Wednesday, June 4, 2008

How Going Wireless Caused Me Pain

READER NOTE: In an effort to keep this blog as PG-rated as possible and to avoid having to check the dreaded "Adult Content" box in my settings, I have developed a sophisticated and complex system to warn you when I'm about to make a reference that could be construed as, shall we say, delicate. Any content that is in doubt will be preceded by the following flag: "Um".

Cause and effect can be a slippery slope. Years ago, I worked for a brokerage firm. This was in the days when we still had news tickers on the floor.

A story came across the ticker one day that a school of small fish had been killed off the New England coast by something akin to a red tide. Sad, but, why is this worthy of time on an Associated Press ticker? One of the financial analysts at the company knew from his years of research and experience that these fish were harvested, dried, and ground up to be used as a protein supplement for pet food. Since the fish had died, he knew that an alternate protein source would have to be found. He called all of his customers and told them to put as much money into soybean futures as they could possibly afford. Soybeans skyrocketed, his clients made a bucket of money, he made a bucket of commissions, and I was left wondering whether that whole computer science degree was all it was cracked up to be. It would never in a million years have occurred to me that the death of a school of nondescript, tiny fish off the coast of Massachusetts would impact the price of soybeans, but that's why he retired early and I'm hoping I don't have to eat cat food with soybeans in it after I retire.

So a few months ago, I started feeling some discomfort in my, um, "nether regions". Nothing debilitating, mind you, just a bit of an ache as if I had taken a, um, tennis ball in the crotch the previous day. Maybe a feeling as if there was some swelling. Some days were worse than others, and there never seemed to be any negative impact on, um, performance or the usual, um, functions of that part of the anatomy. Still, I've reached the age where discomfort of this sort can be a cause of some concern.

Here's what you never, ever want to do: When you have some symptom, go onto the web and Google it. Just don't. Here are some real-life examples of some symptoms I Googled and the resulting possible causes of those symptoms:

  • thumb, itch, symptom - atopic dermatitis, chronic kidney disease, contact dermatitis, diabetes, neurodermatitis

  • throat, sore, symptom - viral infection, throat infection, bacterial infection, strep throat, mononucleosis, respiratory infection, herpes simplex, pharyngitis, laryngitis, croup, tonsillitis, pertonsillar abscess, sinusitis, glossitis, gingivitis, trench mouth, foot and mouth disease, gonorrhea, diptheria, Ludwig's angina

  • thumb, sore, symptom - bacterial meningitis, chickenpox, erythema nodosum, keratosis follicularis spinulosa decalvans (!), measles, melanoma

So there you have it. If your thumb is sore, you could have melanoma. If it itches, you could have chronic kidney disease. Don't even look up coughing, sneezing, headache, or discomfort in your, um, parts. Just don't.

So I was at the doctor's office for a completely different reason, and I'm in the examination room waiting for the doctor to arrive, and I'm thinking that I'm feeling pretty uncomfortable today, and I'm wondering if I should even mention this to the doctor, and I'm wondering if I really even want to know what the problem is, when it all clicked in my head.

A few months earlier, we had installed a wireless router in our house for the first time. I work from home from time to time, and instead of sitting upstairs in our office chained to a modem, I was enjoying my wireless freedom by working in our family room. I would also often just leave the laptop there over the weekend and poke at it from time to time, so for a few days every week I was down there. There's one coffee table in our family room in front of our cushy couch. It's low. The result was that I was spending hours and hours every week in a position like this:

Note the bent back. Note the uncomfortable reach. Note that this guy is obviously dead and yet is still trying to work. Imagine this on a soft, cushy couch, and note that there would be a pressure point right on the, um, area in question.

Once the dawn came, I immediately moved my work-at-home days back to our office with its ergonomically correct (or at least much better) chair. I'm happy to say that after a few weeks, I'm symptom-free.

Cause and effect. It would never in a million years have occurred to me that installing a router in my office could cause me to wonder if I had developed some sort of, um, male-oriented cancer.

If you're in pain, don't panic. It might be your router.


Arjewtino said...

I stopped checking when I had any kind of symptoms of anything because it led me to believe that having a sore shoulder meant I WAS GOING TO DIE.

lacochran said...

Ooo, I HATE Ludwig's Angina.

I've said too much.

Gilahi said...

Arj - Just for future reference, if you hear an unusual sound coming from your car's engine, don't Google that, either.

la - Is there ANYTHING about Ludwig you like?

Phil said...

You should always wear a jockstrap when blogging.

Gilahi said...

Dang. All that time putting on a helmet, knee pads, and elbow pads before I sit down at the keyboard and I overlooked something so obvious. Thanks for the tip!

lacochran said...

Sure! His crazy bee-bop beat!

Gilahi said...

la - I suppose he did OK for a deaf guy. He was no Bo Diddley.

Lucy said...

Too funny. But so true. Thanks for the laugh.

Gilahi said...

lucy - You are most welcome. Thanks for visiting! Nice cat.

nutmeg96 said...

It's always cancer, right? :) Love the skeleton illustration.

Gilahi said...

nutmeg - Ain't it just? And it's never some easily-treatable, rub-some-dirt-on-it cancer, it's always one of the harsher brands.

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