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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

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Is firing off that witty tweet really worth the pain?
Is firing off that witty tweet really worth the pain?

I'm too texty for my thumbs

I'm sitting at my kitchen table in front of two side by side legal pads, one marked "pros" and one marked "cons," deciding whether continuing to use my cell phone for texting, emailing, web surfing and social media is an unavoidable reality or an only- in-desperate-need option.

This surprisingly, has nothing to do with the nasty waves emitted into the cranium by proximity or the risk of cell phone particles migrating through pants pockets into reproductive organs. It's about the health of my digits – the ones attached to my person, not numerated on the dial pad.

Sure, it's super convenient to hold the epicenter of communication in the palm of your hand, but what happens when the fingers that attach to the fleshy cradle start communicating back to you via nerve pathways?

My thumbs are screaming, "Stop texting already!" "Do you really have to scroll down 20 pages of tweets?" "Can't you wait until you are in front of your laptop to respond to that email?" "Like it later, lady!" "Was Instagram really necessary?" (Absolutely. This is my new favorite platform.)

I woke up a few months ago with severe achiness in both of my thumbs, but more pronounced on the left side. It centered in the "knuckle," but traveled down the belly of my palm and into my wrist. After three months of denial, I finally to put two and two (thumbs) together as pain shot through the opposable digits as I entered a (fabulously witty) tweet on my Motorola XPRT keypad.

I believe the onset was a result of using my phone more while traveling on the road, as I had limited access to my laptop. I was sending extensive emails, having detailed text chats and just wasting time Googling on the device at a higher volume.

What's worse is that I think my particular phone and keyboard may have exacerbated the condition, due to its small width and tiny keys. Even more atrocious is that I insisted on having a keyboard of this type because I was so resistant to the iPhone touch screen.

Is having a cell phone worth losing the use of my thumbs from excessive textiness?

I'm at an impasse here. The pain has driven me to research "pain in thumbs," "thumb pain and cell phone use" and "arthritis." I've come up with the very mundane self-diagnosis of "repetitive stress injury" – or the more entertaining, "Mommy Thumb." I personally prefer to label it as "Blackberry Thumb" in honor of the beloved device I relinquished for a "smarter phone."

There are exercises prescribed to help heal this nuisance, but let's face it, like any injury, rest and avoidance of the activity that caused the owie is best.

Now, I get to use my paid-out-of-pocket-bust-into-the-college-fund-ridiculously-high-deductible health insurance to see a hand specialist next week because this is not resolving on its own.

In the meantime, I have been carefully observing my stepdaughter's text technique with wonderment and an element of science-fiction horror. She elegantly folds her fingers over the top of her iPhone and uses her thumbs with a quickness and deftness that looks like Speedy Gonzales and The Road Runner have taken over the tentacles that set us apart as a superior species.

I am now kept awake by visions of the next stage of evolution. Are my pains just a reflection of my physical inferiority due to my birth date? Am I watching the development of a new human bodily trait before my eyes? Thumbs that are super-opposable, with muscle fibers that fire quicker than quick to accommodate technology?

And what about vision? Lord knows my eyes have suffered from long hours in front of the computer and that strain to read my phone's diminutive screen. I have even surrendered to wearing reading glasses (over my contact lenses) to adapt to this other ramification of modern message pathways.

Will the next generation have powerful magnification vision that easily adjusts to read microscopic digital text to accompany their super-charged appendages?

The only solution for me at the moment is to not text at all or to use the troglodytian one-finger technique that is more sluggish than vintage Milwaukee Omnifest dial-up.

Those who are suggesting voice recognition can forget it. If you've ever heard me speak, you'd know that any sort of computerized technology could hardly recognize my particular vocal pitch and tone. I am a slave to punching the keypad.

I guess I'm too texty for my thumbs.

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