Years ago, my mom told me a story about my dad that was both funny and telling. Early in their marriage, my dad decided to paint the picket fence surrounding the house they lived in. The thing is, he didn’t just get out a can of paint and start painting. He had to figure out a better way. As my mother told it, he spent more time rigging up a contraption to hang the paint can around his neck for handy access than he did actually painting the fence.
I am so my father’s daughter, luckily with some modifications. While I have that same compulsion to find that “better way” to do a task, I resist that urge when the straightforward way will do. But I can come up with thingamajigs with the best of them.
For instance, I’ve been spending more hours than usual at my computer working on the developmental edit for Awakening, the sequel to Tankborn. I was ending up in a fair amount of pain by the end of the day. Not only was there some carpel tunnel type inflammation, the pressure on my wrist bone from my mouse pad and laptop led to quite a bit of soreness.
So I put on my thinking cap (the one I inherited from my dad) and considered options for protecting my hands. I went digging through my fabric supply in the garage and came up with some black fake fur I’d used to create some stuffed animal or another. I started out by just cutting a couple rectangles, then folding them in half for extra padding. Resting my hands on those made a world of difference to my comfort.
But I still had a few issues. How did I keep the rectangles from unfolding? How did I keep the pads on my wrists? Once they were on my wrists, how did I keep them from slipping too far down my arm?
What you see here is what I came up with. I stitched the rectangles into squares. I added a piece of black elastic to hold the guards to my wrists. Then, to keep them from slipping down, I tied on a couple of hair bands. Hmm, I suppose I should have looked for hair bands in black to keep the same color scheme.
This is how they look in action. They are dorky looking in the extreme, but since I had all the material on hand, they were free to make (and not too time consuming). Plus, they work just fine, at least to pad my wrist bone. As a protector against carpal tunnel syndrome, they suck, but that wasn’t their purpose.
For that, I had to rearrange my work space. I use a laptop, and I could never get a very good wrist angle while typing on the keyboard. Not to mention with the screen being down at desk height, my neck was having issues with my head constantly tipping down to see the screen. So I did two things. One, I got an external keyboard with its keys laid out in a slightly more ergonomic way. It allowed me to a) have my forearms level with my wrist (essentially parallel to the floor) and b) have a comfortable angle between elbow to fingers as I type rather than straight on.
The second thing I did is elevate my laptop. This allows me to look at the screen straight on rather than tipping my head down. I feel rather smug that I didn’t have to buy the rack it’s sitting on. It was tucked away in the garage (because we never throw anything away), just waiting for a brilliant idea to put it into use.
What you can’t see in the pictures is that I have a drawer open on the mouse side, and a board on top of it to give my arm support when I’m mousing. All of these changes have made a big difference in my comfort as I make my way through my manuscript.
Unfortunately, my cats tend to thwart my ergonomics when they lie in my lap and drape themselves across my arm. Casper here isn’t as much a problem as Tenka, who suspends half her 14-pound body across my left arm. Ouch.
But I think my solutions are pretty cool. And I think my dad would be proud.