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Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
Outlook.com

Tales From Mouse Ward

Urban Indians are paying with their health the price of being in computer-intensive jobs

Tales From Mouse Ward
Sanjoy Ghosh
Tales From Mouse Ward
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Nothing about Vijaykumar’s daily schedule suggested any kind of health risk. For a young man, still pushing 33, he seemed to have an impeccably balanced lifestyle. He woke in the morning to drive to the Bangalore offices of IT major Cisco, where he worked as a programmer. He spent eight or nine hours at his computer, steadily tapping out code. His was a serious workday, but not an oppressive one, compared to the 14-hour shifts call centre workers clocked in over on Bannerghata Road. When he had time, he swam a few laps in the pool, and headed home to spend time with his family.

In 2003, however, something changed. "It was a numbness in the hand," he recalls. "Then a cold sensation from my shoulder to my palm, and sometimes my hand became paralysed." We’re all getting older, he thought, gritting his teeth, and this must be the beginning of the inevitable wear-and-tear. And so he swam more to stay limber, tried yoga, ointments and pranayam to ease the pain. He relaxed his pace of work, moved the mouse from his right hand to his left. But that only shifted the pain to different places. The orthopaedist he consulted told him not much else could be done.

The condition progressed. A year ago, Vijaykumar stopped driving his car. Then he discovered he could not lift his kids—one and three years old—and carry them in his arms. "Five months ago, people started telling me I looked thin and worn out," says Vijaykumar. "And I realised I was living with a lot of pain, and barely sleeping at night. So, I had to take indefinite leave, and hoped the problem would die down." It wasn’t till he was home one afternoon, browsing the web, that he came across a website that described his symptoms perfectly, and he realised it was his computer doing...

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