There I was, scribbling away merrily when suddenly my mouse started sticking. I thought it was just dirty again and picked it up to clean it, only to see one of the small silicone slider pads left on the desk. Inspection of its three companions revealed that they'd almost worn down to nothing.
So what's the big deal? Well, I'm very attached to this mouse, as it's an Evoluent Vertical Mouse that I've been using for over five years. The fact that a new one's going to cost me £60 just adds to my misery.
I first encountered Evoluent in about 2002, when a Swedish distributor contacted me to introduce the first revision of the mouse to the UK.
I assumed it was a bit of a novelty at the time, and thought nothing more of it. The sample they sent in got lost during one of the regular office moves VNU subjected us to, but a couple of years later I started to get severe pains in my wrist. The doctors found nothing physical wrong, and painkillers didn't work, so I thought perhaps the vertical mouse could help. After rummaging around, I found another one lying around in the pile of unclaimed review kit and adopted it.
I've never looked back. Although it took a couple of weeks to get used to, my wrist pains gradually subsided and they haven't returned. I used to get occasional twinges working at home with a standard mouse, but managed to live with it as the vast majority of my work was in the office. An additional benefit was that it always baffled any tech support types who came to my desk.
After being made redundant last year, I brought the mouse home with me and it's been one of the best decisions I made. (The other one was to ask whether I could have my superb Wilkhahn FS-Line office chair, which the company kindly agreed to)
Anyway, it looks like I'm going to have to bite the bullet and order a new one. If there's one sure thing about ergonomics, it's that it rarely comes cheap.
For more musings on mice and men, here's an old 2006 column I wrote for IT Week with some links to video footage of Doug Engelbart's original 1968 mouse.