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AndyBob09

Illness Preventing Me From Playing

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Hey guys,

I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself and if you'll allow me, I'm going to take my time, open up and share my story with you, if for nothing else, just to get it off my own chest.

So, just a bit of background to start off, I'm a 28 year old professional muso. Bass is all I've ever really known. I studied it at uni from 18-22, played in wedding bands for 5 years and for the last 5 years, I've played on cruise ships. I work around 7 months onboard, have two months off. Repeat. I've had pain in the balls of my feet for 5 years which has only been getting worse. Trying to get any sort of treatment is a nightmare because I'm never home for any period of time.

At the end of September last year, I started feeling a bit of pain in the knuckle of my first finger on my right hand (I'm right handed) when I played. Over a week or two, the pain got progressively worse daily to the point where I couldn't practice and I just pulled up my big boy pants to go and gig and play through the pain. On cruise ships, you can often be the only bass player onboard. It's really not an option to sit a night out and I never want to let my team down, so I just got on with it and I only had around three weeks left at the end of my contract, so just playing through the pain until I got home was pretty much my only option. The pain worsened and worsened and eventually I got great playing with only my middle finger and using 1st finger only when totally necessary. Everything about my knuckle was painful in the end when it was being used. Handshakes, chopping vegetables, gripping anything at all, holding a pen, using my phone, etc etc.

So, I saw through the last few weeks onboard and saw my GP when I got home. She said she'd refer me to a rheumatologist, though, that may take up to 20 weeks to get a referral.

I had October, November, December at home with no word from the NHS about a referral for my hand (and feet). I hadn't touched a bass in that time, I still had a little pain but it had gone right down. I was starting to run out of cash and I got a call from my agent in January asking if I wanted a two month gig on a ship. I played my bass for a couple of days and my hand felt OK, so I agreed to said gig. I practiced lightly on the lead up to the deployment to make sure I still had some chops and I went back to sea.

I was onboard for two weeks and I was back to playing with only one finger. I went to see the doc. She gave me some anti inflams and sent me on my way. I went back to see her again a week later, she signed me off duty for a week to see if rest and drugs would work. It didn't. I got sent home from that ship and I went back to my GP, demanding to see someone. They referred me to orthopaedics. Around 8 weeks later, I saw a physiotherapist there for an assessment. In those 8 weeks, I'd begun to develop pain in my hips too that flared up most in the mornings. He suggested that it sounds like very early onset osteoarthritis that is accelerating at an alarming rate, for no apparent reason (I'm otherwise healthy and not overweight etc) but isn't an expert in that field, so it's just speculation. He reckoned it should be a rheumatologist I see, so referred me there. I've since received an appointment for the rheumatologist in mid June. 

And that's pretty much where I'm at just now. I just feel pretty useless at the moment. All I really want to do is play my effing bass. I want working limbs that should be able to do all that they're supposed to do. I miss playing. I miss playing with people. 

At the moment, on the speculation of the physiotherapist, I've kind of resigned to the fact I may well have arthritis that may just get worse as time goes on and that if I can't play a bass right now, maybe I never will. There's just so much uncertainty surrounding everything at the moment. I wish it didn't take so much time to get things done on the NHS. 

Oh yeah, I'm jobless again, running out of money again with no means to earn any at the moment. Cruise ships were great employment because you really could just be a nomad, live on the ship, regather yourself at home for a few weeks then back to it again. I'm now looking at getting my derrière in gear, and it really wasn't part of the 5 year plan. I'm just a bit lost at the moment I guess.

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I can offer you nothing but sympathy. I hope your appointment yields an answer and provides a treatment that will have you Y Viva Espana'ing again in no time. :-)

Best of luck for a workable outcome.

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15 minutes ago, Steve Browning said:

I can offer you nothing but sympathy. I hope your appointment yields an answer and provides a treatment that will have you Y Viva Espana'ing again in no time. :-)

Best of luck for a workable outcome.

+1

The NHS is bloody marvelous - such a shame it takes so long to get appointments,

Best wishes,

John

 

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Thats awful Andy, especially as its your main income, most of us are weekend guys doing it for beer money mostly, sorry to hear about this, feel for you mate :(

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Really feel for you Andy, and hope that you can make some progress following your appointment in June.

Take care, all the best.

