracture…he called it smithereens. I didn’t have a cast. First, I went to surgery, (2 docs) and they put on a metal bar from the hand to the arm called a fixator, which sticks up (it’s not under the skin) and draws comments like “bionic arm”. (They drill a hole in the hand bone and the arm bone.)

    Mine looked like the first image here.

    Then they waited a while to see if the pieces would all come together. They didn’t. After about a month, they decided to go to surgery again and put in a plate. The Dr. told me later it took them a long time to decide how to put the plate in because it was hard to find anything to attach it to. Cheery.

    Anyway, the upshot was by March, the fixator was off and I started therapy because my hand and wrist wouldn’t move. I didn’t wear a sling, but the left arm and hand couldn’t bear any weight because of the pins, plate, etc…until it had all settled. It didn’t take long, tho, to get things going, and I started going out to play very soon…so I was sidelined from about mid-Nov. till the end of March….but then I used my smaller harp, the Aoyama Etude, until November because my left arm was so weak.

    After all that, the only thing I do differently are harmonics in the left hand…I do them the same way as harmonics in the right because my wrist can’t quite bend back enough…and I can’t do hand stands over. (I quit skating. sigh)
    So even tho it seems the end of the world at the moment, hopefully yours will also heal up and be fine again. I, too, wondered if I’d ever play again.

    balfour-knight on #186852

    Hello, friend Emma!

    I hope your wrist is healing well, and we continue to remember you in our thoughts and prayers. I love your posts in Harp Column!

    Best wishes,
    Balfour (and Carol Lynn)

    emma-graham on #186971

    Hi Balfour,
    Thanks for asking. It’s a long, slow road. I still can’t really play. I am getting the mobility back slowly but it’s never going to be what it was. It’s not bad but just not the same. Still pretty painful too. I just found out from my surgeon that there is a screw sticking through the back of the bone. If that starts to hurt at all I have to call him immediately and he will remove everything, that would be going back to square one so not appealing! I go to group occupational therapy classes and compared to some of the others there I am doing pretty well. I bought a lap harp to take with me which is great. Actually, the wrist itself wouldn’t be too problematic for playing, the main problem I have is that I severely damaged my 3rd and 4th fingers in the fall. They are what is stopping me from playing. I can’t straighten my 3rd and both are VERY painful. Apparently they could take up to 18 months to recover but may never be pain free. I will have to learn to live with it I guess.
    I am really lucky that I have a big blue electric harp and a loop pedal so I still have loads of fun creating backing tracks using my RH and playing along! I am putting in some LH too now as I have a thumb and 2nd finger! I haven’t stopped playing at all which is great. I only got the Camac last Sept. So I’m learning how to use it and enjoying doing something new…..I just can’t earn any money!!

    balfour-knight on #186996

    Hi, Emma!

    So glad to hear about your healing wrist. Now we will pray that your fingers come along, too, and recover completely. You have such a wonderful attitude. Our hearts go out to you.

    Best wishes and prayers for continued healing,
    Balfour & Carol Lynn

    Sylvia on #187002

    Are you doing therapy for the fingers? OT is not like PT, which sounds like what you need.
    I couldn’t move my fingers at all for a while, (I think I still had the fixator on). They were stiff. Once I went in for a checkup, and my regular doctor wasn’t there. The other doctor showed me how to take my other hand and press my stiff fingers flat into my palm. It worked! They moved after that. I was so happy, and of course, since my doctor didn’t seem to know about that maneuver, I showed him how to do it.
    Maybe another doctor could suggest what to do about your fingers.
    As for the screw, I actually had screws and a pin of some kind, but the fixator kept it all in place, and the pin was removed after it healed.

    allegra on #187025

    If you’re anywhere near London, there’s a top hand therapist (and arm/shoulder/etc) who works specifically with musicians, lots of very well known ones.

    emma-graham on #187026

    Thanks. Yes Sylvia I have OT and Physio. The fingers now move fine. I can bend, grip, everything…..except play!! In day to day life you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. I’m hyper- mobile so they look normal now! The problem is that I was holding a plastic dog lead when I fell. I gripped it but my dog jumped forward to get out from under the large object heading his way! Essentially the middle finger bone was pulled forward and all the tendons, ligaments and cartilage were damaged. (It also pulled the now shattered bone apart and send the pieces pinging to places they didn’t ought to be – love my doggy!) The fingers are now incredibly painful when you apply pressure and do something silly like trying to play the harp! They are getting there. My 3rd finger is almost useable.
    It sounds like external fixation would have been preferable. Mine is all inside and my X-Rays look like wolverine. It great to know that you have made such a great recovery though. I tried LH harmonics yesterday and I see what you mean – maybe I’ll try that again later!

    Janis Cortese on #187032

    Emma, I have never had to recuperate from an accident like this, so please take anything I say with a dumptruck full of salt, but there have been musicians who have recovered from devastating injuries in the past, so please don’t give up.

    There’s the Haitian violinist whose hands were severely damaged during the big earthquake that they had a while back — he’s back to performing. (IIRC, he had metal spikes driven through his hand.)

    And there’s my favorite violinist, Rachel Barton Pine, who got dragged behind a train and nearly killed when she was about 20. She got nerve damage in her scroll hand and couldn’t even play for two years while they tried to put her back together, and now she’s back to travelling all over the world and plays on one of the really good Guarneris, a 1742.

    I don’t want to make light of your injury, but please don’t think you’ll never play again, either.

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