I’ve got some wrist problems. I’m kind of surprised I’ve never mentioned them here on the blog, but I just did a search for “arm” and “wrist” and nothing came up. When I was fourteen, I broke my arm snowboarding. I had five surgeries (six, if you count the way the hospital billing department does, the last two were combined into one procedure but we still had to pay for two) over the course of the next fifteen years, and all in all, I’m not in bad shape. I was originally told I would have arthritis by the time I was twenty-five. It really didn’t start bothering me until my late twenties, and only now do I really have an awareness of it most of the time.
My friend Charlotte posted this really good post about the physicality of writing, something that, as a Pilates instructor, used to be much more aware of in other people. (Can I please remove that speck in your eye? Pay no attention to the log sticking out of my own, I see just fine thank you very much.) But, because of my Pilates background, I have really good posture, I work out, and I even have a treadmill desk. I thought I was in good shape.
Then July happened. Lily and Austin went to school at the same time, leaving me four hours each day to write. And write I did! I wrote the whole draft of the upcoming sequel to Stealing the Ruby Slippers (about 250 Word doc pages.) I also finished redrafting Home (another 247 pages).
Yep. I typed almost 500 pages in three weeks.
On a Macbook Air. (Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my computer. But…)
My wrist has not been happy. It was hurting so bad the last week of the month I was back wearing my post-surgery brace, taking large doses of ibuprofen, and using arnica like it was going out of style. It had swollen to the point that I thought the screws in the plate on the outer bone of my arm (the ulna for anyone who cares) had started working their way out. I was freaking out about finding a new orthopedist here in Minneapolis and the cost of having the plate removed, and the time I would spend (six to eight weeks) in a cast.
When I worked a corporate job, I had an ergonomic keyboard to help keep my wrist happy while typing on and off for nine hours a day. It had never occurred to me that I might need to get one for my home office now that I’m writing full-time. I’ve never had more than two concentrated hours before. I went to Best Buy and Amazon and purchased this one, based on its price and reviews. After just a few hours on it my wrist started to feel better.
And then…we went on vacation. I worked as much as I could, which was two mornings at Starbucks. That was it. Otherwise, I barely got my computer out of my bag. Halfway through the week the pain was basically gone.
I spent about an hour on Saturday typing up notes for a project I’m working on, then this morning hit the RS sequel hard. Two and a half straight hours (I had to get up extra early!) By the time I was done, I knew two things: 1) The ergonomic keyboard was a lifesaver & 2) I needed a better one.
The 4000 was entry-level. The keys were large and required me to pound on them, but the deal breaker was the space bar. It was only responsive about half the time. My post-session spell check was 95% missing spaces today. So, I packed the 4000 back up and took the plunge to Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop System.
It’s glorious. I found a review that said the keys were like those of a laptop, and they are. (Apparently that’s called “chiclet.” I had no idea and I love it.) It’s wireless, which is so much nicer than having cords all over my desk. And the mouse is better. Also, it’s on sale at BestBuy.com.
I’m a little sad about no longer having a clean white desk (wait– I know that was the goal, but did it ever actually happen?) but am happy to have something I feel like I’m going to be able to type on for the long haul.
Do you consider ergonomics in your workspace? Why or why not, and what adjustments have you made?