Click-Start-iPad

When I first got my iPad 2 I had to acclimate, as I’m natively a PC person. I’m used to turning on my laptop when I leave home so it is ready to use when I get to the office after my morning commute.

Upon quickly climbing the initial iPad learning curve I went right to the App store, tearing through the categories and lists, while focusing most of my efforts on the free stuff. After a long flurry of swipes, taps, and scrolls I had upwards of 200 apps. It made a nice dent in my 32GB. I went through the three clocks, five calculators, two compasses, and four picture editors. I watched TV, jammed on pianos, drew pictures, and gazed at the constellations. I launched birds, sliced fruit, dismembered zombies, and jumped, shot, soared, volleyed, and tapped like a human woodpecker. I cautiously synced some iTunes from my 112.92GB library. I tried to learn to be more productive the “Apple way”.

Three days later I surfaced and took a break. As I ate, which I do European style, I noticed my left wrist felt funny and my left shoulder was sore. I thought about it and recalled I hadn’t had much real physical activity the last few days. Hmmm. I did the slow motion circles pitchers do when their arms hurt and noticed when I brought my shoulder forward and turned my hand to face me it was at its worst. I was in pain and I was baffled.

I completed my break and having taken care of a few other things returned to the iPad. As soon as I picked it up, turned it on, and sat down holding it to face me the rush of pain returned. And then it dawned on me: I had Carpal Tablet Syndrome. The weight of the device and the new and somewhat awkward manner I held it in had led to a major case of CTS. I crossed my leg over my knee and laid the iPad on it so I could surf and see if others had suffered the same fate. Alas there was no cts.com, no symptom or condition listed at WedMD, or a thread at any site where I could learn further or discuss it with the alias-based, self-empowered, so-called experts of the world. It was not covered by an HMO, a PPO, or could be treated by a DO or a DPT. I knew I had to do something.

I decided I would combine my IT analysis skills with my background in sports and training. I needed to start out small and work my way up to the iPad. Though tempted, I opted not to use an app to track it.

For the first week I went back to using my Blackberry. Holding it in similar fashion to the iPad I started out doing three sets of 20 minute reps reading stories at ESPN and MLB and worked up to ten sets of 30 minute reps catching up on RSS feeds and articles at the Onion. Those first few days were a struggle as my CTS tried to discourage me at every turn. By Thursday I had hit the wall but pushed through it somehow. My recollection of Friday is still a blur, as was my vision, and I slept most of that weekend.

The second week I moved up to a Kindle, opting for the black and white version to train my eyes for the contrast of the higher resolution iPad screen. Though I had some lingering pain from my CTS I was gaining strength. I read 17 books that week and by early in the third week was able to do 100 Kindle curls and 50 app crunches without cracking a knuckle several times a day. My left arm was starting to show some new muscle tone and I could balance a stylus on my left wrist for hours at a time.

While I was tempted to jump directly to the iPad I knew I needed to establish endurance as I had no intention of returning it. So as an interim measure I opted for a Dell tablet, using my connections as Value Added Reseller to obtain a free loaner under the auspices of introducing it to a long-term client. It was heavier and bulkier than the Kindle and closer to the shape and size of the iPad. For the next week I split my routine into morning and evening training sessions, reading over a dozen ePapers daily and commenting on article after article, liking and disliking, and occasionally getting into a debate.

By the end of the fourth week I had made significant progress. I was feeling as strong scrolling in any direction as I ever did. But I knew there was still one test left, one hurdle to leap, one final challenge to get me ready. So rather than take the weekend off as I had been doing previously, I spent the entire weekend on eBay. I bid on over 1200 items that were under 15 minutes from closing, winning 27. Most items were under $10 but I did try harder for a Bentley and GI Joe with the Kung Fu Grip in its original case, just to further sharpen my fine motor skills. By Sunday night I felt ready. My CTS was becoming a distant memory.

It’s been nearly six months since my month of tablet training and I have to say I am much better for it. My CTS is thankfully dormant though I know once you’ve had it, it can flare up at any time. I’ve settled into a regular pattern of iPad usage and with my upgrade to v5 am able to change wrist positions more frequently to match the associated swiping motion. At times I feel the Cloud has lifted the weight off my shoulders. While I still rotate through many of the free apps, I’ve actually purchased a few. I am much more utile with the device and have even learned a few shortcuts. For sure Solitaire is much clearer and easier to play on the iPad than on my Blackberry. Unfortunately the end of my right index finger seems to have lost some of its sensitivity and the knuckles behind it are feeling sore. I wonder if I’ve developed an index Pointing Angular Disorder?

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