About a year ago, I cut my hand trying to saw a few inches off the bottom of my desk’s legs. With a bread knife. What? It was IKEA wood, not real wood. I thought it would work. It did not. Probably because it was also an IKEA bread knife. But I did get a local hardware store to trim my desk legs for me, because I was newly hung up on the idea that, as person who spends [fill in embarrassing number here] of hours a day staring at a computer, I should start thinking about ergonomics.
You see, every once in a while, my shoulder muscles would get sort of messed up, and I decided — correctly, I believe — that since my desk didn’t allow my five-foot-two frame to sit with my arms bent at a 90-degree angle, it was the culprit.
Though my shoulder problem was indeed solved, the action set off a If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-like chain of events in which not only did I begin suffering from neck aches (I was now looking down at my computer!), but also, being pregnant apparently makes all of this achy nonsense worse, so my back was hurting too. In fact, everything in my body besides my shoulders was now constantly sore because of the thing I absolutely can’t stop doing, which is staring at my computer and typing for [oh so many] hours a day.
And here’s the other hitch: sometimes I write at my desk. Sometimes I switch to the couch. And while it seems like whole-body suffering might make it worthwhile to adjust just one of these environments into an ergonomic paradise and stay put, that would be the opinion of someone who does not spend [ahem] hours a day in one room. My soul and sanity needed a solution for both.
Naturally, as with all major problems in life, I found my solution by buying more Apple products. And utilizing an old file box and an army of small pillows. Here’s how it works:
Using a bluetooth keyboard and trackpad, I can sit at my perfectly-sized desk or on the couch with a thin pillow on my lap or cross-legged to keep my arms at 90 degrees.
- My laptop is propped up on a upside-down file box (that surely I will soon decorate to be pleasing to my eyeballs) on either my desk or the coffee table in my living room so my head can stare straight ahead. Yes, I have to zoom my screen in at times to see small writing. Yes, this does bring me some weird amount of shame.
- While my desk chair has pretty good lumbar support (even though it’s from IKEA!), sometimes a small pillow is necessary, and all sorts of them are strategically stuffed in places when I’m on the couch.
After more than a year of dealing with, first the mild shoulder aches, and then the increasingly severe neck and then backaches, I feel a little silly that it’s taken me this long to sort it all out. The bottom line is, you don’t have to wait until something like your body transforming into an ultra-sensitive incubation machine happens to solve the ergonomic issues that writers (et al.) must face every day. If growing a kid is this rough on the muscles, imagine what’s going to happen when they start getting legitimately old and worn out*. [shudder] I’m glad I’ve started now.
* Not quite sure what counts as legitimately old. My muscles will keep you posted.