A typical RSI sufferer’s day

clockSome readers may not know what it’s like to suffer from a computer related RSI (repetitive strain injury). The following provides a small glimpse into my previous life on a typical day at the office in a full time well paid job with a continual workload.

My typical RSI day

7.00am wake up. RSI pain feels best right now having had a good sleep. May feel even better if I have remembered to wear my wrist brace over night. If I haven’t, then I may have tingling/pain and numbness in the hands and wrists before the day starts – not good! (stress level 0/10, pain level 1/10)

8.30am put wrist brace on to drive in traffic to job. Between busy driving conditions and thoughts of workload ahead, I’m starting to feel less relaxed.  Arrive at work, on time, but a bit stressed after all that traffic! (stress level 2/10, pain level 2/10)

10.00am spent 1hr catching up on overnight emails, creating actions from them and replying to others (stress level 4/10, pain level 5/10)

11.00am spent most of mid morning working on latest priority work (maybe if I get this out of the way now, I’ll get to my real work this afternoon). Pretty absorbed in work, trying to ignore burning sensations in arms, wrists and hands (stress level 5/10, pain level 6/10)

12.00pm time for short lunch break. Leave desk to get away from work and help arms recover. Difficult to ignore workload that is mounting up for the afternoon. One meeting to break the afternoon up, but actions from meeting likely. Hour goes by really fast! (stress level 3/10, pain level 4/10)

1.00pm meeting to go to before I start to get to my original workload, which is now backing up. I worry about whether I’ll get through it because of this meeting. (stress level 5/10, pain level 4/10)

2.00pm meeting is over, have been allocated more work. Go back to desk, and find several phone messages which I need to return. They generate more workload. I get interrupted several times by co-workers with friendly banter. I break free and start my original today’s workload (stress level 6/10, pain level 6/10)

3.00pm Have managed to get a lot of work done in 1 hr, feel like I made some progress, but haven’t rested arms or hands during this time. (stress level 5/10, pain level 7/10)

4.00pm I am paying the price for working solidly for 1 hr. My arms and hands hurt, I am typing weirdly (to try to minimise the pain) and have tried out every combination of input device I own to see if I can ease the pain.  I am still working, but it’s not comfortable now. It’s like running a marathon with a badly cramping leg that won’t go away. I’m now stressing about my workload and the pain. I’m spending a lot of time rubbing my sore arm muscles. No-one around understands what pain I am in. I often wonder what they would do if they were me? (stress level 7/10, pain level 8/10)

5.00pm In pain, but have to work on past 5 pm to try to make some inroads. If I don’t, the work will just build up. If I don’t get through these key projects, it could be perceived badly and I’ll look like a failure. I have my arms strapped up in braces now even though I know this is bad practice.  (stress level 8/10, pain level 9/10)

6.00pm I leave work, drive the busy commute back home, and get home very stressed, 10% about the commute, 50% about workload and 40% about the pain I’m in.  (stress level 8/10, pain level 9/10)

7.00pm I comfort eat, sit down and watch TV. It distracts me from the pain. I try to read, but I can’t get comfortable. Holding the book up is sore. I try using some physical therapy techniques like hot/cold contrast baths to ease the pain (painkillers don’t work with RSI, if they did I’d be first in line!) (stress level 6/10, pain level 5/10)

8.00pm My arms ease off slightly, enough to get me to calm down. I have a sore but less stressful evening. I wonder how they’ll be after a good night’s rest. (stress level 4/10, pain level 4/10)

9.00pm I go to bed early to get a long rest, but am concerned about what my arms will be like tomorrow. Hope that I’m not doing them more permanent damage. (stress level 3/10, pain level 3/10)

(Repeat this cycle 5 times each week, 4 weeks each month, 12 months each year and for 7 years and you get a picture of my life at that time. It all added up to a lot of stress, pain and worry!)

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