Carpal tunnel is evil

Carpal Tunnel is an insidious syndrome. The reason I say that is because it is such a slow process to reach that syndrome, and yet once you have it, you have to deal with a real struggle that can cost you work and money, all because you did nothing but type away on a keyboard.

Because keyboards are so important to modern work, it’s difficult to avoid many hours damaging your nerves typing away. By typing so often, with your fingers lower than your wrists, you are constantly raising your risk of developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. But what can you do? There are few real options that are effective. You can raise your computer up so that your fingers type upward, but this is not particularly comfortable and often looks ridiculous. I have known some who put boxes under their laptops so the keys are elevated, and it is as silly as you would expect. Otherwise, the best option is simply don’t type. But how far will you get in the modern business world with that?

Now, since you can’t avoid it, once you have developed Carpal Tunnel, you’re in real trouble. You’ll have to rest your hands, no matter what, which means no emails written, no documents typed, no important messages responded to. You have to ice your hands. You may even have to have surgery if the syndrome gets serious enough.

This can obviously lead to a serious loss of income. You may lose your job, or be threatened with it. You may have to hire a lawyer who will defend you and get you placed in long-term disability. Regardless, you are looking as serious expenses for treatment, loss of work, and potential legal issues.

All that, simply because you typed your working hours away like everyone else.

What is most nefarious about this syndrome, though, is simply how slowly it creeps up on you. For me, I was almost sixty when it hit. I’d worked for decades in offices without any complaint from my hands, and then, suddenly, I started getting a numb feeling in my fingers, and when I went to the doctor, sure enough, it was Carpal Tunnel. The diagnosis came when I was the head of my department, in charge of writing up reports on our productivity.

My case was both lucky and unlucky. I was lucky in the fact I had good health insurance and that I could get others to type for me while I recovered. I was unlucky in that I was denied by long-term insurance and had to keep working, keep driving to work (which could be painful) and lose out on needed months of rest to make sure I got completely healthy again.

Nowadays, I’m better, but I’m still constantly wary of any chance that syndrome might return. I take every precaution, including typing as little as possible each day, which certainly affects my productivity.

I can’t be the only one. We need to find a way to change the keyboard or change our communication so that this doesn’t happen so often. The results, once you have Carpal Tunnel, are simply too devastating.

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