Friday, February 17, 2017

When the Doctor Says, "Stop Typing"

by Traci Tyne Hilton 
@TraciTyneHilton

Tendonitis.
Carpel Tunnel.
Arthritis.
Autoimmune diseases.
Neurological diseases.
Accident with experimental flying machine.

You get the picture. There are an awful lot of people who have heard they will have to stop typing.


I heard it very recently.

I spent a good portion of last year trying to get to the root of what made my wrists and fingers hurt, but the answer was simply overuse. Tendonitis. Xrays were clean of joint damage. Nerve test came back normal. RA factor was nonexistent. Etc. etc. I use my wrists, and my wrists don’t like it.

I had a maintenance physical not long ago, a check up with a new doctor for my new insurance and asked for advice on dealing with the tendonitis. (I already wear braces when it is acting up.) She said, “Use that dragon thing.”

In other words, stop typing.

My Macintosh has pretty good built in dictation, so it’s “easy” to switch to that, and I’m a verbal kind of person anyway, so for me, it’s not an impossible challenge. Anyway, I learned how to think with my fingertips instead of my pencil grip when I switched from writing longhand first to typing first.

But anyone who uses “That dragon thing” or dictation on their Mac or what have you, knows it can be an editing nightmare. So I wanted to point out a few other ways to protect your wrist for writing.

For me, it includes giving other things up. The grip that really hurts me is a pinching kind of grip, so I no longer crochet. And I don’t knit for hours on end anymore.

I gave up pulling weeds five years ago. (For the pain relief, I swear!) and I also know that I cannot wring out wash cloths. But the hardest one, the one I know I have to give up next, is playing games on my phone. It took me too long to realize that the way the phone fits in my hand makes writing a “pain” the next day.

In addition to giving up things other than writing, a writer who has been told to stop writing, can also invest in ergonomic office gear. It’s not all created equal though. I had a great ergo-keyboard for years and years. I had tested them out at the store before I bought it. When it finally had to be replaced my husband got one for me for my birthday. It was thoughtful, but it didn’t help with the pain at all. So I need to replace it again one of these days.

A dental hygienist friend who suffers from similar pains also suggested investing several hundred dollars in a really good chair, and that body position was as important as hand position. She gave me links to some she had found to be fantastic. At the time I couldn’t fathom spending that for my hobby, but it has since become my full time job, and the right chair is an investment I need to make.

The best way to protect your future as a writer is to start before the doctor tells you to stop. Set up your most ergonomic writing station before you are in pain. (This will probably not be your lap top in bed!) Pay attention to activities that give you hand fatigue, or twinges, and limit them as needed. And practice dictation now!

It sounds silly, but it’s a lot harder emotionally to learn to dictate stories when it is your only option. If you start now . . . perhaps with your lap top in your favorite non-ergonomic writing place, when you need to do it, it will be much easier.


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When the doctor says, "Stop typing." Tips from @TraciTyneHilton (Click to Tweet)


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven RomanticMysteries. Traci has a degree in history from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy kids, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie Goodwin.


More of Traci’s work can be found at www.tracihilton.com

4 comments:

  1. Amen. Prevention is so much better than dealing with the pain. Seys me who often types with my hands stretched over my cat. :-)

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  2. Thank you for the warning. When I was a child, I took piano lessons. My teacher told me to pretend the rail between the keys and my body was hot. That kept my wrists from resting there. I try to do the same thing on my keyboard.

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  3. I've been looking for a stand for my macbook. My chiropractor said I'm getting typing neck. I'd love to know the chair you like. Thanks for the tips.

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