Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Repetitive Strain

Yesterday Son of Signs sat the first of his finals exams. Instead of sitting in one of the magnificent halls in the University of the Dreaming Spires he was in a dusty room set aside, with keyboards, for those who have repetitive strain injury and are therefore unable to handwrite. There were a couple of anxious days when he appeared to be up against a wall of no-can-do and demands for doctor’s note (on a bank holiday weekend). But then the senior tutor sprang into action on his behalf and lo, there were possibilities, including the services of a scribe should he have wanted that (he didn’t). Plus, he saw a decent nurse who didn’t just chuck him a tube of ibuprofen gel. RSI is common in Oxford undergraduates who are building up to finals, May sees so many wandering around with the telltale white arm slings, that it has become something of a joke, until you actually get it yourself – three days before the beginning of exams.

The thing about children growing up is that you can’t march in and deal with things on their behalf any more. Otherwise I’d have been in milord proctor’s office with a sawn-off shotgun and a plethora of potent curses, obviously. This kind of approach does often bring about results. But on the other hand one also risks making enemies and alienating people so it’s good to have other strategies at the ready, such as who do you have to f*ck to get the necessary equipment/piece of paper/antibiotics or whatever it is that a particular situation demands. Shotgun and curses is more my style, but I can also do gracious beleaguered lady gratefully grovelling, and have done to good effect. I never said I was proud.

I have got a new, blue (second hand) office chair as the other one has been wonky for a long time. It cost £100 but we got it at the “special price” of £90 to take account of the scratched paint on one of its black feet. I have just looked online and seen that we could probably have got something similar, new, for the same price as it is an older model. Sometimes it doesn’t do to dwell on things. I will also not dwell on the fact that my posterior and coccyx seem to be missing the old wonky chair and find this one a bit bruising.

I continue to dwell on the issue of how I can establish a workable writing routine given the lengthy periods of recovery needed between one activity and another. Given the unpredictability of my condition there is no solution that readily offers itself but I will not cease from mental strife nor will my pen or keyboard rest easy till I have built – actually till nothing. I just find that if I am not writing I do not rest easy, nor do I wish to. Today is a recovery day, though, and perhaps a catching up on reading day: short stories (Runaway) by Alice Munro for the book group next week.

Next year in Jerusalem.


Cusp said...

Ah the trials of keeping up with the needs of children as they develop and grow. Glad the Son was able to get sorted in the end and you didn't have to resort to pistol and dagger.

Do you ever write in bed ? Back in the day (when I was poorly but didn't really know it --- if you see what I mean) I wrote almost everything in bed. In fact my whole thesis was written in bed with notes spread all over the quilt and when I got too knackered I just pushed it all to one side and snoozed. I had a flask and snacks and the phone up there too. Of course this was back in Ancient Times when I didn't write with laptop but with stilo but all the same....: thesis, funding applications, job applications, film treatments, etc etc you name it I've written it in bed.

Until a better solution arises its probably all down to pacing ---a little writing, a little resting etc etc.

Off to do a little resting myself now, having just made a birthday cake and reduced to crumbs (!)

Hope you had a lovely Bank Holiday carousing round The Smoke and Brighton-sur-mer.

Reading the Signs said...

I do have a go at that, Cusp, especially since getting my raised laptop tray thingy. And of course the notebook can come with me anywhere. But I have to say that it goes much better for me when I am properly up and sitting at a table.

Yes, I need to keep practising the four-exing pacing. But the Writing don't appreciate that much.

One thing is for sure: I could do with a bit of cake right now.

Zhoen said...

Got a good chair for my desk once, good lumbar support. That was right before my back pain started in earnest, and I couldn't sit down. The chair eventually went to a student who needed one, still very new. I got an artist stool, very high and adjustable, and began to perch with the computer on the counter.

Have some cake.

Mim said...

Good news: your son received some intelligent help. I've had carpel tunnel syndrome, which I believe is similar to "repetitive strain." O, for some down-time with no repetitions.

Cusp said...

Don't know if you'd want this cake my dear: it's got black frosting by special request ;0)
Looks as if I have been tarmacadaming rather than a little light cake decorating. Still it's what the duaghter asked for.......

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, I remember the same feeling when we first got the last chair - also with my car seat. It's as though the body has to readjust. Fortunately I don't have back problems - that would make things much harder.

Mim, I'm just learning about all these syndromes and didn't quite take on board how disabling they can be.

Cusp, er - black frosting? I could just dig beneath it to the cake bit and leave the tarmacadam. Funny how one responds to colour. Pink would have been quite acceptable.

Gael said...

Did you see Munro got the Booker? Nice for short stories to be recognised for a change

Good luck to Son of Signs, must say I'm loving not having exams this year

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Gael, I'm a bit confused about the Man Booker these days - it always used to be in the autumn. So this is news - thanks (was it on the news?), have been rather out of the loop lately. I find her stories extraordinarily potent. Can't always say quite why. She is so very accomplished.

Kahless said...

Loads of positive thoughts being sent Son of Signs way. Though I guess he has laready taken his finals as I right this.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, Kahless - he is in the middle of them, there are nine papers to sit in all and it goes on till mid June!

Tall Girl said...