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Other Realms => Random Topics => Topic started by: Virmir on October 19, 2014, 05:24:50 PM

Title: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on October 19, 2014, 05:24:50 PM
Hello!

Very many people ask me how my arms are doing on a very frequent basis.  Here is a status update and general arm facts.

- There are a great many ups and downs, and progress cannot be measured on a day to day, or even week to week basis.  Doctors' appointments and tests are scheduled many weeks apart, so there are usually no new developments except on a month to month basis.

- Comparing this month to last, the right arm is definitely better.

- For the past two months or so, I've been extremely light on the right arm.  Whether it is actually healing or just feels better because I haven't been using it is up in the air.

- It has been suggested that there may be a pinched nerve in the right elbow or something.  I have an appointment with a specialist about this and will likely need more tests to confirm.  I probably won't know for sure for another several weeks.

- Much of my inactivity is actually due to my left arm.  Doing my day job, drawing, and especially one handed typing all with my left are extremely taxing and cause it to hurt sometimes, so I have to cut back while the right is still in " no use" mode.  (I write longer posts such as this using voice recognition, by the way.)

If in the upcoming weeks I receive adequate evidence that not using the right arm is helping it heal, I will continue to do so.  However, if not, I will go back to light usage like I was doing in August and save strain on the left.

I will try to provide an update at least once a month or so!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on November 10, 2014, 05:29:39 PM
I had an MRI done on the right elbow, which was normal, meaning no damage to the tendon.  Because an earlier EMG (nerve test) was also normal, the specialist I'm seeing is thinking the tendon is becoming inflamed due to the abnormality with my arms that some people here may know about.  Basically my radius and ulna are fused in both arms, meaning I cannot turn my wrists upside down.  The shape of the bones are slightly weird two, apparently.  This has never bothered me before though, so I'm not so sure this is the real problem myself.

Currently the plan is to try a new anti inflammatory medication for a month and see if that makes a difference.  I'll also be easing back into drawing a bit more and seeing how that goes.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Selden on November 10, 2014, 06:13:57 PM
I prescribe a splitting headache for the radius and ulna.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: JohnAdams on November 25, 2014, 08:50:08 AM
Haven’t seen an update in this section for a bit – has the arm actually started to become a little better or are you still in the same type of discomfort as before? I would wager that this is actually just enough to make you want to pull your hair out, very frustrating.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on November 25, 2014, 10:00:59 PM
Better than where I was a month ago probably, but still have a ways to go yet.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on January 23, 2015, 12:30:59 AM
I figure I should make a fact post to cover all the things I went over in chat the other day and elaborate some more.

What I definitely have

I've always had radioulnar synostosis, which means my radius and ulna are fused.  This means I can't rotate my wrists from palm down to palm up.  This has never really caused any pain or problems for me before besides it being awkward accepting change.

My current symptoms

Right arm-- This is my drawing arm and where it started.  Primarily pain in the elbow on the inside, occasionally moving up the arm to the wrist (although the wrist has not been bothering me lately) and very often the middle and ring fingers.  Doing pretty much anything at all with these fingers, sometimes also involving the pointer finger, causes pain in these fingers and/or the elbow.  Elbow and wrist movement also aggravate it.  Pain also comes and goes randomly.  I've taken to taping my pointer, middle, and ring fingers together often to avoid provoking them.  Fortunately the thumb does not seem to be affected, so I can still grasp things somewhat.

Left arm-- Not as bad as the right, but gives me trouble as well.  This one has pain randomly on both the outside and inside of the elbow.  I'm sure the pain on the outside is from straining it back in July overcompensating for the right.  Unfortunately it's pretty much impossible to completely rest this arm since I have to live somehow.  Recently it started showing symptoms similar to the right, including the finger pain, which is when I decided to put the full stop on drawing.  If you don't see me in chat on any particular day, it's because the left arm is bothering me too much despite the foot pedals and voice recognition, since I don't touch the computer with the right hand at all.

What the specialist thinks

Most doctors that I've seen admit to having no clue what is going on.  MRIs and EMG (nerve tests) have come up normal.  The specialist I most recently saw thinks that the pain is from gradual wear because of the synostosis and is something I'm going to have to live with.  I'm not terribly convinced by this because doing some research on this does not suggest pain is a common thing.  Plus he was doing things like grabbing my right arm and saying "I'll bet this has been causing you pain on the outside of your elbow" and I was like "noooooo, that one is the inside."

