A minor setback for a musician
"Music is like breath. It's something that would take me away from any troubles. It made me feel like a whole person," explains Pamela, a violin and piano teacher at Jim's Music Center in Green Bay.
But in 2017, when Pamela slipped on a patch of water in the bathroom and injured her hand, she could no longer grip her violin bow adequately enough to play. As she was already healing from a fall in 2014 in which she broke her elbow, this second injury felt like the final straw.
"I didn't think I'd ever play again," says Pamela. "I felt a lot of emptiness. I was angry and frustrated."
When conservative physical therapy was proving unfruitful, she finally made the trip to see Dr. Brian Klika, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeon at Aurora BayCare Medical Center in Green Bay.
A major hindrance
"I couldn't do a lot of things, like curl my hair, put makeup on easily, brushing my teeth was a challenge, getting dressed, tying shoes, uploading documents took a long time, using a mouse was challenging, typing was challenging. It affected everything in my life and kept me up at night."
Though an MRI in 2017 revealed she may have a torn ligament in her wrist, Pamela decided to wait a little while longer before having the scope procedure, just in case it would possibly heal on its own. After all, as time progressed, the pain was at a tolerable level and she seemed to be getting stronger, even though she avoided using her wrist at all.
"I kept denying it was a problem because I didn't want to have another surgery," admits Pamela. "I'd already had four."
A noteworthy procedure
One afternoon in 2019, while out to lunch with her daughters, Pamela moved her wrist in such a way that it popped, causing instant pain. Two weeks later, when the pain would not subside, she decided she was finally ready for surgery with Dr. Klika.
"Our attempt is always to avoid surgery," explains Dr. Klika. "Rehabilitation takes months, possibly a 6- to 12-month outcome. Having a wrist scope was our last hope and last-ditch effort."
As a musician himself, Dr. Klika was eager to get Pamela back to her music.
"This was a necessary step to get her back to that," he said. "A wrist scope is a minimally-invasive technique, so it's just a couple small incisions. I diagnosed the tear and fixed it that same day." In fact, the procedure is so efficient and relatively pain-free that it doesn't even require a hospital stay.
Back to her forte
Post-surgery, Pamela reports that her path to healing is well underway.
"I feel so much better," she says. "I can actually hold a bow now. I'm back to teaching students, and I have nine students now. I feel like I have life in me."
And though she is currently only playing basic music on her violin, playing again for the first time since 2014 is no small feat. She is setting her goals high and has plans to play in an orchestra once again.
"In maybe 3 more months, I'll be able to start putting a lot more effort into playing more, and I'm really excited," Pamela says. "I don't feel as depressed, and my pain level is much better. Yesterday, I did a little shoveling of snow, and it was really fun!"
As for her outlook? Dr. Klika has high hopes as well.
"During her last visit, she was doing quite well," he reports. "We hope to get her back to playing at the same level she was before her injuries. Her prognosis is excellent. The fact that she's doing this well after her surgery, the sky is the limit."
Though she has some time before she is fully recovered, Pamela is grateful she had the procedure.
"I feel like they listened to me," she says. "They were really the kindest people I could imagine to have look at me and say, ‘You're not crazy, you are in pain, we can fix this.'"