Once again, I’m the break-apart woman. A few months ago, my shoulder started hurting. I thought I was just sleeping funny. Eventually, the pain got worse and now I’ve lost some mobility in the arm. I can’t touch the middle of my back, and I can’t raise my arm straight in the air. I am also experiencing weakness in what was once my dominant hand. I know. I know. I should have dealt with it sooner. But I kept thinking that if I took it easy it would fix itself. From my Googling, it’s a very likely that I have a rotator cuff tear. Since it’s my left shoulder and I’m left handed and I don’t remember injuring myself, I’m sure it’s a repetitive stress injury from spending a lot of time with my hand on a mouse.
I was hoping that the week away would help in which case I would come back and make sure that my desk was more ergonomic. But it didn’t help. If anything the pain is worse, and I’m not sleeping well.
So this week I finally went to the doctor. That’s a whole other story in itself. I made the mistake of going to a general doctor first, even though my insurance doesn’t require it. I was hoping to get an initial assessment and get the MRI ordered so I knew where to go for treatment. Unfortunately, my regular doctor is on vacation so I had to see his partner. The guy starts prescribing pills for me even though I told him that I have a stomach condition that makes it difficult for me to take anti-inflammatory medication. Suffice to say we did not hit it off. He ordered the x-ray, (which shows minor arthritis… not really the cause of the problem considering the fact that I’m only 40 years old and minor arthritis wouldn’t cause the lack of mobility that I have) and insisted that my insurance company wouldn’t pay for an MRI until after I’ve had treatment. Sure that makes sense. Aetna wants to pay for treatment with no diagnosis. Yesterday, he called to see how I was doing. I asked again for the MRI since that appears to be standard operating procedure for this kind of injury. We argued. I hung up on him. Then I did what I should have done in the first place and I have an appointment with an orthopedist next week. Times have changed from the days that I would blindly do what a doctor told me to do. He can write all the prescriptions he wants, it is still my decision whether or not to fill them. Believe me, I’m not looking for surgery. I’m hoping I can fix the problem with either cortisone or physical therapy. If I do go on medication for this, I’d want to know that it’s something that will work on the specific problem that I have so it’s worth messing with my tummy.
In the meantime, I’m trying to minimize my mousing time. Goodness forbid I actually take more time off, so I bought Dragon NaturallySpeaking 9, which is voice recognition software. David Pogue had wrist problems and has sworn by this program for years. Verdict? It’s interesting. I’m getting much better at it. I didn’t get near the accuracy that Pogue did, but I am finding the more I’m correcting (and I’m correcting a lot) the more accurate this is getting. I’m learning to think ahead about what I want to say and I’m working on minimizing any extra vocal sounds when I talk. I’m a very fast typist, so it’s slow going. Some of the mistakes it makes are hysterical, so I’m being very careful about my proofreading on e-mails. This very blog entry was done without my hands ever touching the keyboard or mouse. Even though you can control everything about the computer with your voice, it would be very difficult to rely on voice commands exclusively. Still, I’m glad I bought this, as it’s cutting my mousing and keyboard time in half. It’s amazing how much harder it is to think through your mouth as compared to thinking through your fingers. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to buy the software for both Mac and PC and I’ve heard that the Mac version is not as good. So when I have to work on the Mac I rearranged my desk to get better position on the mouse. I’m also experimenting with using my right hand for mousing, but that won’t help me if I injure that shoulder too.