In my thirty-year career, I’ve suffered the repetitive stress injuries and muscular-skeletal problems that result from overuse of my hands, poor ergonomics and too much sitting. I’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists, tendonitis in both hands, and trigger fingers. I’ve had any number of episodes of stiff neck, sore back, locked hips and hunched shoulders, all resulting from too much time sitting at the computer with poor posture. And while I work best in solitude, the downside is that I sometimes suffer debilitating loneliness leading to extreme self-doubt.
I’m fortunate not to have an addictive personality, and I’m not suicidal, but these are mental health risks suffered by many, not just famous writers, mostly dead. In fact, I think it is writing that helps me maintain my mental health. It’s my physical health that has required medical intervention.
I’ve had surgery to correct carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands, as well as trigger-finger release, and I’ve had extensive physical therapy to rehabilitate my hands. I now work at a modified work-station that includes a split keyboard, a foot rest, and a raised screen so that I have optimal posture while at work. To
alleviate the stiff neck, sore shoulders and tired back from too much sitting,
I’ve added yoga classes to my exercise routine, greatly improving my core strength and posture. I also get up from my desk every hour to load the wood stove and refresh my tea. But I’m still lonely. Until this week.
This week I’ve discovered a cure for all my occupational ailments: a puppy. Leo is a 14-week old male lab-mix who has rescued me from the doglessness I’ve been suffering since my last canine companion passed in August.
First off, he’s adorable and he adores me. Next, he interrupts me at my work to go out and play: we run, we romp, we explore. The activity and fresh air are good for us both. And finally, once he’s played out, he settles down in the cave under my desk, where his presence is a great comfort while I work.
As always, each writer will find a unique way to complete her text on time, in health, with happiness. For me, it’s the canine cure.
Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, essayist and educator. She’s the author of the award-winning novel, Into the Wilderness and a regular commentator for Vermont Public Radio. Luskin leads writing workshops and accepts select projects of prose works-in-progress for developmental editing. Learn more at www.deborahleeluskin.com