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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Arms Control

Hello, everyone. This update will be short because I am typing it one-handed. My right arm collapsed on stage a few weeks ago. This is the arm that supports the weight of the oboe. I don't know how else to put this, but my arm just completely lost all muscle control and I had to balance my oboe on my knee for the rest of the performance. My fingers worked but my right thumb was totally useless.

I haven't been that slowed down by this. I am doggedly determined to make every day work one way or another and not miss any performances. As a result of my stubbornness I have needed to string together a number of MacGyver-like solutions. The day after the initial collapse I dragged a camera tripod on stage on which I could rest my elbow at a precise height for playing. Since then I have been rehabbing my thumb, hand, and arm with immobilizing braces, a brass rod support for performances, physical therapy and rest. My orchestra's management responded to my situation within hours with a special black armchair in which the right armrest had a block of wood secured to it with concert black duct tape.

But why did it happen so suddenly?

My first guess—that this is just tendonitis—is making me wonder. Doing my own research in advance of upcoming neurologist and endocrinologist appointments, I am turning up plenty of hits online relating to my thyroid hormone replacement therapy and especially side effects of my diabetes insipidus. Regarding the latter—in which my body loses too much liquid which I counteract with a nasal spray—there is a danger of low potassium in my body which can lead to muscle collapse. With diabetes insipidus corrected by a nasal spray the common side effect is to never feel hungry. I always feel "full" these days and everything tastes salty. I hate to eat most of the time and therefore I tend to forget that a 6'4", 230-pound person can be malnourished.

I'm fixing all this. I am taking supplements carefully now and my arm is gaining strength again. I am hard at work on a new composition set to be premiered early next year, so I am learning how to compose with only one hand. It takes twice as long!