Published: 17/05/2024 Tags: Stories

Being prepared with the right tools can help, it’s a learning experience

My name is Jeremy Belcher, I go by “F1NG3RS”. I’m a 37 year old musician, audio engineer, and editor.

I found out my fingers could bend all the way back in 6th grade while waking up and cracking my knuckles. I showed my friends and family and none of them could do it. When I moved to a new school district, I didn’t know anybody, but word spread quick of this “guy with the fingers”, hence the moniker. It was a fun party trick, a good icebreaker. But I didn’t know what was causing this ability.

It wasn’t until my early 20s, when a friend who was in massage school told me, “Hey I think I know what you have is maybe called”. He mentioned Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and told me to look it up. So many past events clicked and suddenly made sense. The fatigue, the dysautonomia, the general weakness when doing basic exercise compared to my peers.

It wasn’t until my early 30s that symptoms really started to flare. My joints and muscles were in pain just about every day. I was having a hard time keeping up at on site jobs. Sleep was short and interrupted by autonomic dysfunction. My shoulder started having subluxations when doing simple things like taking off a shirt. I knew at this point I had to get proactive, even if doctors had called me “just kinda bendy,” and shrugged me away.

When I was 33 I was eventually seen by a geneticist, who was able to identify my condition as hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS). Disability was filed for, and I was accepted into the program, but weeks later got a denial in the mail. This lead to confusion, frustration and a bit of desperation. As a musician and audio engineer, most of my work has had me either in a chair at a studio desk or on stage performing. I became determined to make it work and go as long as I could until I can’t anymore.

This was also a mistake, trying to brute force my way through it all. What ended up helping was going to physical therapy and learning more about my lack of proprioception and really focusing on form and posture when moving. Building up my stabilizer muscles. Multiple input devices for my computers and music equipment so I can always change up how I’m working.

With edits that sometimes take eight hours, repetitive movements cause inflammation quickly. My hands and fingers would cramp if I held onto the same object with force for too long. Getting caught up producing music, you find yourself in the zone, but with a really sore neck and shoulders later. Traveling and DJing at events or conventions is exhausting and requires days of recovery and proper hydration during.

Being prepared with the right tools can help you get through it. It’s all been a learning experience. Trying out new ideas, techniques, products and methods. Some work better than others. We’re all different and as zebras, we have to figure out what works for us. Keep trying new things and don’t give up hope! @F1NG3RSMUSIC

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