I am sitting in the pristine examining room of Dr. O. Alton Barron, Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Attending Physician, CV Starr Hand Surgery Center, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center.

As luck would have it, he is also the go-to guy for repetitive motion syndromes for the New York Philharmonic Orchestra! How cool is that?

He is wearing a white coat, and he is examining my hands and forearms so tenderly, as if they are engaged in meaningful work.

He asks: “Does it hurt when I press here?” He squeezes a point on my elbow.

I say, “Yes.”

“How about here?” He presses on the joint of my thumb.

“Well, that’s not pain. It’s…it’s more like density.” I pause, and then I take the leap, “In the world of Chinese medicine, one might say that it feels like there’s chi stagnating in there.”

“A-huh,” he says. He stops to look at me. Then he says, “Wait. I thought chi was good.”

Chi is good,” I say. “But this chi is stuck in there. You want to keep the chi flowing.” I run my right hand fingers up and down my left forearm.

He laughs.

He says I have mild carpal tunnel syndrome. This is great news because I was worried I had a bad case. I’m to do what a CM reader once suggested in a blog post: sleep with my hands in splints. I also must swim more, and do more yoga. I can deal with all that. Finally, I need to make some small changes in my work station.

Before we parted, Dr. Barron said I should be able to continue writing into my eighties if I keep my life in balance.

I enjoyed our visit. It came to $350. Out-of-network.

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