I woke up one morning, a year ago around Valentine's day. I'd woken up with a sore neck before. It's why I'd bought myself a memory foam cervical pillow. Which seemed to help for years. This time felt different. My neck hurt. And it didn't sort itself out after a day of stretching and standing. I couldn't catch a minute of relief. So odd. And so, I bought my first tube of Ben Gay. It helped, I could relax.
A month later, I woke up and my thumbs were sore. Both of them. Odd, I thought. Why were my thumbs sore? What did I do?
Fast forward to Memorial Day that same year...I was in Maine for a ukulele festival. My neck was sore again. I woke up the morning that I was flying to Bangor, and my left forefinger and thumb were a bit numb. Odd, I thought. Late that night, after being so wonderfully welcomed by the crew of the ukulele club running the festival, I was in the guest room of my host. And as I lay down, I couldn't feel my ear lobe. I had numbness in odd places stemming from the left side of my neck. I could not sleep, I could not get comfortable, I was scared.
I dozed, off and on, wrapped in a blanket on the couch in the guest room. I was terrified. I had to play and teach the next day and my hand...was not working right.
I persevered. I told my host and his gal friend about my issue. They offered ointments, rubs and beer. I tried to relax...work through my set and figure out what I could do in case...I couldn't play. My Smeck pieces were shelved. My singing, my jokes; I'd have to rely on that. It seemed to me that I was dealing with a pinched nerve. So I shared that in the workshops. I wanted people to know why I might not be my best. Someone kindly said, if that's you with a pinched nerve, I'm impressed.
I got through my set. We had a great time. We are our own greatest critic, are we not? This concert proved the value of entertainment and connecting with a crowd....but things were not okay.
There was an osteopath in the crowd who took a look at my neck and my shoulder and could see that things were not okay. She suggested that I go to the co-op and buy a tube of "ahh-ni-kah". Being Maine, I asked her to spell that, "arnica", a homeopathic pain reliever. We'll get back to that later.
At any rate. Kind people, shared ointments, an Epsom salt bath, and a flight home later: I felt, as I had many times before, the kindness and love of the ukulele world. I also felt, like I had a major problem brewing. And I had a full summer of ukulele commitments.
In my next installment of this story, I go and visit my primary doctor.