I’m Exploring Options to Improve Comfort at Work and Ease EDS Symptoms

Working at a school involves a lot of time sitting down, which can exacerbate EDS symptoms

Karen Del Vecchio avatar

by Karen Del Vecchio |

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As a college counselor and teacher at a local high school, I’m glad I return to work a week earlier than the rest of the staff after summer break. My first week back is still on summer hours, so we work Monday through Thursday. It’s quieter, so it’s a good way to ease back in before the chaos of back-to-school week.

It’s always an adjustment, though, because my routine is altered, and I have to be much more intentional about moving around and not being sedentary or else I’ll become stiff, which isn’t good for my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).

I typically spend my summers moving around most of the day, doing farm work, riding horses, and performing other tasks. I’m usually up early so that I can get some things done before the day’s heat kicks in, and then spend the afternoon trying to avoid doing things inside like vacuuming and laundry. (I’d rather clean a horse stall than my living room any day!) Since I manage many of my EDS symptoms with physical activity, this type of schedule works well for me.

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When I head back to work at school, though, I have to spend a lot of time at my computer. It’s great to have breaks when I head from my office to the classroom to teach history, but it’s not nearly as much movement as I’m used to in the summer. I borrowed a friend’s standing desk to try once, but I found that while it helped my legs, it made my bad shoulder flare up. Without an armrest to lean it on, my muscles became exhausted trying to hold my damaged shoulder in its proper place.

I really don’t like how much sitting I have to do, though, so I’m exploring other options. I wonder if a standing desk that’s wider and allows me to rest my arms on it would make a difference. Managing EDS is always a balancing act, and for me, sitting versus standing is constantly an issue. Do too much, and I make myself sore. Do too little, and I make myself sore. Oddly enough, the latter is what’s most likely to cause me problems unless I really overdo it. I’d like to be able to shift between sitting and standing throughout the day depending upon how I feel.

A friend suggested that if I do get a standing desk, I should get a cushioned mat to stand on, so I’m looking at those as well. I likely have arthritic damage to my knees from spending so many years walking incorrectly, and as a result, my knees definitely tend to get sore. Hopefully a shock-absorbing surface might help to keep me more comfortable.

I’m excited to try a new option for work comfort. I’ll keep everyone posted about how it goes!

Note: Ehlers-Danlos News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Ehlers-Danlos News or its parent company, Bionews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Ehlers-Danlos.


Margaret Macelis avatar

Margaret Macelis

I was born in 1954 with dislocated hips and very narrow heels. They nicknamed me Ski foot, amongst other not so kind names. For years I was blamed for being a Klutz, irresponsible, lazy and careless. I was none of the above. I am sixty eight now and have shattered and torn both rotator cuffs, labrums and the tendons going to bicep muscles. My knees have been replaced twice in the last seventeen years and my right artificial hip is twenty four years old this year. I was finally diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Type 2 six years ago at Duke University. All my life my sisters (nurses) were absolutely adamant that I was just attention seeking? I completed thirty two years with the Postal Service in 2009 and yes the first nineteen years I carried mail on one of those shoulders. If I'd only knew? The first two years I literally turned my ankles every day. It was so out of my league. When you know better, do better as there are so few things I can do now. Be well and stay strong.

Mary C avatar

Mary C

I have a throw pillow on my work desk that I rest my "mouse" hand on. Gives me support and my bony elbow don't get sore. Also have the gel-filled wrist rest in front of my keyboard. A small stool under the desk lets me change leg positions and a "cushy tushy" (yes, that's the brand name) pad on my chair seat finish out area. I am at my desk all day except to go to the copier, so know what it's like. Have a great year!


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