I haven’t posted anything to my cello blog in some time, and you must be wondering why. No, I haven’t given up already – quite the opposite in fact: my new bow plays like a dream, aided by my wonderful Bogaro and Clemente rosin, and even stoked my enthusiasm since I don’t sound quite so bad when I play with it.

Nope, it was an incident that stopped me in my tracks. A medical incident, to be precise, which made playing tough for a while – and taught me a big lesson about paranoia and the human condition in the digital age, which I’m sure I’ll forget at the soonest opportunity.

It started with a very odd sensation on the top of my left hand, a numb but tingling feeling. Within a few days it had spread from my first knuckle to the second, and stabbing pains joined the sensory mix. Then it turned into the worst sunburn of my life – the kind where you can’t stand the feeling of bed sheets or the shower on your skin – in a discrete patch on my hand.

As you do, I went online on a desperate hunt for matching symptoms. Little luck there, but my digital journey took me to a website where you can ask a doctor a question. Or he claims to be a doctor, anyway – basically it’s a website where names, photos and credentials of ‘doctors’ are posted, and someone claiming to be the person with the matching name, photo and credentials emails a response to your question. The twist is that you decide how much you’re willing to pay (kind of like Radiohead with their In Rainbows download), and they claim you only pay when you ‘accept’ the doctor’s response. (This is a lie: the charge appeared on my credit card after I explicitly refused to accept it.)

I won’t bore you with the back and forth. Suffice it to say that House or whatever he called himself hit a diagnostic wall, at which point he suggested I might have MS. Yes, that’s right, a so-called doctor in another country whom I’d never laid eyes on chose to hypothesise via the Internet that I had a degenerative illness that would lead to my early death. So I skipped a couple of cello lessons.

And yes, I did see my GP who duly sent me off to a hand specialist. ‘I understand you’re worried about MS,’ she asked with practiced concern. Geez. Who knew my doctor was such a tattle tale? You could just hear the two of them sniggering about it on the phone. ‘Well, I don’t think so. It was Doctor Who on some website’, I said vaguely, attempting insouciance. ‘What do you think?’ I asked. ‘It’s a pretty common problem and there are lots of things to look at,’ she said with an inscrutable smile, ‘so MS is certainly not the first thing that springs to mind.’ On that basis, nerve-testing has begun, and meantime the feeling has started to pass.

Phew. Dodged another bullet – for now, anyway. So I’ve returned to my cello with a new piece by Offenbach. ‘It’s easy,’ said Samara, ‘basically just scales.’ Then she played it for me and pronounced it ‘longer than I’d remembered.’ Great, I thought. I’ve got time for long.

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