What I think

Except for the finger pain, the right arm displays a lot of characteristics similar to what I've read about medial epicondylitis, or "golfer's elbow".  The left arm additionally seems like both this and lateral epicondylitis, or "tennis elbow".  Reading accounts of these, it's not uncommon for these conditions to take up to 12 to 18 months to heal.  I also see some similar reports of doctors not knowing what to do when confronted by these symptoms.  There is probably something additional going on with the fingers, especially since many videos of stretching exercises I've seen involve a wrist stretch where the wrist is pulled back by grabbing the fingers with the other hand.  Trying this caused significant pain for me way back in June, so definitely won't be trying this again.  It's possible that because of the synostosis, some tendons are weaker than normal or something.  Another problem is that many of the exercises out there to help treat these elbow problems require rotating the wrist, which I can't do.

The current plan

It has been seven months since I was first afflicted with these problems.  I've taken a few several week long breaks, but have been mostly continuing to lightly draw during that time.  I've stopped drawing completely for the past month, however, and to be honest have not been pleased with the results (although to be fair, the recent bump in the road was probably caused by stepping up the drawing too quickly in December).  However, I plan on taking at least another full month off before making any decisions.  In the worst case scenario, I'm going to just grin and bear it and draw anyway, but that would be several months of no improvement first.

Really, I just need one arm to completely heal and I'll be fine!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on January 24, 2015, 04:54:14 AM
Is there any issue in the shoulder area or neck? What sort of pain is it? Stabbing? Numbing? Throbbing? Does it seem to radiate from a specific point? Or just bounce about up and down the arm?

Also, now is the time to consider investing in sweet robotic fox arms, so that you can be one with the future.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: yarrick on January 24, 2015, 12:04:44 PM
If it is tennis or golfer's elbow, you may be able to get a brace or something to help relieve it. My dad had golfer's elbow a few years ago, I'll check with him to see if there is anything he recommends.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on January 24, 2015, 11:50:03 PM
No pain in the shoulder or neck.  More of a dull pain when its in the elbow.  Can be tingly in the fingers.

Have been wearing braces on both elbows for nearly the whole time now.  They do help a little.  Unfortunately I'm now dependent on them as the pain gets much worse if I leave them off for a period of time.  Fortunately they are not a big deal to wear.

Going to get some robotic tentacles too while I'm at it.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on January 25, 2015, 02:13:53 PM
Yeah, that suggests some level of tendonitis. Does it change at all when taking anti-inflammatories(ibuprofen, naproxen) or anti-allergy(loratadine, benadryl)?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on January 27, 2015, 11:05:19 PM
Anti-inflammatories possibly help a little.  I've been taking some prescription stuff for the past couple of months.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on January 29, 2015, 05:58:55 PM
Here is a general smattering of all sorts of therapy stuff: http://tendinosis.org/current.shtml

Now fill yourself with health! Sell your pain on the black market, for cash.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on January 29, 2015, 10:34:56 PM
Seems to mostly be info I've found already, but I'll give this a read and see if there's anything new here.  [:)
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on February 20, 2015, 05:35:07 PM
Are you slowly improving? Do you fill with the passion of a reborn fox? If not, please assemble a list of tendons and/or ligaments to bludgeon into happiness. The beatings will continue until morale improves.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on February 22, 2015, 11:04:30 PM
Right arm--no real improvement.  Although on the plus side I have been slowly increasing the exercises I've been doing from physical therapy (I had stopped completely for a few months to see if they were actually causing pain, but that was a mistake as the arm got incredibly weak during that time) and apart from squeezing the ball (which still causes significant pain if done more than just marginally), the arm is a little stronger now and not getting worse.

Left arm--perhaps some slight improvement, although really only the past week and there continue to be ups and downs, so too early to see.

The current plan is to continue as I've been doing throughout March except I'm going to start scheduling 30 to 60 minute drawing sessions for each arm once per week because it's not good to go too long without drawing and I don't think such short sessions spaced out like that will affect healing time much.

Actually when I do my exercise sessions every other day, at the end I've been slapping on a strict 5 minute drawing session with my left hand only (the right is not ready yet).  During the past two months I've almost got page 337 sketched!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on February 24, 2015, 01:34:01 PM
You can do it! Be of good cheer! *cheerleader section*

The cheerleaders are not very coordinated, and in fact appear to be constantly transforming and arguing amongst themselves over who their guest artist should be. As you do.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Donnie on February 27, 2015, 10:16:15 AM
/me readies chisel and hammer

Such pain.... where does it come from and where does it go? Such silly things, I'll fix it all! Huahurhurhurhur.

I don't suppose a dose of painkiller helps with your everyday business?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on February 27, 2015, 11:00:32 PM
GAH

I was taking anti-inflammatories for a few months but I stopped since they don't seem to be doing any good.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Zeo Fawx on February 28, 2015, 03:07:28 PM
I'm glad to hear there is some degree of improvement. If there was no nothing, or getting worse then I'd really be worried.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: yarrick on March 25, 2015, 08:55:29 PM
Hey Vir, found something which might help. You can get a device called a "Tens unit" which helps with pain from things like tendonitis. When my brother was on the high school rowing team, he had a lot of pain from tendonitis. He used a Tens unit and says that it really made an improvement. The units are fairly cheap and you can find them on ebay.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on March 25, 2015, 11:12:49 PM
I considered trying one of those, however they treat the pain and not the actual problem itself.  So I'm afraid that if it does reduce the pain, I might get overconfident and end up injuring myself further because I'm not feeling as much pain which tells me to stop.

