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Friday, October 11, 2013

Weeks 36 to 38 "You gotta believe!" (Exploring RSI Self Treatment & Prevention)

Leonie's small blog island says hullo! (:
How long has it been? Hoped you haven't forgotten about these blogs already! I haven't stopped (one handed) typing, I just haven't been drawing to warrant a published post for the "too long; didn't read" viewer (which is pretty much the majority of internet users admittedly).

Regardless I welcome you whether you skim or read! Great to see you again!

Unfortunately, still no art for show but I felt that all this is still part of the journey and omitting this so called "mundane" period defeats the purpose of this blog. I will probably resort to doing it every 2 weeks at most from now on until I have things to visually show again.

Read no further if you just want to look at new art. As this post will intimidate you with words!

Anyhoo! Have I fully recovered?
Well...let's find out, shall we? Just brace yourself with 3 weeks worth of thoughts.
You know me...I'm Miss Quiet Type-a-lot, remember?

Let's go...slowly! Journal Time! 


Week 36 

18th Wed: slowly but surely 

  • PV progress: Animation ramping up thanks to Victor and TonyWill has taken over lighting and render set up while Tonko is doing lighting, rendering and compositing; slowly getting there but we'd need to work harder over crunch month (whilst I have to do the opposite and relax during all this due to RSI). Soundtrack-wise we still need outside help at this stage.

19th Thur: RSI lessons II - doctor's advice on prevention

  • Arm strain update: been to the doctor and I got my arm checked (or twisted if you want to be technical). At times it's sharp pains when I move or a dull pain. It's fluctuating but it will get better with rest. Doctor's confirmed that I have tendon elbow (google it if the name itself still doesn't help). 
Essentially prevention tips that aren't new to me: 

  • work habits (ie lack of breaks) at the computer
  • regular exercise and relaxation
In terms of treatment, I just need to stop doing the repetitive motions that caused it so no arting or computer use with this right arm till it's pain-free. I was also told to put an elastic brace and deep heat gel for the arm as well as wheat bags for my sore trapezius muscles. What I'm doing instead: bought 2 wheat bags and wrapped the second heated wheat bag over the arm (my relatively "cheaper" approach). 

In terms of recovery, it can take weeks or even months for some people...yet I can't work on anything while we're nearing crazy graduation time. :( 

Beware reader, don't let this happen to you - don't be slack in taking care of yourself like I was!

Hope that helps anyone out there (and reminder to future me) in terms of prevention and early treatment! 
Side note, my left hand's handwriting looks like huge chicken scratch graffiti (:   

20th Fri: from hermit to wanderer 

  • PV Progress: slowly PV is getting there and might even have music sorted, there's technically 1 week of class time left and my team are working hard and doing great work! (: 
As I did not want to be a restless hermit being hopeless with an arm strain today, I've found myself taking a backseat again, restlessly wandering around as classmates worked at their computers. Deepest thanks to those for their company, even if it was brief and just small talk. (:

21st Sat & 22nd Sun: Keep staying positive!

I won't deny that it's been unproductive in terms of arting and it's been somewhat frustrating that I cannot do what I want to focus on the most but thanks to a few supportive people, I've learned to refocus, stop pre-judging myself negatively (let others decide for themselves based on my actions) and guilt-tripping myself, remember to allow myself to be comfortable with my fears and keep ignoring/letting go any insults, discouragements or rejections that come my way.

This resting period has enabled me to seek a bit more balance in my life. I can't say that there is such thing as a perfect balance, as it's all a matter of priorities and the constant fun juggle of life!  What I can say is that hope and good things are out there; this RSI is one of many learning experiences for me. Had to step away from the computer for the most part to find other things to do.

