Emy Shin

in which i take an indeterminate hiatus

Every year, I look forward to the holidays season not because of Christmas, but because of all the end-of-year posts. I love reading them. There’s something about the reflection of the year past and the hope for the year coming that makes me giddy with joy. I had also planned on writing my own maudlin posts: favorite books of the year, what I learned this past year, my New Year’s resolutions, etc.

Except I won’t be writing them.

Can’t write them.

Because just typing for more than ten minutes at a time brings me pain now.

Early last week, I experienced shooting pain in my right shoulder and forearm. I wasn’t extremely worried, because this has happened before, and the pain would often go away after a day or two. But this time, it didn’t. It got worse. I started feeling wrist and hand pain, along with the finger aches that have come and go for the last year. Then the pain spread to my left arm.

And then I started feeling pain all the time, not just when I’m using the computer.

My doctor isn’t sure what the problems are, but I suspect the pain is associated with various Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). My symptoms closely match Tendonitis, Carpal Tunnel, and possibly Trigger Fingers. I have to admit I’m panicking right now. Are these permanent? Does this mean I won’t have the full use of my hands ever again? How will I write? How will I work as a dentist in the future?

The one thing I do know, however, is that the injuries will only get worse if I persist on doing what caused it in the first place: Using my laptop for hours and hours each day.

So for the foreseeable future, I will be taking a total break from the computer until my arms and hands heal. (I hope they will heal.)

To all my writer friends: If you give yourself one gift this holidays season, give yourself the gift of a healthy body. Take care of it. Develop good typing habits. Rest and stretch your hands and arms every twenty minutes. Don’t wait until permanent damage is done.

I hope you all have a Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year!

32 Comments

  1. Wen Baragrey says:

    Oh, Emy, I’m so sorry. It will improve though. Maybe not to the way it was, but it will get better and manageable.

    I did permanent damage to my eyes from not being sensible with computer usage as well. It still hurts, but it’s under control and through being sensible, I can keep working the way I always did (just with more breaks and taking time off when I need it), even though I’ll never get back my full vision (I’ve got massive splotches in my vision and get headaches very easy).

    Make sure you get a second opinion on it if your doctor doesn’t have a satisfactory plan or diagnosis for you and don’t give up. It will come right!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and I’m sure we’ll see you back, good as new, in the New Year.

  2. Jemi Fraser says:

    You poor thing! I really, really hope this is a temporary thing and the doctors can help you figure it out. That’s pretty scary stuff.

    Down the road once you have most of it under control, you might want to try a speech to text program. Some of my students use Dragon Naturally Speaking and it’s kind of fun and it works well. It might help you out a bit.

    Take care of yourself! Have a wonderful year end and even better new year. *hugs*

  3. I had to get a new keyboard because I was starting to having problems writing for more than five minutes stretches.

    I hope things get better soon. Definitely take the time off so your body can health. *hugs*

  4. I’m so sorry to hear this, Emy. :( Wishing you a healthy and speedy recovery in the new year! We’ll all be here when you get back. Hope you have a merry Christmas!

  5. Erin Bowman says:

    EMY! I hope your time off heals things. As a web designer by trade, I had some intense Carpal Tunnel-like pain a few years ago in my wrist, thumb, and palm from so much use of the mouse. It was terrifying. I was scared it wouldn’t heal. I took more breaks and switched to a mouse pad that has that “rest” thing on the bottom to support my wrist. It got better and I’m fine now.

    Definitely take some time off, and I’m sure your doctor has offered suggestions, but if you don’t use one of those wrist-supporter pads for your keyboard (since keyboard seems to be your nemesis, unlike my issue with the mouse) I highly recommend one.

    I’m rooting for a strong recovery for you and keeping you in my thoughts. Enjoy your holidays. And some time away from the computer. You will be missed, but we COMPLETELY understand. Health first.

    Andddd… I’ve written a short novel. My apologies. (((hugs)))

  6. anne gallagher says:

    Hope things work out well for you. Having an injury to your hands/arms is devastating. I dealt with one for years.

    Wishing you a pain free holiday and new year with lots of rest. See you when you get back.

  7. Oh no! Maybe time away from the computer will help you. I hope you have a speedy recovery and a great holiday!

  8. *hugs* Pain sucks. I hope you heal soon. I hope you enjoy the holidays!

  9. Tiana Smith says:

    Oh my! This post makes me so sad inside! I really really hope you get better, and soon too. Reading the other comments makes me think this is more common than people let on. I’ll definitely be taking more breaks!