I am glad to hear that it does work, though!  This is an item I may consider in the future if I need to move to Plan D, that is I decide one or both arms definitely are not getting better and it's time to gauge how much I can do with what I have (which is a possibility with the right arm, however that decision is at the very least a few more months off).

Thanks for the recommendation!

I'll post my monthly update soon.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on March 30, 2015, 10:52:36 PM
Might still be too early to say because there are definite ups and downs, however I think both arms have done slightly better in March compared to February.  I'm starting to very slowly increase the amount of exercises done with the right arm, for example actually moving the fingers a little without complications.

I'm going to continue with my current routine throughout April except I'm going to try allowing myself a second 1 hour-ish drawing session with the left hand only every week.  So that would bring the total drawing allotment up to about 2 hours per week (plus 5 minute scribble sessions at the end of my strict every other day exercise sessions).  Will check in in a month to report how it goes!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: PrincessHotcakes on March 31, 2015, 05:15:13 AM
I don't have the issue with the fused bones, but from what you've described I sooooort of hold my pens wrong the same >.>;
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on March 31, 2015, 10:45:13 PM
That's only a measure I've been trying with my right hand since using the middle finger for anything at all irritates it.  Pretty sure the way I hold pens normally is standard.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: AvzinElkein on April 02, 2015, 08:22:51 PM
So no commissions until the arms have been fully healed, correct?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on April 02, 2015, 10:46:55 PM
That's correct.  Priority one is going to be getting CF back up and running, then after building a large buffer and everything is good I will probably do some request topics, and if everything is still good from there will finally reopen commissions.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on April 30, 2015, 12:04:40 AM
I've been recording how each arm feels on a scale of 0 to 10 (0 being perfect, 1 an acceptable level of mild soreness, 3 and above concerning, 10 being shark attack) since the end of January (which was pretty dumb since I should have been doing this the whole time) and thus after taking the averages I now have a rough idea of monthly progress.

Note that this isn't an accurate measure of how the right arm compares to the left since the right arm is nearly constantly at rest and left arm constantly in use (unless I'm very careful it is still very easy to set the right arm off).

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 4.1
March 2.4 3.2
April 2.2 2.9

So April was a slightly better month than March (actually the difference between February and March was a bit better than I originally thought).

(Although if you want to get technical, these should be rounded to the whole number since I only have one significant digit in my data...  But this looks better!)

For May I'm going to tentatively add another 30 minute or so drawing session for each hand, bringing the weekly total up to 3 hours.  We'll see how it goes!

July 1 is my six month checkpoint.  If I continue to see improvement these next two months I will continue taking it easy.  However if I don't see improvement, then enough is enough and I'm going to start getting back in the game pain or not.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on May 01, 2015, 02:01:05 PM
In order to see if this month-to-month improvement is statistically significant, we're going to need to see the standard deviation values associated with each of those averages...! ;)
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on May 01, 2015, 11:38:59 PM
Some standard deviations then, since excel has a standard deviation formula!

Code: [Select]
L R
February 1.4 1.8
March 0.9 1.3
April 0.9 1.0
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Rune on May 02, 2015, 03:00:00 AM
I think it's a little funny your plan of attack is to suddenly return if there's no improvement? I kinda get what you're saying, but risking serious injury still seems like a less than ideal plan any way I look at it. Though I'd be lying if I didn't anticipate you coming back so much... |D

I just hope your arm continues to improve.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on May 02, 2015, 09:18:59 PM
(http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt254/bluedragon62/Plots/Picture1_zpsikobaebb.png~original)

I plotted your data (and the corresponding std. devs.) in OriginLAB and fitted the data to the best matching functions so we could project how long it will take your arms to heal.  In these plots, I've listed the number of months passed as an arbitrary index for the abscissa of the plot, starting at zero from February (where you first started collecting data).  I then plotted the pain index you report (in arbitrary units mind you, since this is all subjective) for both the left and right hands as the ordinate.

Surprisingly, the data fits fairly well to a linear line fitting (I was expecting it to more closely follow an exponential decay).  Correlation coefficients in both cases are above 0.90, better than is normally obtained for lots of biological data in the science world!  Interestingly, from what you've posted and the projections, both of your arms will be back to normal in a little over 5 months from your last reported data points, assuming the rate of improvement remains constant.  This means, if this crude model works, your hands should be back to 100% in early September, Vir!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on May 02, 2015, 10:45:32 PM
Ha ha, that's awesome!  It will be interesting to see if upcoming months fit this model.

