Latest Score: Mouse 1, Chris 0
Apart from that joke about Descarte, I’ve been a non-blogger for a little while, suffering from an illness I didn’t really believe existed. I feel like one of Ian Hacking’s Made Up People, who didn’t exist until last Saturday night.
I go to the gym a couple of times a week in the winter and run around the park in the summer. I walk everyday. I’m reasonably fit. Apart from tripping over it, how could a computer mouse (and keyboard, but apparently mainly mouse) lay me low? The movements of the mouse are tiny and the force required nugatory compared to anything in the gym. But over the last couple of months I’ve been getting strange arm pains. Last Saturday evening I spent a lot of time typing up a paper describing a policy engine based on policies expressed in terms of continuously valued fuzzy variables and at 2 am on Sunday morning I was still wide awake in what was, for me, excruciating pain. My wife was also awake. Just. I have two good friends who really have continuous and intense pain and so I don’t want to exaggerate this pain but for me it was difficult to bear.
I had heard of Repetitive Strain Injury but had really tended to dismiss it as a fiction. How could tiny movements like this disable someone who is fit? Well, it can. I mentioned it to my boss on Monday and within 24 hours I had an ergonomist around to my cubical to sort me out. The only positive part of this was her asking me whether the pin-up of Venus I have over my desk was drawn by me. Now I admit that, to save the sensitivities of the women in my working life, I only have Venus’ head over my desk, avoiding Mars lying across her lap, effectively with his tongue hanging out after their bout of love-making. But even so.
The ergonomist was frankly incredulous when she saw my chair. She condemned it on the spot and applied for a new one with lots of knobs. She then measured bits of me, halved the distance to my monitor, lowered my keyboard, put in a works order to have my desk top raised 5cm, replaced my mouse with a tracker ball and told me the nasty fates of people whose working areas were like mine. I’m apparently lucky to have got off without ingrowing toenails and bubonic plague.
I’ve put some of her advice into practice here at home as well and am now more-or-less back to normal, although the arm remains sensitive. Watch out for those mouses!