My absence from the blog hasn’t just been due to Summer Brain. I’ve been super busy on the writing front without doing any actual new writing. I critiqued a full manuscript for a friend, proofed my December release from Five Star Expressions, went through two rounds of editing on Penny’s first single title for Samhain Publishing, then did the final line editing and the proofing for the same. Then, in preparation for editing, I preformatted Penny’s short story for Ellora’s Cave (release date TBA). I just received the edits for the story on Monday, so it’s deadline time again. Not that I’m complaining, but when you’re writing for three different publishers under two different names, well, those publishers all have schedules to keep, which means I need to hop-to when one of them beckons. I’m down two projects, one to go. News which my shoulder greatly appreciates.
Part of the reason, other than the deadlines, that I’ve been gone, is because I’ve been suffering with rotator cuff issues for the last year, but I hurt myself badly in early July when I was moving too quickly, doing too many things at once, and my hand got caught in the workshop door while I was trying to walk up the basement stairs. This stupidito action on my part resulted in a cry of pain and writhing on the couch for what was probably only 30 seconds of torture but felt like 2 minutes (which is a long time when you’re in bad pain). Since that injury, which exacerbated the rotator cuff issues I’ve been having for about a year now, I moved into attending weekly physiotherapy (PT to Americans) and massage therapy…to little result. I saw such marginal improvement that I finally went to my doctor about the issue for the first time since, oh, last November. Not smart, I’ve discovered, to keep telling yourself “It’ll get better without bothering my GP.”
Well, my GP is a sports medicine specialist, so I shouldn’t have been so dense. I should have returned to him a lot sooner. But that’s water under the bridge. Three weeks ago this Friday, I finally went to see him about my shoulder issues and the July injury. The result was a cortisone shot to my supraspinatus muscle which pretty much incapacitated me for 48 hours. After that first awful 48 hours, I began to see slow improvement to my shoulder impingement. However, whether it’s due to, ahem, age, or the fact that I spend a good portion of my days on a keyboard and mouse, or that I fooled myself into thinking the injury would heal over time, I’m making progress but not enough to ignore my doctor’s advice to follow up in 10-14 days in the event that I might have a rotator cuff tear. Okay, so three weeks isn’t 14 days, but he was on holidays. I honestly don’t think I have a tear, but if he wants me to schedule an MRI to make certain, I will.
When you have a cortisone shot, the physio and massage therapists don’t like to see you for 7-10 days, so while I was waiting for the cortisone to work, I did a ton of exercises the physio had shown me and began investigating different keyboard and mouse options. I have been using a Microsoft ergonomic keyboard for years, and I didn’t know what else I could do until researching my injury led me to believe that it isn’t specifically the mouse that exacerbates my condition, it’s the fact that I’m constantly reaching over the number-key pad on the right of my keyboard to GET to the mouse. I do believe I’m a victim of mouse over-reach. I researched my options and was disappointed to realize that Microsoft doesn’t make a left-handed keyboard (number key pad on the left) in an ergonomic wave design. So I ordered what’s called a touchpad keyboard, from another manufacturer. The keyboard itself is ergonomically shaped and still has the number keypad on right, but instead of a mouse, you have a touchpad (like laptops have) in the bottom middle of the keyboard.
I loved this idea! And, while the brand of keyboard had received hit-or-miss reviews on-line, I spoke to a handful of writers through email who owned the keyboard and loved it. Well, they either had the older, more reliable version or I received a lemon. And what a lemon! I had that stupid keyboard set up three days, and while getting accustomed to the touchpad might have taken about a week, I would have gladly put up with that if the touchpad software didn’t keep going berserk. The cursor would whip around on the screen and open every program for each icon it touched. The only way I could stop it was by doing a cold shut-down. I later read on-line that you could unplug the keyboard to get it to stop glitching, but because of my computer and office set-up, that presented a whole ‘nother PITA of crawling around under my desk and straining my shoulder that I was not going to endure. So the keyboard went back in the box, and I’m awaiting reimbursement.
Since going back to the mouse, I can tell, yep, I have mouse over-reach issues. I can not keep my current set-up. My next experiment will be ordering the Kinesis Freestyle keyboard with the VIP attachment. This keyboard doesn’t have a number key pad (you can order one that comes separate from the keyboard itself) and it splits into two halves that can be arranged in several different ways, to suit the user. I sincerely hope this works for me. While I’m at it, I’m going to try a trackball again. I have my eye set on a Logitech model.
I’ll report in on my ergonomic issues in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I’ll continue to blog sporadically (twice a week if I can manage it) and reserve my keyboard/mouse use for editing and writing.
Wish me luck!