Essentially, this is like the song "Don't Stop Believing" or Parappa the Rapper's "You gotta believe!", or whichever corny equivalent you like. (:

23rd Mon & 24th Tues: reading and breaking it down in 2D

  • Reading books and did a little computer use and some team discussion about PV's progress but I was starting to strain my other arm again so I stopped. Legs strained also but that's another story. Finally got Premiere working to get my Contribution Breakdown video exported (due to encoding issues).
This is nothing new if you've been following my progress on my blog. Compressed 4-5 months of work of Visual Development and some 2D production art thus far into a 2 minute video. I must admit I have improved though I will always strive to do better thanks to my nit-picky inner self critic (:

Week 37

25th Wed to 27th Fri: lighting and rendering goes on 

  • PV Progresslighting week also finishing up any assessment loose ends. I felt I can't take a backseat this week so I used my left hand throughout mostly while my right's arm strain suddenly had to come a bit stronger despite the resting. Render issues embraced by all. Took care to not strain my other arm.
  • Eventually I did have to stop and go back into walking/wandering/relaxing/zoning out mode again on the Thursday, after doing the end credits and ensuring everyone's happy with their own credits card.
  • Basic lighting and building texture nitpicking tests on the Friday. Due to my RSI refusing to go away, I fear I am becoming passable at typing with just my left hand. I can't say I'm a lefty though; far from it.

28th Sat to 1st Tues Oct: Resting my arm continues 

  • Continued one handed use of the computer (pretty slow and limited as this arm tires out more quickly) along with limited internet use (quota reasons) and mild exercise. Lurker in the net in terms of art.

Week 38

2nd Wed & 3rd Thurs: RSI lessons III - Self Treatment (Tips welcome!)

  • Strain Update: Lurking and other mischief continues which included fiddling with my blog's colours with my left hand. Also breaks, exercise and RSI exercises. Hoping I don't need to learn drawing with my left hand too! It's at kinder/pre-school level in terms of hand writing coordination...getting quite impatient and restless now as it's almost been 5 weeks since the pain started and the one thing I do want to do is out of my reach. "Get better already!" as I rest and care for my right arm. 
But!! I do keep myself busy doing other things so I don't fall into a negative rut. Things will get better in their own time; I guess I won't think about a "plan for the future of my career" now despite the looming graduation date as this arm is my top priority and these concerns about getting a portfolio and its pieces together won't help me get any better. Instead, I've used this period to refocus my goals for next year whether it be for the best or worst scenario. Just got to keep pushing through and see where it takes me. (:
  • Research Assignment: figuring out how far I'd like to take this as I don't think I have the time to even do a tutorial due to my current inability to make art. So I've decided to make do with what I could find and afford through the internet from now on. Decided to get into this assignment since I can still slowly type and mouse click with my left hand with the help of many breaks. I will be writing a report and will be presenting about this and if I'm brave enough, I'll get access to the video of the presentation and post it here. Probably not? Not sure. (:

RSI relief exercises: besides preventative yoga like moves and overall exercise, I came across and tried Gary's elbow pain relief moves here and I wrapped my elbow in a heated wheat bag this time till my skin became red. Started to stand to work at the computer too with the help of cardboard boxes. 

These helped somewhat so I hope it may help even those whose arm muscles require relaxing! It's been funny that everyday I think that the RSI is going to get better in the next 2 days and then this date keeps getting pushed forward as it fluctuates. Test of patience with waves of soreness even on my shoulders and collarbone tendons!  

4th Fri & 5th Sat: Apparently leonieyue.com version 1 is done 

  • Portfolio Base: did a minimalistic and basic portfolio with what I've done so far here: leonieyue.com 
Had to put something together, at least as something to show what I've done thus far and as a base towards a master site template. I did consider and purchase a wordpress webhost for a year since many people are doing it for the customisation, capabilities, fancy layouts and storage space but I couldn't justify the yearly costs henceforth. I know I won't really require all these features and I couldn't find any free Wordpress theme that I wanted.

Ignored my webhosted account for the year and I went back to blogspot and am very glad that my rusty HTML, CSS and Googling skills didn't fail me after much testing and trials. I wouldn't enjoy coding as a job but making it from scratch is simply like satisfying puzzle solving! This is not the popular and well tested approach so using blogspot is not for everyone but I've come across many artists who use it. I'm afraid I'm too acquainted with what I can do with blogspot's limitations, it allows me to cut down yearly expenses and for me to simply hone down on the features I do need.

