1. Monday, June 14, 2004

    Tony, I love your blog. 

    It’s one of the best reads out there. But man, if I were you I’d drop the keyboard and never touch it again. RSIs like carpal tunnel are NOT something you can gut out and work through. The more you do it, the worse it gets.

    I know. Here’s my story.

    In Jan ’97 I remember feeling new wrist pain out of nowhere. I took it pretty easy after that. But it was dot-com times so I got a sweet job programming in May. By September I had to quit. Diagnosis: tendonitis of the wrist.

    Here’s a list of things I tried: stretching, good posture, exercises, breaks, massages, Rolfing (more massages), drinking lots of water, Kinesis ergonomic keyboard (awesome keyboard, but way too late to make a difference), fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm, anti-inflammatory meds, soaking my arms in warm water to bring down the inflammation, creative visualization.

    I did all of that shit way too late, it would have made a difference BEFORE the pain, but by the time the pain shows up, it’s too late.

    So I headed back to school, cut way back on the typing. But it just got worse. After 3 months in school I couldn’t even write with a pen without pain. It took me a year of doing nothing before I recovered enough to be able to write and read. My wrists still hurt today, but I can function, I can type a lot. But I’ll never be able to work a full-time coding gig again, which sucks, cuz damn could I use the money.

    If I could go back in time, I’d go back to Jan 1997, slap myself in the head and force myself at gunpoint to never touch a keyboard. Take a year vacation from keyboards, let all that cumulative damage repair itself. Cuz I ended up taking that year off later, only I was stuck with permanent damage to boot. And jokes from my friends about whacking

    off too much.

    I’d hate to not be able to read your blog, but dude, I’d hate even worse not to see you wrecked the same way my wrists were.

    And I know other coders with the same story. There’s so much other shit in life to do, and permanent damage is seriously on the line.

    But you’ll probably be as stubborn as I was — I regret how stubborn I was, how long I stuck in there, making things get worse and worse.

    So if you have to keep going, at least check out voice recognition software like DragonDictate and NaturallySpeaking — this software wasn’t very good when I was coding, but it’s come a long way, I tried it 3 years ago and it was decent. And it would work a lot better for a blogger than for a coder.

    The other thing is, don’t let them operate on you. From what I read on the internet, and from friends’ stories: that shit never helps for long. At BEST it’ll bring the symptoms down for a while before you relapse again.

    - Jon from UCLA

    doc searls + my perfect wife moxie + sksmith