I, like many humans, am a creature of habit, and tend to settle right in to routine and the daily tick, tick, tick that consistency creates.
In 2013, one of my favourite habits that I fell into was my Saturday morning productivity storm.
Saturday mornings were mine alone. My fiancé would sleep in, and I would be up early with the dogs. I would sit on our sectional, feet in fuzzy slippers, with my daschund to my left and my boston terrier to my right, sipping coffee and answering email, writing and scheduling posts, working on SEO.
As a result, my blogs thrived, my dogs got their much-needed “mom” time, and I started my day in a productive but not overly stressful way.
I became super enthusiastic about starting and growing websites. After starting Suburban Finance, and seeing the statistics climb and the readership grow, I began starting more websites, and my time on my laptop on Saturday mornings grew to early Saturday afternoons, and also Saturday evenings when I happened to be staying home.
My back began to get sore after hours hunched in front of my laptop. Since I work in front of a computer as well for my day job, I wasn’t surprised. I began going to massage therapy weekly to deal with the cricks in my neck.
My social life began to wane, and in response, I began scheduling social events left, right and centre to make up for it, all the while maintaining my websites with the same vigour as before.
Then, one weekend in December, as I cut shortbread cookies into festive shapes, and my fiancé pried the dough off the counter with a flipper to bake in the oven, I lost partial vision in my left eye. I sat down for a moment, thinking I was just getting a dizzy spell at a particularly hormonal time of the month. After about an hour, my vision came back and I got back to baking with my fiancé.
As I went to put our last batch in the oven, my fingers on my left hand began to tingle, followed by the left side of my mouth – bottom lip particularly.
Then, BAM. My head began to pulse and a dull, aching pain crept behind my right eye and made itself comfortable. With my eyes closed, I pictured tiny men with big hammers knocking on my skull. A migraine.
I’d never had a migraine before, though I was prone to serious headaches, so this threw me for a loop. I was camped out on my couch, blanket up over my head, lights dimmed, earplugs in. No amount of temple massage will make a migraine go away, try as I might.
My fiancé was left to do the Sunday weekend wrap up by himself. Loads of laundry in the washing machine, dryer, folded, put away. Groceries bought, dinner made, kitchen cleaned. Sheets steamed, on the bed, bed made. Dogs walked, fed, watered, played with. Floor swept, washed, ready for the week ahead.
Encouraged by my mother, I ended up at a local walk in clinic, and, after having waited an hour, spoke to the doctor for five short minutes. “Migraine,” he said, barely glancing up at me. “What were you doing before it came on? Are you under a lot of stress? Were you straining your eyes?”. “Well,” I started, thinking back to the morning before. “I wrote ~4,000 words and then played around with my websites for a little while”. “What is a “little while?” An hour?”. I did a quick calculation based on when I woke up and when my fiancé got up. “More like four or five”.
There you have it.
Apparently spending 4-5 hours per day, on top of your computer based day job, as well as using your phone, television, and Kindle – all day, ever day – is bad for your health. Or at least is an obvious migraine starter.
Have you ever tried to cut down on technology?
I would take positive steps if I were you. Over 30 years ago I had a similiar thing happen to me. I was busy running a business….rental property….expecting first child…etc. Then, like you, out of the blue. Tingling in the right hand then started having trouble walking and then numbness to the right side of my face. In addition I threw up pretty violently… Called DW and could think what I wanted to say but couldn’t put the words together. Went to the Emergency Room and then to a neurologist. The symptoms subsided and the neurologist ran a bunch of test…diagnosis…”Classical Migraine” brought on by too much stress, too much caffeine and too much nicotine. I cut the stress, went decaf and quit smoking. Left unattended this progresses to stroke. Sleep is real important in recovery.
That was the first thing I thought…stroke! I’m glad you’re okay. It’s crazy how these things sneak into our lives and become obsessions. I’ve said I was going to do this before then never followed through. It’s time to start.
Definitely – it’s worth it!
I didn’t smoke and only drink one cup of caffeine per day, it was too much time on the computer for me. I haven’t had one since 🙂
I work on my computer at least 10 hours per day so I try to limit my time with technology in the evenings. I definitely think it can lead to migraines. I also sit a lot so I’m been trying to stand for at least part of the day.
Standing helps your muscles, that’s for sure.
Yes definitely, but more with using my iPhone when it’s not necessary. For instance the first thing I do when I wake up and I’m not even out of bed is check my phone. Geez man, how about waking up slowly and refreshed. It’s such a bad habit.
I do that too. It’s a bad habit.
Ugh, I’m sorry you had such an awful migraine experience! While it doesn’t help reduce my screen time, I have a standing desk at work, which at least allows me to move around and be active during the day. I wish I was on the computer less, but my job is heavily computer-based. I think it’s a good goal, though!
Luckily it was just one time and I learned my lesson!
I spend a lot of time in front of the computer screen. I try to take a break from time to time. Even on my job, even if it is getting up for a few minutes and walking to the other end of the hall and back to get my eyes off the computer screen and stretch. I don’t know if that is enough though…
It’s definitely helpful. Try to stay away from the computer in the evening.
I’m with you! I’m alarmed lately by how alluring my MacBook Air has become. I’m thinking of instituting a technology-free day each week. Computers a timesaver? HAH!
Let me know how that goes, Kurt!