I think it's a little funny your plan of attack is to suddenly return if there's no improvement? I kinda get what you're saying, but risking serious injury still seems like a less than ideal plan any way I look at it. Though I'd be lying if I didn't anticipate you coming back so much... |D

I just hope your arm continues to improve.

That's if I'm convinced resting the arms will not make them better, considering we are on month number 11 now.  I'd rather deal with pain and continue on with my life than remain at a standstill with somewhat less pain.  I definitely won't do a full scale comeback immediately but rather a build up over a few months.  These next two months would have to plateau or get worse for me to consider this, though.

No matter the direction I choose, I plan on alternating drawing with one arm one day and the other the next day so in the end I'll only be drawing at most 50% my previous workload with either arm even if I go full tilt.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on May 31, 2015, 03:57:08 PM
Updated monthly arm annoyance factors!  Note that last month I calculated the left hand a day too early and that last day actually bumped it up a little.  Again, keep in mind the right arm is nearly constantly at rest in the left arm in use. (Standard deviations in parentheses.)

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 (1.4) 4.1 (1.8)
March 2.4 (0.9) 3.2 (1.3)
April 2.3 (0.9) 2.9 (1.0)
May 2.4 (0.9) 2.3 (0.9)

Right arm-- noticeable improvement this month.  Still have some issues trying to step up some of the the exercises I do, but at least it's feeling better at rest.  For the month of June I am going to add one full hour weekly drawing session, bringing the total number of weekly right handed hours to 2.

Left arm-- looking back, it looks like there hasn't been much improvement over the past couple of months (although the numbers from the beginning of this month were a little high due to an incident and it has since improved).  I'm pretty confident these short drawing sessions aren't irritating it, but going to take it easy for one more month and then decide.  No new drawing sessions for the left this month (total weekly hours remains at 2).

This month I'm going to start scheduling different right and left handed days (instead of doing 30 minutes with the right followed by 30 minutes with the left like I've been doing).  Eventually I will add more hours to these days so that I will always have at least one day of rest in between drawing sessions for either hand.

Sunday - L 1h
Monday - R 30m
Tuesday - L 30m
Wednesday - (odd day)
Thursday - R 30m
Friday - L 30m
Saturday - R 1h

Total weekly drawing hours for June - 4
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on June 01, 2015, 02:44:51 PM
(http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt254/bluedragon62/Plots/June%20Data%20Plots_zpskfpxv5hx.png~original)

Here is a new analysis for both arms, given the added data.  

As can be seen from the above plots, the earlier model for the right arm remained quite accurate with the addition of the new data point.  The predicted value for recovery for the right arm remains approximately the same as predicted in the plot I made last month.  The left arm, however, was more complicated, due to the fact that the new data point did not follow the earlier model.  This resulted in the linear model for the left arm being thrown off significantly, and a bad line fit (R squared value for the linear fit dropped to 0.11; very poor).  

Considering the above, I tried two alternative models for the left arm, including both an exponential and logarithmic decay. Though both curves fit the data fairly well, the exponential model is quite amusing in that it predicts Virmir's left hand will never recover (obviously, this is probably not the case, ha ha!).  Looking at the logarithmic model, however, we see the R squared value indicates that it fits better than the exponential one.  Surprisingly also, the new logarithmic model predicts a recovery that is closely in line with what the earlier linear model from last month predicted.  Given these observations, at present it appears the logarithmic model best predicts the behavior of the left arm.

More observations in the coming months!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: SocketFiredrake on June 01, 2015, 05:08:56 PM
Let's just hope the exponential one is wrong!!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Tsunami on June 07, 2015, 04:35:22 AM
Your pain rating goes from 0 to 10 but nothing more than a 4 typically, so a 4 stops you?   Though I'm a bad example as I've experienced 8s, 9s and 10s before. 

Fall 2003 - One foot of intestine died.  Was an automatic 10 for at least an hour before the doctor got to see me.  For about 3 hours before it, the pain ramped up from 6 to 10.  10 is your entire existence is nothing but physical pain.

June 2014 - pinched a nerve in my lower spine due to herniated disc.  For 9 months I didn't walk much as it would bring incredibely agonizing pain.  It would ramp up quickly after 100 to 200 yards I would be an 8 on the pain scale (that's the point where I have to sit down or throw up wherever I am).  When they MRIed it, that was hell.  Thanks to the way they had to position the legs it turned the pain into a 9.  The pain would come with waves like an ocean.  As the waves came in my awareness of the outside world would fade completely as the only thing I would perceive would be the pain.  Wound up with back surgery to solve the problem. Didn't go away on it's own, physical therapy failed, Steroid injections into spine failed, so it was back surgery. 

