Friday, January 11, 2008


Three weeks ago, upon landing in Madrid, the pinky and ring finger of my left hand felt numb. I figured it was due to sleeping in a cramped pose during the flight.

The following week disabused me of that notion, as I developed pain in my deltoids, forearms, elbows, neck, and wrists. Around New Year, I stopped typing for five days.

Upon return to the US, I went to a doctor. He told me that I have blackberry thumb, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis. I'm not sure why all of them appeared at the same time.

Part of the prescription involves cutting down on laptop and blackberry usage. A pity, as I used to enjoy lying in bed and typing emails to friends.


Dan said...

He actually said you have *carpal tunnel*? Okay, that's questionable.

Melinda O said...

I guess your lifestyle is finally catching up with you. :)

I guess you'll have to find something else to do while in bed.

Dan said...

Actually, this is generally classic M.D. lameness about RSI: "diagnosis" of a million symptoms (Tendinitis? Give me a break!), lots of braces and antiinflammatory drugs to treat those symptoms, but not much clue about underlying structural causes.

Anyway, I'll be curious to see what the PT has to say.

But definitely consider seeking a second opinion if this doesn't clear up fairly readily.

Anonymous said...


The golden girl has lost her ability to code faster than a speeding bullet?

Time to move to management.

Oh the horror...

But even managment has to
do e-mail.

What a dilemma.

Are you ready to give it all up and start that football team with me?

If not a football team.. A doubles tennis team?

Come on... Let's get started

alipé said...

It's no wonder you have RSI. Listening to you typing is like listening to a box of scrabble tiles bouncing down a flight of stairs. Listen to your body and show some mercy to your poor hands!

white russian said...

Many of us will miss the funny/geeky/daunting/entertaining posts of Yours. But on the other hand it seems it might be a good time and give all the nerd stuff a mild cut (for a while I mean). Hope You recover from those soon. Cheers princess.

jsg said...

Never mind. At least you've still got your looks.

Danny said...

I had the same thing happen.

So hard to believe all at the same time too.

I think that it was stress related.

But took a few months to totally go away.

Impossible for a programmer not to type.

I did start using voice recognition software and it works pretty well with a few drawbacks at work.

Takes a few hours to teach it your voice and to recognize your accent.

At home... it is not much problem sitting in bed talking to my computer.

Unless on the rare occasion I have company, but then I do not bring the computer with me.

At work... closing my office door isolates me from random social interactions that I enjoy.

I hope that you get better soon !!!


Anonymous said...

Wish you a speedy recovery!
Though in fact, it may take longer than you think! why? It's just impossible to stay totally away from the keyboard isn't it?
Nonetheless, u'll be fine!

Anonymous said...

The dangers of the modern age - be thankful you still have all of your arms, legs, fingers and toes!

Wishing you a speedy recovery.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've been compressing your ulnar nerve. I had the same thing happen years ago. Be careful resting your elbows on things as well because the nerve runs up there as well.

tentorium said...

Maybe it was all a horrible misunderstanding--a gentle admonition to avoid the carpool tunnel, or possibly fishing advice, as in "Yep, those carp'l tunnel, alrighty!". In any event, stop typing and go laugh at this physicist singing the blues (at the top of the page)! Ah yeah...

ArC said...

I'm really hoping part of the prescription involves a pedal-operated typing system. Cause that would be cool.

Sure, there are voice recognition systems and ergonomic chairs/keyboards/etc, but those hardly seem as much fun.

Anonymous said...

I thought I'd mention some things that worked for me. I'm not a doctor, so grain of salt...

Try to keep your arms relatively straight when sleeping, and don't sleep on your hands. I tend to get more nerve pain when traveling, because of the unfamiliar beds, etc.

Don't stay in a strained position for long. Restlessness and squirming seem to be beneficial habits. One of the worst positions is lying on a bed on your side, supported by an elbow, and typing using the supporting arm.

Exercise your arms, but not excessively. Apparently, it is good to build muscle support around your nerves.

Christine said...

YouTube! or SmugMug Video ..

Besides, if you do YouTube, I think the responses themselves would be interesting.

How about it -- I mean, you don't have to be the next HappySlip or anything...

Corporal tunnel said...

My co worker has serious problems form years of intense keyboard banging.

He now has a new desk.

Get this.

It has many automatic random positions and angles.

Every hour it moves up or down.
You never know where it will go next. (This keeps you from putting it in the position you like for too long)

It goes all of the way from a low seated postion to a standing upright tilted architectural drafting style.

Does really it help???

I do not know.

I wonder.

snowball said...

Sorry to hear that, Niniane. I suggest that the first thing you do is to read this book:

Repetitive Strain Injury: A Computer User's Guide (Paperback) by Emil Pascarelli, Deborah Quilter

This book, more than anything else, is what allowed me to manage living with and recovering from RSI ever since I had my first flare-up back at 'Tech. It will teach you, among other things, how your arms work, how they get damaged, how they recover, and how to choose a doctor who is knowledgeable about RSI.

I'll paraphrase one of the key points from the book:

Every time you type or use the mouse, it induces wear-and-tear which damage your tissues. Your body has natural mechanisms to repair the damage. You get RSI when the damage rate is higher than the repair rate for extended periods of time. The challenge in RSI recovery is in changing your lifestyle so that your repair rate is higher than the damage rate, until all the damage is repaired.

I know a ton of stuff on RSI, having lived with tendinitis for many years. Feel free to ask me anything.

Good luck, and don't become permanently disabled.

P.S. Voice recognition can work well, but it shifts the wear-and-tear damage from the arms to the larynx. If you're not careful, you can end up with RSI of the larynx.

furculum said...

And then there's the ultimate RSI: the beating... the beating of her hideous heart! Take me now, subcreature!

Anonymous said...

Christine said...

Come on not funny.. Kinda cute but not funny.

Wow Niniane finally found a topic that strikes a common nerve and gets lots of comments again.

Kind of like the Asian / White thread but not as funny.

Take care. Get well :)

Anonymous said...

yru still typing?

Blue said...


go for doctor sarno and get well first in your MIND

lugubrious said...

Also consider getting your chakras lubed and rotated, your aura degaussed and your humors balanced. All symptoms of hysteria can be treated onsite at no additional charge. Please, BYOL (bring your own leeches). Nitrous, coffee, and biscuits will be provided (slats of hot, crispy maple-cured bacon available upon request). Top Secret Codeword: Waffles.

Patrick said...

That's a drag :( you obviously want to prevent this rather than respond to it but I have a Herman Miller Aeron chair and the Kinesis Evolution keyboard mounted to it. The keys are remappable and I think it's about the most comfortable setup you can create. That won't help with your blackberry habit, though...

Hey - and I hope the bay area has been treating you well these years :)
- patrick