carpal tunnel, ergonomic keyboard, good writing habits, tendinitis, wrist injuries, writing injuries
It’s pretty much my bag of corn at this point. Every now and then, I grab it out of the freezer, wrap it up in a tea towel and press my aching wrists to it. “Every now and then” translates to whenever I get my period. It makes my tendinitis so much worse. I take diuretics sometimes, which helps with the swelling. I’ve got physical therapy in my future. If they hurt like this all the time, I would have been in there long ago.
It’s not self-pity that prompted this blog post (I’ve already napped on my husband and dog, which is as good as moping), but rather alarm. Here I am wishing for another bag of corn to make a cold wrist frozen corn sandwich, and I’m reading about people typing on tablet keyboards and laptops. I worry about the ergonomics of it. I worry about chiclet keyboards and angles and stretching breaks. I worry whether people have health insurance to pay for physical therapy if they need it, and how easy is it for them to get there and whether they can get any decent recommendations.
I worry because I wrecked my wrists when I was twelve or thirteen, and again when I was thirty. In some ways, it’s probably not fair of me to assume that others will make my mistakes. But just in case anyone is, I’d like to talk about them.
My first and original sin was simply typing too much. Ergonomic keyboards were just starting to come out then, and as soon as the doctor suggested it, we got one. I still needed a round of physical therapy. I remember being relieved I didn’t have carpal tunnel, doing a nice cozy paraffin treatment, and also a series of physical exercises and stretches which I still do.
The second time it happened, I should have seen it coming. I mean, the obvious conclusion of my love affair of sitting on the couch, writing with my netbook was my wrists breaking. At least in hindsight. Now, I use Dragon dictation software. The thing is though, I still need my wrists. I click around the Internet, make awful covers on GIMP (not for this pen name), and other non-computer related activities, like making dinner and digging around in the dirt. So, Dragon isn’t really the panacea to my tendinitis, but rather another tool.
For the people who are reading this, who aren’t at the point where they’re snuggling with frozen vegetables, I’m going to make a list of tools I use. I would pick them up now, and get familiar with them, and hope this will ever keep you from needing them in earnest. In no particular order:
Take breaks. Watch a video or something, but do something that doesn’t involve your wrists to give them a break.
Learn stretches. Make use of that information now, lest you be forced to use it in the future.
Learn about posture. We know enough know about these types of injuries that you should be able to look at yourself while you’re typing and identify what you’re doing right or wrong. When I was using my netbook, my hands were always very close together, with my wrists at a somewhat awkward angle. I should’ve stopped typing on it long before I did.
Get the right equipment. You know the drill, wrist braces, ergonomic keyboard, etc. Maybe the problem is, you’re not thinking about it right. Your ability to write stories is your bread and butter, and by extension of that, so are your wrists. If you want to succeed in writing, you’re going to need to write. I still write, though I do my best to avoid typing.
Dragon dictation software. You’re going to have to be patient with it, and buy a new headset, but it’s worth it.
Pay attention. If your wrists start bothering you, pay attention to the type of pain, and pay attention to what makes it worse. Modify behaviors as necessary (even if that means holding your beer bottle with two hands, like a creepy ball-jointed doll). And if you can, ask for help.
Don’t be stubborn, go to the doctor. If you can, for reals, just get your butt in there. Yes, this is the ultimate case of the pot calling the kettle black, but I think of it as speaking to my brethren. Also, the previous step is important here. You’ll need to be able to describe the type of pain you’ve been experiencing to your doctor so he/she can figure out whether you have tendinitis, carpal tunnel, or some other fun thing.
I hope, at the very least, after reading this, you assess the commodity attaching your hands to your forearms. They are important. You do need them. You should make sure to take good care of them.