April in Glenwood: Trying to stress less
I have bursitis. And it’s not pretty.
It’s one of those conditions brought to my attention because the body has a great way of putting up a red flag when its operating systems are out of whack.
Sort of like a computer.
I have an elbow filled with a puffy sac of fluid I noticed last month when I was drying off after a shower. Just the mere sight of it makes my friends and loved ones cringe — even one who works in the medical field.
Try Googling to see why.
Up until now, I’m pretty sure I thought bursitis was something one of the Golden Girls might have had while living together in their Florida retirement villa. It has one of those names that sounds worse than it is, though.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines bursitis as “the swelling and irritation of a bursa, the fluid-filled sac that acts as a cushion between muscles, tendons, and bones.” The condition most often occurs in elbows, shoulders, knees and hips, as well as Achilles tendons and the foot. It’s commonly caused by repetitive motion and overuse.
That’s what’s behind mine.
There could be a couple of culprits responsible for my bursitis.
For one, I realized when I grab my baby Will’s car seat — around the weight of a car tire — out of my Jeep’s backseat, I often hook the handle with the bursitis-affected elbow. I didn’t even know I was doing it. That’s not exactly the most athletic reason behind my bursitis.
Although lifting a car tire is akin to an exercise regimen.
Tennis and golf — which I played pretty regularly in my younger days, along with skiing, baseball, softball, basketball, swimming and running — are often the sporty causes behind bursitis.
I’d like to say I’ve been getting that physical lately. Realistically, I’m on what I’d call the slow track to the post-baby, bikini-ready body I’ve seen some super-fit moms on Instagram display.
I’m in more of the ruffled tankini-ready stage.
Bursitis can also create stress on the bursa sac — I know someone who just cringed — through day-to-day and work activities.
That can include construction and yard work, gardening, painting, wood working, cooking and cleaning, specifically scrubbing. Along with sports, that’s pretty much anything and everything we do in life.
So good luck with that.
But it’s what I consider the big kahuna of bursitis causes, typing and computer use, that’s the toughest pill to swallow.
I know my writing professors would say that’s a cliche, but in this case there’s some truth to that tough-pill saying. I’ve been prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug. At least the medication seems to be working on deflating the bursa, along with icing and wrapping my elbow.
Basically my bursitis is an occupational hazard.
Since I don’t see a big career change in my immediate future, and I’ll always type and use a computer no matter what I do for a living, I probably need to make some positive, healthy changes. Posture plays a part in the way our bodies, especially tendons, react to repetitive keyboard use.
I just caught myself breaking that golden posture rule of no slouching.
An ergonomic workspace could be just what I need. I’m thinking I should mix up the writing process with a standing workstation.
I’ve never really considered it, but that set-up would definitely help me not tilt my head downward to look at my screen. That bad habit happens for me often in using a tablet with keyboard anywhere I plant myself to write or search the internet.
That’s pretty much daily.
A standing workstation would also make it much easier for me to dance while writing, a perk of working from home.
Or working for a really fun company.
Ergonomics professionals recommend taking short, 15- to 30-second breaks every 20 minutes or so while working to help avoid some of the physical ailments, such as bursitis, that poor posture can cause.
And the mini breaks help clear the mind and boost productivity. I know I feel less stress when I hear “Mickey” by Toni Basil come on my Pandora ’80s station, and I do a few herkies to feel alive. Keep in mind I never made cheerleading, despite several attempts at middle school try-outs, because I couldn’t do the splits. Or cheer jumps.
Of course I watch YouTube first to see how to do the herkie. And make sure to stretch — safety first!
I’d hate to irritate my bursitis.
April E. Clark’s new nickname is now Bursitis Betty. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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