Physical Therapy: “Wasted Years”

The latest gear in modern physical therapy, demonstrated by a well-documented klutz.


December 28, 2016, I fell, breaking the scaphoid bone in my left wrist when landing on top of it. Broken, the scaphoid is a difficult, prima donna bone, poorly vascularized yet located where even scratching one’s head brings it into play. I spent four months with my arm in a splint before the fracture showed sign of healing, at which point the surgeon told me that I am a prodigy. With this bone, he said, most people are in the splint for six months or more. My “rapid” progress, he asserted, must be testament to my lifestyle, genes, luck or what have you. I felt like it took FOR-E-VER! Four months in a splint is four months in a splint, which meant that the offending article came off a limb the muscles of which had gone whimpo and the tendons of which had seriously tightened. Over May and June the focus of physical therapy was to restore range of motion and functionality while avoiding strain on the mending bone. At the end of June, the surgeon okayed a shift to rebuilding strength. Besides a different emphasis in our sessions, the therapist, a guitar player, instructed me as part of my home care to continue noodling on the zouk to maintain finger function, but to begin playing lots and lots of chords, especially barre chords, to develop muscle. An exercise I’ve adopted is a kind of hillbilly hack of Iron Maiden’s song, “Wasted Years.” I’ve reached the point where I can play it almost twice through with only a million fumbles before my hand says, “No more.” Observing the end point of another solar orbit, I wanted to execute the song perfectly for upload, but I cannot. Sometimes my fingers still refuse to go where I will them. Here is the best I could manage this morning, a document on the recovery road, proving again the truth of that oft-repeated wisdom, “You may lead a hick to metal, but you cannot make him flatpick.”