Thursday, March 23, 2017

On Being Clumsy

Something happened the other day that I'm struggling to let go of. In many ways, it's not a very big deal and in many ways, it's funny. But, it's also bumming me out. I'll get to the story in a minute. I'm bummed out mostly because it made me notice for the first time in a while just how clumsy I am these days. By clumsy, I mostly mean that I drop things (my phone, meds, keys, glasses and dishes, etc.) A LOT, and I bump into things (walls, doorways, chairs, etc.) A LOT. Like multiple times a day, every day. This is another thing that has just slowly and steadily gotten worse over the years that I should have mentioned here when I talked about the "little things" that have been progressing.

For the most part, this isn't a big deal. Yes, I've broken quite a few dishes and glasses over the past few years. Yes, I've gotten a few bruises. Yes, I have shattered many a phone screen, and learned that the "life-proof" Otterbox cases are not up to the rigors of my life, apparently. But for the most part, none of this is a big deal. Stuff is replaceable and bruises heal. As of now, no serious injuries or massive expenses have come as a result of my clumsiness. And I know that everyone drops stuff sometimes and everyone bumps into things sometimes. And it's not a big deal.

I asked my mom yesterday, just making sure, "have I always been clumsy?" She assured me that I was not a clumsy person before, which I knew or thought I did. But I am clumsy now, without question. The rate of this stuff happening is just exponentially bigger. And that bums me out. Even though it's not really a big deal each little time I am "clumsy." The frequency with which these little times happen is a big deal. And it is definitely a big deal to know that this rate of clumsiness may well get worse, even a lot worse, over time.

First, the backstory - as you probably know, I play the horn. This is a brass instrument with a gaggle of tubes that you can remove to empty the instrument of condensation. It's colloquially referred to as "spit" but this isn't the time or place to explain to you why that's inaccurate. ;-) It's something I have done literally tens of thousands of times. It's something I have to do, dozens of times, every single time I play the instrument.

Now, the story. I was playing a symphony concert last weekend. Before the concert, the orchestra was warming up onstage. I played some notes and then, as I do before the start of any concert, started emptying out several of my slides. I took out a slide and then somehow, I didn't just drop it, but I sent it flying. It bounced off the riser I was sitting on and landed down on the ground in between my riser and the one in front of me. I was afraid it had gone under the riser and would be impossible to reach. My colleague/friend sitting next to me quickly got down and retrieved it for me. (Thanks, Denise!) At this point, it was just a fluke, a funny thing that could happen to anyone. I laughed about it and continuing emptying my horn. A few slides later, it happened again. This time, I sent it flying maybe 12 feet. It landed almost offstage. Again, this was so absurd that it was funny. I shared a laugh with the horn section. And while I was laughing genuinely, I was also somewhat mortified and upset.

I cannot tell you how glad I am that this happened before the concert started and not during the concert! I don't know what I would have done if this happened mid-performance. You better believe that every time I emptied my horn during the concert I did it slowly and with a death grip on the slide. Emptying my horn is something I typically do without thinking. No longer! When I play now (in public, anyway), I'll be paying a lot more attention and using a forceful grip and trying to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I literally have no idea how this actually happened. I don't think I had any numbness or a tremor in that hand that day to explain this. Then again, sometimes I'm not entirely consciously aware of symptoms like these. Dropping something is one thing, but unintentionally throwing something?

This slide-throwing story also hit me because of another absurd story from about a month ago. I was sitting on the couch using my laptop when I needed to get up to do something. In moving my laptop from my lap to a footstool I set my laptop on when I'm not using moving it a distance of less than one foot...I didn't just drop my laptop, but I somehow threw it into the air. It landed awkwardly on its side but it didn't break, luckily. When this happened, it was so absurd as to be funny. It was baffling as to how it possibly could have happened but it didn't really make me pause and reflect like this. But when taken with the horn story, yikes.

So, I'm a clumsy person now. I drop things, I bump into things, and now I apparently throw things. So far, I only throw really expensive stuff, though. Which is great.

Any other throw-stuff klutzes out there, MS-related or otherwise?

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