Thursday, April 29, 2010

Aches & Pains of the Office

A pretty large portion of my day is spent sitting at my desk in front of the computer. The desk is a really nice, large wooden number that's L shaped. Both outermost sides of the L have drawers built in; then, next to the drawers on one side is a pull-out tray for a keyboard, and the other side is a large drawer. Can you picture this?

Ok, well there are some issues with the best way to layout the items on the desk. One side of the L is against a wall. The wall contains the outlets & jacks for the electrical stuff, which are too short to stretch far. The pull-out tray for the keyboard is on the wall side.

In theory, the computer screen should be above the keyboard tray; but, 1) there are too many electric items with short cords (phone, space heater, 2 intercom things, computer speakers, and a lamp) to all fit on the wall side of the desk; 2) if the computer screen were against the wall, my back would be to the door of my office, and 3) if the computer were against the wall, anyone coming into my office - or even walking down the hall, really - would see what I'm doing on my computer - and come on people, you know you want me to continue blogging!

The only choice, then, is to have the computer screen at the crux of the L. And this is where the aches & pains begin.

1) Neck pain. For years I suffered a pretty constant pain on the right side of my neck. It wasn't debilitating, but it bothered me. I always attributed it to stress - like, I thought of that little spot as the place where my body physically felt stress. Well, about 6 months ago, the pain switched sides! Only this time it was 100x more awful than when it was on the right. Awful as in I felt the pain all day and needed to constantly massage it. Awful as in I had to sleep on my left side at night to support the neck and I take Tylenol every night before bed.

And then one day it magically occurred to me: the pain is caused by the position of my keyboard in relation to my computer screen! I switched offices about 6 months ago & my new office is oriented opposite of how my old one was. The new pain is so much more intense because the angle I have to turn my head now while typing is sharper than in the other office.

So I have now moved my keyboard onto the desk in front of the computer screen. Leading to...

2) Wrist pain. I'm no stranger to carpal tunnel problems. So I always have to be mindful when doing computer work that my arms are positioned above my wrists while typing and using the mouse.

So I had to get a new chair for my desk (one with an adjustable height feature) so I could set it on the tallest setting. Which has led to...

3) Sciatic Nerve Pain. Because the seat of the adjustable chair isn't flat (it has a little ridge around the rim of the cushion, so your butt has a spot to sink into), the ridge in the front hits my thigh in the perfect place to aggravate the nerve, and while I'm on the highest setting, my feet just barely touch the ground - so not enough to really put a lot of weight on them.

What's a girl to do? Not only does office work suck - but it causes pain!

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