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Writing versus Health issues

Since the beginning of August, I’ve been dealing with repetitive strain injury in both my arms. It results in not being able to write for long periods of time. Now, anyone who knows me, knows that I am not the type of person to just sit down and relax. Therefore, recovering from this issue is more of a mental challenge than a physical one.

In the beginning of this injury, I’ve talked to people about me wanting to write but unable to write for as long as I wanted. Almost all of them came back with, “Why don’t you install a voice to text app on your laptop?”

I understood what they meant, but instantly, I felt a little irritated by that comment and I didn’t know why. It was, after all, a very fair point and a solution that might help with the mental challenge I faced of not being able to write.

But after hearing that comment again, something clicked. I understood why I felt resentful towards that solution, and why I hadn’t even bothered to look it up any further than one Google search and a post on Facebook. It’s because the act of writing is also part of my love to write. Writing to me isn’t just getting words on paper in any way, shape or form. It’s having my fingers on the keyboard, moving them and seeing the letters appear on the screen. And exactly that was hard nowadays.

The only way I could explain this to others was the example of telling a person who plays soccer, to just watch it on television. It’s not the same thing. It doesn’t give the same kick, the same feeling of accomplishment.

So, I understood that. But that still didn’t fix the issue. So, I did what was necessary and very hard at the same time. I stopped writing and focused on getting back to work full time. You see, apart from writing, I have a day joby where I do a lot of typing as well. After finding out I had repetitive strain injury, I called in sick for 50%. I worked 4 hours per day instead of 8, wore a brace and when I came home in those first few weeks, I didn’t write like I usually did. Instead, I focused on other things where I didn’t have to strain my arms. Try finding things to do if you can’t use your arms fully. Even pulling up your jeans or holding my precious cup of coffee. It’s a pretty big challenge!

One of my colleagues thought it to be wrong to start writing again when I wasn’t yet fully back at work. She said that I should have my priorities with work. I must tell you, that hurt me. The assumption that I didn’t have my priorities at work, made me almost lash out at her. I didn’t though. I thought, this is her way of dealing with things. This is not my way. I didn’t owe her any explanation, but I did decide at that moment that I wouldn’t share what I did at home with her anymore.

About 2 months later, I’d managed to get back to working full time and I had picked up my writing routine again. I seemed to be doing fine and I was happy that the sacrifices I’d made – because that’s how it felt – had paid off. Until the injury came back.

I didn’t want to acknowledge it. I tried to calm down again, even though every nerve in me resented my wrists for being so weak. But after a week of noticing the injury more and more, I decided to see the doctor. She told me that I needed to calm down. Relax. I said, but how do I do that?

You have to understand one thing about me. I am a do-er. I want to do things. I can’t just sit still and relax. I want to do something while I relax. Reading, or getting a massage, or watching a movie. I can’t not do something. Part of it is because I want to feel worthy. Doing things gives me that feeling. I know, it’s silly. I should be able to feel worthy just by being. I don’t have to prove my worth by doing things, not to me or to anyone else. I know this.

I guess it stems from my youth and the way the world seems to work. You can’t earn money if you don’t do anything. Even the word earn says it: ‘obtain (money) in return for labour or services’. You can’t get a clean house, if you don’t do the cleaning. But there’s this other part in me that’s in the way: I want to do it. Me. Not anyone else. Asking for help is a big thing for me.

My sister told me that I could always ask her to do some chores around the house, so I could relax. That feels weird to me. So, I just sit there, do nothing, while she washes the dishes, or vacuums the house?

And still, I might have to go there at one point if I continue the way that I have. The fact that the injury is back, or rather, has never really left, is an indicator that I still do too much. That’s just mindblowing to me. With the level of work I do nowadays, it’s like half the level I did before the injury. And still, that’s too much? I’m confused, sad, irritated and frustrated. And… I need professional help to deal with this injury.

So, next week I have an appointment with another doctor. This one helps with workrelated injuries. I hope they can give me a clear schedule of what to do so this injury will be gone soon. Fingers crossed!

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