Author Topic: Tendons and natural resources career ideas  (Read 4454 times)

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« on: February 20, 2015, 01:49:53 PM »
I've been reading the forum for about six months now, and have a question I was hoping you could help me with.

I have a very well targeted recent B.S. In ecological restoration and botany, stellar references, a decent network, and a couple seasons of field work experience. All in all I am well set up to launch a career in environmental consulting, botany, soil mapping,  wetland ecology, GIS, or restoration, and have been working hard at making this happen.

The problem is that my body has an issue with chronic inflammation, and the 20 or so hours a week I have been spending editing and formatting federal and private sector resumes has me in enough wrist pain that it is hard to fold laundry. I am thinking that office work might not be such a good idea after all. I was attempting to back away from the glorious field work I have been doing as it pays poorly and my body was showing signs it would not hold up forever at the level I was demanding of it, but now I am not sure what to do..

I was wondering if any of you might have ideas on alternate career paths. So far, science teacher, land manager (if I could land such a position) and park ranger come to mind. I am 30 years old, tired of living on the financial edge, and suspect my body will not hold up well for long, so reaching FI as quickly as I can while still enjoying my life is a pretty high priority. I suspect that as long as I stayed a technician I could do fine in my current line of work for a while, but that would mean never making enough money to retire.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 02:06:49 PM by Madia »

Louisville

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 533
Re: Tendons and natural resources career
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2015, 02:06:12 PM »
I don't what to insult your intelligence here, but I've read your post three times, but I still don't see the obvious first answer: Seek medical help. It's quite possible that your inflammation is treatable. Maybe easily treatable.

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2015, 02:13:25 PM »
I am. I have an appointment with a doctor on Monday. Also, in the past I have done extensive physical therapy for tendon issues (elbows, that time.) the only thing that helped that time was discontinuing the activities that aggravated the issue. I have two autoimmune conditions that are well under control, and I work with multiple doctors, and eat a specialized diet. Unfortunately, I can't seem to lose the chronic inflammation.

Also, please forgive any typos with my posts, I am having a no-computers day and writing this on my phone ( no pain! Yay.)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 02:22:21 PM by Madia »

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2015, 02:20:27 PM »
Mainstream medicine doesn't always get to the root of autoimmune diseases.  Additional things to consider:
 - vitamin D level above 50
 - 100% gluten-free dairy-free diet
 - anti-inflammatory protein shakes or similar products to reduce gut inflammation (usually available through holistic physician types or naturopaths)
 - www.lowdosenaltrexone.org
 - find a Functional Medicine practitioner in your area through the Institute for Functional Medicine.

southern granny

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 534
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2015, 02:28:22 PM »
If you want to try an easy remedy  try black cherry juice.  A few years a go, I also had chronic inflammation, especially in my elbows.  I was sure it was arthritis, but the tests came back negative so it was diagnosed as inflammation.  I was in a lot of pain.  Someone suggested black cherry juice.  I didn't really think it would help, but decided it couldn't hurt.  I got the juice and had 8 oz morning and 8 oz at night.  By the 4th day, I was feeling much better... and within 2 weeks, it was almost gone.  I stayed on the juice regimen for about 6 months.  So far the inflammation has not come back  but if it does I will try the juice again.  It has to be 100 percent black cherry or tart cherry juice.  An added benefit is that is helps with sleeping.  Good luck

KCM5

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 880
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2015, 02:30:11 PM »
Have you done anything to optimize your working position? I mean computer mouse, keyboard, etc.

I work in the environmental field and do spend more than 20 hours a week at the computer, but there are plenty of jobs that offer a better balance of field work vs office work. Maybe doing field inspections for federal/state agency?

Astatine

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3675
  • Location: Australia
  • Pronouns: they/them
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2015, 02:42:37 PM »
I am. I have an appointment with a doctor on Monday. Also, in the past I have done extensive physical therapy for tendon issues (elbows, that time.) the only thing that helped that time was discontinuing the activities that aggravated the issue. I have two autoimmune conditions that are well under control, and I work with multiple doctors, and eat a specialized diet. Unfortunately, I can't seem to lose the chronic inflammation.

If this inflammation is new and unusual for you, perhaps ask if it's possible you've developed a new autoimmune condition or other condition? (sadly, if you've got one autoimmune condition, you're at higher risk of developing further ones than the general population - I already have one, possibly two, autoimmune conditions and am regularly screened for other autoimmune conditions that I'm at higher risk of developing, eg thyroid).

windawake

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 435
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2015, 02:48:54 PM »
Can you experiment with other ways of completing office work without using your wrists? Could you do a speech-to-text thing with your computer? Most companies are required to make reasonable accommodation for disabilities, in whatever form they take.

For example, this designer draws with her nose: http://www.fastcoexist.com/3040181/look-no-hands-watch-these-amazing-videos-of-a-designer-who-draws-with-her-nose

The problem is many of the jobs you mentioned are likely to have some amount of office work.

Oh, and I'm sorry to frugaldrummer above but there is not hard scientific evidence that shows those methods work for managing inflammation. I have a master's degree in public health and just wrote a health program to promote healthy living with rheumatoid arthritis. The dietician on staff at my office recommended this diet: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02012/anti-inflammatory-diet, but bear in mind that the only dietary fix for inflammation that's been proven by the scientific literature is maybe fish oil.

