I haven’t posted much about gaming lately, like I haven’t posted much about art and drawing, for the simple reason… I haven’t been able to do it. My right hand went wonky (de Quervain’s tenosynovitis) in early spring of 2014, and when I say wonky, I mean it didn’t work. I couldn’t grip a bottle, a pen, I couldn’t open a jar, turn a doorknob, nothing. My hand was this useless fleshy stump-thing on the end of my arm. Worst of all, I couldn’t type very well or very long and I couldn’t hold a game controller. At some point in late August I could begin holding my Xbox controller, but it was painful and I realized after an hour of Assassin’s Creed that I was damaging my wrist again. If I wasn’t careful, I’d need surgery and I’d be looking at even more months of recovery.
How did this happen? Blame my green tea plants and tomatoes. I’d noticed my wrist and thumb feeling sort of weak and stiff over the weekend in March. I put it down to the fact that I did catch my thumb in the bathroom door handle and wrench it something awful (it’s a narrow hallway, the handle is antiquated, it’s just clumsy all around in that old hall) and I remembered feeling lucky that it didn’t really hurt at the time, despite how bad it was twisted. Welp, it caught up to me that Monday. I dug out the bed for the tomatoes and moved a 50 lb bag of mulch for my tea plants. My thumb was stiff and the bones of my wrist felt like they were separating whenever I lifted something. But I’d wrap it that night, put some ice on it, a little Ben-Gay maybe (stinky!) and I’d be fine in the morning.
I thought it was a sprain and I treated it like one, wrapping, ice, heat, Ibuprofen, etc. We went on vacation in May and I couldn’t swim in the ocean because the waves hurt. Then I swam because I wanted a shark to bite it off. It just wouldn’t stop. Just ow ow ow every time I moved my thumb. It went on far too long for a sprain.
Anyway, it was a type of tendonitis caused by use, or rather overuse. I couldn’t garden and spend hours typing and game through the night. Something had to go. I compromised. I updated my speech-to-text software and began using that more to write. I turned the vegetable garden over to the menfolk. I typed with a chopstick taped my brace. I gave up my Xbox controller for the foreseeable future. Oh yeah, and I gave up washing dishes. That was someone else’s job all summer.
I didn’t have to give up PC gaming so much because the hand movements you do with PC are smaller than your fingers spanning a console controller. But it was still awkward trying to game with a ring mouse (it fits on my index finger) and after a dozen sessions of getting my ass handed to me by Orcs and
pirates rats, I stopped playing. I could draw on my Wacom tablet and CS5, but not for very long, and it came down to short-term denial vs long-term benefits. So all summer and fall and on into winter, I was not an active gamer. I followed the news, enthused over new releases, kept up with my favorite people at Gamestop, watched the guys play, but I couldn’t participate beyond that. I read a lot of Game Informer magazine. I watched a lot of Netflix.
It was depressing. 🙁
Anyway, I stopped sleeping with the brace on my hand in October. I’d put off some orthodontic (toofypegs!) surgery as long as I could by then, so I exchanged one pain for another and there were complications (naturally!) and it was a crappy Autumn altogether. My left wrist is also beginning to show signs of wear now from compensating for the right. It’s not nearly as bad as the right and it won’t get that bad, it’s just tight and achy and I have to baby it a bit, now that the right is healed. But this type of injury tends to happen again after the first time. You never really get rid of it. I’ve had to make some adjustments in how I do things, mostly using athletic tape on my hands if I’m going to play for a long time on console. I wish I was kidding. And wearing a really stiff hand brace if I use gardening tools. No more slogging 50 lb bags of topsoil or mulch across the yard, either. That’s what a wheelbarrow is for. Or menfolk.
Alas, I still have to do the dishes.
For everyone who reads this blog for the gaming meta and virtual life thinky-thoughts: I’m back.
If you’re waiting for books from me (and I hope you are, because I really do love my readers) it was a frustrating 2014, but I’m back.
To the Orcs, Spiders, Uruks, and Wargs of Ettenmoors: I’m back. Hide your collective hairy asses.