22 and Arthritis; RSI and Adjustments

I have arthritis.

Since June, I have been dealing with an unfortunate amount of pain. There was a day in June, right around my graduation from Drexel, where I was working out of the Jade Tree office and felt a sudden unbearable pain throughout my wrist and hand. I could barely type or scroll on my keyboard and Magic Trackpad and beyond that, I could barely move my hand. That pain came on all at once, not over time. For the next few days, I tried to be smarter about pushing myself "too far," but I failed that goal most of the time. Even when I could take meaningful breaks from work to rest my wrist and arm, there was still pain. And there's been pain every day since that first one.

In August, I received an MRI at the University of Pennsylvania that showed signs of tendinitis. I began taking continued measures to lessen the amount of work I did per day, but still, little helped. Following my MRI, I began going to physical therapy in October. The therapy helped quite a bit, but unfortunately never lasted. I hoped that going away for around a week over holiday break to a cabin in the woods of Oregon would give my arm and wrist a long enough break to truly recoup, but I was wrong. The pain returned stronger than ever, so I decided to see a specialist.

After taking an x-ray, he confirmed that a surgery I had when I was 15 (before having a second surgery at 17) on my wrist from a soccer injury was in the 5% of surgeries that go wrong. That failure has left me with arthritis in my wrist, which is causing inflammation on my tendons directly above my wrist. There is no cure. To fix the arthritis, a doctor would cut out part of my bone and leave me without 50% of the motion in my wrist. Something I cannot comprehend. A pain relieving shot would likely rupture my tendon, which would also require surgery and is not a long term fix. I can take anti-inflammatory pills, but only for a small subset of time because they can cause kidney damage. Which is a shame, because they're helping.

RSI was something I've been aware of for years as a nerd and heavy computer user. What sucks is that I was dealt and extra bad hand (literally). I have been taking some precautions to try to help along my RSI:

  • Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard: Per Marco Arment's recommendation, I bought a Microsoft product! The keyboard is funky, but very ergonomic. It is certainly better than using a normal Apple keyboard, and I use it full-time at my desk now.
  • Logitech MX Mouse: Per Cortex's recommendation, I began using this MX mouse in replace of my Magic Trackpad. The difference was massive, as a trackpad now tends to criple my hand, which saddens me.
  • iPad Pro: A laptop is now unbearable for me to use. Like I mentioned above, a trackpad is now a non-starter for me, which is still strange to believe as someone who used to hate mice. This caused me to wonder if I could 1) truly do my day-to-day on the run work on an iPad Pro and 2) see if it would not criple me like a laptop does. So far I'm happy with the results and will be keeping the Pro and selling my formerly beloved Retina MacBook Pro.
  • Switching iPhone Sizes: This sounds silly, but using an iPhone 6s Plus is hurting me. The extra stretching, etc is causing me frequent pain. While I don't know if going back to a 6s Minus will help, I'm going to try it. Maybe I'll even try the rumored iPhone 5se if downgrading to the 6s doesn't help.

The quick mental math for the items above equals out to expensive. And the truth is, this all has been. But I hope it continues to be worth it in some way. It's been incredibly shitty to be dealing with chronic pain for the majority of every single day for over six months now. The worst part is, I'll likely be dealing with this pain for the rest of my life.

Let's hope the adjustments help.