MIT, Repetitive Strain Injuries, and Shipping Companies

Before I get down to my actual subject, I do have to say that having gone to MIT for a couple of years, and worked there for longer, absolutely nothing about this article surprises me.

Now. At MIT, in fact, is where I developed tendonitis. All too often I run into someone who admits to having hand, wrist, finger, or arm pain. They always, ALWAYS act like it’s no big deal and refuse to go see a doctor about it. So let me make this absolutely perfectly clear.

If you don’t go to a doctor right away, YOU COULD BECOME PERMANENTLY DISABLED. Have I got your attention? Good, because I’m not exaggerating. I’ve had tendonitis for 13 years. It isn’t going to go away. Why? Because I kept going. Typing, after all, paid the bills. I typeset physics papers for professors in LaTeX for most of my job; even on workman’s comp, which I did qualify for once I went to the doctor, I’d only make 60% of my pay, which wouldn’t be enough in the Boston area. Then, because I had very little self-confidence at the time, I allowed my employer, who was obligated under MIT’s rules to adapt my workplace to my disability, to dawdle for months in getting the special keyboard that made it possible for me to type at least without making my hands worse.

Now my tendonitis will never, as far as I know, go away. There’s nothing I can take for it other than huge doses of ibuprofen, which really isn’t something you want to do in the long run. The only way I can keep the pain to a minimum is to be constantly careful with what I do with my hands; any “abuse” of them can make them worse for days or weeks at a time. And abuse is pretty widely defined: I can’t lift anything heavy. I can’t open most jars. When I first developed tendonitis it was so bad I could barely turn a key in a lock, and it was agonizing to do so.

I don’t tell you this because I want sympathy; I’ve gotten quite accustomed to my tendonitis over the last 13 years and I know that, for all that at the time I felt I had no choice, ultimately this is my responsibility for not finding some way to rest my hands.

I’m telling you this because I’m sick and tired of people telling me about their hand problems and then deciding that it isn’t that big a deal, that they don’t need to see a doctor even though they can’t move all their fingers independently any more, that they can live with it, that the pain isn’t that bad.

I don’t care how mild the pain is. If you have any at all, you need to see a doctor with experience in repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and find out what you can do to make sure your hands get better instead of worse. There’s a whole lot you can do if you catch it fast enough, and virtually NOTHING if you don’t.

Got that?


Now if you have any hand or arm pain, go see a doctor. Make the call today.

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In a completely unrelated rant, what is it with shipping companies lately? Last week I got a package through UPS that had been broken into while in the possession of the shipping company. The DVDs I’d ordered were taken out of their cases and the cases were put back in the box, which was taped up and sent on its merry way as though nothing had happened. Yesterday we received a box from Amazon via the post office that looked like someone had dropped it from a ten-story building it was so thoroughly crunched up. And yes, even the hardback book inside was squished and mangled.

What, are they playing soccer with our packages? I really hope the companies sending out these packages are getting refunds from UPS and the post office so those companies have financial incentive to stop this kind of crud from happening. I know that accidents happen and all, but to do this kind of stuff and then drop off the packages as though nothing has happened really frosts my cookies.

Yes, yes I did just use that expression.

Traditional Edit: You must, must must must, read The Emo Tank if you play Warcraft.

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