Saturday, April 4, 2009

Porridge elbow

I seem to have developed what's fondly known in our family as "porridge elbow" - a rare form of repetitive strain injury. The term came about when my mum developed a painful elbow that needed treatment, but couldn't understand why. She doesn't use a keyboard, she doesn't play tennis and she's not on her hands and knees scrubbing floors all day long. Then it dawned on her. The reason her elbow hurt like hell was because she'd been stirring her porridge too vigorously every morning for years, to stop it sticking to the pan. Strange but true.

My injury is more obvious. Over-usage of the mouse. My left elbow is fine, but I'm forever scrolling up and down with my right hand on the critter; cutting and pasting and left and right clicking all over the place. When I move the fingers on my right hand there's a corresponding ache in my elbow that's not crippling, but niggling none the less. Like a toothache. But in my elbow.

I'm trying to navigate using the arrows on the keyboard instead, but it's tricky. I've tried using a cushion under my elbow, which made matters worse and using the mouse with my left hand but chaos ensued. I could stop using the keyboard altogether for a while and go back to the old-fashioned method of pen and paper, but the world might stop turning and I wouldn't want that to happen.

My mum solved her problem by putting her porridge in the microwave to speed things along. If only I could do the same with my novel.

And now for some library humour:

We got some new books in today. Do you want to know what they're called? (I bet you can't wait.)

The French Chef by Sue Flay
French Overpopulation by Francis Crowded
The Scent of a Man by Jim Nasium
Wind in the Willows by Russell Ingleaves
Look Younger by Fay Slift

Look, I didn't make them up okay?


Suzanne Ross Jones said...

Hope your elbow gets better soon - nothing worse than a niggling ache.

Jan Jones said...

Have you tried having the mouse at a much lower level? Say on a side table (or the To Be Read pile) about 6" below where it usually is? Might help.

DAB said...

Clarkey, You need to hire a secretary m'dear then you could sit back in a comfy chair eat cake and dictate. I would offer to give you a "hand" but methinks I might just distract you, I tend to question annd talk too much thus preventing your words from flowing. Could Hubby not give you a hand? Tommox

Cait O'Connor said...

You need a computer chair with an arm (the executive type, quite cheap now). You can rest your elbow as you scroll then.

♥ Boomer ♥ said...

That sounds painful. Sometimes I've had shoulder - or wrist trouble because of the way I sit at work. But find that if I adjust my chair somewhat, it helps. Hopefully, you'll be able to rest that elbow a little. I like Tom's idea - just hire a secretary -- but instead of eating cake, sit back and eat porridge! ;-)

Liane Spicer said...

Don't have anything practical to suggest, practicality not being my strong suit, so I'll just send a wish that your elbow gets better soon. Can't have painful niggles getting in the way of the great writing!

Anna Scott Graham said...

wear a strap about two inches down from your bad elbow, see if that helps.

sending you healing thoughts!

Pat Posner said...

Ouch! Sounds painful, Karen. Massage with essential oils usually helps my computer related aches and pains.

Love the book titles.


Amanda said...

I get a pain in my chest caused by poor posture when typing. And migraines when I've been looking at the screen too much, but not yet have I experienced porridge elbow!

Hope your pain gets better real soon!x

Queenie said...

Swap your mouse to the other side for a few weeks. It's horrendous at first but you do get used to it. Then change sides every so often. This works for me - I developed terrible RSI (wrists and forearms, not elbows, but I think the principle is probably the same) and when I started swapping, it got better, I think because each arm gets a proper rest.

Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

Maybe I have chocolate shoulder? No, maybe not. I should have chocolate something though.

Hope your elbow improves soon, it sounds so painful.

Susie Vereker said...

Have you tried pushing the mouse away from you so that you put your forearm and elbow on the table when you click. I have my typing chair as high as possible. I do find editing can cause elbow strain but then I try to remember to use the scrolling wheel thingy on the mouse. I believe there are new mouses/mice which float so they are less stressful.

Chicklit Addict said...

Porridge elbow?! I'm obviously not working hard enough.....

Chris Stovell said...

Oooh, be careful with yourself. get yourself a squeeze ball and give yourself proper breaks. I'm sure I'm already telling you what you know but sometimes it helps when someone reminds you!

HelenMWalters said...

I so love the idea of putting writing in the microwave to speed it up. I have a few things that could benefit from that at the moment.

