I’ve been having what I would say is some moderately serious wrist pain lately, on the outer/little finger side. If it keeps up I’ll see a doctor. This pain made me think of this – “To subdivide a man is to execute him, if he deserves the sentence, to assassinate him if he does not.” A misremembered version of this line popped into my head today. I thought Marx said it. Some internet searching turned up that it’s by David Urquhart, quoted in chapter 14 of Marx’s Capital volume 1.

I think my wrist hurts in part because I’ve been rock climbing a lot, and fairly aggressively for my skill and fitness level. It’s been very fun and rewarding (I do so little else that provides a sense of accomplishment) and it’s very physically demanding and tiring. I think my wrist also hurts in part because I’ve been doing a ton of typing lately for work. I work on a laptop, which some internet searching tells me is probably worse for my health. I’m currently typing with the laptop and my arms propped up on some books. This feels silly, and it feels uncomfortable in a way that makes me think this is close to proper posture and that my body is really, really unfamiliar with proper posture. I’ve been rock climbing a lot in part because I’ve been doing so much work, lots of long hours and no time off for quite a while. (I took the morning off today and spent a while with my kid, which was awesome.) Work is really stressful, and in lots of ways so are the effects of my work and stress on my family, which makes me want to climb more to blow off steam. (And yes, I realize typing this while my wrist is sore is in a sense not the smartest thing I’ve ever done.)

The pain reminds me of when I got hurt at work many years ago, when a bunch of stuff fell on me and broke my hand, and it reminds me that in working I’m wearing out my body for someone else, for no particularly useful purpose (I mean, it’s not like I’m harming my body to save lives, or manufacture important medicine, or care for a child). I think economic activity can be summarized as a continuum between on the one end performing CPR and teaching reading (important, life saving or life altering activities) and pretty far on the other manufacturing and selling little plastic spiders (useless crap) with a bit further to the right of like making and selling tasers, heroin, and bombs (actively socially destructive products). I’m closer to a little plastic spider sales clerk than I am to a health care worker. My point is that fucking up my wrists for the sake of something pretty close to making and selling little plastic spiders, especially when I have a lot of hobbies that involve using my hands, like the three R’s of Rock climbing, wRiting, and playing music(R [ha]). Or things that are most basic than hobbies, like picking up my kid, or cooking dinner. And currently where I live and work, this is a cost that’s mine to bear – I could and might get some medical treatment or physical therapy for it and I have health insurance but mostly this is an uncompensated cost to me.

This also makes me think again of the phrase ‘hired hands’ and the term ‘manual’ labor – manual is etymologically about hands again. Back in the old timey days the Roman census counted a group of proletarii, people who only reproduced and I believe they were counted as capite cense – head counts. Like heads of cattle. This taking of people as just a part of their body is to rhetorically subdivide them like in that Urquhart quote. For my job I talk and type, stand and sit, and that’s about it. And lately the typing has been most of it, and I sit while I type. That activity and the body parts (and physical health) required for it are most of what matters for my job. The rest of me? Indifferent. And the overuse of those body parts throughout too much of that work and not enough of much else, is part of why my wrist hurts.


Related: for treating this wrist pain I’ve been soaking my hand and wrist in a large bowl of ice water because I’ve read that that’s part of effective treatment. I dunno much about physiology but from my experience, injured/inflamed body parts hurt like crazy when soaked in ice water. Something about inflamed tissue going through the big contraction of being very cold=very painful. I have chronic knee pain that at this point is often not there and often just really low level, fixed through a combination of things. When it starts to act up, one thing I use is a foam roller, rolling over some sore spots on my legs in a way that makes the pain in my knees less. It hurts a lot to do. Likewise with the ice bath for my wrist. With both there’s this weird thing, or maybe I’m weird for thinking it’s weird… It’s really hard to make myself stay on the foam roller on a sore spot/keep my hand in the ice bath. But the only reason it’s hard is because of the pain. It’s not like a difficult puzzle to solve, or something heavy to life. It’s just a matter of continuing to choose to persevere despite discomfort, to say “this feels bad but I’ll do it anyway.” That that is difficult seems a little odd to me. Or maybe odd is the wrong word for it – I want to understand what goes on better when this happens. After while, I start to feel depleted, as in, it gets harder to make myself endure discomfort, I start to think (or rather, to feel) that the choice to keep up with the painful therapeutic measure isn’t work the cost in terms of how lousy it feels. So I stop. Then I take a break and do it again. It’s not a surprise in a way – willpower is finite, I use up my willpower as I make myself do unpleasant tasks – but I’d like to know more about what goes on. What changes in my body/brain/mind as I move from “yep, this hurts, hang in there” to “oh I really want to stop” to “I just can’t take it anymore, I’m going to stop.” And I wonder what are things that one could do to have more gas in the tank/a bigger gas tank of whatever it is that gets depleted here.

(Note to self: