Workplace ergonomics become tricky while working from home, but simple changes can make a difference. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Workplace ergonomics become tricky while working from home, but simple changes can make a difference. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Work-at-home ergonomics might ‘B’ a problem for you, too

She ordered a laptop riser and an ergonomic keyboard to help ease constant pain from tennis elbow.

Speed typing is my superpower. I can type 80.4 words a minute, almost as fast as people talk. The problem is, my superpower comes with an evil sidekick: tendinitis.

I’ve struggled with tendinitis since high school, when I gave myself flash-card wrist while studying for the SAT exam. In my 20s, I became a knitter until the pain became so bad that I had to stop. In my 30s, I broke my wrist ice-skating, underwent surgery and was diagnosed with a nerve disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome.

Basically, my arms are really screwed up.

If you think about pain on a scale from 1 to 10, level 3 pain doesn’t seem so bad — unless it never goes away. Level 3 pain can wake you up in the middle of the night. It can stop you from doing things you love like planting tulip bulbs in your front yard. Level 3 pain can also morph into level 6 pain pretty fast, especially if you aren’t careful.

My tendinitis has grown worse during the pandemic because my work space has changed. To find peace and quiet, I have taken my laptop to odd places, like the couch, back yard, or even our tent trailer popped up in the driveway.

Laptop computers are tricky because they make you crane your neck down to see the screen, and contort your arms at odd angles to type, depending on how you’re sitting.

Finally my tendinitis became so bad that I went to the doctor and followed her six-week plan for ending tennis elbow. I took high doses of ibuprofen and did strength training and stretching exercises that were supposed to help. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

That’s when I gave my husband’s suggestions a try. I ordered a laptop riser and an ergonomic keyboard, and created a permanent workstation for myself on a card table.

The laptop riser isn’t so bad. It raises the screen to eye level so I don’t hunch over. But the ergonomic keyboard? I’ve found my kryptonite! It splits the keyboard into two areas, and unfortunately for me, puts the letter B on the left side.

It turns out, I’ve been typing the letter B with my right hand — the wrong hand — my whole life, and that might be part of my problem.

My first few days with the ergonomic keyboard were horrible. I kept looking at my hands like I was 10 years old and practicing with Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. But I’m slowly improving, both in skill and pain level.

As 2020 drags along, many of us are spending huge amounts of time on laptop computers, and that includes children logging on to virtual school. I know from personal experience that lifelong problems with chronic pain can begin early. Be careful with flashcards, laptop computers and the propensity to sit in one place for too long.

Take a look the next time you type. Which hand do you use to hit the letter B?

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at

Talk to us

More in Life

Washington’s most beloved state park turns 100

Deception Pass State Park, which draws as many visitors as the best-known national parks in the U.S., celebrates a century of recreation and conservation

Hydrangea and rose
July checklist for Snohomish County gardeners

After a slow start to summer, things should take off this month. So keep planting and nurturing.

Caption: The 12 week Edmonds Community Police Academy was a free opportunity for private citizens to learn about law enforcement.
An inside look at how law enforcement works

A pregnant mother. A man who rescues abused horses and donkeys. A… Continue reading

Kid 'n Play members Christopher "Kid" Reid, left, and Christopher "Play" Martin perform on NBC's "Today" show during the "I Love The 90's" morning concert at Rockefeller Plaza on Friday, April 29, 2016, in New York. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

Relive the music of the 1990s with Kid N Play and other stars of the era at the Tulalip Casino Amphitheater.

So-called relaxing summer vacations can wear you out

To truly enjoy a family getaway, tone down your expectations. Everything won’t be picture-perfect.

Gimmelwald, built in an avalanche zone, yet specializing in alpine tranquility.
Roaming the Alps brings cultural insights along with the views

The Swiss have great respect for Alpine traditions and culture — and contempt for tourists who disrespect both.

Will TripMate cover costs for trip canceled for medical reasons?

After Stanley Wales cancels his diving trip to Bonaire, he files a travel insurance claim with TripMate. What’s taking them so long to respond?

Contestant chef Brian Madayag (left) of Edmonds and West Coast team captain Brooke Williamson on “Beachside Brawl.” (Food Network) 20220616
Edmonds chef reps Pacific Northwest on new Food Network show

Barkada owner Brian Madayaga will compete on a new Food Network series that premiers Sunday.

Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’ (Richie Steffen)
Great Plant Pick: Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Kosteri’

This Hinoki cypress is graceful and beautiful, and is very drought-tolerant once established.

Photo Caption: Butter prints like this one pressed a design into freshly made butter as a decoration or for marketing. Today, collectors search for antique butter prints and consider them folk art.
19th century farm families’ butter prints are coveted folk art

One example with a flower-and-heart design recently sold at auction for more than $5,000.

After two years of wellness, Covid finally hit this family, but thanks to vaccinations, the symptoms were mild. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Jennifer Bardsley’s fighting COVID-19 with vaccines and TLC

But even with vaccinations, the disease is scary for people like her with less than robust immune systems.

Turkey vultures’ pervious nostrils are among the features that help them feed on carrion. (The Columbian files)
In praise of turkey vultures, nature’s cleaning service

These raptors should be revered, not reviled, for their disposal of stinky, disease-laden animal matter.