A Guitarist’s Nightmare 6

April-May 2012

The three weeks of house arrest dragged on and on. Several people were incredibly kind to me and Ingrid during this. Mrs. South and her son (he studied  guitar with me for several years) brought some food by. She was horrified to see my left arm bandaged up, she thought it was just the right elbow. Brian Hudson (a former student) brought me a copy of Kieth Richards’ autobiography and mowed the lawn. He also took me for a walk around the neighborhood. I hated not being able to exercise much, that felt really good. My friend Wayne Thompson visited. He’s a very accomplished guitarist (another former student) and it was tough on him to see me all bandaged up and unable to do much. I would have had a tough time if the situation were reversed. As a musician, what do you say to someone who might never be a musician again?

I did make one excursion, I had a final exam to give for beginning class guitar. I could have just given grades based on what the students had accomplished to that point but it was an exam where they played for me one-on-one and they had been working towards that. I had some help giving the test and we got it done.

Finally the three weeks were up and it was off to the Orthopaedic Center to see Dr. Griffin and get my stitches out. After processing and xrays I was in a little examining room and the xray tech comes in and puts this on the computer screen. Holy @$#%! I’m not against abstract sculpture it just isn’t what I would go out of my way to acquire. Now I have this permanently installed. I was told that my ulnar nerve had been moved to accommodate all of the hardware and the process of installing it. That made sense, Even to this day it feels like the signals to my right hand have been rerouted somehow. I could tell that as soon as I woke up from the operation.


It does have its own special charm as a work of art, so I put it up on Facebook. The wristplate is creepy too, just not as massively impressive as the elbow sculpture.


I was set up for therapy sessions, asked if I needed more narcotics (no, not yet), told I could play guitar if I wanted, and sent home. A very, very long hot shower was the first thing I did. I felt wonderful.

Eventually I worked up the courage to get a guitar in playing position and see if anything would work. It didn’t. After three weeks of inactivity my muscles were rubbery, I had horrible range of motion in my right arm, and the left wrist was excruciatingly painful. But I persisted and got through five whole minutes, and towards the end it wasn’t entirely incoherent. Maybe this will get better. It was pretty discouraging but I told myself “tomorrow you try for ten minutes.” Tomorrow was my first round of therapy too, I wondered what that would be like.