RSI vacation of stircraziness
March 22, 2012 2:37 PM   Subscribe

How to fill my time on medical leave for RSI issues? And how to cope with not being able to live as normal?

I work in marketing, and through to the heavy computer use my job requires, developed pain in my lower arms.

I saw my doctor. I'm seeing a physical therapist ASAP (next week due to hmo bs), but until I get professional input and advice about how to move forward, I'm taking time off work, and abstaining from computer/iphone use, and, basically, anything that hurts. (I'm not sure whether or not pen on paper writing is safe for me to do.)

And its making me crazy.

Normally if I had a few days home from work, I'd be coding, writing, or sewing (or playing video games), but in this situation, too much hand/arm use is required for those activities. I'm supposed to be healing!

I'm at a loss... I know I can read and go for long walks, but both things lead to thinking, and thinking leads to writing. Without the ability to type, i feel like I've lost the ability to speak and give feedback on the world.

Am I best off going brain-numb for a few days and trying to zen out?

(slowly typed via left-hand hunt-and peck)
posted by itesser to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Get some voice recognition software (Dragon Naturally Speaking being the gold standard) and start doing voice-to-text to write. Get a super ergonomic mouse so you don't hurt it mousing. Read a lot.
posted by brainmouse at 2:43 PM on March 22, 2012

Oh, I hear you. I was put on a typing hiatus for several weeks and it killed me!

Watching movies saved my brain. Or, rather, watching movies and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Voice recognition software is an excellent idea, because if you do have RSI you're going to need it in future. Naturally Speaking is the best of a bad lot.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:54 PM on March 22, 2012

So sorry to hear this - I feel your pain. I have kept a recurring case of RSI under control for over ten years, and while the first year was hell, I have since managed to salvage my career, and still work full time at the computer. The key to managing the condition is understanding your work patterns and what causes you to get sick, and having a good self-treatment regime. Unfortunately, I can't help you with this, and you will need to work it out with your therapist, but it can be done, and once you find the solution, it's pretty easy to take care of yourself.

Try to find the right physical therapist, one who understands your condition and can work with you. RSI is not very well understood by many therapists, but a good one will be able to teach you strategies for monitoring and self-treating. If you're unsure about the treatment or not seeing much improvement, don't be afraid to look for another one.

Meanwhile, the best thing you can do right now is exercise. Get fit, and enjoy getting fit. Not only will this fill your day, it will speed your recovery. If you are not working on your computer, you will probably notice the benefits very quickly.

Buy a pair of running shoes, and use them. If you have never run before, never fear - your first outing will be excruciating, but pretty soon you'll be hooked. Join a yoga or pilates class, preferably with teachers experienced in this sort of injury. Buy some nice swimwear and go to the pool, and if you don't want to do the laps, just float - you'll be amazed at how therapeutic it can be. Be careful with training that may strain your back, shoulders or arms, but pretty much any moderate aerobic exercise will be good for you.

Above all, try to stay positive. Enforced idleness like this is incredibly frustrating and demoralizing, especially if you are used to doing and making. But try to keep in mind that you can and will recover, no matter how long it takes. Good luck!
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:01 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I've found Deborah Quilter's books fantastic.
posted by plinth at 4:40 PM on March 22, 2012

Volunteer work is a wonderful balm -- I am a bit sidelined by joint problems and volunteer work is a nice 'Look, I'm still useful, and look, I'm actually doing something' to stop your brain from fussing at you.

I was going to suggest a hand-held tape recorder before reading the previous answers, which makes me feel rather antique. But they're still fun things to have!
posted by kmennie at 6:39 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Here's my page on how to heal from RSI.

And here's my page on how to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking to continue being productive intellectually while you heal.
posted by gmarceau at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Windows Speech Recognition is actually pretty good. Possibly not quite as good as Dragon for dictating prose, but better for navigating the web and such. And you may already own it, since it comes with some editions of Windows Vista or 7.

If you do spend any time typing, make sure to enforce regular breaks. I use Workrave for this.

As for keeping yourself busy, books can be pretty distracting, and tend to take up more time than TV shows. Also, I bet you have at least one friend who works strange hours, or part time–they might want company between 9-5, when most of the people they know are busy.
posted by vasi at 10:22 AM on March 23, 2012

I read the entire Wheel of Time series during my therapist-mandated computer break. You could read something similarly long, but actually good, instead.
posted by yomimono at 7:42 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older Show me how to flip a coin 15 times and tell me...   |   We don't want to be the mean girls Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.