RSI Poem

Question: There is an article in last Saturday’s Guardian supplement about Fleur Adock, the poet, who I’m sorry to learn has contracted a bad case of RSI. The article is mostly about her life and career rather than RSI, but the printed version also includes a poem she has written about RSI. Clearly she has been along the same trajectory as many on this list (osteopath, physio, Alexander technique, acupuncture, etc) The article is on the Guardian website but the poem doesn’t seem to be available — perhaps because of copyright issues. Local libraries will probably have Saturday’s Guardian.

Answer 1: We get the Guardian, so I’ve copied the RSI poem, below, by Fleur Adcock (Guardian 29/7/00) Copyright Fleur Adcock; not published before this (Guardian 29/7/00)
The ex-poet
The ex-poet looks at her hands
and rejects them. They have rejected her.
She has betrayed them, abused
them on a keyboard
until they are scarcely fit to hold a pen.
Ha ha, they snort: you should have
listened earlier.

We are your carpal tunnels:
there is no light at the end of us.
What did you expect, making us flicker
over the unrelenting keys?
And this is your frozen shoulder, with
its heart of ice.

The ex-poet visits the osteopath,
the physiotherapist,
the orthopedic surgeon,
and the teacher of Alexander technique.
Each tells her something
slightly different.
Such is the variety of human invention.

She sits in several chairs, lies on several
beds and couches and at least two floors.
She allows herself to be pierced by
long needles
(acupuncture) and shorter ones
(cortisone);
she persuades herself to believe in Shiatsu.

And always a sly voice at her shoulder:
“You gave up writing poetry
for family history; then your
hands rebelled.
Do you think that was a coincidence?”
This is her muse in serious huff.

But now the birds are singing, the leaves
are sprouting;
the ex-poet is still in possession
of perfectly adequate eyes, ears and legs.
She won’t be bullied by moods
and umbrage.
Here is the world; there is no need to describe it

Answer 2: I joined this mailing list for optimism?  Boy, this poem is uplifting.

Answer 3: I think a lot of posts are quite optimistic, but of course not everyone can feel optimistic about their situation all the time, and it’s just as important (in my view) for people to feel they can post to the list when they’re feeling really down. Not that applies in this case, but sometimes people do feel down and need to ask for support rather than always being bright and optimistic. I don’t know that I’d call it uplifting, but I did think it was quite positive. If I’d been able to write a poem when I first got RSI, it would have been full of anger and fear. I’m quite impressed that Fleur Adcock ends on an upbeat note — though I think that’s partly because of the other subject of the poem, i.e. giving up writing poetry.

Answer 4: I just am worried like everyone else and GP is not helpful, I have new 8 month old baby and wife to support, I am in career of computing etc.. so I did look for some nice (for want of better word) e-mails. E-mail is so easy to send without thinking. 

Answer 5: it is not always easy to be nice – I have just spent a wonderful 40 minutes in the Neuro physiology dept at the local hospital – (I think they leant a lot from the SS!!!) Having had electric currents passed down nerves for that length of time only to be told I certainly wasn’t suffering from CTS – and could I go back to my GP and start again please – it only taken 12 weeks to get that far! The operator of the equipment was very nice and understanding and apologetic which helped a great deal!


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