Galen Wolffit (wolffit) wrote,
Galen Wolffit

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Wrist issues, ergonomics, etc...

Some background first- my wrists got pretty trashed working on cars every day. At one point I developed numbness in my right hand at the fingertips.

It slowly over a period of weeks progressed it's way down my fingers and worsened to the point where I couldn't feel the fasteners I was trying to turn with that hand, so I had to use my other hand. It then started having this problem too, and I began to wonder just how bad it might get. Then one day it started going away, and it hasn't returned. However, it comes back instantly if I ride a bike, motorcycle, operate machinery that vibrates, etc. It basically waits to crop up and a lot of things can trigger it. I'm told this is the less-painful form of carpel tunnel, and that I should consider myself lucky.

I've been back in the tech field now for about 10 months. And guess what's starting to crop up? This time it's some pain in my wrists.

I took a step back and looked at what I'm using. The ergonomics of my desk here at work are pretty horrendous.

My boss has carpel tunnel so bad that when I even mentioned that my wrists were getting sore lately he basically wanted me to get whatever was needed to help. Immediately. Anything is better than nothing, and right now my elbows stand half a foot away from my chest on either side, and my wrists rest on the sharp edge of a cube desktop surface, the monitor is maybe 12" from my eyes, and my hands are unable to twist far enough to reach the insert key because of the sharp angle they're already at. Yeah, this is a nightmare and I've been ignoring it for a while. When I drive home everything is a little blurry for some time, even. Ok.. maybe it's time I attack this problem more seriously.

So.. I got him to agree to cover (mostly? some of?) this keyboard:

Between that and an articulating sliding keyboard tray that is all height adjustable and stuff mounted to the underside of the desk, I should be set. I've used one of those keyboards once. They take a lot of getting used to, about a month to get back to your old typing speed. But I'm told that once you get there, you keep getting faster and faster, and your wrists hardly move at all while typing because nearly every key is within reach. It's amazingly efficient, but it will force you to touch-type. My first three fingers on each hand do most of my typing. I can exceed 150 words per minute if my hands are nice and warm, but I make a lot of typos in the process. I taught myself how to type, and I tend to adapt to whatever is placed in front of me. This keyboard should make for some interesting adaptation. No, I won't try DVORAK. I did that prior, once. Two months of feeling helpless, of wanting to type the most simple of sentences, and having to look for every key to do it. To make matters worse, I didn't have DVORAK at home. Should I get another one of these keyboards to use with me at home? Well .. not at that price. I'll probably just bring this one to and from work. If it's an intelligent design, which it appears to be ... it'll have a USB port so there won't be a cord permanently attached and I just disconnect it and walk away.

Moral of the story? Keep an eye on your ergonomics ... if you sit in a chair and plug away at the keyboard all day, every day, it really matters and problems that are even small just seem to become big problems over time.

Also.. I use two 19" CRT monitors, which places them very close to my head because it's a corner and the tubes are very long. I can't get my company to buy me LCD's, they'll just tell me to use one monitor instead. Dell is offering some amazingly good deals on LCD's right now. I have two 20.1" units from them sitting at home that I got last year and ... I absolutely swear by them. I might be getting some more, buying myself some hardware to use at work. Techs almost always had to buy their own tools .. and rather that bitch and complain about it at work and never get what would be very useful, I look at it as an investment in my health. We'll see.

- Keman
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