Hand surgery

Posted by: Bootero

Hand surgery - 03/24/06 04:38 AM

I am looking for advice and anyone's experience with trying to teach and get through hand surgery.

I am having hand surgery sometime in my near future. I am trying get through this school year before trying to surgically repair my thumb joint. I am trying meds to keep the pain at a minimum until school is out. If the med's don't work, I need surgery sooner than later. Bad time of the year to be compromised.

My problem is I have had an onslaught of new students calling for lessons and they want to start in June. (which is my hopeful surgery time)

How have you all dealt with teaching through this kind of situation. I don't want to turn potential students away, I have a few older kids that I am not sure will be returning next year.

Were people tolerant, could you make it through by using left hand more? What worked and what didn't and what do you recommend to get through the time. I figure I will lose a week the week of the surgery, but I am hoping I can pick it back up without too much difficulty after the initial week.

Any ideas, experience, helpful hints, are appreciated. Did anyone bail on you ? I am just worried and apprehensive about the recovery and looking bad if I can't execute moves for awhile.

Or has anyone had this particular surgery for thumb-based arthritis and how long was recovery until you really could use your thumb?

Thanks in advance.....
Posted by: Susan

Re: Hand surgery - 03/24/06 08:12 AM

I'm sorry you have to go through this, and I hope it works. I've not had hand surgery, but one time I did have several months where I was not able to use one hand. It was hard not to be able to play for the students, but we managed. I think you will find everyone will be very understanding!
Posted by: lagin

Re: Hand surgery - 03/24/06 08:18 AM

I'm sure it will be fine to take them on. You can explain that you will be taking a yet to be determined week off for your surgery, though. With the elementary students, you can just use your left hand more, and also be creative in "explaining" what you want them to do verses "showing" them. You can say put your right hand thumb on G and point to their thumb and point to G. You don't actually have to physically show them what it looks like.

Also, with these beginner students there isn't much "hands together" work so either of your hands will do the job. They will also learn that not only any finger, but any hand can play a note! (But of course, if you have 2 functioning hands like they do, they will have to keep playing it the written way. No exotic hand crossing playing for them yet ;\) . )

And with your more advanced students, they won't need as much demonstration as the beginners, and the demonstration they do need can be done with either hand by you, and they will be far enough along to transfer that information to their right hand.
Posted by: Dorla Aparicio

Re: Hand surgery - 03/25/06 01:42 AM

You will be just fine! Have the surgery when you think is best, don't make your pain worse. I had elbow surgery, terrible pain in hands, was not allowed to play the piano once they decided I needed surgery. After the surgery, I continued teaching with my cast on and then with a sling for many months. It was a vivid reminder to the students of what can happen to you if you do not play the piano correctly. My problems were due to a trapped nerve in my elbow. My piano professor said that is was problem from repetitive incorrect fingering, posture and tension. I believe it. It was also a good thing to learn left handed repertoire!
Posted by: Bootero

Re: Hand surgery - 03/28/06 04:22 AM


Did you have to have physical therapy? How long did it take you to return to you old level of abiiity following surgery?
Posted by: Christina

Re: Hand surgery - 03/30/06 06:17 AM

hi bootero,

i've had hand surgery twice on my right hand. i had a tumour growing in a cavity of one of my carpal bones. it was first thought to be a ganglion, but xrays determined otherwise. the first surgery i had when i was 17, the dr told me i'd never be able to play the piano again at my level! i was devastated! i had to get a bone graft (very painful). i never had physio, and it took me 2 years to get back to the level i was at, although i never had the mobility back the same. i then auditioned at university and got a scholarship. while attending university, 5 years later, i had the same pain. went to a different dr, one who specialised in musicians, and had to have the surgery again. in addition to the tumour coming back, it was mostly just scar tissue and a bone shard from the original surgery sticking up. this time i had physio and performed a recital 8 weeks later. the physio helped IMMENSELY!!!

i taught this entire time, students of all levels. everyone was extremely understanding and very helpful, as i couldn't use my right hand AT ALL! it was only for a few weeks, and even when i had the first surgery, it took me longer to recover, but they were still very sympathetic about it.

good luck to you, i know how traumatic hand surgery is to a pianist.
Posted by: Dorla Aparicio

Re: Hand surgery - 03/30/06 08:52 AM

I did not have to do anything with a specialist, just a few hand exercises at home with a soft ball and that was it. After 8 weeks my arm was back to normal, just no heavy lifting.