Knee Jerk Reactions

Last Saturday was my spring concert. I have looked forward to that day with both excitement (I loved the music we were playing!) and a bit of trepidation (solos, even if they were on the small side). Any orchestra concert takes a lot of prep work; for me personally, not just playing the parts as best I can. Since I’m also involved in supporting the orchestra as a whole, there are always a bunch of other things to handle, including board meetings, fundraising, advertising, and more. But I know, from experience, that all I can do is prepare the best that I can, and accept whatever point I’m at when the performance comes around.

One thing I hadn’t planned on, though, was knee problems, especially since I thought I’d left the bulk of them behind several years ago when I upgraded equipment to a new set of knees. But that’s just the hardware, not the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and whatever else is holding the bionics in place. I managed to do something — I suspect one of those slides through the mud when you almost fall but end up looking like you’re trying to balance on a surfboard before falling off — and aggravated a tendon. To add insult to injury, parts of my knee remain numb after surgery and I didn’t realize I’d done anything until it gradually got to a point where my knee felt under assault from random tasers.

Yep. All me!

If you’re thinking “OUCH!”… well, yeah. I’ve said that, plus a few other things. And being out of practice with misbehaving knees, I only partially knew what to do. I iced it and took NSAIDs, but it wasn’t enough. A medical friend gave me some excellent advice and I managed to alleviate some of the issues by the time my concert rolled around on Saturday, but not completely.

The pains, although not as sharp as they had been (taser level was reduced to something more like cramps; at least I wasn’t jerking forward and gasping every time one gripped my knee), still upset me a lot. I’ve gotten used to doing, not sitting on my butt and letting everyone else do. I also feared my knee would cramp up during the concert. Seriously, I just wanted to cry. I had worked so hard on trying to get my parts worked out and I needed my total concentration, not an underlying fear floating along that my knee might jerk in the middle of a short solo.

My knee did misbehave during the concert, but fortunately, not to a point where it affected my ability to play. Any goofs I made were entirely my own. 😉 And all in all, I was happy with the concert.

The good news is that my doc checked out my knee this past Monday, and while I’m on the DL for probably another week, my knee feels much better and I feel a bit smarter for the experience. Really, no matter how much we plan for anything, the possibility exists that something will come along to screw it up.

I admit that on Friday, I was ready to bow out of the concert. I just couldn’t see how on earth I could possibly play when I found it difficult to even walk. In fear, I even bought a cheap adjustable cane, since I had already donated the ones both hubby and I had before knee surgeries. At that point, what I feared most was that I’d jerk while playing and damage my lips since my reactions to the pain were sudden and outside of my control. Thank goodness I stuck it out; not because I thought no one else could do my part. I know better; I’m not that special! But because giving up on something that meant something incredibly important to me was just too much to consider without putting everything I had into finding a way through it.

Now, in retrospect, I’m glad I did the hard thing (seeing it through) instead of the easy thing (giving up). I know I didn’t do it alone, too. Doing the hard things usually results in the best possible outcome, and having already done so many hard things in my past, I would have totally lost faith in myself had I not followed through. But as a musician, I also know there are times when the best thing to do for the entire group is to step aside. Sometimes, it’s very difficult to figure out where that line is — and resist the knee-jerk reaction.

Enjoy my concert!

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