Dumdad said...

I like the book titles!

I remember a couple from primary school:

Over The Cliff by Hugo First

The Book of Words by Dick Shonnery

Boom, boom, as our foxy friend would bark.

Karen said...

suzanne - It's still there (the niggling as well as the elbow!) but not getting worse at least :o)

jan jones - That's a good idea and one I haven't tried :o)

tommo - That's an even better idea! As long as I don't have to share my cake with the secretary ... Husband could become chief Mouse Controller now I think about it - I'll have a word!!

cait o' connor - I do have one of those actually but our desk is so high (and I'm so small!) that my arm is still at an odd angle :o(

bfs - Resting would probably be the best option, but I can't resist the lure of the PC! I do love porridge as well as cake, but I'd soon be the size of a house at that rate :oO

wordtryst - I need to do some stretching exercises I think - my arm seems to be permanently bent all the time!

anna - I have got one of those somewhere, I should dig it out and give it a go :o)

patp - Massage sounds good - definitely worth a try :o)

amanda - That's so weird because I do too! (The chest thing, not migraines fortunately.) In fact until recently I thought it was my heart, until my husband pointed out the bad posture/writing connection!!

queenie - I have tried that, not very successfully, but I'll give it another go as my left elbow is fine :o)

debs - Actually, maybe that is the problem! Too much lifting chocolate and cake to my mush!!

susie - I like the sound of floating mice, I might have to hunt down one of those :o)

chicklit addict - It's probably all the scrolling about on people's blogs that's causing it really :o)

chrish - That's another good idea! My husband has one of those in a drawer somewhere. In fact I'm going to look for it now ... :o)

helenmh - Wouldn't it be great? Knowing me I'd burn the damn thing!

dumdad - Boom boom indeed :o) Plenty more where those came from - mostly my gran who would wheel them out every Christmas!

Jean said...

I hope your elbow gets better soon. This is a warning for me. I'll probably get elbow trouble from sitting resting elbow heavily on desk with chin in hand (I was doing this when I started reading your post and stopped immediately).

Another book (think I got this one from Bunty many years ago). 'Blown About' by Gustav Wind.

Lane Mathias said...

Hope the porridge elbow is better. Maybe some honey? Or sliced banana?

Seriously, computer induced aches and pains are no joke. My eyes will vouch for that. And my worn down scrolling finger.

love the titles. Now where's the new one by Karen Clarke??

Lorna F said...

Ouch. Hope your elbow feels better soon, Karen. This writing malarkey is a dangerous business and we all have our weak spots: for me it's the back and neck. It's easy to spend far longer sitting with bad posture than you're aware of, storing up problems for later. I certainly feel that having a chair at the right height and angle for the computer is crucial - when I move the laptop elsewhere and sit on the wrong chair, my neck starts screaming quicktime. Take care x

Siobhán said...

Hi Karen
Just ended up via Ernest's God Diaries and have very much enjoyed reading your last few posts.

Hope the elbow is feeling better.

B.H. Dark said...

An ergonomic mouse mat (the kind with the pad on the end) has helped me a lot, and it's a cheap investment. Still, though, I found last year after some very painful episodes that my working posture is worth thinking about and making changes for.

I love the way families invent their own language. "Porridge elbow" is a great phrase.

Julie Cohen, posting as alter ego B.H. Dark

Anna Scott Graham said...

like the new blog look!

Karen said...

jean - Nice one :o) We need to look after our elbows!

lane - Ooh porridge with honey sounds lovely! I hope your eyes are okay, and as for the book by me - I'm getting there, honest :o))

lornaf - I did notice my neck was hurting today as well, so I need to rethink the whole thing really!

siobhan - Thank you and welcome! It's still hurting, but no worse thank goodness :o)

b h dark - Do you know, I've got one of those and I've been using it the wrong way round. D'oh!!

Thanks for dropping by :o)

Karen said...

anna - Thank you! My favourite colour is green :o)

Honeysuckle said...

Hope your elbow's soon better - very hard to give up the computer tho' isn't it? I know this from late nights spent in front of the screen just knowing I'll have a searing pain between the eyes next morning. Why do we do it?

I saw an ergonomic mouse once - would that help? There are probably whole websites devoted to items to relieve porridge elbow and my own favourite complaint - an icy cold right hand after a few hours mouse use.