A Musician PSA: How playing my saxophone paralyzed my mouth
Hi! I’m Katie for those who don’t know me and I want to share to you all my story on how my Mouth Machine Broken from playing my instrument too hard. So, I’ve played alto saxophone for 10, going on 11 years now. Throughout my music career I’ve played in many ensembles, mostly in high school. Every single day I either had practice or I was practicing. I would always practice until my mouth was too tired to play anymore (we call it busting our chops here but you get the point). I also picked up trumpet whilst marching DCA in the 2016 season (shout out to my hurcs), so I was practicing hardcore all the time. So anyways, in this past February, I woke up one day with what looked like a bubble on the inside of my lower lip. I developed a “mucocele” or “mucous cyst” inside of my lip. They occur when a salivary gland in your mouth gets plugged up and it results in a collection of fluid in one duct. The common cause is from trauma to the mouth or excessive lip biting. Mine was caused by playing my instruments too hard to a point where I actually hurt myself. As a result, I needed to get it surgically removed. In early March I had the surgery, which resulted in my lip being swollen for a week and a half, and stitches that stayed in my lip for 2 weeks. The mucous cyst and all surrounding salivary glands in my mouth were removed. Throughout this entire time, of course, I was unable to play my instrument and I missed 2 performances. Due to the fact that my salivary glands had to be cut out of my lip, I suffered a lot of nerve damage in my lower lip. It took me 4 months to completely relearn how to play my saxophone, and its 6 months later now and I can’t play for longer than 45 minutes without losing control of my embouchure. My mouth is slowly regaining feeling, but it can take years to completely heal. I have been unable to buzz on a mouthpiece since then, and I still try to get a sound out of my trumpet often. So please, my dearest musician friends. Do not overplay if you don’t need to. Do not bite your lips when you are nervous or try not to out of habit. Take care of your precious faces, because it can permanently damage your music careers if you don’t.