I am a right-handed, almost 60 year old artist and musician. (I was trained as a classical singer, spent much of my adult life singing and now make art full time and study piano with great seriousness.) Suffice it to say, I now do everything with my hands. You can imagine my dismay when I developed pain down my right arm causing debilitating muscle cramps in my forearm. Forget about playing the piano at all and sitting at the drawing table could last all of about 45 minutes a day. If this kept up, my life was over. I tried everything: all the traditional western medicine solutions and many of the more promising alternative therapies. 8 months went by and nothing at all worked. Then I contacted Dr. Todd Albert at HSS who recommended an anterior cervical discectomy to relieve the pressure on the nerve.
In this surgery, they approach the spine from the front, sliding the vocal mechanism to one side while repairing the spine and afterwards pretty much guarantee you the worst sore throat of your life. Although I do not sing all that much anymore, once a singer always a singer and I entered that surgery terrified and assuming I was sacrificing my voice to save my right arm. Age forces compromises – that’s just the way it is and I figured I had to live with it.
I am happy to report that, undoubtedly due to the phenomenal skill of Dr. Albert and his team as well as the expert anesthesiologist, I compromised nothing. In less than a month I was virtually pain free and back making art. It’s taking longer to work up to a full load of piano practice but I’m making steady progress. And, my voice is just fine.
May I also say that the people that Dr. Albert has assembled to work with him comprise one of the most empathetic groups of humans I have ever encountered, certainly in a medical environment. On several occasions I found myself wondering what they were doing to make me feel so comfortable. Perhaps it was just so obvious that they are all supremely competent – a tremendous relief. I am so very grateful.