They should do a nerve conduction test to help trace the problem.  If it's a pinched or damaged nerve they should be able to find out where it is exactly with that.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on June 07, 2015, 01:29:03 PM
Oh, yes, definitely one or two 10s in the beginning long before I started writing this down.  They both have reached an occasional seven or so since I started recording, but not for the past few months.  Essentially, I want to get back to no pain or nearly no pain at all.  If I knew once I started experiencing a three or four that it wasn't going to get any worse, I would have no problem barging ahead and working through the pain (I had no problem drawing comics and working on commissions through a couple of kidney stone and similar episodes).  However, I know from experience that pain in that range means I better stop what I'm doing or it's going to get much worse pretty quickly and stay that way for days. 

Plan... E or F (I'm losing count) is to just say forget it and draw anyway.  I'm confident I will be mostly fine this way, especially now since I can draw with both hands.  Although this is the very last resort.

I did have an EMG test to look for nerve problems and was surprised when they found nothing, especially given the problem with the right fingers.

Thanks for your comments!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on June 20, 2015, 02:14:58 AM
When they did the EMG test, did they have you draw like you normally would? Or was it a lying down "here, now move this finger" sort of thing?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on June 20, 2015, 05:46:20 PM
I don't think they had me move my fingers at all.  It was just a bunch of electric shocks with my arm lying down that would cause my muscles to twitch.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on June 20, 2015, 10:57:03 PM
That's no good. You need a test to replicate what actually happens to cause the pain. You mentioned that there's very little to no pain when not moving the limb, which makes me think that it's the motion causing it(nerves with shredded sheathing, pinched stuff, etc). I'd go have them hook you up and try and replicate the pain. Do the test so that they have you monitored while it's hurting.

I can ask a doctor on that for confirmation but yeah. Obviously they won't find any problems when it's not hurting. That wasn't very bright of them.

EDIT: I sent off an email to my aunt(hospital nurse/chaplain person) on the subject, to see if she knows or knows a neurologist at the hospital with advice.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on June 20, 2015, 11:40:35 PM
It's tricky because pain will usually come a little while afterwards, not when I initially do it.  I would have to draw or squeeze a ball or whatever for a little while to provoke it enough to start giving the warning signs, and then I would probably pay for it more later on in the day, probably especially that night.  (Although there have been some cases where I've gotten pretty quick responses.)
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on June 21, 2015, 12:57:49 AM
My research is limited, and will need more time/contact to work out, but this seems to be the most relevant:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brachial_plexus_injury
It would be a minor form of it if it were that, but my main thoughts in that regard are on how you have similar responses in both arms. That suggests less a problem with the arms and more in the neck where they come together.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on June 21, 2015, 01:52:12 PM
That is interesting because I did have a strange episode of numbness in the right arm about one year before this happened although that just went away after a week or so.  This does suggest some sort of injury causing it though and nothing traumatic has happened, so I'm a bit doubtful there.  Still, good to keep in mind, though!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on July 01, 2015, 12:08:47 AM
This is the six month checkpoint I set for myself back at the end of December when I decided to cease all activity.  I am about halfway where I wanted to be at this point back then--that is just barely starting to get back into the comic (I completed one page this month!  Will hang on to this for a while before posting to see how future pages go and decide if I want to come back early at an extra slow pace, or just build the 10 page buffer first.) I wanted to be at this point by March or April or so, but because I am still seeing improvement, I will continue this schedule until I don't see improvement for a few months in a row or I actually get better.

This month's arm annoyance factors below! Again, keep in mind the right arm is nearly constantly at rest in the left arm in use. (Standard deviations in parentheses.)

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 (1.4) 4.1 (1.8)
March 2.4 (0.9) 3.2 (1.3)
April 2.3 (0.9) 2.9 (1.0)
May 2.4 (0.9) 2.3 (0.9)
June 1.6 (0.6) 2.2 (0.8)

Right arm--perhaps slightly better compared to May, but not really enough to be significant.  That's okay because the previous improvement from April to May was fairly noticeable and it definitely did not get any worse.  I am going to keep the drawing schedule for the right arm the same this month (2 hours per week) as a precaution to see how it does.

Left arm--noticeably better!  It's funny because as soon as June started it started feeling better.  This is very good and unexpected since the past three months it has been about the same.  When it does get irritated, it seems to be more from heavy lifting or similar and not from drawing sessions or computer use so much lately (hence increased activity in chat).  I am going to increase the two weekday drawing sessions to 1 hour each and the Sunday session to *3 hours* to test the waters a bit, bringing the left handed drawing time up to 5 hours per week.  If these go well I might start doing left handed streams on Sundays.  If not, I will scale these back as this is a pretty big jump.

