Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another Programmer Bites the Dust

I've been struggling with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for 6 or 8 months now.

I don't quite remember when it started.  I've had bouts of muscle tension on and off throughout my life.  After all, I've pretty much spent every other waking hour in front of a computer for the last 18 years or so (total of 22 years programming but during my early years I did not have a computer at home).  But recently I started noticing different symptoms.

  1. Numbness and tingling are now commonplace occurrences.
  2. It does not go away after a night's rest.
  3. It does not go away after a day or two of not using the computer.
  4. It has invaded other aspects of my life including cooking, recreation, sleep and sex.
  5. I find myself searching for ways to work differently and to avoid sustained typing or mousing.
  6. I find myself wishing for an eye-tracker and decent voice recognition to help out around the edges.
  7. It's made me cry...

I have already made many adjustments to my ergonomics and home life style.

  1. I use a keyboard tray tilted at a negative angle.
  2. I use a Microsoft Natural Wireless Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse combo.
  3. I wear elbow braces during the day.
  4. I wear write braces during the night.
  5. I try to sit properly.
  6. My wife opens jars for me.

But it's still getting worse.

Today I installed Workrave to help remind me to take breaks, do my exercises and quit after working a long day.


Flip Side

I am now taking more active leadership roles.  I am a Lead Software Engineer at the office and the MbUnit / Gallio Lead on the side. 

There's just so much cool stuff to build out there!  And I know all sorts of smart people that I can set to the task of building it.  :-)


Anonymous said...

I Norway the remove a nerve in the hand to "cure" the illness. Have somebody suggested this to you?

Anonymous said...

Hey Fella,

Go easy, not worth screwing up your life for the love of the code. If it gets worse, take some time off, opensource can wait.


Anonymous said...

Andy is right: get some vacation ;)

Unknown said...


Unknown said...

Do you feel better after a good week of vacation ? No computer at all.

I do not have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, But I have a lot of your symptoms.

Specially Numbness and tingling and pains mostly in the legs for almost 3 years.
Like you I spent too much time in front of the computer for 25 years.

In my case I think it is the spinal cord.

I did few things that improved my problem starting one year ago:
- 30 minutes of swimming, 3 times per week.
- Work stand up most of the day.
- I just started taking lesson in the Alexander Technique, look it up in Google.

I just cannot stay 8 hours a day in a chair anymore, it just compress to much my lower back, the lower part of the spinal cord which create all numbness, tingling and pains mostly in the legs.
That is my idea obviously I am not a MD.