MARCH 28, 2012

April Fool heaven

dr daveMy office staff, having never served in government, seldom misses work due to illness. But every April 1st, the most wonderful time of the year in the hap happiest place on earth, they seem to collectively get ill: “Sorry, but I have pints of purulent pus pouring out of my pancreas. I have to go see a real doctor.” “Can’t come in today, my dog’s fleas are expecting anytime now.”

Initially I suspected they were simply at home celebrating this joyous of all days but then it dawned on me that perhaps sliding off toilet seats, igniting electronic whoopee cushions and other sophisticated pranks customary to my office were finally getting to them. So last year I snuck in early, went to their computer terminals, popped a few tabs off their keyboards and exchanged them with each other. The M and the N changed positions, the P and the L and even the ! and the $. Little did I realize the havoc that this would wreak; Elana couldn’t access her password, Michelle was billing $17,000 for Bill Bloggins’ pregnancy test and a flustered Betty was unable to move the Jack of Hearts. They became frantic and unsure of what evil was causing this terminal illness. I was in April Fool heaven.

In addition to a malfunctioning computer driving its victims to extremes of mental anguish, there are other terminal illnesses generated by the keyboard, the monitor, the mouse or even by a laptop.

1. Eye troubles. A recent study has related heavy computer use with visual field abnormalities, refractive errors and glaucoma. Visual field defects means having blind spots in the normal visual field.

Think NBA refs. A refractive error is an inability to see clearly without corrective lenses while glaucoma refers to a nasty pressure buildup in the eyeball itself.

2. Infertility in men. The reason the male testicles are not normally tucked up say into the Adam’s apple (polar bear swims excluded) is sperm production requires a temperature lower than that of the body’s core. From the “Excuse-me-but-you’re-going-to-stick-that-temperature-gauge-where?” file comes a study indicating that 60 minutes of a laptop sitting on the lap top raises scrotal temperature almost three degrees. Even if the laptop was not turned on (perhaps I should rephrase that) there was a two degree rise. “Don’t worry about the birth control pill dear, I’ve taken my laptop today.”

3. Tennis elbow belongs to a group of injuries known as cumulative trauma disorders (CTD). Also called repetitive strain injury, CTD result from repetitive exertion of a tendon, muscle, joint or even bone. Excessive typewriting can ruin the tendons responsible for moving the wrist/hand/fingers up and down. When the discomfort is felt up in the elbow or upper forearm it is time to be seen by a doctor before the strain, sprain or pain becomes debilitating. CTD (Can’t Type Dammit) can become so severe over time that even holding a glass becomes a chore. This condition is one of the fastest growing injuries seen in the workplace. Even with proper ergonomics of the keyboard, monitor, mouse, chair and desk, too much time spent on a keyboard may mean too much time spent in physiotherapy.

4. Way back when I went to college the most common illnesses were smallpox, bubonic plague and consumption. Now depression and non- activity exhaustion, which go hand in hand with heavy computer use, are the most prevalent illnesses on most college campuses. Students are still working on consumption.

5. Muscle contraction headaches, so-called tension headaches, result from the neck and back stiffening up while perched at a computer all day. In addition, migraines and even seizures can be triggered by the flickering of a computer screen. “Monitor eye” is a type of eyestrain that causes fuzzy vision and headaches. But the vurst type of headacke is caused by tryink to fiqure out who monceyed arount with your conpuder on Aqril $st. I wist you the pest of thus joyouz zeazon.

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