Extra Complex Fun Allotment Schedule:

Sunday - L 3h
Monday - R 30m
Tuesday - L 1h
Wednesday - (odd day)
Thursday - R 30m
Friday - L 1h
Saturday - R 1h

Total weekly drawing hours for July - 7
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on July 02, 2015, 02:36:13 PM
(http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt254/bluedragon62/Plots/July%20Data%20Plots_zpsxq4jscfd.png~original)

Updated plots for July, considering the new data.  I only did the linear model for each arm this time, though I did add in confidence bands (90%) around the fitted line predictions.  As one might expect, the high standard deviations and the deviant data points result in a relatively poor extrapolation uncertainty on the fitted models.  As we get closer to approaching a pain factor of zero on each arm, the uncertainty should reduce considerably.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: foxgamer01 on July 15, 2015, 07:25:53 PM
I did asked about my dad about your arms and, well, he thinks that he knows what's wrong with your arms. Especially when he learns about how OCD you are, especially when it comes to drawing. He suggests that it's some form of repetitive motion injury. More info here. http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/repetitive-motion-injuries

Tell me what you think. ^.|.^;;
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on July 15, 2015, 10:26:45 PM
Yep!  Golfer's elbow, which is the strongest candidate for what I think I have (in the right arm at least) and tendinitis in general are types of repetitive strain injuries.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: foxgamer01 on July 16, 2015, 06:05:48 PM
Yup. Though there are therapy that can help you heal faster if that's the case, which is to use your arms for exercise that don't require drawing or anything like that. It's because, since the arms are injured from being used the same thing over and over again for a long time, doing something different with your arms after doing some drawing will make it much easier to rest, since it's breaking up the monotonous schedule you put your arms into. It's what athletes do after a game or practice. Heck, it's what the British longbowmen do too (one even learn how to juggle).
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on July 16, 2015, 09:07:31 PM
I actually did about three months of official physical therapy and then I've been doing exercises on my own for about six months now (after taking a few month break and then evaluating which exercises bother the arms and which ones are okay to do).  Stretching is indeed important and is something I will continue to do even after the arms heal!
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on August 01, 2015, 12:14:08 AM
This month's arm annoyance factors below! Again, keep in mind the right arm is nearly constantly at rest in the left arm in use. (Standard deviations in parentheses.)

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 (1.4) 4.1 (1.8)
March 2.4 (0.9) 3.2 (1.3)
April 2.3 (0.9) 2.9 (1.0)
May 2.4 (0.9) 2.3 (0.9)
June 1.6 (0.6) 2.2 (0.8)
July  1.8 (0.9) 1.5 (0.7)

Right arm--noticeably better compared to June!  Part of the reason for the improvement is because I have sort of run out of new exercises to try experimentally (to see if they bother it or not--sometimes they do and then obviously I stop but it still messes up the numbers a bit) and have thus settled into a routine of knowing how to not bother it, but still having it feel better at rest as much as it has lately is a new thing!  I will be adding 1/2 hour to each drawing session this month, bringing the total number of right handed drawing hours per week to 3.5.

Left arm--the left arm was a little rougher this month, but not so bad.  I don't believe drawing is the source of agitation but rather other daily tasks and somehow how I was resting the arm at the computer (which I've since corrected and have seen some improvement).  I'm going to add 1 hour to each of the week day drawing sessions (which will be focused on CF pages) and 30 minutes to the Sunday session (since I don't want to go overboard just yet)

Extra Complex Fun Allotment Schedule:

Sunday - L 3.5h
Monday - R 1h
Tuesday - L 2h
Wednesday - (odd day)
Thursday - R 1h
Friday - L 2h
Saturday - R 1.5h

Total weekly drawing hours for August: 11
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on August 01, 2015, 10:09:58 PM
(http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt254/bluedragon62/Plots/August%20Data%20Plots_zpswicrn6oo.png~original)
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on August 31, 2015, 11:57:11 PM
This month's arm annoyance factors below! Again, keep in mind the right arm is nearly constantly at rest in the left arm in use. (Standard deviations in parentheses.)

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 (1.4) 4.1 (1.8)
March 2.4 (0.9) 3.2 (1.3)
April 2.3 (0.9) 2.9 (1.0)
May 2.4 (0.9) 2.3 (0.9)
June 1.6 (0.6) 2.2 (0.8)
July  1.8 (0.9) 1.5 (0.7)
August 1.2 (0.6) 1.4 (0.7)

Right arm--slightly better and overall doing well so long as it gets rest.  Sometimes the 90 minute sessions give it a bit of trouble, so I'm not going to change anything for September.

