Writing through Pain

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The past few weeks have been pain filled. I know I’m not alone in this. Writers spend a lot of time sitting. Some pain is expected. Getting up and moving around, taking breaks help. But that becomes a lot harder when your pain has a medical name.

Once it’s named following a  doctor’s visit, a sort of permanence settles in. That’s different from just a little back pain or wrist pain that leaves when you step away from the keyboard and do other things that exercise different muscles. Those minor pains can be lessened through new activities such as cleaning, taking long walks, even taking a short nap can set you back on track to write again.

After years of writing and doing data entry at my job, I’ve developed carpal tunnel and sciatica. Add to that a diagnosis of neuropathy several years ago, a simple change of activity doesn’t always set things to right.

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My right wrist gets over used at my job because my hand uses the mouse more than the keyboard. The sciatica makes it difficult to sit for long periods. And the neuropathy that has been dormant for years has suddenly ( I suspect with this particularly harsh winter) morphed into mega pain.

Combined with stresses in life, the pain can be unbelievable.

I’ve found some things that help me keep writing. Acupuncture did wonders to minimize carpal tunnel pain. The chiropractor also recommended hand exercises. Over time, I no longer needed a brace. Heat helps too.

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Heat and medications help my neuropathy and sciatica. Walking and stretches reduce the pain.

Fortunately, I am left-handed. So, I write long hand on a tablet while my right arm rests.

I take a few days off from typing and then resume. During my times away from the keyboard I take time to pray, read the Word, read things that inspire me. This energizes my soul and reduces my emotional stress.

I know when I retire form my job, it will be easier. At my office I sit in the same spot all day. Taking a few walking breaks.

At home I can move my laptop to a countertop and type standing. To a couch and put my feet up. And I have a desk that fits over my bed where I can place a heating pad on my legs and keep working. New positions relax my muscles.

Dragon software

Some people use Dragon to dictate their stories onto the page. I need to learn that program. Some writers dictate to their spouses so they can rest their typing muscles. That might work because my hubby types much faster than I.

Being an author is a dream fulfilled.

Pain wants to rob that dream.

 I’ve shared the ways I work through my pain. I’d love to hear what others do.  Together we can encourage and help one another.

 

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Writing through Pain

  1. Kristine Zimmer Orkin says:

    I also have carpel tunnel, sciatica, and three degenerating back discs. I visualized your pain–and your therapies–as I read your story.

    My work as a sign language interpreter is the culprit behind the repetitive stress disorder in my wrists and hands. It also is to blame for exacerbation of my sciatica. I either stand for long periods of time–on stage, on concrete or uneven terrain for outdoor jobs, climbing stairs for walking tours tours and job trainings or I sit for hours–sometimes all day–in classrooms. I travel for my job, too, sitting in a car for multiple hours. These job tasks wreak havoc with my back, my hamstrings, my knees, my adductor muscles, my ankles and feet. I retain a lot of fluid in my lower extremities.

    Here’s what helps me, both as an interpreter and as a writer:

    * I wear hand/wrist splints whenever I’m NOT working. I drive with splints.

    * I have a crockpot type of machine–large enough for feet as well as hands– for hot, melted parrafin. I keep it plugged in while I work on writing and use it after long days of hand work or foot work. A hand/wrist wax bath several times during repetitive types of work is soothing, healing, and quite calming overall. It’s recommended by OTs and used a lot in my profession. Works wonders on feet too. The wax peels off easily and may be reused.

    * Massages — another self-care treatment in my profession, but I find them equally important when I write. I prefer full body massages that address not only my shoulders and back, but all those muscles in the legs that are being bound up by sitting. And don’t forget butt massages, head massages, and hand massages. I like reflexology very much, targeting various body areas through the pressure on nerve areas in the feet.

    * I write for a while sitting, then standing, sitting and standing.

    * Excerises for my core, and basic yoga stretches are a key therapy for me. Gets the blood moving and the heart beating stronger.

    * I take Short breaks just to stand outside for a few minutes. A change of environment perks up my mood and my concentration.

    * I find that herbal tea or cold water with lemon works better than coffee or caffeinated soda for both my body mechanics and my mind.

    * Sit in the car or in your chair with a tennis ball behind you–placed wherever you need it (between your shoulder blades, on your spinal column mid-back level, or down in your lower back.

    * A $10 backrest from Walgreens is something I MUST have. It has an elastic strap along the back that lets you slip it over any chair.

    * I went out and bought myself a ball chair for $100. Even using just a large pilate ball ($15 at Walmart) takes stress off your back and works your leg muscles constantly as you make small shifts in your core to balance yourself. Recommended by my physical therapist. I love it.

    * A small digital voice recorder (I have one that records up to 35 hours from Best Buy). Fits in your hand or on a tabletop. Great for dictating your stories while driving. Look at the microphone range and mic direction on different models. I bought one that picks up speech in a 180° arch. Good for interviews, panel discussions, or to capture people sitting around the table.

    Those are the techniques and therapies I use to help with my writing. I’ll be looking for more good ideas in others’ comments on this page.

    Like

  2. eternalfeatherblog says:

    Have you tried Deep Blue with Coconut Oil by Doterra? They are so good! I have neck and back pain and while at a Messianic conference last summer, I met this lady who works for Doterra and gave me a sample of deep blue for my neck which was in bad bad pain that afternoon. Within 20 min I could turn my neck again! I also use two Brookstone products: their plush backrest and their foot massager ($250) but well worth it. I use mine a LOT. I write and work from home much so foot massager helps relieve stress. Reflexology shows how massaging feet or ears can bring relaxation to various parta of the body. Pain bites! Much love and prayer and hope these tidbits help😀

    Like

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