I’m officially finished with school now, and have a part-time job that is, assuming the repetitive stress doesn’t get in the way too much, sufficient for me to pay the bills. This means I have more free time for myself than I’ve had in quite a while. Combined with my attempts at minimizing computer use (in order to avoid exacerbating the repetitive stress symptoms), this means I have some open time that I need to find ways to fill. So I’ve decided I need a new hobby or two.
I imagine most people, when choosing new hobbies, tend to just try and think about something they enjoy doing and see if they can find some time to do it. For me, it’s a lot more complicated than that. I can’t add a new hobby that involves any significant amount of exercise, because if I don’t keep to the fairly strictly defined exercise regimen I’ve worked out for myself, it’s very likely that I will either injure myself in some way or do something to exacerbate my chronic pain symptoms. I can’t add a new hobby that’s going to involve typing, because I already have enough trouble limiting my time at the computer as it is (dictation software is the only reason that I’m able to blog right now). I also can’t add anything that’s likely to involve similarly consistent repetitive movements, because my history demonstrates that I’m very prone to developing repetitive stress issues with things like that. Drumming, for example, which I love to do, is unfortunately largely off the table for me as a regular hobby. If I practice drumming in significant amounts, I get repetitive stress symptoms in my wrists, arms, and the knee of the leg that hits the bass drum. Additionally, I’m likely to exacerbate my back pain by sitting for long enough to get a good practice session in on the drum set.
So, the process of choosing a new hobby is largely an elimination game. Juggling? Fun, but, realistically, both a repetitive stress and excessive exercise risk. Biking? Excessive exercise risk. Fire poi? Excessive exercise. Knitting? High risk of sufficient sustained sitting to exacerbate back pain. Learning an instrument? Repetitive stress risk.
As you might imagine, this is an intensely frustrating game to play. But it’s also absolutely necessary for me. For the moment, I’m toying with two ideas. First, learning some harmonica, an instrument that I think holds a proportionately low level of repetitive stress risk. I don’t enjoy it as much as I enjoy playing the drums, but I’ve been learning to enjoy it more. Unfortunately, the reality of my situation is that I don’t have the luxury of doing the things that I already enjoy – I have to try and predict what things I’m likely to be able to learn to enjoy as I do them. So far, my level of affection for the harmonica as an instrument has been progressively growing, so I guess I’ve got a decent instinct for making those predictions. The second idea, which I’m actually rather proud of, is experimenting with learning more rope bondage.
I’m proud of the rope bondage idea because it fits very neatly in the Goldilocks zone between too much movement (overexercise) and not enough movement (e.g. sitting for too long leading to increased chronic pain symptoms). Also, while a lot of the movements that you make when manipulating rope are fairly similar, they aren’t as uniform as with something like typing, playing piano, etc. Rope is one of those things that’s intrigued me for a while, but never sufficiently for me to really take a serious stab at learning it in depth. I think it’s something that I might potentially be able to enjoy very much, though. So, for now, I’m experimenting with giving these two things a go. Time will tell if my predictions of relative levels of risk/enjoyment will hold or not.