Greenwood Encyclopedia of African American Literature

Sunday, January 6, 2008

It's All In the Wrist

I suffer from lateral epicondylitis, which is an epic name for a demotic affliction better known as tennis-elbow. I got it from typing; repetitive motion strikes again. More precisely, I got it from mousing. The wrist moves just enough and just often enough, in my case, to make the tendon stretch too often, and a pain in the elbow materializes. The pain feels as if it's in the bone but is actually in the tendon, which is apparently attached to the bone. There's this little velcro thing you put around your fore-arm that allegedly relieves the tendon, and I also wear a brace (when I remember) that keeps the wrist immobile. But what I really need to do is to change my typing and mousing techniques and learn to rest the forearm on the desk, as well as to type with the keyboard lower. In other words, I have only myself to blame, whereas millions of workers out there have their repetitive-motion jobs to blame.

As I mentioned to some of my students, you know you're a nerd if you get hurt typing.

A shot of cortisone every now and then seems to help. Does the needle really need to be that long?

A doctor told me that one other "level" of treatment is to sever the tendon from the bone. I looked at him with disbelief, chiefly because I was experiencing disbelief, and I believed a silent look was better than shouting, "Are you out of your effing mind?" or "And you call yourself a doctor!" He said, "No, really--the tendon floats around for a while and then reattaches itself."

The reasoning behind this other "level" of treatment seemed counterintuitive to me. Tendons floating around? Is that really a good idea?

Poetry always helps, too, of course; it's one of the real unsung (so to speak) homeopathic treatments--or "levels of treatment." It beats the heck out of floating tendons, anyway. In any event, I wrote a thing-poem about the wrist, not necessarily my wrist but the wrist. My wrist was probably thinking, Why doesn't he just speak the poem and not make me type it? Everybody's a critic. Before I post the poem, I'll wish you healthy typing, and I'll hope your days are not filled with harmfully repetitive motion.

Wrist

1.

The road narrows as it approaches the river.
The bridge is brief as bridges are. Beyond it,
five separate routes materialize. Seeming
parallel at first, the routes diverge.

2.

When I looked at her brown wrist
that 15th summer, I fell in what-I-thought-
was-love. I don’t blame myself
for having thought me into love.
Her wrist was better than ideal because

it existed. So did she. Aristotle always
held a better hand than Plato’s, as it were,
for he knew real beat ideal
every time because it showed up.

The rest of what I knew that summer
seemed useless. That's because it was.
I do hope she kept the bracelet.

3.

His wrists were placed under arrest
and bound. They were charged, booked,
arraigned, tried, convicted, and sentenced.
Loyal to his wrists, he went
to prison with them.

4.

The other day a woman’s wrists asked her
why she’d worked so hard. She said because
she wasn’t born a Rockefeller, for example.
The wrists said, “That’s what we thought.”
With the help of her wrists, she picked up
a tool and went back to work.

5.

By means of repetitive motion,
Industrial Society declared war on The Wrist.


Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom


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