Self-Care for Writers – Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel

Carpal Tunnel

Last week I wrote about pain and how to tap for it.

Next, I want to look at some reasons for pain that we create ourselves. I have close and personal experience with at least two of them… let’s start with the one that’s more typical for writers.

Carpal Tunnel

Unfortunately, this is a common one among writers, simply because we move our  hands so much in typing.  My own story about Carpal Tunnel is a bit unusual, but bear it in mind.

Carpal Tunnel is a repetitive strain injury.

And common wisdom holds it that it comes from too much typing.

I got a new computer at work, and my IT colleague flipped out the little supports on the keyboard before she put it on my desk, making it sit higher in the back, making me bend my wrists more when typing. I didn’t really like it, but she assured me it would make typing better. So I left it at that.

At around the same time, I started doing pull-ups in the gym using a new machine, putting new strain on my muscles and sinews in my forearms.

I don’t know if it was the combination of those or a lot of typing at work or just the position of my wrists… but long story short – I developed carpal tunnel. Swollen hands at night. Stiff fingers. Tingling.

Add in a neurologist who misdiagnosed me so I delayed treatment for about three months, and I got a nice solid case of serious pain. Our insurance demands that we try braces before surgery, so I got braces. They didn’t help.

The pain was horrible.

This was before I learned about EFT, and I remember several afternoons I spent just sitting in my armchair waiting for the pain to ease. It didn’t really. Normal pain killers don’t really work on nerve pain. I got an appointment for surgery on my right hand, and I almost cried because I had to wait about three months for it.

I also read up on carpal tunnel and decided I would do something about the placement of my keyboards. I got keyboard trays for both of my desks, at home and at work. It was easy at work. They had seen me try to type with the braces… and my husband put the one into my desk that I still use today.

I changed my posture.

And then something really weird happened: I started writing. A lot. Because my first story bug hit me. I never counted, but I was writing for hours every day, and I think I did at least 30k words in those three January weeks before surgery. At least. It sure took my mind off the pain.

And the pain went away. I just didn’t cancel the surgery because it was scheduled and I had waited three months for it to happen. I didn’t trust the improvement. But I kept writing – carefully – after the surgery. And I never made an appointment for my left hand. When I had a back-up check with the good neurologist, he was surprised at the improvement in my left hand. That never happens without surgery, he told me.

I believe that writing in a good posture, with hardly any bending of my wrists, thanks to the low keyboard trays, actually healed my carpal tunnel. All that movement lubricated the sinews in my wrist and allowed the inflammation to fade away, reducing any swelling and thus releasing the nerve.

My carpal tunnel healed with the change of posture.

Now this is rare. But I want you to be aware of this possibility. If you have symptoms like tingling in your thumb and first and middle finger, swollen hands in the morning, a dull, aching pain that sometimes shoots up to the shoulder – consider carpal tunnel and DO change your wrist position.

I did get confirmation of that theory, though. Because one day, I got a new desk at work, and the old keyboard tray was lost. I said I needed a new keyboard tray for health reasons and was refused. Three weeks later, I was developing symptoms again, and I insisted on a keyboard tray. As soon as I got it – symptoms went away.

Take care of your wrists.

Do what it takes to keep your wrists as straight as possible while typing. Get wrist supports, a keyboard try or a standing desk. Being a writer still means typing lots for us, and you must make it so that it doesn’t give you pain or an illness.

I can’t guarantee it’ll help you the way it helped me. But it’s worth a try before you go to surgery, right?

So where does EFT come in here?

Well, of course, you could tap on the pain, and you should because it’ll give you temporary relief. But if you don’t change anything, that pain will come back anyway. EFT can do a lot, but if there is a serious injury, your body will make itself heard no matter how hard you tap.

I believe it’s smarter in the long run to change your posture and your work environment, especially since we writers spend hours and hours typing our stories.

So let’s tap on your resistance to that change.

Even though I have this pain in my wrists and all the symptoms of Carpal Tunnel, I’m okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to try new ways of writing at my desk.

Even though I totally hate this Carpal Tunnel pain, and I have to keep writing through it, I’m still okay the way I am, and I now give myself permission to try a keyboard tray or whatever it takes to save my wrists all that bending work.

Even though I hate this Carpal Tunnel and all it does to me and my writing, and yet I don’t want to change anything – I just want it to be back to normal (*wail*), I’m okay the way I am, and I choose to know that using a keyboard tray or something else that helps my posture could very much improve my situation and my writing.

Your Turn:
Do you have any experience with Carpal Tunnel?
How does it feel to change your writing environment?
What happened while you were tapping?
And finally – what are you creating right now?
Please share in a comment.

Image Source: F. Moebius

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About fmoebius

I’m a writer and coach. I love helping writers be more creative, more productive and more profitable.
With EFT, life gets easier. Blocks can fall away. Limiting beliefs just shift. You can build your dream life. Let me help you do this.

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