Like many writers, I go through bursts of excessive productivity, which may mean I may write/edit more than 10 hours a day. Sometimes without breaks. Yes, I know all about the conventional wisdom of resting, ergonomic exercises, etc. (Nope, no use lecturing me. If I’m on a roll, I have no awareness of time passing).
Back in the late ‘90s, I went through a very painful bout with carpal tunnel, when I was forced to seriously consider surgery. A doctor recommended I try wrist supports first before such a drastic procedure.
At that time, I could only get wrist supports through a single medical supply store that had the corner on the market where I lived. The recommended Ergodyne Proflex® 4020 model wrist supports were extremely expensive and still took weeks to come in after ordering. They sent the wrong ones at first (two left hands), and even the thought of dealing with that rude medical equipment salesman again to fix the gaffe exhausted me. But I stuck it out and got a matching pair at long last. The supports made my hands sweaty as Hades, but they worked. Years came and went, I put thousands more miles on my wrists and so had periods of flare-ups. A few days or weeks of wearing my 4020s put me back on track again.
Not long ago I felt the old familiar throbbing pain coming on. I hunted for my old faithful wrist supports, but couldn’t find them. I decided I had no choice but to get some new ones, and to my surprise and delight, I found this exact model still available from the original manufacturer.
I even found these wrist supports multiple places online now, available for direct ordering (no single-source, snooty medical supply store middleman this time), and the prices were far lower than what I paid for the originals. They even come in different colors now. A limited palette of two, true, but still…I am someone who likes color. Of the choices, I wanted the blue. When I went to Amazon I discovered, inexplicably, that the blue ones cost about $10 more than identical gray models there. OK, I appreciate color, but I won’t pay that much extra for it. I checked the manufacturer website and there, at least, sanity prevailed. Same price for the blue supports, and a lower overall price to boot.
I ordered the replacements (thereby guaranteeing I would find the old ones right after I placed the order, and I did), but I decided to let the order go through since it can’t hurt to have two old faithfuls, one for the office and one for home. The new 4020s arrived promptly and on first glance, they looked the same, although I was disappointed that what looked like a vivid turquoise online was more of a drab denim-blue color in person.
Straight out of the packaging I found that the new wrist supports stunk to high heaven, probably due to synthetic materials. I had to air them out for days to bear it. OK, not the end of the world since I’d found my old ones again by then.
Eventually I looked closer at this new version of my trusty old 4020s. Hmm, new stink and new stitching to boot. It’s easy to see the contrast in quality, especially when I put the old and new 4020s side by side. The stitching on the old 4020s is neat, precise, nearly invisible. The stitching on the new supports is an oversized eyesore. It looks like they were sewn with thick white fishing line, which tangles just as nattily in several spots.
Now, granted, wrist supports are hardly fashion accessories, trendy blue or not, so perhaps I should not count messy stitching. But it bugs me. The crooked hook-and-loop closures and mismatched seams on the new supports bug me. The thicker thumb straps are less comfortable and, you guessed it, they bug me, too.
But I think what bugs me most of all is that one simple, three-phrase statement on the care tag inside the new ones: “Made in China.” And my overpriced oldies are, “Made in USA.” Explains a lot, especially the drastic price drop. One consistency from past to present-day models is they both make my hands sweat.
Here’s the bottom line. As a professional writer/editor/author, my hands are my livelihood, period. They are my sole source of income and from whence all manna is derived. I would rather pay more for quality products and yes, even deal with the medical supply mafia again, than wear cut-rate, poorly-cut, shabby-quality wrist supports. Ergodyne, I hope you’re listening.