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That really sucks. Talk to them about whether steroid injections (either intramuscular or into the affected joints) would help reduce the symptoms. Similarly explore  if treatments like prednisolone or methotrexate might help. I had a bout of issues with a form of arthritis a while back and those all helped a lot. Will be wishing you the best when the docs’ appointment runs round.

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I suppose at this point it’s worth being grateful it’s not something like cancer! 

Also a bit of a wake-up call not having all your eggs in one basket, ie gigging, I imagine that this problem might not have flared up so quickly if you had only been gigging 3 times a week and not 7 (or more?!). This may well be the kick you need to diversify while you heal, teaching theory, doing some writing & production etc

With regards to playing, have you tried with a Pick? Or is holding it painful?

Si

 

 

Edited by Sibob

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The only bit of potentially useful info I can give is that when bluesparky sadly missed of this parish was very ill and out of work a charity for musicians helped him greatly, some of us donated to this charity and they checked out as a good legit bunch, they are there to help people who have done their bit as pro players, they may even be able to assist with the medical treatment, they will be named in this thread somewhere. 

Best wishes. 

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Can I suggest you add Turmeric to your daily diet and see if that helps at all whilst waiting for any NHS treatment? It's known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is an anti-oxidant. If you do a bit of googling you'll see it's a popular natural supplement to help those that suffer from arthritis/joint problems. I know firsthand of some elderly folk that use it with positive effects.

You can either get the natural powder stuff and add it to dishes/make turmeric tea, or just buy capsules from health shops/Amazon. Just be aware that it also acts as a natural blood thinner so not recommended if you're taking any medication for that.

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1 hour ago, Switch625 said:

Can I suggest you add Turmeric to your daily diet and see if that helps at all whilst waiting for any NHS treatment? It's known to have anti-inflammatory properties and is an anti-oxidant. If you do a bit of googling you'll see it's a popular natural supplement to help those that suffer from arthritis/joint problems. I know firsthand of some elderly folk that use it with positive effects.

You can either get the natural powder stuff and add it to dishes/make turmeric tea, or just buy capsules from health shops/Amazon. Just be aware that it also acts as a natural blood thinner so not recommended if you're taking any medication for that.

I know it's a different thing, and I'm always up for proper medicine where it's available, but my Brother was completely messed up with a weird form of tendonitis in his hands due to his job, and an old Indian guy at work recommended a paste of Tumeric and water daily (utterly disgusting), and it worked brilliantly for him in relieving the swelling and soreness. Also, My Mum (not a bass player), has badly messed up hands with Arthritis. For years she's been taking Glucosamine after a recommendation from a fellow sufferer. While her hands look really messed up, she suffers hardly any pain and her mobility is excellent despite their appearance.

I hope you find something that works for you.

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A friend of mine was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, I can't remember the name, but it made it impossible for her to play piano or guitar. The NHS tried all sorts.

She found some research suggesting a particularly weird died of nothing but raw fruit and veg, avoiding anything particularly acidic, and it's totally worked for her. It sounds like pseudo science BS to me but I can't deny that it worked

All the best anyway

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I feel for you , I've gone from being an active bass player who also loved playing football to a cancer victim in the last year and it's hard to except the changes when things are taken from you . The only advise I can offer is find small things you enjoy you can do just try to keep going forward a day at a time 

Good luck to you AndyBob 

Edited by lojo

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What an awful predicament to find yourself in.I have no advice or suggestions but your post has made me and the rest of us on BC doubly aware of how fragile we are and how lucky we are to have music and playing bass  in our lives.As has been mentioned, most of us are part timers but for a person in your situation it means no music AND no income which makes matters very serious.I hope you find some relief from the pain and can get back to playing bass soon, we all know how important making music is for us financially, mentally and spiritually.

I have a few creaks and cracks but at 72 I'm still gigging and I can't imagine not being able to play.With luck you will get this resolved soon and can get back to work.

Good luck and keep us informed.

 

Edited by Staggering on

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Just a thought from me - when this started, were you taking meds for anything else?

I myself have had to quit my bands due to illness in the last year and have been on a myriad of painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

I have found that whenever I take Naproxen for a length of time (a stronger Ibuprofen type drug) I get really sore ankles and wrists, and I was tested for arthritis til I twigged what it was.  I just wonder if it could be a reaction to another drug?  Long shot, but worth a thought....?

