Young cellist battling arthritis

January 3, 2008 10:38:13 AM PST
Approximately 48 millions adults in the United States are living with arthritis. One of them is a young cellist whose whole life has been devoted to performing.

Caroline Gomez was a principle cellist of several symphony orchestras. Last year her arthritis was so painful she had to put her dreams on hold.

Gomez's music training started when she was 5 years old.

"I played the violin first, and then I switched over to the cello," said Gomez.

Ten years ago, Caroline came to the United States from Colombia to study music.

"I went to Roosevelt University for my undergrad and to DePaul for my masters for post graduate degree there, and while I was here I got rheumatoid arthritis," said Gomez.

This happened in 2001 as she was preparing for a difficult audition.

"I worked really hard at it, and my shoulder started hurting, and I thought it was because I was practicing too much, maybe I had over done it, and after the audition it started hurting so badly I had to go to the emergency room because I couldn't even sleep," she said.

Caroline's arthritis affects her wrists, elbows, shoulder, knees and neck. All of these joints are essential for playing the cello.

"There are great medicines that have helped me a lot that help keep things calm in sense, but also I've had to make little changes in my techniques when I play the cello. My wrist for example is not straight anymore"," said Caroline.

She recently had surgeries in each arm.

One of the highlights of Caroline's career was playing for Yo Yo Ma.

"He's just one of the most humble, loving people I've ever met. He's a great musician, too," she said.

If she can no longer play the cello, Caroline says she will always doing something with music.

"I also love singing, I've always, though maybe if this doesn't work for me," she said.

Caroline has private cello students but really hopes to be back on stage with her cello.