  10. Oh noes! I really, really hope the pain gets better =(

    I don’t think people really realize how hazardous being a writer can be. I haven’t had any problems with my hands or wrists, but that’s probably mostly because I’ve already been taking lots of breaks away from the computer because it’s already helped ruin my vision. Take care of yourself, and see you when you get back!

  11. Yahong says:

    AGH. That’s seriously awful! I hope you heal completely — but I’m sure you will, the strong gal that you are. *hugs* Get plenty of rest. I’m positive you’ll get through. You will be able to write, and you will be able to work as a dentist.

    I have faith in your strength. <3

  12. I’m so sorry to hear! You take care of yourself and get better. That is scary! Sending all my best wishes your direction.

  13. Ladonna says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ll be praying for you.

  14. Jessic Silva says:

    I’ll miss you <3 but I sincerely hope you get better!

  15. Karen Strong says:

    Sorry to hear about this Emy but you have such a positive attitude I know that your body will heal itself with rest and care.

    Definitely take it easy and don’t overdo it. I’m sure you’ll get lots of love and attention over the Christmas break. :)

  16. Aw, I’m so sorry! I hope you feel better soon!

  17. Sandy says:

    Emy, I’m so sorry to hear about this! I’ll miss seeing you around but I hope you feel better soon. Your health is so, so important and I’m wishing you a safe and speedy recovery<3

  18. Sophia Chang says:

    I had RSI my senior year of college as well. It’s like a rite of passage. Consider it a graduation omen. :P

  19. Sorry to hear that you are having so much pain typing. I work in assistive technology and I want to tell you about Dragon Naturally Speaking. This software really does work and would allow you to type by speaking to the computer.

    However, if you cannot afford this, know that Windows 7 comes with something similar. Just go to the accessibility options and turn it on. In not time, you will be dictating to your computer and not having to type at all.

  20. Oh, Emy, I’m so sorry to hear about this. I hope your arms and wrists (and whatever other body parts are involved) heal quickly! You’re right- it’s so important to take care of our bodies. We don’t realize how much we take for granted until it’s taken away. At least, I know I’m that way.

    I hope you were able to have a Merry Christmas!

  21. Krispy says:

    Oh Emy, I heard about this through your twitter. I’m sorry it’s gotten so bad, but I hope for your speedy recovery. Rest is definitely the best way to go. As some other people have suggested, try switching your mouse and keyboard to ergonomic ones if you can. I understand about the laptop though. I do most of my web stuff on that than on the desktop when I’m at home. :P

    Anyway, I hope you have a restful holiday season and happy New Year! Wishing you all the best! *hugs*

  22. I am so sorry, Emy! I hope your time off will heal your arm.

    Have a Happy New Year!!!

  23. Oh Emy, I’m so sorry to hear about this! You are most definitely in my thoughts this New Year. I wish you a quick recovery and, again, I’m so sorry that you have to deal with this!

  24. Susan Fields says:

    Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear that. Heal quickly!

  25. I’m sorry to hear that, Emy! Hope you’re taking care of yourself and getting better!

  26. Shallee says:

    I’m late on this (took a hiatus of my own), but I just wanted to say I’m so sorry! That’s got to be both frustrating and frightening. I hope you figure out how to make it go away, and stay away. Hope you’re feeling better!

  27. Lydia K says:

    Take care of yourself and heal, heal, heal!

  28. Allison says:

    Hey, I saw you joined my blog. Thanks! But about your hands- this sounds intensely familiar to what I just went though. Please please please ask your doctor to consider Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, specifically neurogenic NTOS. I say this as someone who spent 6 months being bounced from specialist to specialist while they were trying to figure out my diagnosis, and as a medical student.

    Wikipedia actually has the most information, in my opinion. Please contact me if you want to talk about this, and I hope you feel better soon, losing the use of your hands is devastating.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002406/
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/thoracic-outlet-syndrome/DS00800
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thoracic_outlet_syndrome

  29. Oh I’m so sorry to hear this. I hope you feel better! I can see why you would be worried. I get those feelings of pain from time to time but they go away.

    Take care and get yourself rested up!

  30. Jai Joshi says:

    Emy, your health comes first always. Best wishes, I hope the break helps you.

    Jai

  31. Carrie says:

    So sorry to hear about this. Hoping you recover soon. Take care of yourself.

  32. Gina says:

    I hope that you will recover soon!

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