Shoulder Rest – Alison Fujito

My name is Alison Fujito, and I’ve been a member of the PSO first violin section since 1987. I’ve
really enjoyed reading Bob Lauver’s accounts of life in the horn
section. We really have an amazing-playing horn section, and I bet part
of their musical harmony has something to do with how in-sync those
guys are with each other. As you’ve already read, they even carpool
together! (For the record, I asked them a few months ago if I could
join their section, but they weren’t interested.)

I was hoping to write about some of our concerts from the perspective of
the string section but, as some of you may have noticed, I haven’t been
playing the concerts for several weeks now. Unfortunately, this is
because I was in a rather nasty accident. I was hit by an SUV (who went
through a stop-sign without stopping) while riding my bicycle, and
ended up with a dislocated shoulder and three torn tendons in the
rotator cuff (ouch!). For those of you who like to ride bare-headed,
please note that I certainly would have sustained worse damage had I
not been wearing my helmet.

At any rate, I thought it might be interesting to write about the healing
process. I
would have liked to write something about how my shoulder got put back
in its socket, but the ER physician knocked me out to do it, so I never
did get to see how they did it. While that might be disappointing, I’m
actually quite glad he knocked me out. A dislocated shoulder is more
painful than anything I’d ever imagined. It made labor and delivery
seem like a picnic by comparison.

I’m finding out that rotator cuff injuries are very common, even in people
who haven’t been hit by an SUV. I’m meeting them every day at Physical
Therapy. Most of them, like me, had to have their arm more-or-less
immobilized in a sling for a month following the initial injury.
Luckily for me, my slinged arm was my left arm—and I’m right-handed.
But, as I had always carried my children (I have 3) with my left arm,
that was my stronger arm (not any more, obviously).

The first thing I noticed about having a sling is how nice everybody is to
you. Perfect strangers were pulling out grocery carts for me at Giant
Eagle and offering seats to me at the doctor’s office. The second thing
I noticed was that, even in crowds, nobody bumped into me, which was a
big relief. The
third was that I hadn’t realized how many stupid little things my left
hand had done that I had taken for granted—like holding the paper
steady while I wrote on it, or holding the onion still while I sliced
it, or loading the dishwasher (our dishwasher is on the left side of
the sink).

There are also other inconveniences, of course. I’ve always been a
side-sleeper, but that’s out of the question now. So is picking up my
4-year-old. So
is picking up the cat, but he’s not complaining as much as my
4-year-old. Washing my hair, drying off after a shower, and getting
dressed are all possible, but infuriatingly time consuming. Using a
hair dryer and putting my hair in a pony-tail are downright impossible,
as is tying my shoes. Thank heavens for slip-ons!

As you might guess, at this point, I can’t even hold the violin, let alone
play it, which is why I haven’t been able to play the concerts since
the accident. And, oh, I’ve missed some really
great concerts! I’ve missed some of my favorite conductors, not to
mention Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, which is one of my all-time
favorite pieces. But being a violinist probably gives me a little extra
motivation in getting the use of my arm back, which means– Physical

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