Monday, March 4, 2013


Sometime in early January of this year, I was sitting at my desk at work. My job involves a lot of sitting. And typing. I was sitting there, working, typing, possibly rocking out to Radiohead on my earphones, when I realized that my hand was hurting me.

My right hand.

I started rubbing it, and felt something strange. At the base of my right hand ring finger, where the finger meets the palm, I felt a bump.

I didn't panic, but I did wonder what it was. So I called Kaiser and made an appointment with my doctor, who couldn't see me until the end of the the month.

I went to see Dr. Reid, and he looked at it, felt my finger, and got me a referral to see an orthopedic hand specialist. He thought maybe it was a cyst but he wasn't sure.

When I went back to work, I started wondering if it was work-related, and put through the paperwork to get that business started. I thought perhaps it was a repetitive movement issue or possibly an ergonomics issue. My friend Claris in the Safety Office came out and checked my space out, and then she and another Safety person, my friend Alex, hooked me up with a new mouse to try. Since we didn't know what was causing the bump, it seemed like it could be possible that something I was doing while using the mouse was the problem.

When I finally saw the ortho, he also felt my finger. He was not as gentle (or cute) as Dr. Reid, and after his 30 second examination, my hand hurt more than ever. He then called for an x-ray.

It turns out that I have a ganglion cyst.

I did a bit of reading, and I'm lucky - some people get these on the other side of their hand, in pretty prominent places. They're not pretty, and they look like they hurt. Mine is pea-sized and not visible, but it does cause some soreness.

And since I've been trying to make an effort to practice my flute more, that's becoming an issue.

I've always had a bit of trouble with my right hand, especially when I'm out of practice. Now is one of those times. Somehow my right hand just doesn't always do what I want it to do, in the way I want it to work. It can't keep up sometimes, and notes get sloppy. The worst thing is when I'm practicing and I get bogged down because I can't play something as fast as I think I should. Or as cleanly. Being clean is a huge thing for me: it's so important. Feeling the rhythm and the beat: I always feel like that, the hardest thing for me sometimes, is the most obvious sign of a good musician. I got a chance one night in the summer to practice for about an hour (rare!!!!), and I was being really obsessive about a certain passage in one of the Muczynski flute duets, and I had the hand position and finger control all totally synched up... but that was months ago.

I remember watching the Winter Olympics figure skating one year and the announces kept referring to a certain move (a lutz) as a "flutz" because the skater made some technical error related to the edge of their blade and the way they take off for the jump. I don't know much about figure skating, and even when watching the slowed down up close video, can't tell if the skater is on the outside edge or what-have-you. However, the word is totally evocative of the way I feel about what happens when the notes aren't clean. It seems to be the worst on things that involve F#, which, coincidentally, involves the right hand ring finger.

On Saturday, I had a little time to play and I spent the time on chromatic scales and the loop pattern. I did a lot of work in the key of G, and F# (fun scale!). I only ended up with about 15-20 minutes to play, but that was fine, because afterwards my hand was sore.

It worries me.

My doctor is recommending surgery. I have an appointment next week with the orthopedic surgeon. I have a lot of questions! It sucks that this is coming up now when I'm trying to get more involved with my flute playing. Our flute choir group is enormous this quarter and there are so many talented flutists. I need to work hard to keep up.

Anyway, it's not a big deal, really, and it could be much worse, so I don't want to make a big deal out of it. Maybe just more practice will help work it out. And some Advil.

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