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About five days ago the index finger on my left hand became extremely irritated.
Over the course of a few days this irritation swelled to dramatic proportions and over the weekend, I was incapable of using that finger during practice sessions.
I have absolutely no idea how this happened, other than having done some front-yard gardening that week. Maybe something simply got infected under the nail, or maybe some exotic desert creature bit me … I will never know.
E.T. says ‘ouch’
I will spare our dear readers the horror and grotesqueness of my radically swelled digit. Let’s just say that at its peak, it resembled one of those fancy little oblong-shaped tomatoes that chefs put on salads.
On top of its swelled size, my finger became extremely sensitive to touch. There was lots of complaining, ‘whingeing’ and gnashing of teeth.
The workaround crutch
The picture above was taken last night and as you can see, conditions have improved. In order to play my horn over the weekend however, I had to tape a piece of cork to the first valve, arc my wrist forward, and use the inside of my 2nd knuckle to clumsily move the lever, with a bandaged finger.
At Sunday breakfast my mother-in-law took it upon herself to tell some wild, fanciful story about oozing pus, jettisons of blood and emergency amputations.
What a lovely and pleasant topic while eating a leisurely meal and sipping coffee, I thought. Waitress? More orange juice please. Oh, and a side of oozing pus for my eggs as well.
Heeding my dear mother-in-law’s advice (or was it succumbing to her act of random breakfast-terrorism?) I decided later to go to an urgent care facility. The short story is that I got looked at, was given a round of antibiotics to take and – hooray! – my finger will remain whole and intact and I am otherwise healthy.
Fingers, age and finger dexterity
In all seriousness, as I get older I seem to devote more and more practice time towards finger coordination and dexterity exercises. Simple things — like one-octave chromatic scales — that were once tossed off like magic when I was in my twenties, no longer happen through pixie dust or osmosis.
Over the weekend I was reminded once again that I am not infallible, and that playing the horn over a lifetime is a little like a race to the finish.
My fingers have slowed down a bit, but that is OK and I am OK with that. With a little work things snap into shape.
I take it all in stride, knowing that along with age also comes a little more wisdom and a little more seasoning.