Layout's terribly minimalistic but I'd rather let my work speak instead of fancy features. I am definitely going to keep working on it when I recover; it's not there yet in terms of the banners. I eagerly await when I'm able to draw again and continue my never ending quest in doing better pieces! (:
  • DTK adjustments
  • Arm Strain Update: although I have started to exercise regularly now, I was doing something (non-computer related) all day Saturday that made my strain worse again and perhaps a bit more than before which brought on deep concerns and fears...my fault really; it seems I have to wait till there isn't even a sliver of pain left before I can do anything. This is not easy as I'm required to use this arm for everyday tasks especially when both arms are required. It's more or less a month of this now. Welp, I'm going to keep doing what I can!

6th Sun to 8th Tues: left hand adventures continues

  • Portfolio: Fiddled a bit more with the coding but finally made myself a basic CV pdf and image, relevant to the portfolio. I think I've done all I can with my left hand at this stage; I'd need my RSI to fully recover before I could go further with it, through more art. My domain keeps linking and flipping out between my wordpress site and my portfolio though. 
  • Research Assignment been figuring this out at my own pace and cutting the scope down further. 

Reflection for the Weeks 36 to 38: thank you!

Not doing takeaways for the week anymore but I've got proper subheadings and an actual portfolio now thanks to my left hand! I don't think I'll be able to do the projects that are due this month but instead, I'm making them my personal projects instead when I get better.

I often feel somewhat "bare" rambling openly like this whenever I post (with the possibility of future me being embarrassed of the present me) - but then that means I'm doing things despite any mistakes I may make and plus I write for my own sake! Downside of that though is at times I think I'm talking to myself until you, the ninja reader, remind me that someone's reading. Statistics here aren't that helpful to me, so thanks for letting me know else I wouldn't have any clue! You know who you are. (: I do try to keep things positive but let me know if things are tending too much towards the negative.

***

Okay! I'm assuming you've read this whole post! As a little spontaneous sign of appreciation, I'd like to summarise a helpful strategy you can do in privacy to keep those so called "negative voices" (all electrical currents really) in your head to calm down and subside.

Whenever you realise you're feeling overwhelmed and anxious with too many thoughts, concerns going in vicious circles and unhelpful rhetorical questions: stop and redirect yourself where necessary to take 10 long seconds to:
1) focus on what one of your feet is touching in terms of texture (sense of touch) or
2) focus on the sounds around you like the computer whirring or the clock ticking (sense of hearing).
This is so you consciously direct yourself back to living and sensing the present through touch and hearing the now. When the 10 seconds is over, the overwhelming thoughts would have gotten back down. (:

I came across it from an 1 hour talk about depression, overwhelm, mental health, mindfulness and anxiety (google "RSA replay - How to Tame Your Mind" if you want to hear it) in which we all have because of the high pressure world we live in today and our minds are caught up everywhere else but the present. There's many other ways to deal with overwhelm and anxiety but I'm no expert! Another way is to write in private and dump and scribble all the things in your mind and let it all go and out.

Personally, I don't experience overwhelm and anxiety all the time (usually instead, I keep thinking what I can and can't do about it) so if you're like me, doing this occasionally (such as when you're waiting for a train or something transitional) still helps you to live in the present more and allows your mind to stop racing too fast and relax. We've all got a racing mind to some extent.

If you take care of yourself, show compassion and note the signs of anxiety in others, everyone you interact around you will also benefit positively in turn and it will spread to their family and friends and so on, unbeknownst to you. Personally, I still find it hard to believe that I make much difference due to my isolated hermit habits, socially awkward quietness and how I'm stuck within my own bubble at times...what I do know is that I'm just going to keep learning and pushing at my comfort zone throughout my life!

***

Now that I'm not posting every week, I feel horribly weird. I can't draw or do visually creative things so still no progress in this area. I've learned a lot more about myself though, will keep working on bettering myself in all areas and I'm sure things (especially my RSI) will get better eventually!
Let's keep moving forward; as I've heard a kind someone say, do what you want because no one really cares more than you do. (:


Thanks for reading! (:
Until next time, Leonie
(UUUinfinity/TripleUinfinity)