I finished the second draft of my novel back in March having worked on it every day on the train. But then I hit a busy period at work. And then my upper limb disorder came back.
Upper limb disorder, also known as repetitive strain injury is not fun. I have suffered on and off since 2009. It was initially caused by work – 17 hour days in front of a computer screen, stress and bad posture will do that to you. Not stopping what you are doing when you first get aches and pains, thinking that you can push on through, carrying on because you think that at some point it will go away and ignoring the problem can all contribute to a permanent injury.
I should know, I have caused three discs in my spine to degenerate. The condition, for me, is manageable but will never improve.
Many of you reading this are writers. You probably sit at a desk, sometimes for hours at a time. Maybe you work in a coffee shop on a laptop. You might also have an office job to pay the bills. Some of you may recognise what I’m talking about.
Just in case this does ring a bell, here are a few things that have helped me:
- Using an ergonomic mouse and keyboard
- Ensuring my chair and my desk are the right height and using a foot rest
- Stopping when it hurts
- Trying to exercise regularly
- Taking breaks
- Upping my fluid intake to the recommended two litres a day
- Telling work that I had a problem
- When worst comes to worst, taking a complete break from writing
I am writing this post by dictating to the Microsoft speech recognition software that comes free with my PC. I’ve been using this for a couple of weeks now. At first it was frustrating, the accuracy was very low and I found myself shouting at the computer, willing it to understand. But as we’ve gone on it’s got better and while I am still having to correct mistakes I can see the improvement. It doesn’t come as naturally to me as typing but I am determined to get better so I am going to persevere with it. Hopefully soon it will just be another tool to help me manage my condition and enable me to keep writing!