DJ Injuries & Illness * How To Carry On With Your Business

DJ Injury & Illness- How to carry on with your business

by: Mike Fernino – Founder of DJ Idea Sharing

I have been blessed with a 39 year DJ career. During that period of time I have subjected my body to every type of abuse including wearing bad shoes, eating wedding food late at night, loud music, smoke, stress, heavy lifting plus hours and hours of standing…..etc.   When you are 25 the recovery process is fairly fast, but as you age into your 30s, 40s and certainly your 50s the reset is not the same. Problems begin to creep into your everyday life and also your business. We don’t have a desk job or the ability to call out and stay home for a sick day. If you are a wedding entertainer the show must go on? But what happens when YOU can’t go on? Here’s my story:

After many years of relative good health and the ability to work like a monster I started to develop some hard core pain in my right hip area. Nothing Advil and some rest can’t fix, right? Wrong. It kept getting worse so finally I thought I would visit the orthopedic specialist. When I went in I asked to have my knees looked at because there was a intense pain in my right cap, plus I had lost some mobility to bend over to my right foot. I couldn’t even tie my shoe. After some x-rays the doctor came back with his report. “Your knees are fine. But the hip is a mess and you need a new one!” 

I was shocked. After a lifetime of no operations I would need to go in and get sliced up. BUT wait, not so fast. The doctor reported that there were some big complications that would stop the surgery from happening. At least for now. You see it was 2021 and the pandemic was very hard on me. Depression, lack of activity and exercise combined with a atrocious diet of fast food establishments left me with hypertension and heart problems. Time to visit the cardiologist. Turns out I had developed cardiomyopathy and my heart function was 35%. On top of that I had put on 75 lbs during the pandemic and was considered chronically obese. No hip surgery was possible at this point. So I would have to soldier on in terrible pain as I prepare to make some big changes.

The problem was that I didn’t make those changes. The vicious cycle of depression grabbed onto me and I just indulged in comfort food despite the hip getting worse and worse. It seemed that not even pain could be a motivating factor to push me into getting my act together. Until late 2022 when I looked in the mirror before my New Years event to see a 325 lb sick version of a beaten and broken man. This was my rock bottom.

On January 2, 2023 I set out on a journey. Not to diet but for total lifestyle change which meant a different way of thinking and living. Using different methods I researched and learned from friends as the long trip towards health began. And so let’s fast forward to May 2023. I was down 43lbs and with a normal blood pressure of 122 / 75  I triumphantly marched into the hip surgeon’s office to see if I could move forward with the procedure. He explained to me that I was to be commended for the hard work and determination and that my levels were now at a point where the operation could be performed in relative safety. He said, please get my surgical coordinator to set a date and let’s get you a new hip! 

I danced all the way home with glee. I mean, pure euphoric joy! The pain I lived with every day for 3+ years was going to end and I’d be getting back 75-90% of my mobility! As I arrived home I noticed some garbage bags on the deck so I asked my teenager to take them out to the road cans. Later that night I was headed out to grab a few things. Out onto the deck in the dark of night I went and little did I know a evil creature waited for me in the shadows. The black garbage bags ( not removed by my teenager as requested ) attacked me and down I went. So violently in fact ¬†that as I fell I reached out to save my face but in the process got my arm pushed back with such force I totally tore my rotator cuff and ripped my bicep right off the bone. OUCH!¬†

Immediately euphoria was turned into fear and utter misery. The next day my hip surgeon walked me down the hallway to the shoulder specialist who said,  “you really did a number sir.  No hip procedure, you need to fix this ASAP as it is very bad.”  A ton went through my head like, how am I going to lift my gear and how do I tell my clients that I can’t do their event? Especially when I’m post-surgery for a shoulder with a very long healing time?  It was a terrifying revelation for certain. So let’s get to the part of this article where we address what should be considered by any and every DJ about putting together a emergency plan. “What do I do if I get sick or hurt?”  What is your plan? 

Here’s my list for DJs to have to be prepared in case the worst case scenario happens along with ways to fix your bad DJ health  lifestyle. 

1. Have a plan: I know many of us think we are made of titanium but you must have a plan in place no matter how healthy you are. 

2. Have a designated person who can run the company for you or access your schedule. Give all passwords and codes to your caretaker along with instructions for running the business in your absence.

3. Put together a list of your local professional colleagues. Even if you are a multi-op!  What if you are sold out and one of your DJs breaks a leg?  I just filled in for a local colleague on a wedding as his DJ had a broken leg.

4. Get quality footwear with arch support. My flat feet and bad shoes are the prime cause of my hip degeneration. 

5. Stop eating food at your events. Yes, it’s good BUT Its BAD for you. People indulge at celebrations but if you do it every weekend for 10 years your body will pay a huge price. Pack a healthy meal with plenty of water. Hydrate and don’t eat later than 6:00-7:00pm. 

6. Learn how to be good to yourself and practice stress management. Meaning, give yourself some time for YOURSELF and not always be in business mode. Stress is one of the deadliest elements of self destruction. 

7. Wear ear protection. We are in a loud element and you need to understand that you WILL have hearing damage after a long DJ career. Protect your hearing while you still have it.

8. Always carry a emergency medical kit with you, I once cut my finger bad on the van door and had to do a 4 hour party wrapping my bleeding finger with paper towels. 

9. PLEASE DO NOT drink at your events! Alcoholism is a major problem with DJs because we are constantly exposed to the temptation. Alcohol in moderation is fine but moderation is not every weekend at every event. Besides, a professional will never drink at a event while they are under contract!

10. See your doctor. I went 15 years without going and ended up almost dead! Enough said! 

With that please take care of yourself and your body. No one else will look out for you like you do! Be healthy, be happy and that will help you be successful! 

Please see my live seminar about DJ illness & injury at the 2023 DJX show in Atlantic City this August 2023! 

Be well,

Mike Fernino * DJ Idea Sharing

DJ Idea Sharing Network

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