Technology and Me, Part Two: Taking a Stand

By: Marianna Boyce

VariDesk

Nowadays, technology is used for most everything we do. If you read Part One of Technology and Me, I shared the love-hate relationship I had with Siri. Of course, I love my iPhone, but hate the intrusiveness that comes along with having one.

On a more positive note, Siri has helped me out of a tight spot on more than one occasion, making her an unlikely hero.

This was especially true as I navigated my way through a serious health issue that mysteriously appeared out of nowhere just a few years ago. It turns out, I was suffering from horrible symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis.

RA is a life-altering illness where the immune system and brain gets their wires crossed. The immune system sees healthy cells as foreign invaders and literally fights against itself. This autoimmune disease targets and breaks down the lubricating fluid surrounding the joints, setting off a terrible chain of events. The intense chronic pain, inflammation, and swelling makes it impossible to lead a normal life—or it did in my case.

RA packs the kind of pain that changes people from the inside-out. It doesn’t take long for it to physically and mentally take its toll.

I work in a cushy office environment for a large insurance firm. One might think sitting behind a desk all day wouldn’t be difficult, but with RA, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g is difficult—even the smallest of mundane tasks. Sedentary work, or doing nothing, is actually the worst for an RA sufferer.

In my case, it always felt as though cement was hardening around my joints, making it excruciatingly painful to stand up from a seated position. I had to keep moving for the pain to be tolerable. Counterintuitive—I know, but that’s how RA works.

I desperately struggled. My confidence level plummeted and I could no longer keep up the facade of a happy, thriving employee. I was absolutely miserable.

One particular morning, I allowed the pain get the best of me. I vented my seemingly endless list of frustrations to Mr. Wine, my district office manager. Fortunately, I had a great boss that allowed me to rant in order to get things off my chest. What neither of us knew at the time was that Siri took note of my every word, and it was Siri that would be the driving force that kept me from temporarily leaving my cushy office job.

As I wrapped up my itty-bitty pity party with Mr. Wine, I continued to mumble as I walked away. Under my breath I uttered, “My life would be so much easier if I could just stand up all day.” Just like that, Siri chimed in on our ‘private’ conversation—only she didn’t say a word. She didn’t have to. Siri’s suggestion spoke for itself.

After Mr. Wine’s iPhone ‘dinged’, he looked at it with a surprised look on his face. He said, “You’ll never believe this,” When I looked at his phone, I was speechless, and thought to myself, “That’s so weird!” I unconsciously snatched Mr. Wine’s phone and began perusing the website so brilliantly displayed on the screen.

It was an advertisement for Varidesk, and I was like a kid in a candy store.

Varidesk, (now simply Vari) is a company that makes adjustable workstations where one can choose to sit or stand—all while maintaining a productive workflow. Also included is a convenient cushioned mat to help alleviate pressure on knees an ankles.

I was sold! I wanted one—like yesterday.

An adjustable desk was exactly what I needed, and there was no doubt my husband would purchase one to aide in my fight against RA. Gerry is just amazing like that, but Mr. Wine wanted to approach from a different angle.

He contacted the ‘powers-that-be’ at our home office and asked them to invest in Varidesk on my behalf. They surprisingly agreed, but only if I could get a letter of recommendation from my rheumatologist. Of course, that letter would be obtained within days, and the rest is history.

For me, unless I’m experiencing an RA flare, sitting down on the job is simply not for me.Thanks to Siri, Mr Wine, and the powers-that-be, I don’t have to sit all day anymore. I can take a stand against this debilitating disease instead. Sometimes I just have to remind myself: I have RA—RA doesn’t have me.

I have not been paid or given any special services for Vari’s mention in this post.