Good luck with getting yourself sorted.  

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I have suffered an aggressive form of arthritis for the last fifteen years. The worst bit is the early stages where you struggle to get diagnosed and find meds that will help you. After that it can be controlled to a large extent. It’s not easy, but it can be limited and suppressed. At first I couldnt see how how I could still be working five years down the line (there were days when 100 yards took me fifteen minutes) but fifteen years on I play every day, I do an active job and last month completed a twenty mile running challenge (not all in one go) so it can get better as well as worse. The best bit of advice I was given is that when it hurts most is when it needs to be moved most. It’s completely counter intuitive as the pain makes you want to rest but that can allow further damage which then limits movement later. I don’t mean heavy lifting or serious exercise but enough to keep the full range of movement. I actually took up playing the bass in part as to cover some of my daily exercises. If you need any info or I can be of help in any way give me a shout/ PM and good luck and don’t despair!

Edited by T-Bay
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And forgot to say, look at the arthritis research campaign website, loads of great info and positive stories to show it can be tamed if not quite beaten just yet.

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9 hours ago, cheddatom said:

A friend of mine was diagnosed with a form of arthritis, I can't remember the name, but it made it impossible for her to play piano or guitar. The NHS tried all sorts.

She found some research suggesting a particularly weird died of nothing but raw fruit and veg, avoiding anything particularly acidic, and it's totally worked for her. It sounds like pseudo science BS to me but I can't deny that it worked

All the best anyway

This. 'Early onset arthritis' used as a bit of a catch-all by well-meaning but hard time-pressed NHS staff. May take a bit of work and releasing of bad diets, drink and ahem other bad habits (smoking and other things...) but could work for you in the long-term. I'm no doctor but the fact that your other joints aren't affected is weird as you use your hips for example, all the time, not just with a bass in hand. Get ready for a purge... Hope it works for you.

 

Edited by visog

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Oh sorry - me again. Get to the gym too. Light exercise across your extremities and working of the core all good supportive activity. Not sure anyone's mentioned thus far going right back to basics on posture with your bass, making sure you're back's straight and your wrists aren't overly vexed. May have to relearn bass in new position but that's doable right!? Check bass not trapping shoulder nerves either.

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29 minutes ago, visog said:

This. 'Early onset arthritis' used as a bit of a catch-all by well-meaning but hard time-pressed NHS staff. May take a bit of work and releasing of bad diets, drink and ahem other bad habits (smoking and other things...) but could work for you in the long-term. I'm no doctor but the fact that your other joints aren't affected is weird as you use your hips for example, all the time, not just with a bass in hand. Get ready for a purge... Hope it works for you.

 

Arthritis has many forms, each has its own particular joints it affects, it’s often in no way related to the persons usage of those joints. It is one of the way Rheumatologists determine which exact form you have. My form attacks almost all joints but particularly the second joints of the fingers and toes and the hips and shoulders. Others have similar seemingly unrelated groups of joints.

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5 minutes ago, T-Bay said:

Arthritis has many forms, each has its own particular joints it affects, it’s often in no way related to the persons usage of those joints. It is one of the way Rheumatologists determine which exact form you have. My form attacks almost all joints but particularly the second joints of the fingers and toes and the hips and shoulders. Others have similar seemingly unrelated groups of joints.

Well it sounds like you're well informed but give AB9 something to work on... And, in fairness, you say your condition affects second joints, toes and hips shoulders which sort of reinforces my point...

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Seems that joint pain isn't uncommon amongst bass players.

I've been having pains in my hands for the past few months which has made practicing uncomfortable. However I'm not gigging so mine's only pain, not money - yours affects your livelihood.

I hope that the advice from the BC collective goes some way to helping you maintain your career.

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Andy, heres the short version of a long story.

I had pain in my right hip for 2 years and walked with a limp. My doctor changed and added a new prescription drug. The pain was gone within days.

I hope something dramatic and unexpected happens for you like what happened to me.

Blue

 

 

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Rather than wait months for the NHS to refer you to see a specialist, I would bite the bullet and jump the queue to see them (couple of hundred quid at most) and then slip back into the NHS program. Worth it as it will save you money in the long run. 

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