Recently added Member Story 

Shane Spellman’s Story

My story spans over 20 years or so when I first started developing symptoms of RSI at the age of 14. I was drumming in a band at the time and had pain affecting my upper arm, wrist, and knees. My style of heavy metal music had intensity and involved a lot of physical effort. It was always bigger, better, faster, louder. I pushed my body past the limit trying to summon up some very intense musical energies.

Pain became progressively worse and I needed to give up playing drums at 18 yo after attempting to deal with the problem for 4 years. A difficult age in life transition. It felt that I lost so much with friends, relationships, and especially my music. Losing the passion that had driven me was difficult to cope with on many levels.

I first went to see a GP, followed by a physiotherapist who tried electrodes. I saw various sports medicine doctors and I received ultrasound treatment. I also tried other strategies such as Bowen Therapy, Lester Cox Massage, Shiatsu Massage, Chinese Medicine, and stretching. none of these seemed to help. The peak of the RSI culminated with the end of Year 12, during which time I had put all my energies into music. The main desire I had for post-year-12 was to go and study drums at a music school. Not being able to go through with this was devastating. I had no idea or direction about what else to do. Depression set in.

A counselor suggested that I try a different form of music as an outlet. Given that one arm was unaffected, they suggested the trumpet. This started a second musical life. I pursued studies with the School of Music, and eventually gained a degree in this area. It was tough because I hadn’t played trumpet long before studying; looking back I needed a fair amount of patience to get through it. I was constantly battling the frustration of feeling that I had missed out on many things due to my RSI.

One thing that did help was Tai Chi – the slow controlled movements and calm mindset that goes with Tai Chi helped in healing. Now anything I do, I try to do it in a relaxed way always paying attention to my body. If it feels wrong I don’t push it.

Over time, I did further studies that led me to become a high school teacher of music. This doesn’t stop some of the feelings of loss due to RSI, however, I guess not everything in life goes to plan. In an ironic way, the RSI may have made me even more committed to music playing, because without it I may have moved on from music earlier in my life.

I’m happy to say that I slowly started healing. 

For my RSI symptoms to go away took about 10 years. Despite my fear of going back to past symptoms, I am now playing drums again. Occasionally there are niggles, I now play with minimal symptoms that I’m able to manage. When I got back to drumming, which the intense drive to do never left me, it was like learning again from scratch, or like coming back from the dead. I took a very relaxed approach because I had to; and still don’t attempt the level of intensity I did when I was younger. It took a very long time for things to come full circle from getting RSI, switching instruments, doing a music degree, re-learning drums, and eventually doing metal performances again.

I guess that I am one of the lucky ones who has been able to go back to my life and passion. Whilst the feelings of missed opportunities hang around at times, there are always new opportunities in the future. If we try to see through negative things that happen to us, we can see far enough to grasp positive possibilities that would never have been possible without that negative experience happening — or every cloud has a silver lining but you need to look at the sky to see that lining. This kind of thinking is important to avoid RSI of the mind!

Here is a link to a video of him playing the drums:

Or search for Shane Spellman 9131 in YouTube

Listed below are a number of member stories that provide an insight into how they live with RSI and what has helped them with their journey. 

Each link downloads as a Word document.













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