Way back around 1996, I slipped on an icy sidewalk in Colorado Springs, landing on my back and whacking my head on the concrete. Ever since then, I have had recurring nerve-related issues in my right arm and hand due to cartilage damage in the C4-C5 cervical vertebrae region (verified in 2004 by MRI). It is strange to experience a pain that seems to originate in my fingers, upper arm, etc., but know that it is actually a signal being generated by pinching at the spinal cord. An analogy is having a switch cable being shorted where it passes through a chassis wall, with the sensing circuitry telling the processor that the contacts are closed, when in fact they are not.
Over time, the frequency of pain episodes seems to have decreased to once or twice per year, with no apparent reason for a flare-up. Pain can be intense enough to prevent sleep for a couple days. Anything less that an opioid medication* offers no relief at all, but I refrain from using it until it is really intense - which amounts to maybe 3-4 pills per year. A regular exercise routine has done a pretty good job of strengthening the muscles to where skeletal integrity is maintained, thereby minimizing nerve aggravation.
One of the most significant aspects of the malady is an intolerance for a less than ideal posture while working on my computer. Any longer than about 10 minutes sitting in a normal chair at a desk leads to annoying pain. I did discover that I can sit in a padded armchair for extended periods without much pain, so I began using a custom tray I built for using in the car. It fit handily within the confines of the blue chair shown in these picture. I have been using it for a long time. The disadvantage is having to lift it from my lap and place it on a stand next to the chair when I get up. On more than one occasion I nearly tipped the computer onto the floor, so I vowed to eventually build a rotating platform that would allow the tabletop to swing to the side for easy entry and exit. Now, years later, I finally got around to doing it.
The design is neither elegant nor sophisticated; it's even a little embarrassing. Why embarrassing, you might ask? If you look at the labeled assembly photo, you will see that the bottom and top mounting components are PVC toilet flanges. A 4" PVC pipe is used for the vertical support, and a 4" flange is cemented to the bottom for attachment to the plywood base (which slides under the chair). The top flange is bolted to the tabletop and is free to rotate about the vertical pipe. A short section of a 4" pipe coupler is located directly under the top flange for setting the height of the tabletop (a screw holds it in place). Since the arm of the chair is not parallel to the floor, a wedge was placed under the bottom flange so that the tabletop rotates up at the same angle, thus preventing it from rubbing against the top of the arm. Having the wedge under the tabletop instead of under the base would not accomplish the objective.
Life is much easier now that I don't have to lift the computer and table every time I stand up or sit down, and the computer sits in complete safety on the tabletop at all times. When I'm not in the chair, the tabletop is rotated back into position so it is out of harm's way. This configuration would be a handy setup for anyone wanting a simple to build, inexpensive, sturdy, compact work surface for a notebook computer. I do not have plans drawn.
Posted November 17, 2016