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What is Daily Pain Management?

So, I’ve been attending a training workshop this week which requires sitting in front of a computer for a solid six hours a day. This doesn’t sound too different from my usual job, but I’ve been in serious pain and I’ve been trying to determine what makes this situation so different from my daily work. Here’s a few things that I’ve been able to pin down:

  • Schedule. I normally have a set work schedule. However, the training begins at 9 am- early enough that there’s not much point of going to my office first and then driving to the training location, but late enough that I end up waiting for a hour if I go straight there. I tried doing some remote work from home and then driving straight over, but I don’t get nearly as much done. This throws off my morning routine significantly.
  • what's in my (laptop) bag?
    Image by bitogoth via Flickr
  • Travel. I don’t usually bring home my laptop, so juggling my laptop case, shoulder bag, and lunch is definitely aggravating things. I have tried to take out as much¬† as possible, but it is still awkward. Tomorrow I may try my laptop backpack- hopefully that way I will only have one big bag instead of two, and it may be better for my back and shoulders. I have discovered that it is better to put the bags in the back seat from the passenger door, rather than try to sling them across the car from the inside- sort of a “no-brainer” but it took two days to occur to me.
  • Leg room. I have very long legs and the workstations are very shallow and have a “privacy panel” so I cannot stretch my legs out. This is putting strain on my knees and ankles, so I have to keep pushing back to stretch.
  • Mesh-back, armless chair. This is not particularly comfortable, and the lack of arm rests is aggravating my shoulders. The mesh back is not firm enough for me to stretch or twist my back, so discomfort travels steadily down from my shoulders to my arms and lower back.
  • Dim lights. I prefer things to be a bit dim to avoid migraines, but for long hours it makes me feel more tired, and my pain is always worse when I am tired.
  • Temperature. It is very cool in the room and despite dressing warmly my joints and muscles are much more stiff than usual, which aggravates my pain.
  • Breaks. We get a 15 minute break every hour and a half, and an hour long lunch break. When working at my own pace, I tend to work in half-hour chunks (or less, if needed) and get up to walk around and stretch frequently. This is very hard to do in this environment. I have no compunction about getting up and walking out if I need to, but I know that it doesn’t look good professionally.
  • Snacks. I have a mini fridge, microwave, and electric kettle in our suite at work. Being able to make a hot drink whenever I want and have a hot meal at lunch makes a big difference. Despite bringing healthy snacks, sandwiches are just not filling, so I’m resorting to the vending machines more than is good for me, and drinking less water and more soda. Some of this is just poor willpower, but I do eat more when I am in pain (a really bad cycle I am trying to break).
  • Stress. Do I really need to say anything else about this? Trying to keep up with my regular job while attending a training that is important and yet will have very little impact on my daily job- it’s not an ideal situation. A last-minute schedule change caused conflicts in my work schedule that I am still trying to resolve, and the extra stress, of course, effects my sleep. And when you’re tired…

Honestly, despite doing everything that I can to prepare for this week, after thinking things through I would have been surprised if this training didn’t trigger extra pain. It’s just yet another one of those things that I need to learn to anticipate and deal with. It also makes me realize, however, how much I have already adapted my work day to my conditions. It makes me hopeful and feel good- now I just need to learn how to take all these tips and tricks on the road. Note to self: bring ergonomic footrest to work Monday. *nods*

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