When your body lets you down

It happens to everyone from time to time. Some get tennis elbow, others housemaid’s knee. So let’s imagine that the tennis player is a professional and the housemaid likewise: they would not be able to continue earning, and that would be a serious set-back.

Tendinitis (not to mention bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome) can be difficult to treat. Rest is involved, and rest takes time. It could easily set you back six to eight weeks and, in some cases, much longer.

I first came across it when my left wrist seized up because of the way I was playing the fiddle. Not only was I practising too intensely, I was putting undue strain on the tendon of the left wrist. At the time I went for a radical solution – restringing the violin and playing left-handed. (And for the technical among you, no, I did not relocate the sound post, which I should really have done.) This was only possible for an amateur like me and is not recommended. A professional player couldn’t do it and succeed. When playing the fiddle the left and right hands are doing radically different things. You can’t just change over and resume where you left off.

So what happens if a part of the body you rely on to make your way in the world packs in, either temporarily or permanently? I thought of this recently when I met someone I knew and she just smiled. She had lost her voice. Her doctor had taken a peek but could find nothing wrong. The consultant at ENT had stuck a cable up her nostril and down to her vocal cords. It was tipped with a camera. He could see nothing wrong either.

This is what she said without using her voice: ‘My singing career is over before it’s even begun.’

A wry comment, and good way to put it, but she is not a singer. What if she had been? What is a singer supposed to do if she loses her voice? Take up knitting?

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One thought on “When your body lets you down

  1. Swapping hands to play the fiddle? I have in my past had serious arm and elbow problems (my own fault). As a (right-handed) sculptor I had developed good left hand skills and could swap many tasks, but what I found weird was that my right hand was really stupid about doing ‘simple’ left hand tasks. So I could iron very efficiently with my left hand, but could hold the clothes correctly with my right. I was lucky to have nothing too serious or permanent.

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