Phil See never saw it coming.
"I thought, no this can't be happening."
But it was happening. Phil has MS. One day this longtime Seattle rock musician suddenly discovered he no longer had the strength in his fingers to press down on his guitar strings. When he tried strumming, the sound came out flat and barely audible, but that didn't stop him.
"I just kept doing it because giving up music wasn't an option for me."
Phil's inspiration came from his father, a man who had cerebral palsy, but nevertheless learned how to play the piano, despite the fact he couldn't unclench his fists. Through sheer willpower and practice, those fingers eventually uncurled, Phil said, much to the astonishment of his dad's doctors.
Dr. James Bowen with the Swedish Neuroscience Institute says it is possible to retrain the brain.
"Persistence pays off. The brain does try to heal, but it's a slow and frustrating process," Dr. Bowen cautioned.
How long did it take Phil?
"Months, but it came back eventually. The strength and the ability all came back," said Phil.
Phil thinks he's even a better musician now than before. Not only can he play guitar again, but also the drums and piano.
That's where this story could have ended, but it won't. You see, Phil had other ideas.
"Maybe what I need to do is share this with other people, how I got it back so they can get it back," he said.
Meet drummer Patty Padden. She too has MS and was also losing her ability to perform.
"I just felt hopeless and I knew I could do it anymore," she said.
Then she met Phil, who had volunteered to teach at the Swedish MS Center. Now she's taking guitar lessons and figures MS gives her an advantage.
"When I really get a grip on the blues, it'll come out. You'll see," she promised with a smile.
It's all about keeping a sense of humor.
"I really improved my morale and my attitude and I'm just really happy," she said.
Dr. Bowen can't help but notice.
"When I come through here, they look very happy," said Dr. Bowen. "I think it's good afterwards that you've done something fun, but it's also good for you."
The sessions are free. Any musician with a neurological condition is welcome to attend. It's not necessary to be a patient at Swedish. Instruments are provided, but Phil is always looking for donations, with an electronic drum set high on his wish list.
He's even thinking of starting an MS band. It likely won't take much convincing for a certain drummer to join.
"Swedish, they are so cool to have us here. Playing rock 'n' roll in the conference room. I'm mean you gotta love it," said Patty.
Editor's note: Within a week after Phil's story aired, an electronic drum set was donated by a viewer. Phil says they're in good shape to receive donations for the remaining musical gear needed: an acoustic-electric guitar, an acoustic-electric classical guitar and a stereo amp that can be used for the donated electronic drums.
Find more information on the "Get Back Your Music" sessions at the Multiple Sclerosis Center at Swedish.