I first showed serious symptoms of RSI in May 2003 when I was finishing my honors thesis, just before graduation. My wrists and forearms ached and burned pretty much constantly for a few weeks. After a doctor visit and some conversation with the Disability Office at Rice, I decided to just stick it out, take Vioxx, and wear wrist braces, and rest afterwards.
It diminished through the summer, but came back with a vengeance in November, after my first month of graduate coursework in Scotland. For the next two and a half years, I suffered from chronic severe RSI that nearly prevented me finishing my coursework on time, and did prevent me from finishing my MSc on time. At my most severe, I was almost disabled. I could barely cook, I couldn’t carry anything for longer than a few seconds or lift anything heavy. Squeezing a shampoo bottle, opening a door, and folding clothes became the challenges of my days. I spent a lot of time watching TV, since I couldn’t hold up a book to read. Thank goodness for Wimbledon and the BBC.
I “rested” as much as I could given that daily life was a struggle. I sought physical therapy, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, osteopathy, network chiropractic, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais, as well as more unusual treatment options like somatic psychotherapy. I saw a hand surgeon (but ignored her opinion). I took hot baths, worked out, and did stretches. I bought voice dictation software (aka speech recognition) and a different keyboard for those short periods when I could type. I did get somewhat better; I was able to type a bit and more or less function in daily life. I finished my thesis in July 2005, almost a year after it was originally due, and only with the help of two very wonderful people who served as my scribes.
These days, I can do anything I want. I’m back to spending many hours at the keyboard, as well as all the other activities I had given up, and I never have to worry about severe pain. How?