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Ronan's report


Wednesday 26th December, 2007

After about 20 minutes of basic poking and prodding the doctor said, "You are suffering from Cervical Radiculopathy."

I tried to act cool, nodding my head as if I knew it all along, but my mind was racing in a different direction. What the F@*& is Cervical Radiculopathy?!?!

It turns out that an out of place disc in my neck is aggravating some of the nerves that serve my right arm. My casting arm. My fly tying arm. My Sexyloops Board surfing arm. Tight and painful muscles in my shoulder, combined with odd and irritating sensations of warmth, tingling, heavyness, and numbness from my elbow down into the last two fingers of my hand are what triggered my trip to the doctor.

The cause? Bad posture and a desk job. Working at a computer 8+ hours a day, hunched over like Quasimodo just to get a closer look. Words can't describe how frustrating it is when nearly everything that you do causes some degree of discomfort. It's especially frustrating when you don't know what is causing the problem. Normally I sit down and tie a few flies after work to unwind from the usual stress of the office, then I check up on Sexyloops, do dinner, maybe read a bit. Normal things. But all of those things led to increased discomfort.

The good news is I noticed the problem early. Instead of working through the discomfort like I would have done a few years ago, I went to a doctor. Some pills, and a prescription for physical therapy twice a week for a month have me on the mend. I've looked at the ergonomics of my workstation at the office, and changed it all around. Turns out I was doing just about everything wrong. Now I'm trying to learn proper posture, which for me is taking more concentration than threading a tippet through the eye of a #22 midge emerger just before dark while 20" rainbows rise nonchalantly in the pool in front of me.

On Saturday I fished steelhead for a good 7 hour shift. Lots of hiking over glacier-polished stones and casting a big 9wt DH rod led to no irritation. Quite the contrary actually. Of course, I wasn't hunched over at my desk. On Sunday, I overdid it a bit when I got into a good book on Pacific Salmon and ended up slumped over on the couch. A tingling in my fingers reminded me to stand up straight and go for a walk.

So, a word of warning for all you desk jockeys and weekend warriors. Don't end up like me, or worse. Pay attention to your posture and workstation ergonomics. Read up on it here. Take a break from banging on the keys every 15-20 minutes. It might save you a lot of discomfort down the line.

Oh, and before I forget, I hope that everyone out there had a Merry Christmas. And, if Santa didn't leave that new TCR that you wanted in you stocking, next year maybe you should hang something besides one of your old neoprene wading socks over the fireplace.

Cheers,
Matt


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