One of the downsides of me living by the keyboard is the fact that sometimes I die by the keyboard. By this I mean: sometimes I’m at the keyboard so long, and so often, that my body starts to say, “Stop being at the keyboard, you idiot!” Yep, that tired old bugaboo — RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury).
Sure, most of us at one time or another have kind of tired out our hands, but I never appreciated how badly you could injure them until a few years ago. I was then working on a computer programming project, and I was at the keyboard 12-to-16 hours every day (when your mind is in cyberspace, you don’t want to leave). For several weeks it wasn’t a problem, but after about a month-to-a-month-and-a-half, it stopped being fun. I started getting spasms in my forearms, I could feel a burning running down my wrist, my hands were swelling, and I was losing grip strength. And yet, I kept on programming. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.
Once the major symptoms first appeared, it really didn’t take long for them to grow to debilitating proportions. Both my hands at that point had swollen to looking something more like Mickey Mouse hands than human hands. I lost so much grip strength that, in order to brush my teeth, I needed to grip the toothbrush with both of my hands as tightly as I could…and even then sometimes it would fall from my grasp. It wasn’t fun.
So anyway… long story short — after a few years I have mostly recovered. I was back up to typing 70 words a minute, and being able to write out a couple of thousand words every day. Even so, every now and then I could feel a burning in my wrist which would generally go away after a good night’s sleep.
Well folks, the burning has returned — more like it was a few years ago than how it is been since. The cause of this is, of course, the fanfic. Doing up the season bible, breaking the stories, and typing out to script in addition to writing out my usual blogs, doing e-mails, and using my hands to work around the house… well, it was sort of a perfect storm of RSI delights. So now I’m back to taking a lot of anti-inflammatories, applying ice, wearing splints, and resting my hands whenever I can. I haven’t stopped writing, I’m just picking and choosing the times that I do it.
You see, we live in a marvelous age. Computers now have a nice amount of power to them. As a result, I’m able to run speech recognition software that works pretty good most of the time. In fact, that is how the bulk of this post is being written. I’m saving my hands for the script.
Why for the script? It’s funny… the previous times that I’ve had to resort to using speech recognition software, I discovered it’s an awful lot easier for me to write fiction with my hands then it is to say it out loud. For some reason, I need my hands to “touch” the words. Whether it’s with pen, pencil, quill, or keyboard, it’s easier to write with my hands. And, typos aside (as well as my bad spelling), it’s more accurate. So, at least for the short-term, the scripts get written by hand and most everything else gets written by mouth — with some hand editing afterwards.
Even though I do have this option, which is a life-saver, the fact is that’s living with RSI sucks. Big time. Not fun. Not at all. I hope I’m able to rehab my way out of this in relatively short order. That would be good.