We spoke with Allan to share his story of how he began playing, what brought him to MTF, and what he’s up to now:
How did you get your (musical) start? What inspired you to start playing music in the first place?
Like millions of others, the Beatles inspired me to start playing music at a very young age – I was 10 years old when I started playing. I remember “playing” with cardboard guitars and miming in front of the mirror to “She Loves You…………………. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!”
What was the injury that first brought you into contact with MTF? How did it impact your ability to play music?
Around about 1998, a doctor friend of mine noticed that my left [fretboard] hand was shaking regularly. He referred me to a specialist for a carpal tunnel test. The results came back and they were textbook carpal tunnel syndrome.
I tried numerous quick fixes. Adjusting the height I held the guitar at, removing my watch, etc. Nothing improved the situation, and it gradually deteriorated over the next 20 years or so. Surgery at the time was very expensive, not guaranteed and it involved 6 to 8 weeks off of work. A completely unviable proposition for me.
Thankfully there was no pain as such, just a numbness to the point that I was playing guitar by guesswork rather than a sense of touch.
What was your experience like receiving treatment through MTF? How long did it take for you to be able to play again?
In 2020, having now passed 65 years old and qualified for Obamacare/Medicare, I decided the problem had become so acute that I had to make inquiries about having the surgery. Even with insurance, the quoted cost was in excess of $5000 [$16000 total cost] but in February 2020, I made the appointment to have the surgery regardless of the financial stretch.
However, I’d remembered that my friend Elvis Costello was involved with a Musician’s Health Foundation [in fact I’d attended a fundraiser with him in Austin in the previous year]. I sent him an email and within an hour Dr. Alton Barron had called me, made the appointment and scheduled the surgery pro bono.
In view of the Coronavirus lockdown still to come, I was very lucky to avert the cost of the aforementioned surgery. After the surgery and still wearing the splint/dressing, I actually played a couple of gigs within 4 or 5 days. The improvement was immediate.
Dr Barron removed the stitches a week or so later and I played my first and last gig on March 14th 2020. March 16th was the first day of the lockdown and all work was cancelled. My hand was functioning perfectly and I had nowhere to go to show it off. The scar disappeared within 2 weeks and is completely undetectable in the palm of my hand. Despite not playing in public, I’ve been able to play and rehearse with absolutely no after effects. An incredible job by Dr. Barron!
Learn more about Allan Mayes and show your support by visiting his website.