Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rubicon (a foretaste)

Thursday, I was trying to practice some piece on the piano.

I couldn't operate the damper pedal.

Pedal up, pedal down... that was no problem.

Foot stay on pedal; foot place itself upon the pedal when I want to use the pedal, in a place that'll actually operate said pedal properly: those were problems. Big problems. As in "couldn't make it happen."

As close to I get to "pain" from the MS is discomfort on my right foot when things are pushing back, like gas pedals, brake pedals, and... of course, and worst of all... damper pedals.

Now, I don't think it quite means "my piano-playing days are over." I can probably engineer around this problem by gaff-taping a slipper to the pedal and slipping my foot into it, thus insuring that my foot won't wander. At least, I think that'll work... it's the same problem I had with a bass drum pedal a few months ago, the Wandering Foot problem. And, since the piece I was practicing was my own composition, I'm going to rewrite it (it's for organ and piano) and move myself to the organ and the organist to the piano, which he won't mind 'cause he's been playing it on the piano to rehearse the singers, and I'm going to be giving him his reduction as his piano part, so no extra work for him, no uncomfortable "I don't know if I can play this instrument any more" moments for me. Everybody wins. Sort of. (Great. "Sort of." Still, and again, and more... "sort of.")

But it was weird, and uncomfortable, to have to be confronted with this. I must admit, I don't think I've truly dealt with it yet. Not really.

Being forced to confront your own mortality, the temporary nature and evanescence of your physical being, constantly, one piece at a time: this is one of the gifts of MS that I'm having the most trouble accepting.

Walking is becoming more difficult. I'm changing my description of my experience from "legs made of lead" to "walking under higher than earth-normal gravity." Fortunately, if I fall (which, fortunately I don't--yet), I'll still fall at 1 g, but my legs feel like they're pushing through 3 or 4 g at least.

But, I'm getting music written. I finished a big piece for the high school, for both the chorus and orchestra to perform together. The idiosyncratic constitution of our orchestra and chorus does not facilitate finding off-the-shelf music that they can both play and sound good while playing... but since I know how to work with (and around) them, I can make them sound bigger and better than they are. And it's a nice tie in with the drama department, it's the very music I wrote (and realized electronically) as off-stage source music for the winter play. And it's got a nice big grand-opera-grade final moment, with the sopranos belting out a high A. It's going to be wonderful.

At least, that's the plan.

So, I can't walk very well, but I'm going to make a lot of children and their parents happy.

On balance... I've gotta admit, that's still pretty good.

I've been hearing things about Le New MS Drug Du Jour hitting the streets soon, promises to improve walking. We'll see.

But then again, that pretty much covers it, not just for MS, but for the human condition itself: "we'll see."

Funny how little difference there is. Living with or without MS... one is more usual, one is less usual, but which, really, is truly and completely "normal"?

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