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2015, 03:32:33 PM »
Actually untrue - ANY food sensitivity or GI disturbance such as Crohn's disease will lead to inflammation, and may be a trigger for arthritis in many patients.  Most gluten sensitive patients will report joint aches and pains as a symptom after accidental gluten exposure.  High levels of circulating antibody complexes in autoimmune disease or infection can also cause arthralgias. 

letired

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 826
  • Location: Texas
    • Needs More Glitter
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2015, 05:09:30 PM »
This is maybe a kind of out-there suggestion, but I have a friend who deals with chronic low-level inflammation and was diagnosed as pre-diabetic 6 months ago, despite generally taking care of herself. She recently started a new paleo-esq diet aimed at people with auto-immune disorders (specifically developed by the author to treat their MS) called the Whals Protocol, and loves it. She says she has lost some weight and is generally feeling much better/alert/energetic/etc. She should be getting news soon about how her other health stats are doing, but she says she feels great.

If nothing that conventional medicine has to offer is helping, it might be worth checking out what they have to say. I know these kinds of ailments can be insanely frustrating to deal with and everyone and their mom has something that someone they heard of once tried that instantly cured all pain, and it's a lot to dig through.

As someone with a semi-similar background (ecology, field work experience, wrist pain if I don't take care of myself, sick of being 'poor', but no other health issues), I can personally recommend a few things:

1. I am not always great about it, but I limit time on the computer as much as possible. (What, browsing the MMM forum counts!)
2. I try to identify specific actions/tasks that cause more pain. For me, it is extensive use of a traditional mouse, and poor keyboard/wrist/arm positioning, and working on a computer in bed. Solutions involve not working in bed, being anal about keeping my elbows at no less than a 90 degree angle when working on a computer, and learning every keyboard shortcut I can. I have also in the past used non-standard mice like drawing tablet + pen, etc.
3. I am out of the habit, but a temporary fix can sometimes involve sleeping in a basic wrist brace. Without it, I curl my wrists sharply when I sleep, so sleeping in the brace can give them a break. I got one with a metal shank in it from Amazon for my mouse hand. This is the brace I use: wrist brace

As for the environmental jobs with less computer work, I am going to be Debbie Downer and confess that I got out of environmental work b/c it didn't pay well enough with the experience I had and my qualifications for consulting work weren't as good as yours, so I career-switched and am now making 25k more than I was as a technician doing tech/programming. :P With your GIS experience, it sounds like you should hopefully be able to aim at the higher-paying end of environmental work! But you'd know better than me what you options there are. I think decent/well-paying jobs without computer/desk work are hard to come by. But mostly they should be less onerous than filling out government job applications! Those things are brutal!
« Last Edit: February 20, 2015, 05:12:04 PM by letired »

windawake

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 435
  • Age: 33
  • Location: Minneapolis, MN
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2015, 05:26:31 PM »
Actually untrue - ANY food sensitivity or GI disturbance such as Crohn's disease will lead to inflammation, and may be a trigger for arthritis in many patients.  Most gluten sensitive patients will report joint aches and pains as a symptom after accidental gluten exposure.  High levels of circulating antibody complexes in autoimmune disease or infection can also cause arthralgias.

Sure, if you have a food allergy, celiac disease, or Crohn's that's exacerbated by gluten, obviously you shouldn't eat gluten. Whole grains have many essential nutrients that the body needs, and people who don't eat gluten-free in the right way can become nutrient deficient. Plus, the consumption of whole grains is associated with decreased mortality from CVD (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2087877).

I definitely think that if you want to phase out certain foods to see if something makes you feel better, that's totally reasonable. But gluten-free and dairy-free diets are a fad, and can actually be nutritionally harmful to some.

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2015, 06:57:39 PM »
Frugal drummer, thank you for your suggestions. I do have issues with wheat aggravating my inflammation, though I'm fairly certain it's not the gluten, as oats are just as bad.   I am pretty informed on both the western and the holistic thoughts on the subject, which is actually why I barely mentioned the medical stuff in my original post. It's the brainstorming of possible career solutions that has me stumped.

Kcm5, my current setup is pretty bad. I am on a laptop, and have been adding different sorts of mice and wrist pads. I may need to buy one of those expensive split keyboards just to get through this job applying season. Based on what I learned from my elbows a couple years ago though, this problem manifesting itself this quickly and this severely is telling me that I need to back way off though, if I want to be able to use my hands and wrists in the remainder of my life. All the ergonomics in the world would probably not support a career writing NEPA and analyzing spatial data, and that is the work jn my field that pays well.

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2015, 08:05:26 PM »
Wind awake, thank you for your suggestions! I definitely need to look into voice recognition type software.

Astatine, no, it's not new, I'm doing more clicky stuff than usual, but the pattern of extreme sensitivity to repetitive motion has been there for a long time. Yes, I know I should have a better ergonomic setup.

Letired, thank you! No, I am not pre-diabetic. I should start sleeping in wrist braces, you are right. I already eat paleo. Unfortunately GIS is probably one of the worst fits for this problem, so I may be locked into low pay if I stay in this field

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2015, 08:09:58 PM »
I understand why everyone is focusing on the health aspect ( and thank you!), but it would be awesome if anyone could chime in on brainstorm ideas for possible career routes that might use the training I have but be either less computer focused, or be conductive of voice recognition type software, and pay a middle class wage. I will do what I can with the health and the ergonomics, but any ideas on other directions would be amazing. If I back off, I suspect my wrists will work for years to come. If I push through, not so much.

horsepoor

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3497
  • Location: At the Barn
  • That old chestnut.
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2015, 08:37:23 PM »
What sort of salary are you looking for?  A skilled field technician should be able to get a GS9 with a land management agency.  At GS11 and up, you're looking at lots of desk time.  You can pm me if you have more questions about my specific experience as a government ecologist.

Madia

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 6
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2015, 08:53:05 PM »
What agency? I've done forest service and park service. I've never seen a field tech position above a GS-7, and they're always seasonal, usually 4 months.

horsepoor

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3497
  • Location: At the Barn
  • That old chestnut.
Re: Tendons and natural resources career ideas
« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2015, 09:05:46 PM »
Just sent you a PM