Left arm--significant improvement this month.  I no longer see a need to monitor drawing sessions as closely as I've been with the left arm.  Therefore, for September I'm going to try not worrying about timing sessions and simply draw as long as it feels fine three days per week, plus I am going to add a short session on Wednesday.  I will still keep the right handed drawing days as a break for the left hand for now.  This actually won't be as huge of a jump as it sounds. As people have seen, the 3 1/2 hour Sunday session really drags on to 6+ hours since I stop the timer for every little break and pause, so it ends up taking a pretty decent chunk of the day.  And the 2 hour CF sessions during weekdays are pretty close to how much time I would invest on the comic normally after working for 8 hours anyway.

For the past month I've been able to complete one Crimson Flag page per week using the Monday through Saturday sessions, leaving the Sunday session for drawing other things.  At this rate if there are no further setbacks, CF is looking to get back on track mid-October once the buffer reaches 10 pages.  Starting this Saturday, CF will move up to an update every other week until this point is reached.

That would be RECOVERY MILESTONE NUMBER ONE, which I've been working towards since December.

This month with the extra left-handed drawing time I will be working towards completing CF pages Monday through Friday and opening up that Saturday session for other things.  I want to do the Halloween sketch-a-thon in October, so if I can open up some right handed drawing time for that, that would be great (although not entirely necessary).  We'll see how it goes!

Extra Complex Fun Allotment Schedule:

Sunday - L (unmonitored)
Monday - R 1h
Tuesday - L (unmonitored)
Wednesday - L 30-60 min
Thursday - R 1h
Friday - L (unmonitored)
Saturday - R 1.5h
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: BlueDragon62 on September 07, 2015, 05:36:07 AM
(http://i617.photobucket.com/albums/tt254/bluedragon62/Plots/September%20Data%20Plots_zpsiwywafik.png~original)
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on September 30, 2015, 11:22:12 PM
This month's arm annoyance factors below! Again, keep in mind the right arm is nearly constantly at rest in the left arm in use. (Standard deviations in parentheses.)

Code: [Select]
L R
February 3.1 (1.4) 4.1 (1.8)
March 2.4 (0.9) 3.2 (1.3)
April 2.3 (0.9) 2.9 (1.0)
May 2.4 (0.9) 2.3 (0.9)
June 1.6 (0.6) 2.2 (0.8)
July  1.8 (0.9) 1.5 (0.7)
August 1.2 (0.6) 1.4 (0.7)
September 1.8 (0.8) 1.2 (0.6)

Right arm--some slight improvement again this month.  That 1.0 barrier is going to be hard to pass because in order for me to assign 0 to a day it has to feel perfect.  (1 is negligible, 2 is noticeable but not too bad, 3 and up are the ouch levels) Although if it stays around 1 when I start using it that would be no problem at all.  (We're still not there yet--usage still causes irritation.) I'm still a bit hesitant to pass the 90 minute barrier so for October I will be bumping up the two 60 minute sessions to 90 minutes.

Also notable, the right arm does significantly better sketching and inking than with other steps of the drawing process.  This is likely due to slower movements and not having to constantly select tools from menus during these steps.  This will be something to focus on once it's ready to try longer sessions.  We also should be good to go for the first right handed streams in a long time for this month's Halloween sketches.

Left arm--Oops!  Had a bit of a setback this month.  For the past several months I've been trying to pinpoint things that irritate it and make adjustments, particularly when working four days per week.  I've made significant progress and thus have been able to increase the amount of drawing time with this arm, however it seems that this month mouse movement combined with increased drawing time caused a problem.  The solution--cut out the mouse, of course!  I've started using a small trackball that I can control with the thumb that has helped a lot, except I can only use it a couple hours per day before it starts giving my thumb problems and we don't want that, so it is mainly a light usage/after work thing.  I'm currently looking into some other trackballs and track pads as ways to add variety to the way I control the cursor.  In the meantime, the drawing gets scaled back a bit to make sure the arm does not get too irritated again.

At this point it's fairly obvious there is no way the left arm is going to get better while I'm using it in place of the right arm.  That's okay so long as the right arm continues to improve.  I'm just going to worry about keeping it at manageable levels, have fun and draw when it feels okay (on designated left-handed days), and relax when it needs rest.

I had originally thought that Crimson Flag would return to its weekly schedule once I completed building the 10 page buffer this month, however this jump is getting pushed back since I had to take a one week break.  In addition to having a large buffer, the other half of the exercise was to make sure I could draw one page per week many weeks in a row before dedicating myself to this schedule once again.  So, this counter gets reset!  That's okay--I didn't quite expect to ramp up to this speed on the first try.  I'm probably going to want to do at least eight or so pages in a row with no problem before I decide to return to a once per week schedule officially.  The every other week schedule is a good place to be in for now since a comic at half speed is super easy to do and I don't feel miserable with the comic not updating at all.  Plus this month I'm going to dedicate the Saturday and Sunday sessions for Halloween sketches and not worry about if I don't have the comic for the week done beforehand.

