Step away from the computer!

29 Aug
Step Away From The Computer... Photo credit Morgue File User wcizmowski.

Step Away From The Computer… Photo credit Morgue File User wcizmowski.

‘Step away from the computer’! ‘Put down the mouse and step away from the computer!

This is what I was bellowing at myself inside my head a couple of days ago when I stayed on the computer too long and little miss ME/CFS became enraged.

Let’s take a step back and I’ll try to explain. I had been out for my walk – for a whole 12 minutes…what with the trip to France and a bad cold I’m back at the beginning with my paced walking, but that’s a different story. So yes I’d got back from my walk, made myself a nice cup of green tea and got myself a little snack (apple granola bar in case you’re interested, made by my Mum last week, recipe coming soon).

Armed with my tea and snack I thought I’ll sit at the desk and faff on the internet for 20 minutes before having a rest. I noted the time. 3:40 pm. Okay easy at 4 pm I’ll stop and have a rest. Perfect. And off I merrily went into my WordPress reader catching up on some of my favourite blogs.

And this is where things began to unravel….

I didn’t set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes which I usually do. This was school girl error number one. Without the timer bleeping and buzzing away at me 20 minutes later I had nothing to yank myself back to reality except of course the old chestnuts of common sense and listening to my body.

The 20 minutes quickly passed and before I knew it, it was now 4:10 pm. I needed to stop and rest. I knew I should but I didn’t want to…so I kept reading, totally caught up in the wonderful world of blogs (see really, this isn’t my fault at all, it is in fact you guys and your blogs! Yeh right….don’t think I can pass the buck on this one).

I knew I should stop. My body was screaming louder and louder at me. My shoulders felt so tight and sore and my arms were aching like mad. My upper body had had enough of being upright. And then there was my neck. The whole of my neck ached and it hurt keeping it vertical. The little vertebra of my cervical spine felt like they may snap any second.

Speaking of aching and stopping. My 20 minute timer has just gone off. My neck is hurting. Time to take a break and continue this post later.

I’m back! It is now the next day, Friday. I never got back to blogging yesterday as had too many other bits (like unloading the dishwasher) to squeeze into my activity slots. Life does tend to get in the way doesn’t it?! Especially so when you have limited energy with which to do stuff.

So anyway back to my story, there I was on the computer in increasing pain. ‘Step away from the computer’! ‘Step away right this second’! It was another 10 minutes before I actually gave in and did walk away and rest. I paid the price for this little error with increased neck, shoulder and arm pain for the rest of the evening. And several days later, today my pain levels are still much higher than my usual.

You might be thinking ‘Jess you’re stupid’! And yes to some extent that may be true. This is why I have a daily routine with a set sequence of timed activity and rest. The whole point of pacing is to prevent slip ups like this ‘computer-gate’ incident; to avoid boom and bust symptom cycles. Oops.

But, I’m not stupid. And anyone who thinks I am hasn’t been in this situation. You try having to stop doing something you’re enjoying before you’ve finished or before you want to. Let me tell you it is really really hard and really really frustrating. It takes an awful lot of self discipline and willpower, two characteristics I, admittedly, could do with building up.

You might think ‘if she was in that much pain she’d have stopped’. Again maybe you’d have a point. But then again maybe not. Those of us who live with chronic pain, who feel pain each and everyday, develop the ability to carry on, to push through. If I stopped the moment I felt pain, or if I stopped pre-emptively before the pain spiked, I would basically do nothing, or very little at any rate! I wouldn’t blog very often, I wouldn’t wash my hair, I wouldn’t reach for the tea bags out of the cupboard. So basically I think I have developed a baseline pain tolerance and this tolerance allows me to keep going to some extent. My baseline is not no pain, it is some pain but not so bad that it will cause a spike for days after. That’s my theory anyway.

But sometimes I am just plan stupid / stubborn / silly and lose all common sense and the connection between brain and body goes awry. And I continue doing something when I really shouldn’t; when the pain is way beyond my baseline tolerance and will leave me suffering for days after.

So yes, I fully admit my little extended escapade on the commuter was a mistake. But every so often we all make mistakes and we learn from them. I’m going to learn from this, dig in deep, find my will power reserves and get back on the pacing and daily routine horse and ride off into the sunset!

And there goes the 20 minute timer, time for me to stop.


11 Responses to “Step away from the computer!”

  1. joyhselak August 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    I call it ‘Stepping Out of the Box’ Sometimes you just have to try it, even if there’s a price. You learn something and feel a little freer for a bit.

    • myjourneythrume August 30, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      That’s a very good phrase for it. For better or worse sometimes we all need to step out of the box and test the waters. Thank you for reading and commenting.

  2. tiredtechie August 31, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    So, so true! This “listening to your body” business is fine when you’re mostly healthy but when your body is screaming at you to lie down every second of every day, you have to tune it out just to stay sane. That’s one reason I don’t like “body scan” meditations — feeling how my body feels is quite unpleasant. I’d rather live in my head, thank you. Brain fog is a nuisance but it doesn’t hurt!

    I also find that doing something is so much more enjoyable than doing nothing that it’s hard to stop once I get going. I once knocked myself out for a whole summer after overdoing in the garden over several days. I would keep going until I couldn’t do any more, and completely depleted my reserves. At least now I know I can’t do things like that more than once or twice a month. The occasional binge is unavoidable but manageable within limits.

    • myjourneythrume September 1, 2013 at 8:06 am #

      A binge, that’s exactly what it feels like. You get going, you know you should stop but you don’t want to so you keep going. An energy binge. I guess if we learn from our mistakes like you did with the gardening then a binge is okay once in a while!

  3. celestedimilla September 2, 2013 at 2:54 am #

    I’ve so been there with my neck and wrist aching, knowing I needed to stop and instead I just feel pressure to answer more emails FASTER! This means that I tense my body and just make the pain worse. I need to start setting a timer like you do – great tip! Loved this post! Celeste 🙂

    • myjourneythrume September 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks Celeste! I’m forever trying to un-tense my body when I’m sat at the computer, I totally relate to that. Glad you liked my post. The timer is effective tho you have to listen to it and not ignore it…. 🙂

  4. E. Milo October 8, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

    This is what I’ve been trying to overcome. I spend far too long at the computer and now i have spine injury from it. Massage couldn’t help, physical therapist couldn’t help, doctor suggests anti-inflammatories, but I’m allergic, so she suggested ice. Sitting with ice against my already-icy spine? No thanks! I’m going to set an alarm from now on. Good call!

    • myjourneythrume October 12, 2013 at 9:27 am #

      Hope the alarm helps! Sorry to hear nothing else has. Ice sounds horrible, don’t do that!


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