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  • Writer's pictureGreg Fulton

Living with focal dystonia - or not?!?

It’s been a long time since my last full post about focal dystonia. Since then a lot has happened: Pandemic, BLM protests (yes Black Lives Matter), a government that keeps tripping on its shoelaces (putting it mildly), more wildfires and on and on...

I haven’t made a huge deal out of my dystonia as it seems a little trivial during 2020.

And yet, it is really a big deal for me. It’s a glimmer of hope in dark and confusing times.

After nearly 12 years I am happy to report that I have no dystonia. It’s gone. Happy day.

I now have a blank slate before me. That is to say, I am learning how to un-identify myself as a guitarist with dystonia and re-identify as an artist playing without dystonia. This means I get to:

- Become accustomed to saying and feeling “I have no dystonia”

- Become accustomed to switching from “practicing to recover” to “practicing to perform”.

- Become accustomed to living free of the fear of dystonia.

This blank slate from which I work no longer has dystonia scribbled on it. Dystonia exists now in the past along with all of its complications, anger, depression and self-doubt.

I still have work to do in regaining the skills I once possessed. Yet, this work is done outside and away from the mind-set of dystonia. I no longer rely on “work-around” fingerings in the right hand. If there is a complex fingering or set of movements to be made, I do not fear them, rather I now have the confidence and the practice-tools to work out the complexity.

So… what happened?

To sum up, the steps I took to recover fall into three categories:

1. A thorough understanding of body-mechanics in detail. This is what Body Mapping does.

2. Understanding who I am in the world of music and art. This is what Self-Mapping does.

3. A thorough understanding of my mental and emotional constitution. This step overlaps with step 3, but I refused to acknowledge this final step for many years. When I finally embraced it about a year and a half ago, my progress accelerated.

In my next post (Recovery Part 1) I will go into more detail about what these steps mean to me. For now, I am just ecstatic to be free of this thing that has created so much heartache, frustration and anxiety.

If you are a musician reading this and have focal dystonia please know that you are not doomed nor alone. There are things you can do to resolve your symptoms. There are musicians you can and should reach out to. Recovery is possible. You’ll probably be able to resolve it sooner than I did! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or are curious about my experience.


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1 Comment

Helen Avakian
Sep 24, 2020

So Happy for you Greg! Huge Congratulations, Applause, Bravo!

Thank you for being so generous as to share your journey with us. You have helped me a lot through talking about your struggles, and offering your encouragement. Now seeing you cured, or dystonia free, or however you want to put it, gives me such hope. Wishing you much joy with your playing and musical endeavors. I look forward to hearing more of your music!

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