The Return of an old friend and an old nemesis

I sent my flute off to be worked on recently, and although I hardly ever get to play it anymore, I felt the loss immediately. For two weeks’ worth of lessons, I felt my hand reach out for it, only to find it absent. It drove me crazy. It was in sad shape. It hadn’t been worked on since Alex was born—literally. (Christian went and got it from Marvin the day after surgery.)


We went to see family in St. Louis on the 12th, and picked up my flute on the way. I felt like I was regaining an old friend—with new quirks. I always forget how different the touch feels after maintenance. I think I have a light touch (Heaven knows I’m always on my students about it), but by the time three years’ worth of air leaks do their thing, I’m pushing much harder than I know. It used to take a day, two at most, to reacquaint myself with the necessary weight, but that was when I was practicing 2-3 hours a day. It takes longer now. I feel like a bull in a china shop (if you’ll pardon the cliché).


And that brought into focus the reappearance of another old acquaintance, one not nearly so welcome: hand problems. With all the typing I do these days, carpal tunnel symptoms come and go, especially in my right hand. But this time, it just kept getting worse. I started sleeping with ace bandages—it’s been years since I had to do that more than a night or two—and taking ibuprofen in hefty doses. It got to the point where I didn’t want to clean the bathtubs, because I have to lean on one hand and scrub with the other, and either way it tenses up my right arm. So I called my good friend Esteban, who miraculously had an opening, and in I went for a massage.


My body is a very different machine than it was before children. It used to be that at a massage, I knew exactly which muscles he would work on, because they were the same ones every time—the flute culprits. These days, it’s more the carrying kid muscles and the weak abdominals, battle scars of two C-sections and 18 months of pregnancy, during which I’m not allowed to do ab-focused exercise.


The massage helped, but I still have work to do. Exercises for the head and shoulders…and for the abs, one way or another.