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                      JOURNAL FOR SUNDAY 30TH JUNE, 2024

SUBJECT: Pain and suffering, but okay now
   DATE: Sun 30 Jun 19:22:17 BST 2024

This month I was going to start writing again and letting people know what I
had been working on.

I didn’t happen.

This time it wasn’t a conscious choice I made, I physically couldn’t.

I was coding away one afternoon, went to press a key, and felt an exquisite
pain in my lower right arm. The bones in the lower arm felt like they were
twisting or trying to cross over. It was like really bad cramp in your foot
when the toes feel like they are trying to cross themselves.

After that any pressure to the fingertips resulted in pain. I couldn’t even
tap on my mobile phone screen.

I was devastated :(

I live on the command line, spend nearly all my time in text editors and
programming is everything to me. I know the risks of repetitive strain injury
and for many decades have sought to minimize that risk. I use a compact 60%
keyboard to minimize hand movements along with a trackball instead of a mouse.

I ended up with my lower right arm in a brace for over three weeks.

During that time I had to type everything with my left hand. I used X Window’s
“sticky keys” feature. It lets you tap a modifier key like “shift” and will
hold it down until you tap another key. These are the two commands to enable
it that I put into a script:

    xkbset exp =sticky =twokey =latchlock
    xkbset accessx -sticky -twokey latchlock

It worked. Typing with one hand was still slow, cumbersome and frustrating. I
also couldn’t remember a lot of my passwords! They were keyed to muscle memory
and of course that wasn’t working properly :/

Typing one handed was exhausting. My left hand spent a lot more time hovering
above the keyboard, causing my left arm to ache after a while. Usually the
heel of my hands rest on the desk in front of the keyboard.

After resting my right hand and arm, I am now free of the arm brace and can
type properly again. Although my typing is still a lot slower than before. I
can also remember my passwords again ;)

I’m not sure what caused the pain. My desk environment and habits have been
the same for decades. The only fairly recent change has been that I wear a
Google Pixel watch on my right wrist. I wear it with the strap fairly tight
due to the sensors on the back of the watch. I think that the recent hot
weather caused my wrist to swell a little and the strap was too tight and I
didn’t notice? I’ve since slackened the strap a little, just in case.


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