Friday, April 27, 2018

What I Did to Alleviate My Aching Back

My office --- with the ugly black chair that saved my back

© Cheryl Bolen
After three years in my custom-made desk chair for which I paid $700, I was in agony. I'd had the chair semi custom made. The manufacturer offered options of all types of wood, including one painted ivory--which I chose to go with the cottage-style decor of my office, a sun porch. I was given the option of furnishing my own fabric, which I did. I chose a rosy color with piping made of a pale plaid that picked up my cottage colors. It was all very feminine.

I'm an empty nester who spends 12 hours a day writing--and emailing and surfing the net. (Please note, that to compensate somewhat for this, I start every morning at the gym or with a long walk.) When my beautiful chair was just three years old, I got to where I could not sit down. Seriously. My back was in agony.

I told my husband the sight of my desk chair made me sick.

So I went to the archives of the email loop for the now-defunct PASIC (RWA's Published Authors Special Interest Chapter). I knew they had previously discussed the best office chairs for those of us who make a living writing with butt in the chair eight plus hours a day.

The consensus seemed to be an ergonomic Aeron chair manufactured by Herman Miller. So I investigated them on the internet. Everything I read was positive. Except the price. With the lumbar feature, it was $719. Hmmm. Barely three years previously that's what I'd paid for my pretty office chair with made-to-order wood finish.

Of course, I could no longer sit in it.

I kept going back on line at looking at the ergonomic chair. It looked kind of like a giant black spider. Not pretty. Hmmm.

By then I was writing in the recliner with my laptop because my back hurt too bad to sit at my desk. I really don't like writing on a laptop.

I told my husband I was going to order  the Herman Miller Aeron chair online. He did not like the idea because he was worried about returns, especially if my back still hurt once I had the new chair. I told him the company I was buying from offered a full refund for up to 365 days – and if you saved original packaging, they would pay shipping, too.

Then I pulled out my trump card. That month was the most spectacular month I'd ever had as far as earnings. In fact, I made more that month than I'd ever made in an entire year before. And I sold my first book in 1997!
What could the man say?

I waited impatiently. It was more than three weeks before my ugly chair was delivered. The minute I sat in it, I knew I was going to be all right.

It's been six years now, and I have to say that was the best $719 I ever spent.

I've learned a valuable lesson. Aesthetics are not all important. When you earn your living writing at a desk, you have to take care of your body. Take frequent breaks. Get up. Most of all, don't be fooled by a pretty chair. – Cheryl Bolen is the author of three dozen Regency-set historicals. Her last full-length book was Miss Hastings' Excellent London Adventure.


  1. Lol. I'd definitely be one who was fooled by a pretty chair. Mine (a Staples one) wasn't expensive, but it's wearing out and I worry about replacing it simply because I've been so comfortable in it all this time.

  2. And I forgot to say, I love your office!

  3. Love your office Cheryl! I've slowly gravitated away from the office/desk set up because, frankly, it makes me tired to sit in my chair and I've never found one that really works. So, now I take laptop to the sunroom and put feet up in the recliner. Trouble is, it's too comfy and I don't get up and move like I should. One solution leads to a new problem.... Hope your back is so much better!

    1. Lucky you. I simply can't type on a laptop. I must have a desktop p.c. So it's quite limiting.

  4. Replies
    1. Thanks, Kathleen. It's a good work space for me.

  5. What a beautiful post! I'm glad your mission was accomplished and you shared your process with us. It is so important to tend to those aspects of health or writing becomes almost impossible. Been there. Oh, and, man I want your office!


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