Extra Complex Fun Allotment Schedule:

Sunday - L unmonitored, as long as it feels okay
Monday - R 1.5h
Tuesday - L 2h (max)
Wednesday - odd day (draw with mouth instead)
Thursday - R 1.5h
Friday - L 2h (max)
Saturday - R 1.5h
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on October 01, 2015, 12:13:51 AM
How much does your mouth hurt from using it to draw? :P
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: PrincessHotcakes on October 01, 2015, 09:20:26 AM
So we have a dedicated drawing with the mouth day finally
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on October 01, 2015, 10:57:00 PM
Actually I've been drawing with the mouth a little almost every day. [;)

Mouth feels fine!  Neck is a little sore though.
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Fragmaster01 on October 01, 2015, 11:13:38 PM
I could see you doing like a talent performance at a con with that.
"Watch this goober draw with his mouth! Give money to charity! Make stupid pony jokes!"

Any doctor updates? Or are they doing the classic "Yep, sounds good, come back in a few weeks to pay me more."?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on October 02, 2015, 09:15:57 PM
I haven't seen a doctor about this since last December, actually.  At this point my only option left would be to go to a university setting for a second opinion and to see if they take more of an interest in it.  I haven't pursued this option due to them very slowly getting better (the right arm, at least).
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on November 03, 2015, 12:22:01 AM
I'm not going to post the numbers anymore since that was getting tedious and at this point not really informative anymore.  Overall both arms did worse in October, although due to non drawing factors in both cases.  (Including some trackball experiments to get me through my work days.)

However since I started drawing with my mouth seriously this month, that has been a major game changer in my schedule.  I didn't draw with the arms anywhere near the schedule posted last month, which means they are getting a lot more rest.  So far I've managed to finish one CF comic entirely with my mouth (page 351!) within a five day period and a second by starting off the sketch with my right hand and then finishing everything else my mouth.  It's looking like I'll be able to bring CF back up to its normal weekly pace using this method regardless of how the arms feel, although I want to churn out a page a week for at least eight weeks in a row before making this decision.  So we shall see in six more weeks!

I am a bit disappointed that I'm not seeing dramatic improvement since the arms' drawing time has been cut back mostly to the weekends, although this past week has been better so it's probably a bit too early to tell.  We'll see how it goes over the next two months.  This suggests that my controlled drawing sessions weren't causing any additional damage anyway.

The other change is I finally got a TENS unit, so have been getting in the habit of shocking my arms.  Yay!  I dismissed this idea when I initially looked into it last year since I'm more interested in a cure over temporary pain relief, however apparently this increases blood flow to the injured tendons as well which supposedly helps them heal more quickly, so it's worth a shot.

Recent drawing sessions have shown that the right arm does much better with sketching and inking than anything else, so that's what I'll be limiting it to for the foreseeable future.

The current drawing schedule, which has been evolving over the past 2 to 3 weeks is looking something like:

Monday-- sketch comic with right arm, start inking with mouth (although it has been feeling good enough that I may let the right arm ink in a couple of weeks)
Tuesday-Friday-- finish comic entirely with the mouth
Friday-- possible other art in the evening with the left hand if comic is done and if it feels up to it
Saturday-- right handed afternoon, as long as it feels capable (sketching and inking only).  Maybe mouth doodles at night
Sunday-- left handed day
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on December 03, 2015, 12:22:31 AM
To provide an update--both arms did noticeably better in November.  November was also the most productive month since the initial injury.  So the new schedule is working well!  The best part is there's not a real need to step things up as I'm pretty much drawing all the time this way anyway.

The schedule has shifted slightly over the course of the month to the following.

Monday- sketch and ink comic with the right hand
Tuesday-Thursday- finish comic entirely with the mouth
Friday- left handed evening (or earlier if I get off work)--also reserve in the case of extra long comics
Saturday- right handed day, sketching and inking only
Sunday- left handed day

As it stands, I have just one more week of stress testing mouth comics before CF is all clear to return to its regular weekly schedule (with a 12 comic strong buffer).  Sketching and inking the comic with the right hand on Mondays has greatly sped up the process, although I've done one comic entirely with the mouth and three or four others partially sketched or inked via mouth to be sure I can do it if need be.

The second stress test is the large list of trades I should be finishing up in a couple of weeks.  Assuming the remainder of this goes smoothly, I'll be able to open up commissions again sometime afterwards (after taking a few weeks break to get some personal projects done).
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Foxotcw on December 11, 2015, 09:18:15 PM
Congratulations on finding a way around this terrible problem you've had. I had never thought of drawing with one's mouth!

Have you ever tried drawing with your feet (on a digital tablet)?
Title: Re: Arm updates
Post by: Virmir on December 12, 2015, 07:55:41 PM
I did try and it didn't come out as pretty as with the mouth. [;)