Most RSI sufferers predominately only complain of pain somewhere in the upper extremity, so I found it strange that I was getting such strong nerve pain in both feet, very similar to the pain in the hands, diffuse aches, occasional burning, and occasional ‘dead’ feeling. But basically the reasoning behind the pain is the same – muscle injury – scar tissue formation – entrapped nerves, the bulk of the pain is referred to the extremities.
January onward represents the bulk of my proper recovery – physically, emotionally and spiritually. As I was going through various phases of anxiety and stress associated with counselling for emotional issues my mind fervently clung to the idea that I was not physically getting better despite clear signs to the contrary. That being said however, there were many relapses and progress was very slow despite committing 1.5 hours for stretching every day and 40 mins of exercise every two days. I erred on the side of caution and avoided computer use and driving when possible. I graduated to a harder physical exercise program in early January.
Improvements again – but very slow. I began to slowly become more aware of muscles; circulation began to improve because I was getting less cold feet and hands. I continued to make some notes on pain patterns and on my general state of being.
This was the last month of mental ‘resistance’. In the past 14 months I was always so locked in the anxiety trap of constant worry and analysis. I continued to suffer slight dead arms and diffuse hand ache periodically and still resisted doing any aggravating activities such as driving and computer use. March was another long and tough month. I was attending therapy to both help deal with the trauma and pain that surrounding the injury and also understand how I got into that condition in the first place. Confronting these issues is not easy but, in the long term, absolutely essential. A great amount of insight can be learned and from this CHANGE can be initiated. I should write MUST instead of can; because after you slowly work yourself out of a condition does it make sense to maintain the same thought patterns that got you into the problem?
I wrote that last November was the turning month that, in a sense, was true; it was the month that I realized I needed to CHANGE in many ways mental health wise and body health wise. The real turning point for me was in late March early April. I dug deep inside myself, confronted all issues that were unaddressed and had a complete spiritual reawakening in the process!
Everything is starting to get better. I finally resume driving, after a very, very long absence. Slowly I work myself back onto the computer. Only a few minutes a day first, my hands didn’t like it, straight away I was getting ache again, but, then again, what would you expect from muscles that have not been used like this for 16 months? I continued ART treatment and frequent massage therapy. Was still having bad days; sometimes had shockingly bad days, but I stuck to the program and had faith in my bodies ability to heal.
Now it was only a matter of time before I could go back to work. I was resuming stopped activities such as driving and slowly upping the computer use. I found it hard getting back on the computer, my hands would quickly let me know that they didn’t like this, but I kept on stretching, stretching and stretching and slowly I built up more and more endurance. Also I had to drastically alter my behaviour when doing these tasks, in that I observed regular breaks religiously and kept standing up and generally loosening the body whenever possible.
Another important thing was that I didn’t prioritise my recovery exercises as the central feature of my day; rather I incorporated them into daily living. For example during November-April I would do around two sessions of 50 minute stretching exercises per day, but by May I was doing similar amounts of stretching but staggering them throughout the day, often doing them whilst doing another activity but still paying enough attention to perform the stretches properly.
I spent the end of June and July overseas to visit family and get a well earned break from all the exercise. I still continued to do my stretching and exercises overseas but a change of scenery was necessary for me. The trip proved very valuable in sorting out what I wanted to do when I get back to Australia, getting this website up and running was top priority.
Spent August/September finishing this website also resumed work and began other projects that are in the pipeline. Very busy times for me but I love it and it’s great to be out of chronic pain.
Got back into the workforce doing temp work which was good as it wasn’t full time and to a certain extent I could control the hours. It took a long time for my hands to get used to typing, I would take many breaks when possible and always held onto the belief that things would get totally; it just was taking a long time, that’s all. I also made a decision to switch my career completely and pursue a career in counseling – my long term goal is to work with people who suffer chronic pain. Going through this RSI experience exposed me to the helping professions , such as counseling, self-help groups, doctors, physios etc, and I began to see how valuable these role are and noticed the crucial need for more men in counseling type roles, so I enrolled in a college doing a post-grad counseling course.
Studies are in full swing now and still doing temp work for money. As more and more commitments piled up the absolutely necessity to remember to consciously slow down when possible was very important. As I mention elsewhere in this site people who develop RSI are prone to get over-zealous on the keyboard or other work-type apparatus and I found it quite hard to break out of the pattern of forgetting myself and working/pushing too hard, especially when I was really getting into something. This is where using a journal and doing meditation comes in handy.
December – Now
The RSI pain has totally, 100% gone. Finally! I still stretch, I still exercise and now I do quite a bit of running, about three four Km runs per week I love running, in many ways I find it the closest physical activity to meditation. I don’t get the time to do as much exercise and stretching as I did before but that’s understandable because of work and study commitments. Through this realization it occurred to me how hard it is for so many RSI sufferers who have to battle through these commitments whilst recovering. It makes the process that much harder and frustrating. As mentioned on the front page please do not give up, don’t give up. You can and will get better it just takes a long time sometimes. Going through the long-term RSI really reshaped I view the universe, I’m not kidding.