Almost 3 years ago I wrote in my blog about fluid buildup in the middle finger of my right hand that caused pain first thing in the morning. It's gotten worse over the years and it now affects all fingers on both hands. I wake up and have to be very careful not to move my hands in a way that causes something to curl my fingers otherwise I get sharp shooting pain in my knuckles. After a few minutes of slowing curling them I can eventually make a fist and then am fine for the rest of the day. I consider myself lucky that after that initial hand-curling I can continue my typing-filled day without any pain.
About a week ago my wife put her foot down and forced me to schedule an appointment with a local chiropractor specializing in Active Release Techniques. She had had good success with relieving back pain with this process and I was willing to give it a try. I had an hour session yesterday and my arms are still very bruised and tender. The process itself is quite painful and involves lots of pressure on tendons as they are shortened and lengthened through movement. Something about separating joined tendons and scraping off lesions. I'm supposed to try going twice a week for a few weeks and hopefully correct the problem. Right now the idea of going back for more is extremely unappealing. Perhaps when my tendons and tissue mend I'll feel different.
I've also started really looking into ergonomic alternatives for my keyboard and mouse. I have been using the Microsoft Natural Elite split keyboard for about 5 years and I love it except I believe part of my pain is related to reaching away from the keyboard to use the mouse and so to use the Microsoft Elite means using a separate mouse. I also work a lot on an IBM ThinkPad and absolutely love the TrackPoint red eraser mouse embedded in the keyboard. No need to move your hands away, no arm stretches and now that I'm used to it I believe it truly is a better point device interface.
IBM does offer the ThinkPlus USB Keyboard with UltraNav a full-size keyboard with an integrated TrackPoint but the keyboard isn't split like the Microsoft Elite. I'm really worried that I would just be trading the occassional arm-extending mouse reaching for constantly mis-aligned wrists. I've so far been unable to find anyone who manufactures an ergonomic split keyboard that also includes a TrackPoint nub. Many companies offer the split keyboard with a TrackPad but I've just always found that interface clunky and prone to error plus it requires taking your fingers off the keys.
I've been tempted to take apart an old Thinkpad 600E and try to incorporate the TrackPoint into my Microsoft Elite. My wife thinks the idea is stupid. And I quote: "I'm sure it would be fun but you'd just break everything." Nice. Perhaps I've just been reading Hack-A-Day and MAKE:BLOG too much lately. It can't be *that* hard, can it? :)