This is as far back I can bend my wrists, and it hurts:

Which is actually an improvement. Thursday I could barely bend my right hand back at all. I only noticed something was up on Wednesday night when I was trying to hold a rather awkwardly designed tea cup and kept losing my grip on it, with the rather embarrassing consequence of spilling tea all over myself. Twice.

I’ve been very clutzy lately. In fact, the last two weeks I’ve been feeling crap, physically, mentally and even a little emotionally. Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the city with a friend and fellow writer from Canberra. She pointed out that I’ve not just finished the writing of a book, but the third in a trilogy and the last in a four book contract that owned me for the last six years, during which Paul and I went through a house renovation, got scr*wed by the builder, I wound up having to ask for multiple deadline extensions because of it, and everything only really sorted itself out in the last year or so. And now I’m about to start another three book contract, which is always a bit scary, but after the last one any new writing project is going to have an underlying ‘what’s going to go wrong this time?’ anxiety to it.

Now I consider it, I think only a fellow published writer could have spotted and pointed out the obvious. I expected that if there was going to be any end-of-project effects they’d kick in after the editing was done and the ms submitted. That’s why I decided December was going to be my ‘holiday’.

It was the icing on the cake was to have my hands, tools of my trade and of the hobbies that keep me sane, pack it in. I thought at first it might be carpel tunnel syndrome, after looking up the symptoms on the internet and talking to my hairdresser, who has it and had an operation to fix one hand. When I had my usual physio session for my back on Friday, he initially thought the same thing. But when he looked closer he said it was unlikely since I’m not getting pain in the right places. It looks more like a sprain and/or RSI.

Carpel tunnel might have been better. The idea that I might have an operation eventually and it’ll all be fine is very attractive. RSI… well, I’ve never heard of anyone getting over it completely. But everyone says it’s better if you tackle it early. Is this early? I don’t know. I’ve always been careful to stop doing anything that causes pain. I’ve done stretching exercises for years in the hopes of staving off RSI or carpel tunnel syndrome. This seems more like damage that has accumulated to the point where my precautions are no longer enough. I’m off to see my doctor tomorrow and get a referral to a specialist – which my hairdresser and physio recommended.

One thing that seems inevitable, is I’m probably going to have to use my hands less. That means being choosy about what I do with them. The days of going wherever crafty inspiration took me are over. I need to prioritise.

Writing – earns money, so highest priority
Art – I’d be sadder if I never drew or painted again than if I gave up crafting
Reading – so long as I take care with my back, I can definitely read more
Craft – some crafts are easier on the hands than others. Bad = hand knitting, hand sewing, macrame, crochet, jewellery-making, printing (some kinds). Possibly okay = weaving, machine knitting, machine sewing, bookbinding, paper craft, printing (some kinds).
Gardening – going to have to get Paul to be my hands for pruning, and use poison instead of weeding by hand
Housework – thank goodness we have a cleaner, who I decided to hire because of my back problem. Well, we had one, but the poor lady injured herself on another job and the company is trying to find us a replacement. We still do some things ourselves, like washing clothes. I’ll get Paul to take over pegging things to the line.

Looking at that list, I suppose knitting less is the main change I’ll have to make. I’ll miss knitting socks the most so perhaps, if the RSI settles down I’ll be able to sneak a little sock knitting in now and then. The rest of the stash… well, if I can’t make it with the knitting machine it goes in the weaving stash.

It’s a good thing I’m not as obsessed with knitting as I was a few years ago. Thankfully, I’d mostly decided not to start a BA next year, or I’d have been panicking about that now. Though, so long as I don’t do really intricate art, I’m hoping I’ll be able to paint and draw without much pain or strain.

6 thoughts on “Ouch

  1. Before you go the surgery route, try acupuncture. I was diagnosed with a severely bulging disc in my neck 3 years ago, they wanted to do surgery (which may or may not hold) and fuse my discs. Or months and months of physical therapy which may or my not work or make it worse. Or injections of steroids with the side effects of that and possible infections at the injection site. I chose 3 rounds of acupuncture and in 2 weeks all pain and numbness was gone and I’ve not had any problems since.

    Then this fall I was having some pain in my right elbow and thought ‘great the disc problem is back.’ So back to Dr Julie Qu I went. Tennis elbow (I don’t even play tennis) brought on by the constant typing of my job and the knitting. Three weeks later and twice weekly sessions and daily Chinese herbs and the pain is gone and hasn’t been back! 2000 years of medical practice with actual results can’t be bad.

    • Wow, that’s an amazing result for your back! Acupuncture is something I’m willing to try if simple treatments don’t work. I’m going to a ‘hand therapist’ tomorrow to get an assessment.

  2. It is true that one does not ever truly get over RSI as I have had it for 25 years. But you learn what not to do. And as you know I knit and type quite a lot (but am always careful to stop when things hurt). Do everything you need, medically speaking, to help the initial problems (I had intensive phsyio for 12 months, some acupuncture, and lots of anti-inflammatories, gradually cutting down to OTT ibuprofen when required). Take the medical advice you are given, but shop around if you don’t like the first opinion! Do anything that is necessary to make things more ergonomic for you – which is not necessarily the same as what would work for someone else. And good luck!

    • That’s pretty much what I do and plan to do, so it’s good to know someone else with RSI has the same ‘battle plan’. I have ergonomic chairs, armchairs, keyboard, setup, etc. I’ve always stopped at the slightest sign of pain. (Which is why I’m dead against doing any speed knitting challenges like the Knitting Olympics.) Now that this isn’t enough, I’m looking at physio and other therapies, and avoiding things that seem to make it worse. And my physio actually recommended I get another opinion, which is why I still went to the doc and got the ‘hand therapist’ referral.

  3. Let me know if you want to compare symptoms with the RSI I had ~10 years ago.
    The form I had responded very well to massage/mobilisation that David could do for me at home, so I could treat it at the first twinge any time it threatened to return.

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